Filmmaking became more than just a hobby for Jeremy Rowland during his senior year at Forest Lake Academy (FLA) where he was a student of Lloyd Young, video and media instructor. Jeremy’s fascination for film grew as he learned editing and camera work while assisting with the school’s weekly news video, Eye On FLA.
Working with a team that shared his passion, Jeremy realized he wanted to major in film production so he could work with like-minded artists. That’s when he decided Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, was the place for him.
“Southern had the best to offer,” says Jeremy. “It had the best program in the Adventist world.”
Quickly falling in love with the School of Visual Art and Design, Southern’s campus, and the area in general, Jeremy developed a determination to learn all he could about film. By Christmas, he scripted Prodigal, the story about a young man who leaves his demanding home life only to face trouble and deceptive relationships. Jeremy approached fellow student Chris Bohlender with the offer to direct this short film; Chris accepted.
The next big break for Prodigal came when David George, associate professor in the School of Visual Art and Design, chose Jeremy’s script for a school-sponsored film shoot. The project was scheduled over the five-day spring break with 25 first-year film and animation students.
Upon completion, Prodigal was submitted as an entry in the 2010 SONscreen Film Festival. Traditionally held at Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley, California, the 2010 event was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the Adventist World Session. When the Sonny Award winners were announced, Prodigal took home “Best in Fest.” For winning top spot, Jeremy and Chris received a trophy and $2,000. Shortly afterward, Prodigal won first place at the Enzian Film Festival in Orlando, Florida.
“I was completely surprised to win,” Jeremy admits. “It is a very secular festival with audience-chosen winners, so success depends on how many people you bring to the festival in support of your film. Our biggest competition (a film that included a whole lot of blood, guts, and skin) filled a majority of the theater with backers. However, we won, and I had several people come up to me afterward and tell me they were there to support the other films, but had voted for ours. It felt great to know that Christian cinema can be a powerful evangelistic tool, as well as a success in the secular world.
“I believe that God has really worked through this project, and I hope that it will continue to reach people all over the world.”
Watch Jeremy’s film, Prodigal, at http://vimeo.com/16515413 or below.