The ‘Likeness’ of Inspiration

It's a story that has inspired so many.

It stimulated a group of film students to chase their dreams. It encouraged a team of mentors to invest in a new generation. And it's building professional relationships for more opportunities to come.

And it's not even released publically yet.

"The Likeness of Sydney Mann," written by junior film production major Jonathan Scales, follows the hardships of a family who are recruited into selling drugs by their mother to make ends meet. But as the older daughter attempts to find a better path for her life, she discovers the love and support of a next-door neighbor.

This short film, based on a true story, is the work of 46 digital media arts students and a team of faculty and professionals from the film industry.
The work began this past November with filming and continued into last month with sound editing, color correction and music.

"It's a lot of work, but wow, is it paying off," said Dawn Ford, producer for the film and associate professor of digital media arts.

The film grew out of a meeting with Dr. Dave Rahn who is the vice president for Youth for Christ (YFC) and the director for the youth ministry leadership graduate program at HU. The idea was to create a film about teens who were put on the right track after being mentored by caring adults. YFC plans to use the film to encourage others to become mentors. A teaser video was shown at the YFC national convention and was well-received by the audience.

"I really hope this is going to have a terrific impact with audiences and ultimately with Youth for Christ," said Dr. Lance Clark, director for the film and professor of digital media arts film and communications. "It's really coming together the way I envisioned it."

During filming, students worked under mentors based on their expertise. Most notably, Jim Orr, director of photography for the hit reality show "Duck Dynasty," was on hand to guide a team of students.

"The students have completely risen to the occasion. The work is just extraordinary," Orr said. "I feel that this department has the mojo going for it. Everyone is very encouraging, and they have great equipment."

The goal of the shoot was to give students real-world experiences outside of the classroom. While generally students create their own projects for class, this film gave students the opportunity to hone their skills by working alongside professionals, Clark said.

"I really wanted to give the students a professional film shoot feel," he said.
The experience went so well for the department that Clark is hoping to replicate the experience for students in the future. He hopes to do a feature-length film through the department, given the resources.

"This is just the beginning of something (big)," he said.

This month, the "Likeness" team is hoping that all of their work will pay off as they send the film to various film festivals for judging. It's been a long and arduous process, but the team has high hopes for this festival season.

"It's a beautiful film," Ford said. "We hope that it is going to be well received by festival judges."