Three Cedarville graduates helped produce and market the faith-based film “Woodlawn,” released in theatres Oct. 16 by Pure Flix and Provident Films. Ben Bailey ’09 and Parker Adams ’14 were a part of the audio/visual team, and Scott Mills ’92 helped market the movie to churches.
James Kragel, associate professor of communications at Cedarville, said having three graduates contribute to “Woodlawn” exemplifies the mission of the broadcasting and digital media program.
“I’m so proud of many of our graduates,” Kragel said, “but when we see the tangible result of their training here coming out in such a highly acclaimed faith-based movie like this, it validates the mission we all share here at Cedarville – to make a positive spiritual difference in the lives of others.”
Meeting the Kendrick brothers
Adams said his journey to join the “Woodlawn” production team was a complete act of God. After graduating with a degree in broadcast and digital media and a focus in film motion graphics, Adams met the Kendrick brothers at a film conference and was offered a job on the production team for their movie “War Room” (released in theatres Aug. 28).
The Kendrick brothers are the founders of Sherwood Pictures based in Sherwood Baptist Chruch in Albany, Georgia, and have produced four other films, including “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.”
“I got to work with them right out of college, which was a crazy, amazing opportunity,” Adams said. “I ended up driving through the night to make it work and worked for free on the movie, but it was well worth it.”
During his time on “War Room,” Adams had the opportunity to work as a production assistant. However, part way through filming he was asked to fill a space in the audio department where he said he got to work more closely with the actors. After working in the audio department a few weeks, Alex Kendrick asked Adams if he wanted to film a few scenes while he was out one day, Adams said.
“It was so out of the blue,” Adams said. “I had gotten to know him a little bit, and he seemed to be impressed with my work to that point. I really wanted to work more on the film side, so it was the perfect chance.”
Yet it was while working in the audio department that Adams met Steve Preston, head of the audio department, who would later introduce him to “Woodlawn,” Adams said.
“It started off as an innocent conversation,” Adams said. “Next thing I know, he’s showing me a mock trailer for ‘Woodlawn’ and offering me a position on his crew.”
Adams said he was originally offered a position as a utilities manager and would only be needed for the first half of the filming process. However, he said God opened doors and provided him with a position in the camera department and post-production staff.
During the filming of “Woodlawn,” Adams said he worked closely with the actors and built relationships with them as he helped set them up with mics and marked out their scenes each day. He also was able to learn more about the visual side of production in “Woodlawn” specifically during post-production. Adams said he did a lot of work with digitally inserting visual effects during post-production.
Adams said God again provided him with an opportunity to advance his career when he met Ethan Ledden. Ledden, head of post-production, introduced Adams to Red Sky Studios, the post-production company that assisted with “Woodlawn,” Adams said.
Adams also met Ben Bailey the chief operating officer and technical director for Red Sky Studios. Bailey was working as the digital imaging technician for “Woodlawn,” and he offered Adams a job as the visual effects editor for Red Sky Studios, Adams said.
Adams said throughout this whole journey he never stopped giving God credit for every opportunity he received.
“This whole experience was an eye-opening thing from God,” Adams said. “I never planned on making movies for a living, but God continually presented me with opportunities to hone my craft and passion for storytelling. He gave me a love of telling stories that have an impact on people’s lives.”
Kragel said “Woodlawn” was a big win for Adams and Bailey and the broadcast and digital media program.
“What Parker (Adams) and Ben (Bailey) were able to accomplish working on this film is exactly what we are trying to do with our broadcasting and digital film majors – prepare them to get real jobs in the film industry creating stories that bring the audience closer to knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior,” Kragel said.
Engage Media Partners
Scott Mills, a 1992 Cedarville graduate, is the founder and chief engagement officer at Engage Media Partners, a marketing company that seeks to engage churches with the culture through a variety of media such as movies, apps and books.
Mills worked with the Erwin brothers, the “Woodlawn” directors, on two of their previous films, “Mom’s Night Out” and “October Baby.” Mills said he was excited when the Erwins pitched the concept for “Woodlawn” to him.
“I was really intrigued with the movie’s ability to combine football with the message of Jesus and revival,” Mills said. “The story is based on actual events, and its message is still so prevalent to the current culture.”
Mills’ role for “Woodlawn” was to get both local churches and churches across the country excited about the film and promote it within their communities through multiple events, such as screenings of movie trailers and hosting early viewing parties. Mills also created and provided churches with devotional and Bible study materials based on the film.
Weaving the gospel into film
Mills said as a broadcasting major at Cedarville, he never expected that he would be where he is today, marketing faith-based films. Yet, Mills said after working with Lifeway Films for the Kendrick brothers’ film “Courageous,” God gave him a passion for engaging the church with cultural issues through film.
“Churches tend to avoid social issues because they don’t know how to address them in a godly manner,” Mills said. “At Engage Media Partners, we try to help show churches how movies can impact their congregation and community.”
Mills said he has developed deep relationships with many pastors and their churches over the years, and he has been able to see them begin to embrace the influence that film has on the culture.
Mills said he would like to see more Christians start working in the media because of the industry’s ability to shape culture in such a direct way. He said he believes that one of the best ways to teach people about the gospel is to present it in a way that will bring learning through entertainment and leads to action.
Mills said that he encourages aspiring content creators never to stop working toward improving their skills.
“Work on your craft as much as you can, even when no one is watching,” Mills said. “What we need is great storytellers that can weave the gospel into film that draw an audience’s attention through entertainment.”
Watch “Woodlawn” in theatres now or pick up a copy on DVD and Blu-Ray in early 2016.
Emily Day is a junior journalism major and arts & entertainment editor for Cedars. She is an avid reader, runner and is a general Disney enthusiast.