Did you know two alums filmed an award-winning movie on campus? That's right. Communication majors Krista Imbesi '09 and Jonathan Stutzman '09 conceptualized, filmed and produced "Thornbird," a short film in 2015, and the accolades have been pouring in ever since.
After graduating from Messiah, the two friends stayed in touch while pursuing their Master of Fine Arts degrees - Stutzman at Temple University and Imbesi at SUNY Buffalo.
In 2012, Imbesi returned to Messiah to teach. Now an assistant professor, she asked Stutzman to visit her film and production techniques class, where he would serve as guest director to create a short film "Thornbird" with her students acting as the crew.
"He was able to integrate themes about self-doubt, female coming-of-age experience and the process of gaining confidence and self-worth, all set in a surreal and abstract context within the film," said Imbesi.
Based on a Celtic myth, the film tells the story of a young girl named Elle, who finds a magic mask that transports her to a dark dream world.
For both alumni, filming at Messiah meant working with familiar faces and spaces. "One of the best parts about attending Messiah College was the community of film students," said Stutzman. "We worked together, learned from each other and grew together, in school and post-graduation."
Filming took only two days, with part of it shot in the College's Poorman Black Box Theatre. Along with the videography, the film uses audio effects produced in the College's Foley Studio. Once the filming was complete, Imbesi and Stutzman spent countless hours in Messiah's editing studios.
Since its release, the film has been screened at more than 60 film festivals in eight different countries, while winning awards in categories such lighting, acting and cinematography.
Imbesi says she has her hands full with projects through CAP Collective, the video production company she manages with husband Christian Imbesi '09 and fellow alum Cody Wanner '09. They are working on a feature-length documentary on sex trafficking in Pennsylvania titled "From Liberty to Captivity" and a short documentary about land grabbing filmed in Uganda titled "Our Feet Are Rooted."
- Jake Miaczynski '20