Biola film rolls a Bible story
A student-run Biola short film tells the story of Cain and Abel with a twist. | Photo courtesy of William Tan
Lights, camera, action. Over the last semester, a group of Biola cinema and media art majors have become well acquainted with these three words. Students from the motion picture production and pre-production class, otherwise known as the Biola film class, planned, filmed and edited the Biola film for the year, called “The Eastern Wood.”
Exploring the human element
The short film portrays a twist on the story of Cain and Abel, in which two brothers go to the Garden of Eden in search for food before their families go starving. With the story set in the wilderness of the East, Brandon Spring, senior film production major and writer and director of the film, formed the title into more of a general location. The film also aims to think deeper about the Bible story, Spring explained.
“I had never seen a Cain and Abel movie done and it is a story that’s kind of ambiguous because we don’t get a whole lot of backstory on the brothers,” Spring said. “So I just kind of wanted to explore why did he do that? What is it that’s going on in the family that makes him want to just kind of up and kill his brother because of a sacrifice? Just kind of wanted to explore the human element of that and just the family drama that’s going on there.”
While the majority of the crew consists of Biola film majors, students from several other majors including business, journalism and psychology helped behind the scenes as photography, makeup and production assistants. The only few positions hired outside of Biola consisted of the lead actors.
Intentional use of African American actors
“When I developed the story, I intentionally wanted to use African American actors, so I actually hired African American actors to be in the film to play the main characters. Because I wanted to kind of shift the typical Hollywood convention, in particular with Bible orientated films of having Caucasian or European actors playing them,” Spring said.
The writing of the film began last summer, with two months in pre-production, three days of shooting and about a month of post-production. In each of the phases, the team worked to gather the needed elements such as actors and an animal wrangler for the lamb to make the film match their vision.
As producers of the film, junior media management major Abigail Limuria and senior film production major Jose Ordoñez focused on the logistics side of the film, as well as forming Spring’s plan into reality.
“My favorite part is definitely working with people from the different departments, [kind of] just being able to talk to them and see what their vision is and just helping them to acquire that vision,” Ordoñez said. “I love just connecting with them.”
Unique, racially diverse production
The roles above the line, those of writers, directors, producers and actors, consist of a racially diverse group as well, including African American, Asian and Hispanic people.
“This Biola film is really unique because it’s the very first Biola film that actually tells a Bible story and it’s pretty interesting since Biola’s a Christian university,” Limuria said. “Also how not just the cast, I guess, but the crew behind it is also diverse … We’re breaking a lot of boundaries.”
The film premieres on May 19 at 7 p.m. in Sutherland Auditorium, including free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches provided by the funding of the Student Government Association. There will also be a time after the screening for questions with the director, producers, actors and crew hosted by David Talley, professor of biblical and theological studies.