November-December 2008 – Going from Hollywood to working with homeschoolers is not the career path most filmmakers take. In fact, George Escobar, filmmaker and founder of Advent Film Group (AFG), may be the first.
Although Escobar experienced early success in Hollywood, he sensed that he didn’t belong there. But it wasn’t until the Lord brought Escobar to repentance that he understood the purpose of his talents.
Escobar refocused his life and asked himself, “Where can I best serve Christians and the Lord in filmmaking?”
God pulled him out of Los Angeles and planted him on the East Coast where he launched AFG (www.adventfilmgroup.com), a filmmaking initiative dedicated “to rebuild culture for Christ in cinema,” according to promotional material. “Advent is training a new generation of Christian filmmakers, drawn from the homeschooling community nationwide, to make socially relevant stories with moral integrity and fidelity to a Biblical worldview.”
Come What May is AFG’s first feature film. It released as a preview edition earlier this year. Rather than trying to reform the industry from the inside out, AFG is taking a different approach by creating a successful alternative to which Hollywood will have to respond over time.
Their approach involves students, namely homeschool students, who are mastering literature and history and who know the Word of God – all key components to good storytelling, which is a must for good filmmaking. The students are given hands-on training while working on an actual film during the summer months. The students are paid and treated as professionals and learn everything from developing a storyline to marketing the film.
Come What May is the product of over 40 homeschoolers, 12 of them students at Patrick Henry College (PHC). PHC and its chancellor Dr. Michael Farris helped get AFG off the ground but had nothing to do with financing the film group. Rather, the college and AFG share the same goal – training students to be leaders in culture. Plus, this is an opportunity for PHC to explore what it needed to develop a formal film program. PHC also functions as authoritative covering for AFG.
Together, AFG and PHC want to change the culture by using cinema to tackle tough moral and social issues head-on as they did in Come What May.
Inspired by a true event, Come What May tells the story of two PHC students – Caleb and Rachel – who compete to overturn Roe v. Wade, the lawsuit that legalized abortion on demand, at the National Moot Court Championship. For Rachel, it’s about standing firm on scriptural truth. For Caleb, whose initial goal is to win for his own gain, the debate over abortion becomes a moral tug-of-war as he tries to make sense of his own convictions. The differing opinions of his father, a new Christian, and his mother, a liberal constitutional attorney, only add fuel to the fire. In the end, Caleb and his family realize that one’s beliefs really do determine one’s actions – a concept that holds true even in the making of this film and in the mission of AFG.
“Why wouldn’t we [as Christians] want to be in the process of affecting people really deep down through the use of cinema and film?” Escobar asked. “It’s an abdication of responsibility that has gone on way too long, and Christians need to get back into this. Otherwise, you’re just letting the darkness take over.”
That’s why Escobar founded AFG and is putting into practice what he refers to as “a powerful new model that combines digital filmmaking, homeschool student leadership training, social relevancy, and Web 2.0 marketing.”
He added, “Homeschoolers have already successfully turned the public education monopoly upside down; we will now do the same in cinema.”
MINI-REVIEW – Come What May, directed by George Escobar is a thought-provoking, powerful film that depicts a Biblical view of marriage and the sanctity of human life and portrays Christian principles for daily living. It feels slightly homemade at times, but the message is strong. Wine is shown in the film, as is a kiss between a husband and wife. But there is no violence, sex, nudity or profanity. The film is 93 minutes long and is not yet rated. As of press time, AFG was in negotiations to secure an official distributor. The film drew the attention of several major Christian distributors, including the company that made Facing the Giants and Fireproof successes at the box office.