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Home > Advent Film Group Trains Aspiring Producers in Weekend Seminar

Advent Film Group Trains Aspiring Producers

July 31st, 2009

By Sarah Pride

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

George Escobar (right) explains a concept

Aspiring film producers swarmed Founder’s Hall on the Patrick Henry College campus the weekend of July 18-19, attending Advent Film Group’s (AFG) first training seminar. They sought to learn some basic fundamentals of filmmaking from Purcellville-based George Escobar, founder of AFG, and from the team he assembled to film the movie Come What May on the PHC campus in 2007.

Demonstrating a generosity and grace that has characterized Escobar’s long-term friendship with the College, AFG donated 50% of the workshop’s net proceeds to the College’s scholarship fund. It was a gesture that captured the spirit of partnership and collaboration behind Come What May’s success in sales and distribution, a theme Escobar repeatedly emphasized for the 65 attendees from across the nation.

“Follow what God is blessing,” Escobar exhorted, addressing not simply the creative process but detailing the business aspects of film production, outlining the process of cultivating relationships with investors and creating a story for an audience, not merely as a means for self-expression.

Attorney Nathan L. McKinney from Durham, N.C., signed up for the workshop questioning the value of the investment, but quickly recognized the quality and humility of the instruction.

“The idea that a Christian filmmaker should approach his work with an attitude of service to—and partnership with—other organizations has just totally opened my thinking,” McKinney told George Escobar, AFG founder. “You taught us that this service/partnership approach is both how a Christian film gets made and why it gets made. There’s no way I could put a monetary value on this one idea.”

AFG produced Come What May, its first feature film, in 2007 in collaboration with PHC, operating on a “micro-budget” model inspired by Sherwood Baptist Temple, the makers of Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  Working with a team of 40 homeschooled high-schoolers and Patrick Henry College students from across the nation, as well as a handful of professionals, Escobar and producer Manny Edwards assembled a fictional tale of a young man who must learn to “do what’s right, come what may,” even when his future lies at stake.

Nash Auditorium full of seminar attendees

Two of the PHC alumni involved in the initial production, Peter Forbes and Michael Holcomb, shared their testimonies at the weekend seminar. Holcomb, who runs his own videography business, recalled how God led him to attend PHC, a school without a film major, despite his desire to study moviemaking.

“Sometimes God asks you to put your ambition to death,” he said, “and I was able to do that.”

While a student at PHC, he pursued independent film projects alongside other student-cinematographers, and no sooner did he graduate than Holcomb found himself working full-time with AFG on a full-length feature. Other AFG participants share similarly amazing stories of how they wound up on the production, and many have gone on to develop their own film projects. Brooke Martin’s short film Mirror, Mirror, for example, reached the top 10 in the Project: Direct 2009 YouTube contest sponsored by the Sundance Film Festival.

“We are training up the next generation of young, Christian filmmakers,” said Escobar, pointing out that “Christian-themed” movies like Amazing Grace and Chronicles of Narnia were handed to secular filmmakers since no Christians were qualified.

AFG will repeat the seminar August 14-15 at a nearby location still to be determined, just as Escobar goes into pre-production for their next film, One Good Man. A training DVD on the workshop will soon be on sale.

“The workshop exceeded my expectations because I saw people’s lives genuinely touched,” said Escobar. “The primary purpose for these workshops is to turn a filmmaker’s focus away from one’s self and put it where it belongs – which is to tell stories that reveal God working in people’s lives.”

Seminar attendees outside Founder's Hall, Patrick Henry College