February 1, 2018

Learning to Honor God Through Filmmaking

North-American Division News

In January 2018, the Sonscreen Film Festival and Southern Adventist University (SAU) School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) partnered to present a film production workshop at Hawaii Mission Academy (HMA), a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. Approximately ten film production students participated in the school's inaugural film workshop taught by SAU assistant professor Nick Livanos, and SVAD production and facilities manager Mark Comberiate. The workshop led students in the production of a two-minute film from script to screen over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

“Working with HMA students was a ton of fun,” said Livanos. “They came up with unique, engaging narratives, and flexed their storytelling skills all weekend.”

Livanos said that the students exhibited a strong desire to get better at filmmaking. “I’ve never seen academy students plan such complicated movies and succeed,” he said. “Large casts, multiple locations around campus, endless shot lists, and somehow they got it all done in under 48 hours.”

“It was a great experience for my students here at Hawaiian Mission Academy,” said HMA film instructor Matt Webster. “Being an alumnus of Southern’s film program, I knew the amazing skills they offer to academies through their workshops. This particular workshop helped bring everything my students have been reading the first semester into reality with hands-on experience with production standard equipment.

Webster added that the workshop also helped his students prepare for the films they will make and submit to this year’s Sonscreen Film Festival.

Festival director Julio C. Muñoz is expanding the organization’s activities to include an educational portfolio that will allow professional filmmakers and educators to help mentor and train aspiring student filmmakers. It is something that can be achieved by helping sponsor more workshops for younger filmmakers.

“Unleashing a young filmmaker’s creativity allows them to communicate with audiences about their experiences through visual storytelling,” explained Muñoz. “Many young people don’t know how to begin and don’t know if they can even turn their love of film into a career. Sonscreen is the link between professional and aspiring filmmakers, who are yearning to unleash their creativity.”

It was the third such workshop that SAU has presented at an Adventist academy. The university’s SVAD has a long history of educating not just its students but also the next generation of young filmmakers, including a summer camp SVAD hosts for them.

“I think one of the most important things that we can do as a church is to show young filmmakers that their passion for film has a place to fit within the Adventist Church,” said SAU film program coordinator David George. “One way we can do that is by reaching out to young filmmakers and showing them that their passion can lead forward to honoring God with their talents in film.”