by Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Nazareth, the TV pilot filmed by the Asbury University Communication Arts Department over the summer, has finished post-production and will screen April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyric Theatre in Lexington. Jim Shores, one of the screenwriters and a professor at Asbury, encourages everyone to attend the free event at the 500-seat theatre.
Many Asbury undergraduate and graduate students helped in some way with this pilot, Shores said, and each learned something unique from the process.
“Writing students got to see the number of edits and rewrites [for a film] and how last minute the edits can be even in a professional setting,” Shores said. “Production students got to see the demands of a professional schedule and got to work with a Hollywood director who didn’t take excuses…. Editors got to see the incredibly long process of editing.”
Nazareth has been in the editing stage since filming ended last summer. Tate Webb, who runs a professional editing house in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been spearheading the post-production process, according to Shores. Senior Kelsey Bundy and Sarah Hagan, a graduate student in the Master’s of Digital Storytelling program, have been working with him on rough cuts and editing.
One unique part of the process that these students got to see was automatic dialogue replacement (ADR). This is a process that requires the actors of a film to watch and mimic themselves saying lines in order to replace a faulty original sound recording. Shores said that about 75 percent of the film required ADR. This was a challenge that took a significant amount of time.
One of the most beneficial aspects of this project, according to Shores, was that students had the opportunity to work with professionals in their fields. Dean Batali, producer and writer known for “That ‘70s Show” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” was a script consultant for the film; Doug Jones, an actor known for his role as Silver Surfer in “Fantastic Four,” and Nancy Stafford, known for playing Michelle in “Matlock” with Andy Griffith, were actors in the film; and Tate Webb, a professional editor, supervised post-production. Many other regional professionals were also involved.
Jim Owens, the media communications department chair, said working on the film has been a great experience for students. “Our staff has noticed the impact it made on student projects this year,” he said. “The students that worked on Nazareth worked differently and mirrored many of the things that they learned during the summer.”
Asbury students have had many opportunities to work on large projects, Owens said, including a feature film called “Flying Changes” in 1999 and a film called “Hope Bridge” in 2015. Owens also said Asbury was offered a music television series for this summer.
As for the TV pilot Nazareth, it will be distributed through Family Life, a Christian non-profit located in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the mission to save marriages.
Future episodes will be determined by demand, but ideally will be packaged with educational marriage materials to help married couples, Shores said.
Shores hopes the series will be picked up by other distributors too, such as Hallmark or even Netflix. He said, “These are not crazy pipe dreams. We’re not standing out here on the outside, hoping to get in. God has given us resources and connections.”
Ultimately, “the benefit for everyone is good, clean entertainment,” Shores said. “It’s [about] heartfelt, real stories that people deal with and [it has] humor too. That’s the goal.”