“Old Fashioned” Helps Students Connect with Film Industry Professionals
"Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is old fashioned."
This tagline for “Old Fashioned,” a new movie about God-centered courtship that premiered Valentine’s Day weekend, could be seen repeatedly on social media in recent weeks as Seventh-day Adventists were quick to embrace the film’s denominational connections. Its positioning as a Christian response to the sexually explicit “Fifty Shades of Grey” only added to the marketing buzz.
The results were encouraging. “Old Fashioned” brought in more than $1 million on 224 screens nationwide, a record total for a Christian film with less than 300 screens. Due in part to that success, 75 new theatres will add the movie to their offerings during its second week of release.
For those living either on campus or near Southern Adventist University, the excitement was even more palpable as faculty from Southern used the film to encourage increased dialogue about relationships, spirituality, and creativity. After one of several sold-out showings at the local IMAX on opening weekend, “Old Fashioned” crew members David George (cinematographer) and Zach Gray (executive producer) spent time with the audience for a question-and-answer session in the theatre.
Both George and Gray are professors in the School of Visual Art and Design, and the Southern connections don’t end there. Rik Swartzwelder, the writer, director, and lead actor for “Old Fashioned,” was an artist-in-residence and adjunct instructor at Southern during the film’s production.
“Since the film was edited in Brock Hall while Rik was here, a lot of students got to rub shoulders with him and ask for advice on projects they were working on at the time,” George said. “There were also seven or eight alumni and a few other faculty who had an opportunity to be involved with the film.”
Students continue to connect with these Christian filmmakers. George and Gray are leading a Sabbath School class in the campus church that discusses spiritual lessons they learned while making the movie, and what Adventists can take away from watching the film in terms of relating more authentically with nonbelievers.
Nurturing Godly Relationships
Though many believe that chivalry is dead, students at Southern beg to differ. They value the university’s efforts to model a radically different ideal for dating.
"I have heard numerous vespers, worships, and convocations that uplift the value of a God-centered relationship," said Kaitlyn Verrill, senior pastoral care major. "By promoting the biblical ideal for emotional intimacy and sexuality, Southern has helped prepare me for a godly marriage."
But the message of purity isn’t just coming from adults on a stage or in front of the classroom. The influence of peers is, perhaps, even more important. Brennon Kirstein, campus chaplain, encourages group activities where students slow down and get to know each other on a spiritual level.
"We create a lot of events where students can socialize and have fun without the extreme pressure of one guy and one girl sitting together alone in the candlelight, accelerating the romance faster than they can handle," Kirstein said.
Southern provides an atmosphere that cultivates long lasting relationships with like-minded believers, and “Old Fashioned” tells a similar story through dramatic narrative.
"One of the biggest decisions, outside of accepting Christ as your savior, is the decision of who you are going to marry," said Obadiah Groft, senior chemistry major. "Southern is a place where students find people who share the same values, and are on similar walks."