Lexington siblings rely on community support for faith-based film

Siblings Kendra White and Jeremy White wrote and directed Summer Snow.
Siblings Kendra White and Jeremy White wrote and directed Summer Snow.

Two summers ago, Lexington sibling filmmakers Kendra and Jeremy White were running around town with a film crew in tow making Summer Snow, their first feature film.

This weekend, they are bringing the movie back to town for a premiere engagement at the AmStar 14 theaters in Brannon Crossing. It's the culmination of weeks of promotion for the faith-based film about a family struggling in the aftermath of a mother's death and the daughter who shares her legacy.

"It's basically been, anything we can do to get in front of people and talk for the last month and a half or two months, we've been doing," says Jeremy White, who along with Kendra White, is now based in Tupelo, Miss., where American Family Studios, a division of the American Family Association, is based.

"It's given us a great excuse to come home a lot for promotions," Kendra White says.

Those events include an opening night tailgate at the theatre and a meet and greet with the cast and directors Sunday night at the White's home church, Lexington First Assembly of God.

The Whites find they have come into faith films at a prime time, with faith-based movies opening on a near weekly basis recently, including Heaven Is for Real and God's Not Dead.

Mother's Day weekend saw the opening of Mom's Night Out, co-written by Andrea Nasfell, who like the Whites is an Asbury University graduate. And also opening in Lexington this weekend is As It Is in Heaven (See story, Page 10), a movie that was made by Asbury professor Joshua Overbay and an Asbury student crew, though it does not necessarily fall in the faith-based genre.

"It's nice because it paves the way, in a way, when we are calling and trying to book theaters and do screenings at churches and different places, they'll say, 'Oh, we did this with this film,'" Jeremy White says. "The challenge though, is now there are a lot more faith-based films. So now, even trying to find the time to say, 'when do we want the film to premiere?' has been a challenge."

It's a good problem though, says Kendra White, because "every time we see a new film, it pushes the genre forward.

"As more are being made, more funding is available, and the quality just begins to skyrocket. That's encouraging to us as creatives in the industry."

Though connected with American Family, which has media outlets including several hundred radio stations and has stirred controversy for its stands against gay marriage and abortion, the Whites say resources were tight for Summer Snow. That was part of the reason it was filmed in Lexington and the surrounding area.

"When it comes to a film working in our size budget rather than a big Hollywood budget, a lot of the effort becomes a grass-roots effort, and we said, 'We want to make sure we know these people, we know we can count on them, we've been trusting them all these years growing up, and we know they'll pull through for us when the going gets tough," Jeremy White says.

They partnered with Lexington First Assembly, "and they brought food on set, we would send out an email saying, 'We need this,' and it was there," Kendra White says.

From the professional film people to the volunteers, the Whites were collaborating on a mission to tell a story they felt was important.

"Our goal with this film is that anyone who comes to see it will know that one life can make a difference," Jeremy White says.

The title comes from a story the mom told her daughter Hallie, played by Rachel Eggleston, about white dandelions whose seeds blow away, Kendra White says.

"Her mom explains that when you die to yourself or when you make personal sacrifices, it's like those dandelions dying and the seeds spreading and multiplying," Kendra says.

And as the film begins to be shown, the Whites are seeing their sacrifices and those of friends and families carrying their story around the country.

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