'Identity Crisis' filmmakers, GCU students collaborate on festive visit

Cast and creators of the movie “Identity Crisis” discuss the movie and filmmaking during a question-and-answer session at Ethington Theatre before the purple carpet premiere of the movie Thursday at GCU Arena.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

An attentive Ethington Theatre crowd took the opportunity to rub shoulders with “Identity Crisis” filmmakers for the first time since the movie was filmed on the Grand Canyon University campus nearly two years ago.

And the invitation to ask questions left a surreal impression on many College of Arts and Media students during a 75-minute question-and-answer session that preceded Thursday night’s purple carpet premiere at GCU Arena.

Paul Roscoe, who was one of many GCU students involved in the production of “Identity Crisis,” arrives before the film's debut.

“It was extremely worthwhile,” said Cora Epton, a freshman theatre major. “It is important in this day and age to meet young actors face to face and talk to them, because the (actors’) strike is happening, and online media is so impersonal now.

“So being able to come here and be inspired by people who you can relate to and get to know is phenomenal.”

“Identity Crisis” represents one of the signature moments in the two years the college has been under the lead of Dr. Craig Detweiler, Dean of the College of Arts and Media. Detweiler moderated the session and allowed the principal creatives of the movie to discuss the evolution of the film and the support of GCU President Brian Mueller before answering students’ questions. Those filmmakers included producers Andrea Polnaszek and Alexandra Boylan, director Shari Rigby, editor Lex Benedict, casting director Lisa London and actress/star Laura Leigh Turner.

College of Arts and Media Dean Dr. Craig Detweiler welcomes guests before the screening.

Afterward, they stayed to answer more questions for about 20 students and posed for selfies with them.

The movie, featuring a college coed who seeks to clone herself, hit close to home with Rigby.

“I think the coolest thing, again, is I always keep going back to God because I grew up in Phoenix,” Rigby said. “So my life, especially going through so many things that I did here, I had multiple identity crises.

“Identity Crisis” creators with GCU students who were involved in the production.

“To come back to Phoenix and make a movie called ‘Identity Crisis’ and get right with God and to work was just a cool, cool experience. Only God can do those kind of things. So that is how it all started. And then here we are.”

Some of the filmmakers reinforced positive thoughts and support to the crowd and shared some of their struggles in college.

“It's very important to be about collaboration,” Rigby said. “And when you work with a group of women that really get along and (are easy to) collaborate with, who are open to your ideas ... We are discussing ideas for all of us, and we just have a really collaborative feel. There is something very, very special.”

"Identity Crisis" cast members (from right) Finn Roberts, Scout Tayui-Lepore and Laura Leigh Turner watch the final product.

At least six students in the audience cheerfully acknowledged they were cast as extras in the movie, and Rigby stressed that every job is important, regardless of its status.

“A lot of times that film is like as good as your weakest link,” Rigby said. “You also want to make sure that you are first and foremost pouring into them and making them feel encouraged, because those background talents are so important to the process of making a movie.”

“Identity Crisis” producer Alexandra Boylan (left) takes a selfie with cast member Laura Leigh Turner.

Rigby also stressed the importance of giving students the support to perform with confidence and relaxation.

“The better that we can make sure that people are encouraged and are educated, the better off it's all going to be, and they really are the ones that make so much of the magic happen on set,” Rigby said.

London stressed how that support is essential.

Students listen during a question-and-answer session with the creators of the movie “Identity Crisis” at Ethington Theatre.

London said, “If they're expressing that they want to learn something, then it's our opportunity as Christian women to lift them up and engage with them so that we can help them to craft and work on the skills that they need to be part of a team and actually do the job.”

Producer Erin Miller, who joined her co-workers for the Q-and-A session with students, methodically crafted a response to an inquiry about funding movies.

College of Arts and Media Dean Dr. Craig Detweiler escorts sister producers Andrea Polnaszek (left) and Alexandra Boylan into the Arena.

“A lot of it is finding people that align with the purpose of why you're creating it, right?” Miller said. “You're making a horror movie. Well, you are not going to go to a Christian financier and (say), ‘Hey, we really want to change the world with really quality, good content for young people.’"

Miller said she and Boylan thought the script for "Identity Crisis" was funny enough to get Rigby involved. They met in a restaurant parking lot for 15 minutes, and they eventually thought it was worth seeking investors to fund the project.

GCU senior Nathan Rojas, who plays the role of Bill in the movie “Identity Crisis,” talks about being part of the film.

Filmmakers spent 30 days preparing and filming on the GCU campus, with Boylan recalling shifts lasting as long as 14 hours and affecting sleep and diet.

But the experience was indelible.

“Having the support of GCU was incredible,” Boylan said. “It was a game-changer for us because I would say this was one of the smoothest productions we had because we had the support of you guys.”

"Identity Crisis" can be seen on Amazon, YouTube, Apple TV and Redbox.

GCU senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/