As Mother's Day treats go, few might be able to top Asbury College graduate Andrea Gyertson Nasfell's weekend. On Friday, her first theatrical feature film, Moms' Night Out, opens nationwide.
Going into the project, Nasfell didn't know it would be such a milestone for her career, which has included the TV and home video releases What If ... (2010), Escape (2012) and Christmas Angel (2012), one of several holiday titles on her résumé.
"It was just going to be a small movie, like a Walmart DVD," Nasfell says. "Then when (producer) Kevin Downes read it, he pitched it to the Erwin brothers, who had just come off a big success with October Baby for Song Provident."
The trio of men proved to be a prime target audience for Nasfell's screenplay about three moms out for an epic night on the town that also addresses issues such as mothers' feelings of inadequacy and burnout.
"It was an interesting intersection of people who were looking for the same thing and found it in this idea," Nasfell says. "Each step along the way, it kept getting bigger."
Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton and The Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin were attached to the project, as was country star Trace Adkins in a key role. Finally, it was determined to be a nationwide theater release, the latest in a recent line of faith-based films, including God's Not Dead, making it to theaters.
Nasfell says the focus of the project was making a comedy that could be enjoyed by Christians and non- Christians while still conveying a message pastors and other faith leaders would embrace and promote.
At Asbury, she was in a media department that has sent many professionals into the faith-based and mainstream media markets.
She grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., except for her father's few years as vice president of advancement at Asbury Theological Seminary, which made Wilmore feel like home when she went college shopping. During her junior year, her dad, David Gyertson, was named president of Asbury College (which became Asbury University in 2010), a post he held from 1993 to 2000.
She met her husband, Brady Nasfell, at Asbury, and the couple remained in Central Kentucky until moving to Los Angeles in 2000. In 1999, they released their first feature film, Flying Changes, which premiered at The Kentucky Theatre.
Nasfell brought Moms' Night Out to Asbury a few weeks ago for the Highbridge Film Festival.
She hopes the movie is a gift for moms who feel stressed by the pursuit of domestic perfection.
"We all feel overwhelmed, and some of it is just the pressure we put on ourselves," Nasfell says. "So the message is, we're all a little bit crazy, we all have this stress in our lives, and it's OK. We don't have to control the chaos. We just have to do our best and love our kids, and they're going to turn out great."