“The Highway,” an Oklahoma Christian University short film, was screened at the Austin Revolution Film Festival in Austin, TX Sept. 18-22.
The short film, which was written and produced by Communications Professor David Jurney for one of his senior capstone classes, was one of 9 percent of entered films to be accepted and shown at the festival. According to Jurney, the festival only accepted 150 films out of 1,600 originally entered, so he and his team were excited when they received news of the film’s acceptance.
“It was our first time getting [into this festival],” Jurney said. “Interestingly, an email came just a few minutes after sharing [the news saying] there had been a mistake. The email had gone out to too many people, and some were not accepted. It was almost a bit of a gut-punch. Well, did we make it in? Did we not make it in? Then a little bit later that day, things got clarified. We were in.”
Jurney attended the annual Austin Revolution Film Festival Sept. 21 to see the screening.
“The screening was great because it was a packed house,” Jurney said. “I would say there were over 100 people there. People seemed to respond well to it. I had a lot of conversations with film makers after, and they spoke very highly and favorably of the film.”
“The Highway” won three awards, received 15 other award nominations and has been shown at six other festivals. According to Jurney, the Austin Revolution Film Festival was difficult to get accepted into, proving the film is performing above average by being accepted into more festivals than being rejected.
“All films have their own festival rung in life and this was the next one up in the sequence of events,” Jurney said. “I think it’s interesting most festivals take 10 percent or less of the films that get submitted, so if you get into a festival, that’s great. If you don’t, that doesn’t particularly mean your film was bad—it just means it didn’t fit that festival or program that year, or someone just didn’t connect with it.”
Oklahoma Christian alumnus Nehemiah Knox, the film’s editor, said he hopes the film continues to do well and advance to bigger and better festivals.
“It took a lot more work than I had imagined, but I’m proud of how it turned out,” Knox said. “The success we were having since finishing it is much higher than I initially thought. I didn’t actually think we were going to get into the certain festivals we’ve gotten into.”
Jurney said he was inspired to write the film’s script while taking a road trip with his family to visit his sister in Fayetteville, AR late one night. According to the film’s Facebook page, the film is a suspense featuring a mother and daughter on the run fleeing a stranger who offered to help them after their car suffered a flat tire.
“I started to think, ‘What if we broke down on the side of the road and things went poorly?’” Jurney said. “[What if] the person that stopped off to help, if they stopped, was not of good nature? Was not kind? I wanted it to be entertaining but it was also a story about how parents fight for their children regardless of the situation.”
The film is currently not available for viewing unless screened at a festival, according to Jurney, although he hopes to bring “The Highway” to the public in the future.
“Some festivals have certain premiere requirements,” Jurney said. “If it’s available to see online, they won’t accept them, or if it’s been shown in certain areas they won’t accept them. But I think we are going to try to put something together to showcase the films we have done over the last five to six years.”
As the communication department works to complete several other film projects this year, Jurney said he hopes to enter into more selective and “tougher to get into” festivals.
“Each year, our films are getting better [and] more ambitious,” Jurney said. “We’ve got a couple of films now in post-production that I think will be better than this one, and that’s because we keep building on what the previous ones have done.”