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Into the Fray Wins Gold
October 20, 2005

Into The Fray, a student-directed film from Calvin College, has won a national film competition.

Calvin's entry into the Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) National Student Film Competition beat out nine other entries to capture the top prize at the PTEV National Student Conference, held in Indianapolis in mid-October.

Calvin will show Into the Fray on Tuesday, October 25 at 4:30 pm in the Bywerk Video Theater on Calvin's campus (located in the DeVos Communication Center).

Making the movie was a lot of work, but rewarding say those involved in the project, but hearing Calvin's entry announced as the winner was equally fulfilling.

“To be in the audience, where you have over 300 people representing 88 well-established private colleges and universities from across the United States, and to hear them announce that the winner was Calvin College was exhilarating,” says Shirley Roels, director of Calvin’s Lilly Vocation Project.

Roels notes that those at the conference who saw Calvin's entry (subtitled life in the last semester of college) reacted very positively to it.

“I had many students and several program directors from other schools who sought me out after the showing to indicate how much they appreciated the film," she says, "and to request copies that they could use on their own campuses."

Carved from over 50 hours of raw footage, Into the Fray follows four Calvin seniors as they navigate their final year of college and face the many issues that arise during that critical transition.

Kojo Boahene, a business major born in Ghana and raised in England, faces the challenge of getting a job in the two months post-graduation allowed to international students. And when he lands a job in another city, he realizes he will have to manage a long distance relationship with his girlfriend.

Jacqui Deboer, a theatre major and avid Christian, plans her wedding between rehearsals and, with her fiancée, waits anxiously to hear about a pair of Vancouver theatre internships.

Judah Mahay, a spirited business major from Alaska, ponders the meaninglessness of financial success even as he launches a travel Web site. To Mahay belongs this line about his post-college future: “I feel like I’m running into a jungle with a bag full of candy … That’s how college has prepared me.”

Beth Vander Meer, an art history major, discusses what it means to be a feminist and agnostic in a Christian community, while she fine-tunes her plan to pursue museum studies.

“I think it showed a good cross section in terms of identities and relationships,” says senior Scott Admiraal (right), the mass media and computer science major who edited the film.

Interwoven with the four student stories are the reflections of several professors and others from the Calvin community, including Randall Wolthuis, the director of Calvin’s Broene Center, college chaplain Dale Cooper, and theatre professor Stephanie Sandberg.

Also threaded through the main narrative are the offhand and sometimes hilarious comments of students in a confessional booth. There is a scene from Deboer’s beach wedding, and the film even sneaks in a quick shot of President George Bush in his role as Calvin’s 2005 Commencement speaker.

The film’s many voices all cohere around the themes of personal identity, relationships both friendly and romantic, and vocation - including the nuts and bolts of the job hunt.

“I introduced themes that I found personally relevant,” says Admiraal, the only person who saw every inch of the film’s raw footage.

Says Roels of the Grand Rapids native: "There are a lot of heroes in this story but this film would not have happened without Scott.”

The film’s creators worked on an extremely tight deadline. Students Alex Backer, Michael Brooks, Ranjeet Das, Rachel Dik, Emilee Pearce, Vamshi Linga, John Sleek, Chad Vickery and Scott Beahm (who coordinated the student filming) worked on the four camera crews.

Armin Karim IV and Jonathon Wiest composed the film’s score in a mere three weeks.

“The first month-and-a-half, I was convinced it would be a complete failure. I didn’t know if it was going to be done on time,” Admiraal says.

The students were mentored by communication arts and sciences (CAS) professor Daniel Garcia, music professor David Fuentes and CAS chief engineer Jake Bosmeijer.

The $2,000 production costs, which bought a camera, film and materials for the film’s “Booth of Truth,” were covered by the Lilly vocation project.

“And," says Roels with a laugh, "we funded a few pizzas along the way because when people are editing down to the deadline, at 5 a.m. they need food. I’m so proud of our students because they had this combination of vision about vocation, persistence over time, technical ability, and the determination to just gut it through all the way to the end.”

Admiraal, who says at this point he can quote most of the film, is pleased with the finished product.

"The fact that I can sit down and watch the movie without thinking about my involvement in it is good," he says, "because it’s not something I’m happy watching just because I worked on it."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson