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PHC-Based Film Honored as Redemptive Story

November 11th, 2008

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Come What May crew: left, Manny Edwards; center, George Escobar

Last summer, George Escobar’s Advent Film Group (AFG) brought together a crew of forty inexperienced, young homeschoolers and a handful of professionals in order to film their first movie, Come What May, at Patrick Henry College. Since then, the movie has gathered full audiences in private showings on each coast and received several distribution offers. And last weekend, November 1, AFG also won honors at its first film festival—a Redemptive Storyteller Award from the third annual Redemptive Film Festival, held at Regent University.

Christian moviemaking is on the rise. Since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ achieved a remarkable box-office hit in 2004, distributors have kept an eye open for marketable Christian film. Come What May is the maiden project of Advent Film Group, founded by Purcellville filmmaker George Escobar, a former AOL and Discovery executive who has long dreamed of producing Christian-themed movies while training a new generation of Christian filmmakers.

Escobar mounted the stage to accept the award alongside renowned recipients such as Gregory Gregoire, Chief of Staff for the JESUS Film Project, a two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ that has been seen in every country of the world. Escobar gave all the thanks to God, acknowledged his guests, and gave a brief outline of the how Come What May has so far succeeded.

“Just as Sherwood Baptist Church began with Flywheel and has so far worked its way up to the movie Fireproof, so we, too, plan to continue improving every year,” he said.

The movie Come What May follows the fictional story of Caleb, a transfer to Patrick Henry College, who must argue a moot court case concerning the issue of abortion while his mother, a feminist attorney, argues a similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court from the opposite perspective. Audiences have consistently appreciated the way AFG handled pro-life issues that until now have remained largely untouched on film.

For its low budget and the relative inexperience of its crew, the appeal of the movie to Christian audiences and major Christian film distributors is, by any measure, an impressive achievement. Escobar thanks God for the unusual amount of blessing he has received, and he seeks to return that blessing to young Christians around him whenever he is able.

“When I was first trying to make this happen, I asked Christian filmmakers for assistance, but nobody was willing to give it,” he shared. “So I determined I would do exactly the opposite. I would give everything I could.”

Along those lines, Escobar has granted PHC’s student film club, Streaming Media Network, use of his HD cameras, lights, and microphones. Students can check out equipment, under the supervision of senior Peter Forbes, practice with it, and produce their own films. Similarly, AFG posted the entirety of Come What May on GodTube for free viewing in the week before the national election.

“We wanted to spread the pro-life message,” said Escobar. “And since the free showing, DVD sales have risen greatly.”

As Advent Film Group accepts a distribution offer and moves forward, Come What May will become commercially available. Meanwhile, interested viewers can visit the AFG website for information about showings and to obtain DVDs.

As for Patrick Henry College’s involvement, Escobar and co-producer Manny Edwards considered the College, rich with young film enthusiasts, a promising platform from which to launch an independent film program. A series of movies are planned in collaboration with the College over the next four years.  The goal, says Escobar, is not just to produce high quality family films but also to prepare a new generation of Christian filmmakers capable of producing and directing films like the highly successful Amazing Grace and Chronicles of Narnia series.