OU Student Film Wins Top Honors at Colony Film Fest

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Ohio University student-directed film The Passageway won the Best Feature and Best of Fest awards at Marietta, Ohio’s Colony Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15. The award is the first for the film, which was produced as part of the School of Media Arts and Studies 419 class.

The Passageway is based on the play Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver by former OU graduate student Merri Biechler. The film, which follows the story of a woman who has lost her mother to cancer, and is now losing her father to the same disease, was co-directed and written by two OU students who have since graduated, David Jeffries and Teresa Strebler.

The Media 419 class is taught by Associate Professor Frederick Lewis. For 11 years, the class has allowed students to produce short films over Winter and Spring Quarters. In 2009, the class produced its first feature-length film, Trailer Park.

The Passageway was shot in Albany, Ohio, starting in January 2011. Time was crucial in the production.

"Most features take 18 months," said Jeffries. "We had six months."

Jeffries and Strebler took over the directing position while they rewrote the script over winter break. The film had a demanding schedule that included shooting during spring break and finals week, including a period of working 15 days straight.

While the festival win validated the work put in by the cast and crew, the film has a larger purpose. Its ultimate goal is to serve as a teaching tool and discussion starter for medical students and doctors.

The students partnered with OU’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine to help distribute the film. Eventually, they hope to make it available on outlets such as iTunes, Amazon and Netflix.

The educational side of the film is something that Strebler thinks makes it unique.

"There was a really clear message and reason for doing this," she said. "The film has an educational purpose but it is something most people can relate to as well."

For more information about The Passageway, visit