The Georgetown College theater department didn't put on a play in spring 2011. It made a movie.
After the success of theater and performance studies professor Ed Smith's first film, Surviving Guthrie, in 2008, he wanted to make another movie. In the years between the films, he also noticed something: Faith-based pictures such as Fireproof were attracting fervent audiences and creating buzz around the country.
"I had never done anything specifically faith-based in my career, and it occurred to me that now wouldn't be a bad time to do that," Smith said.
So, with the students and faculty at the traditionally Baptist college, Smith wrote unDeserved, a film set at a small, Southern liberal arts college that isn't specifically Georgetown but isn't unlike it either. The film was shot at locations around Georgetown, and it used the college's Lab Theatre as a soundstage.
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UnDeserved will have its world premiere Saturday on the Georgetown campus.
The story focuses on Tia, played by Georgetown student Meredith Cave of Nicholasville. Tia is a new Christian struggling with her dark past and a conviction that she is unlovable. Some students reinforce that; others reach out to her.
"It asks the question: How do you deal with stuff that's hard to forget getting in your way?" Smith says.
After the premiere, Smith says, he hopes to show the movie to other area churches and to develop study materials associated with it, as other faith-based films have had. He also aims to enter it in some faith-based and mainstream film festivals.
"We hope it finds an audience," he says.
He also wants the film to help establish a stronger film component in Georgetown's drama department, which was renamed the Department of Theatre and Film.
"Film making has been democratized," Smith says, saying that film cameras capable of making high-quality images are becoming affordable to the public. "Folks look at this as another way to tell stories."
Something that sets the Georgetown program apart, Smith says, is its affiliation with the theater department.
"One thing I have heard is a lot of film programs don't do a good job teaching their students how to work with actors," Smith says. "And students involved in the theater program need to have the tools to go out there in the world."
Students, it seems, can look forward to more class movies in semesters to come.