Young Southern Adventist University Alum Takes Helm at Church’s Film Studio

Kevin Christenson is now head of Hope Channel International’s Hope Studios.

Emma Boughman, Southern Accent
Young Southern Adventist University Alum Takes Helm at Church’s Film Studio
Kevin Christenson, a Southern alum, is head of the recently established Hope Studios. [Photo: courtesy of Kevin Christenson]

Kevin Christenson, a Southern Adventist University alumnus, is now head of Hope Studios, a recently established cinematic department under Hope Channel International, operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He and his team are currently working on a film documenting the start of the Adventist Church, titled The Hopeful

In a phone interview with the Southern Accent, Kevin shared his personal story — how he has progressed through Hollywood and the film industry since graduating and how Southern kickstarted that journey.

“When I was at Southern, I was studying business by day, but I was doing creative stuff by night,” he said.

While attending Southern, Kevin received a bachelor’s degree in international business management and a bachelor’s in international studies with an emphasis in Spanish. He said his career has often focused on the business side of film, not just production management. Since graduating in 2016, he has returned to visit the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD) and spoken at some of its events. 

During his freshman year, Kevin started Studio 4109, a student production similar to Saturday Night Live. The show grew to have a live studio audience of about 1,000 people. It had several guest stars, including Anthem Lights and a member of Pentatonix. It also showcased other features such as skits, rap videos, and fake commercials. Studio 4109 was produced from 2011 to 2016 and was Kevin’s first major experience with film. 

After graduating, he got into the film industry in Atlanta, Georgia. He moved up in his career, starting with roles as an extra, then an actor stand-in, and eventually some speaking roles. He got his first opportunity to be an executive producer, which led him to the production side of the industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he started discussions with Hope Channel.

Vyacheslav Demyan, who had just started working as Hope Channel’s vice president at the time, spoke with Kevin about business models. The big question Hope Channel faced was how to get productions onto major streaming services and accessible for more people to see. 

“Well, what that would look like is a complete structural change [in the] organization and the business model for it,” Kevin said at the time.

In order to evangelize outside of the already existing Christian population, Kevin suggested, Hope Channel should start doing business the way it’s done in Hollywood. The media and the structure needed to change. One major concept Kevin addressed was the way Hollywood produces movies compared to Hope Channel.

“[Hollywood studios] don’t want to be liable if something goes wrong on a set, or with a movie or a show. So they will open up a limited liability company just for that project,” Kevin said. “You’ve got to switch away from this media ministry model to a film financing company.”

In 2022, Hope Channel established a new film production department called Hope Studios, centered around the business model Kevin had presented years earlier, and the studio wanted him to run it. Hope Channel leaders saw this as an opportunity to grow closer to their goal. 

“If we’re going to be evangelistic, we have to go out into all the world and preach the gospel,” Kevin said.

Hope Channel International’s new film studio, Hope Studios, is creating a movie about the early Advent movement called The Hopeful. Hope Studios was established in 2022. [Photo: courtesy of Hope Studios]

Kevin is now the head of Hope Studios, and Demyan is the new president of Hope Channel. They are currently working on their first major feature film, The Hopeful. The movie is about the Advent movement and will be coming to cinemas in the spring of 2024. It is a 90-minute feature with an “Emmy Award–winning director [Kyle Portbury] and Emmy Award–winning composers and a multi-Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter that wrote two original songs for the film,” Kevin explained. 

“It’s an introduction of who we are to the world,” he added.

The original version of this story was posted by the Southern Accent.

Emma Boughman, Southern Accent