Several alumni of Southern Adventist University’s School of Visual Art and Design took on key roles in a recent film about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Come Before Winter." Working with producer Gary Blount, Kevin Ekvall, a 2007 graduate, directed the film, which combines documentary with reenactment. Through the lens of cinematographer Tanya Musgrave, a 2011 graduate, this docudrama highlights Bonhoeffer’s last days from the perspective of a British intelligence black propaganda radio station team. Story consultant and co-production designer Melody George, a 2006 graduate, and assistant director Theo Brown, a 2010 graduate, also greatly contributed to the production of this film, which premiered in the United States at the Loma Linda University Church on Jan. 21, 2017.
Over the course of three years, the team worked together to write, film, and edit this docudrama to create the masterpiece that it is today. To enhance the project’s authenticity, many scenes were filmed in the United Kingdom and Germany, where the events originally took place. Musgrave’s involvement as cinematographer is evident in the interviews overseas as well as many of the indoor narrative sequences filmed in Loma Linda, California. Ekvall explained that due to the varying film locations, “it was extremely important to make sure that the shots worked together in perfect harmony and that the changes in scenery were not evident.”
Throughout the process, the team was introduced to Bonhoeffer’s various writings, which include practical books about Christian spirituality. According to Ekvall, learning more about Bonhoeffer’s impact during World War II was powerful for many of the crew members.
“Although this has been a very difficult process with some pretty big challenges,” Ekvall said, “the fact that someone was willing to risk his life to stand up for injustice and cruelty pushed me to do my best to tell this part of his story.”
“I am very grateful for David George and the other professors in Southern’s School of Visual Art and Design,” Ekvall said. “During this endeavor we had a very small crew, but Southern prepared my colleagues and me to take on a project like this where each of us had multiple roles as crewmembers.”