Department News (12-15-14)

Congratulations to several BYU alums who are associated with two films that have been accepted in the Sundance Film Festival 2015, Don Verdean and Most Likely to Succeed.  For screening times and more information, go to the festival website,
  • Don Verdean, directed by Jared Hess, written by Jared and Jerusha Hess, will premiere at the festival. The film was produced by a group of BYU alums,  Dave Hunter, Brandt Andersen and Jason Hatfield (producers) and Jared and Jerusha Hess (writers/director).  In an article that came out last April, the group gives a shout out to their alma mater, the BYU film program.  “Having all got their start at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, (BYU) studying film, they have made it their business to keep the local movie activity robust as they continue to work together and build something really special for the Utah film industry.”  (To read the whole article, go to Don Verdean is a man of faith who has devoted his life to biblical archaeology, scouring the globe in search of artifacts that back up the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now, traveling from town to town, he and his devoted assistant, Carol, spread the gospel by peddling books and DVDs out of his shabby RV while his Holy Land contacts, Boaz and Shem, do the digging from afar. When evangelical preacher Tony Lazarus offers to bankroll Don’s modest roadside operation, the escalating pressure to find increasingly significant relics leads Don and his team down a less-than-righteous path. With more than just the word of God on the line, Don finds himself in the midst of a spiteful feud between two opposing congregations, leaving him to question what is truly important in life.  With a fantastic ensemble cast in tow, director Jared Hess returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this hilarious and biting satire that explores the thin line between faith and fabrication.unnamed


  • Most Likely to Succeed, directed by BYU alum Greg Whiteley: Where a college diploma once meant a guaranteed job, now more than half of America’s new college graduates are unable to find employment. Director Greg Whiteley (Mitt, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) locates the source of the problem not in the economy, but in our educational system, which was developed at the dawn of the industrial age to train obedient workers and has changed little since, despite radical changes in the marketplace wrought by technology and the outsourcing of labor. With a world of information available a click away, and the modern workplace valuing skills like collaboration and critical thinking, our rote-based system of learning has become outdated and ineffective.  Charter schools like San Diego’s High Tech High, which replaces standardized tests and compartmentalized subjects with project-based learning and a student-focused curriculum, offer an alternative. Whiteley follows students, teachers, and parents to see if this different model can reawaken the love of learning and offer the potential for a paradigmatic shift in education.



The Count of Monte Cristo will be coming up next month. For an update on the production, check out these two articles and news preview:


Houston Holbrook, an alumnus of the media arts program who graduated in 2012, passed away last week of leukemia.  Houston’s wife Denise also attended BYU in music performance.  Houston’s obituary can be found at  There will be a card at the front desk for faculty to sign if they would like to.  If you’d like to contribute to a small token of remembrance, please bring donations to the front desk as well.


Welcome to our new Theatre Assistant/Graduate Secretary, Lindsi Neilson, who was recently hired in Rene Helfert’s position.  Lindsi graduated from BYU in 2011 with a degree in Theatre Studies emphasizing Stage Management where she was the recipient of BYU’s Outstanding Student Award in Stage Management for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons. Since graduating Lindsi has worked with several theatres and companies in California and around Utah, most notably Tuacahn Center for the Arts, Dixie State University, and Utah Regional Ballet. When she’s not working she loves photography, reading, paddle boarding, and being an aunt to two nephews and two nieces.


Identified in Variety as one of the ten screenwriters to watch in Hollywood, BYU alum Hubbel Palmer has joined with Chris Bowman for a successful screenwriting partnership.  Their first collaboration was Humble Pie, a 2007 film that Hubble wrote and starred in and Chris directed.  To read the full article in Variety, click here.



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