A 2013 encounter between UTC students and a street preacher on campus is the inspiration for a new short film.
"Follow" is currently being filmed as part of the summer 2017 Professional Film and Television Training class at Chattanooga State Community College. The story reimagines an encounter that took place between UTC students and traveling street preacher Angela Cummings, who spent several days addressing students in a "free-speech zone."
UTC student Cole Montalvo was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and inciting a riot after attempting to confront Cummings.
Click here to watch a video of the incident.
Dr. Chris Willis wrote the script for the film in 2014. He wanted to look at the incident and see what, if anything, could've been done differently by both sides.
"It was really interesting how she created a common enemy," Willis said. "Evangelical students were upset at how she was representing them, and progressive students were upset she was there at all."
Inspired by the incident, Willis wrote a story about a theater student who is hired to disrupt Cummings' routine on campus. He counterprotests by standing outside of her circle, punctuating the things she's saying. Eventually, the two end up meeting and having a conversation about faith.
Watch a short clip from "Follow" below:
"The whole idea is about how we can handle these kinds of protest in different ways," he said. "I really feel like it needs to be made, and I hope it gives people some closure."
Students will be shooting "Follow" throughout July. Willis said volunteers are needed as extras for crowd scenes. He can be reached through the film's Facebook page.
Nooga.com contributor Bill Colrus wrote a column that also helped inspire the film:
What if—instead of adjusting the video camera, plugging her upcoming appearances and verbally sparring with those in the crowd—Cummings walked over to Montalvo when he was first stopped by security and calmly answered his question? What if, after Montalvo had been restrained, she had used her powerful lungs to implore campus security to let Montalvo go? Even if she'd been unsuccessful in her efforts, what kind of impression would that have made in the minds of the impressionable college students in attendance that day? What would that video have looked like?
Cummings is still spreading her message of faith at events across the country. Most recently, she spent time street preaching at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at Hollywood High School.
Click here to see more videos from her active YouTube page.