Justin Graver and Kristin Jones recently decided to take the plunge and put their cinematic skills to the test to produce their own film.
With a slew of awards under their belts, the pair’s efforts are paying off.
Graver, a Plano Senior High School graduate, and Jones, a Prince of Peace Christian School graduate, produced the indie film “Evergreen,” along with a production team.
Filmed on a 3,000-acre Colorado ranch, “Evergreen” tells the story of how an interfaith couple’s relationship is put to the test during a Christmas weekend. The film won best picture at the Houston Broadcast Film Critics Association as well as best foreign film and audience choice at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase. It also received awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Hunter Mountain Film Festival in Hunter, New York.
Jones said the idea of the film came from lead actor Tanner Kalina, who pitched the idea to lead producer Marshall Kistner. She said the two were eager to make the movie and brought her and Graver on board. After two years of producing the movie in their free time and without pay, the two are excited the film is doing so well and are hoping even more people can see it.
“It feels incredible, and it feels very validating,” Jones said. “Making a movie and getting it to where it is today involves making a lot of sacrifices of time and getting to enjoy our life. Having it be so well received at festivals definitely makes it all worth it.”
Graver said they're hoping the film can serve as a calling card for them to help them make another film.
“It’s really great to see our expectations for the film raised,” he said.
The pre-production process took the group several months of meetings, gathering actors and reaching out to as many people in their networks as possible. Obtaining funding for the film wasn’t difficult as the team was able to save money and raise $15,000 from a kick starter campaign.
Both Graver and Jones call the film-making process a collaborative effort, which allowed everyone on the team to work together and learn from each other.
As for the future, the pair plans to make another film. But for right now the goal is to get “Evergreen” on a streaming platform and have as many viewers as possible.
“I think that we would hope our movie is … the thing that really makes you reflect on your own life and compare it to what you see on the screen,” Graver said.
Jones said the hope is that viewers will have an intimate look at two people in a committed relationship.
“They have a difference in religious views, but they are still having these conversations,” she said. “We really hope that viewers can enjoy this whether you’re religious or not.”