WAXAHACHIE — The sixth film created by the award-winning film-production unit of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Communication Arts Department is set to take the big screen in January 2017. The romantic comedy, filmed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, features an SAGU alumnus in its leading role.

The movie, “Better off Jed,” is the product of a team effort between SAGU seniors Timothy Jones, Asia Behrendt and Alexander deFreitas who initially began the project the summer of 2015.

In a press release, Behrendt shared that “From the start, we wanted the script to have more of a Christian element to it, so we wrote a deep, dramatic story that was broken up by humorous moments. However, when we brought the script to English professor Dr. Danny Alexander to proofread it, he told us that we had both a Christian drama and a Christian comedy, but we could only pick one. So, we went with the comedy.”

The movie focuses on Jed’s inability to talk to girls without stuttering and one girl in particular — Cece Warren (Shae Bagby). Warren is a popular cheerleader and best friend to Gabi Mendez (Carine Rice) who happens to be the girlfriend of Casanova Phoenix Nash (Tanner Westmoreland) whom Jed confides in for advice.

DMA [Digital Media Arts] professor Rob Price spent several months revising, storyboarding and editing the film that is now a 35-minute production.

“‘Better Off Jed’ is by far our most comedic project since we launched SAGU Cinema in 2008. Not only did the script bring the funny, but we also hired as our lead actor one of our own recent alumni, Taylor Johnson, who is a full-time comedian," Price said. "That’s a powerful combination which we hope will make our audiences laugh and enjoy the short film. Plus, since my students and I had so much fun on set shooting the film, we felt confident we were sitting on a gold mine even during production."

Price served as the executive producer, selecting 15 upperclassmen as the project leaders. These upperclassmen included Asia Behrendt and Tyler Marie-Evans (Hartmann) as the producers, Timothy Jones as director and co-writer, Mallorie Lough as first assistant director, Emy Chinchay as production designer, and Drew Ansohn as director of photography.

“The DMA program is designed to require students to quickly mature and be able to handle a lot of responsibility well before they graduate. I am very tough on them and try to instill in them the importance of creating a professional mindset on all their film sets. They hit all their marks with this most current film project, and I could not be more proud of them,” Price explained.

The press release noted that Jones loved the DMA department at SAGU because of how broad it is and that the program “[...] allows us to dip our toes in all the different areas of digital media, I discovered that directing is what I want to pursue. The pressure that the DMA classes put on me has definitely shaped me into an individual that can not only create ideas but also know how to make my ideas actually happen.”

The film will show at the Waxahachie ShowBiz Cinemas and will include a 20 minute behind the scenes documentary. Tickets will become available for purchase in mid-January and will be offered at a discounted price online at https://sagu.brushfireapp.com/tickets.

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Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL

(469) 517-1454