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Communication students from Southwestern Adventist University recently won Best Student Comedy Short at the Lionshead Film Festival in Dallas for their film, “The Prepper.”

Students from the film production class worked together, under the direction of SWAU associate professor Kyle Portbury, to produce the short film.

Students Shane Miosi wrote the script. Yaridai Casco-Hernandez, Matthew Forner, Justin Hudgins, Tristan Mikesell, Shane Miosi, Gavin Neal and Scott Wallace directed the film. Post-production was provided by Tristan Mikesell. The students featured Portbury as the title character.

The film highlights the struggles of a doomsday prepper. After 16 years of hiding in a bunker, a man runs out of toilet paper.

“A great outcome for all the hard work the class put into bringing to life what began as a class exercise in studio set design and build and became an award-winning short film,” Portbury said. “I couldn’t be more proud of their work and of course their casting choice was inspired.”

The students said the project was a unique learning experience.

“Working on this film was an eye-opening experience,” senior Matt Forner said. “Film studies was not something I initially was very interested in — being a hardcore radio guy — but after seeing the enthusiasm and talent that Kyle Portbury brought to the game, I couldn’t help but also become passionate.

“‘The Prepper’ was a true class project and being able to get hands-on experience and direction is very valuable. Not only does Portbury know the technical side of filmmaking but more importantly he knows how to tell a story well. Life is all about telling stories and relating experiences, which connects people together. As a communication major, I am gaining that experience and I’m excited that the hard work we all put forward has been acknowledged. I’m thankful to a part of the team.”

Junior Justin Hudgins said he found it cool that the film was accepted into the film festival.

“I can say that I wasn’t expecting to win an award,” Hudgins said. “This whole experience was quite rewarding for me, as making films is something I have an interest in doing.”

Senior Gavin Neal said the recognition by the film festival means the amount of effort and time put into this project has produced more of a reward than a grade.

“We got involved with a project and we’re proud of it,” he said. “That says a lot about how our communication department operates.”

After completing the film, each student also produced individual short film projects.

The SWAU communication department is no stranger to awards.

SWAU Communication Department Chair Mike Agee is also the general manager for KJRN 88.3 The Journey radio station. The Journey recently placed No. 20 out of the top 30 Christian radio stations in the nation.

Portbury has won many awards for his work, including Best Documentary for his documentary “A Mountain Within” at the Mountain Film Festival in California. He also directed “Beyond the Search,” which went on to win 14 international awards including the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle, SWAU Director of Marketing and Public Relations Darcy Force said.

“The Prepper” will be shown to the public this fall after school is back in session.

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