In a pool of more than 12,000 professional film entries, a documentary that started as a student research project from Trevecca's Department of Communication Studies won a bronze Telly Award for non-broadcast general religion/spirituality.
The 39th annual Telly Awards announced the winners on May 22, recognizing outstanding professional video and television projects from entries across the United States and five continents.
Your Kingdom Come is a product of the 2017 Faculty-Led Research Experience (FLARE) projects under the direction of Seth Conley, associate professor of communication studies. The 35-minute documentary premiered on the purple carpet last fall during Trevecca’s Homecoming Weekend.
“Our film students really rise to the level of professionalism and that’s what we strive for in the film program,” Connley said. “So really, [the film] is just a reflection of what we try to teach our students: that they’re not just students; they’re professionals in training. They act like professionals and their results … are professional results.”
The documentary centers around the idea of God’s kingdom on earth and how it differs from the Israelites’ vision as seen through the teachings of Jesus. A team of students and faculty members shot footage in biblical locations such as Jerusalem, Qumran, the Dead Sea, Mount Carmel and the Jordan River.
“The biggest thing for me was seeing the things that I read as a kid come to life,” said Mariana Da Silva, a senior media arts major and associate producer. “I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience in filming, working as a team … we have to trust each other to do the job.”
This project was a collaborative effort between different departments at Trevecca. Faculty members from Trevecca’s religion department took part in the scriptwriting and the research aspect while the music department composed the original score.
Dr. Lena Welch, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, says both the Department of Communication Studies and the University encourage students to join hands-on projects. The University provides the budget and release time to any faculty member who wants to develop a FLARE project.
“Perhaps what I appreciate most about [Conley] is his ability to bring out the very best in students,” she said. “And I think what makes this award so special is the involvement of students. This was very much a student-led and student-developed project.”
Since the documentary’s release in November, it has made its way through the film festival circuit— winning best documentary short at the Middle Tennessee Film Festival and was chosen as an official selection at the International Christian Film and Music Festival.
“I think the Telly is a further evidence that our students are growing into young professionals who are ready for a career in film and television,” Conley said. “We just have really great students who are really passionate about storytelling and passionate about Christ, and I think it showed through their dedication and hard work on this project. I would expect more projects down the road to be similar or even better.”