From Script to Screen in One Semester

Jonah Hofmeyer’s favorite class at Dordt University was Short Film Production, a course that, according to Dordt’s catalog, “gives a select number of students an immersive opportunity to create a short film by working in assigned roles on a film crew.”

Hofmeyer spent the summer months leading up to the class writing a 26-page script. The class then produced the short film, titled “The Woodsman”; Hofmeyer served as director. They held a premiere event and even entered the film into festivals. “The Woodsman” was featured in film festivals like the South Dakota Film Festival, Lift-Off Filmmaker Sessions, and Creature Feature Weekend; it won in the Cuckoo International Film Awards and was nominated in the 33rd Annual Iowa Motion Picture Awards.

The Short Film Production course helps students to understand “the unique roles of filmmaking and the critical need for cooperation and collaboration” to “help students become better communicators in this culture-shaping arena.” Hofmeyer took on a particularly challenging “culture-shaping arena”: “The Woodsman” follows a true crime podcaster who tries to catch a serial killer.

“It was an exercise in understanding how to not glorify the violence but point out the sin,” he says. “And how can pointing out the sin lead to redemption? It was interesting to be part of this process, because it was a good reminder that you don’t need to make explicitly Christian movies to be successful in showing the glory of God.”

What was it like to go through the full life cycle of creating a film?

“It was a long process,” admits Hofmeyer. “One big skill I gained was I learned how to work with people who had different approaches and personalities. In the end, it was cool to see something go from words on a computer screen to being a film that was award-winning.”

Hofmeyer has had a wide variety of camera work during his time at Dordt. After joining the Gaming Guild, which provides a community for gamers who are also committed followers of Jesus, Hofmeyer began creating promotional videos about how the Gaming Guild helps gamers connect with each other, think more broadly about their calling as gamers, and develop their own gaming-related gifts to serve God’s kingdom. He even made a documentary about the Gaming Guild during his junior year.

“In my mind, the Gaming Guild is one of the most ‘Dordt’ things about Dordt,” he says. “If we believe that every square inch is the Lord’s, then that includes video gaming. We need to equip people to not only understand gaming more but to look at it from a Christian perspective.”

He has also worked for Dordt Media Network since he was a freshman. “I started out as a regular student employee but am now a student leader,” he says. “Whether directing or doing camera operations, if you put me in the Dordt Media Network truck, I could do any job that is needed.”

Over the years, he has learned firsthand how different livestream is from film production. “In livestream, if you make a mistake, you have to learn from it and move on,” he says. “You can’t redo, you can’t retake. But that’s part of the fun, too. And I think the Dordt Media Network is appreciated by the Sioux Center community, because we keep getting more and more requests to broadcast events. Our work is appreciated, and people notice what we’re doing.”

Hofmeyer has appreciated being able to be involved in so many ways at Dordt. “The extracurriculars have really shaped my Dordt experience,” he says. “I’ve been able to get really involved, and that’s been super important to me.”