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Education In Love

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Education In Love is a feature length movie that Trey Riley, as writer and director along with Kimberly Huffstetler (an accomplished actress) as his assistant, felt compelled to make. The circumstance that brought them together was pure serendipity. They met one day on a shuttle van.  Trey heard Kimberly mention Jenna. The person Trey had envisioned as the lead actress in the movie was a friend of his, Jenna Huffstetler. So he immediately called Jenna to get the scoop.Jenna is Kimberly's daughter. So he introduced himself to Kimberly and told her about the screenplay he had written.  Not mentioning Jenna.

Kimberly felt a pull to help Trey make his movie but through a comedy of errors did not realize until the production was under way that the person he wanted as the lead actress was her own daughter. A match made in heaven.

Starring Jenna Huffstetler as Rhiannon a young lady going away to college for the first time. Stephen Brown as her boyfriend Kevin, who goes to a different college miles away that puts a strain on the relationship.  Kimberly Huffstetler as Kevin's mother. Brice Heller as Ben and Charay Vaughan as Professor Stoneham. The cast is large and includes cameos of all the crew members as well.

Darin Holiday signed on to do the cinematography who also felt compelled to tell the story. "I knew that I wasn't going to be able to devote all of my attention to it. Over the next month or so I began to feel the pull of this project and I also know that we need more positive films made in this world. This is a dark world in my opinion that needs as much light as we can give it."


Tell me about yourself Trey and how you became interested in writing.

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Trey Riley  I was born here in North Carolina (in Rocky Mount) but quickly moved all around North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and ended up in Arizona for 5 years before ending up back here in North Carolina. By the age of 12 I had lived in 4 states and close to 10 different houses. Leaving me with feelings of separation and no solid roots anywhere, but North Carolina. Once my family moved back to North Carolina I finished up high school before attending college at UNC Charlotte. I majored in Civil Engineering and graduated college in December 2014. I currently live in Charlotte and work in Rock Hill, SC for a small engineering firm.

Despite all of the moving and displacement I have always visualized my life as an interconnected series of stories that form a continuously evolving movie. Every trip I take, every place I move, every experience I have, I create a scene. I write the script in my head, I build the soundtrack, I develop the camera angles, and the reason for telling the story.

This love for writing and telling stories that can entertain, but more than that, immerse an audience (whether a reader, movie goer, etc.) in real human emotions, began as early as middle school. I had a class where we wrote poetry in many different forms and it was through that class that I began to learn how to write down and describe the emotions that we can't really see and sometimes can't love, happiness, wanderlust, or loss.

Every since then I kept writing poetry, which evolved into short stories that I would make into videos with the help of friends for school projects or just for fun. Being a lover of going to the theater to see movies since before I can remember, it was not until this point in my life that the love of film began. 

Once I realized that people can be impacted in a large way by what they see and hear based on how it relates to their life I was sold. However, it was not until college that I was able to fully act on this desire to make films in which me and my college roommates came together to write and produce our first legitimate short film titled "Choices" under the Set Apart Productions name in October of 2013.

Where did Education in Love come from and what is it about?

Trey  Education in love started out as a concept of a young couple struggling. It was a romantic drama that followed a timeline similar to a Nicholas Sparks book. I wrote the outline for it senior year of high school when  my then girlfriend and I were going off to different colleges. I quickly realized through personal experience that it is tough on a relationship to be apart for extended periods of time and that things can quickly begin to change. It was after I wrote this rough outline and began adding detail that I realized while it has elements of a Nicholas Sparks book it was very much focused on more than the love two people feel for one another, thus making it unique in my opinion.

Fun fact, most people think this story is based on my life fully. However, the similarities to my own life end at the idea of a couple going to different colleges. I just felt that it needed to tell a more broad story than my specific experience at the time had been.

I then developed a detailed story, over a period of 5 years, around this young couple and the various stresses that school, family, & friends play on an individual at this stage of life. The focus being on how that can lead to great growth but also great disappointment and loss. One of the unique elements of this movie is how the forces working against them actually end up playing a huge role, behind the scenes, spiritually for their acceptance of Christ.

When people walk away from this film I want them to take way two key themes: Forgiveness and second chances...and both of these on the surface level are common attributes that a healthy relationship can be built on. Example being, a couple gets into an argument...they forgive each other and offer a second chance often times at doing things over or starting fresh. But on a deeper level forgiveness and second chances is what God gives us every single day through His son Jesus Christ. So I am using these two young people and their relationship, good and bad, to tell a surface level story of a spiritual level issue.


Personally I think this makes the film easy to relate to a wide audience and something you can leave the theater with some questions and perhaps some closure to questions you may have had about where God stands in your life.

What was the principal location? Tell me a little about some of the characters we will see.

Trey  By principal location do you mean actual filming location or location in story? I will answer both...
Principal location(s) in the story are Tennessee (a small unnamed town) where the two main characters grew up and graduated high school. Then the two locations they attend for college which for the lead female is Arkansas and for the lead male is Georgia. These two locations are important because they are a far enough distance from each other (but also home) that they couldn't do weekend trips all the time but could see each other some if they really wanted to.

Principal location(s) for filming purposes were in and around Charlotte within about a 75 mile radius. I really wanted to show off the area and some of the cool spots that people could see in Charlotte in particular but then more intimate locations off the map. We are still filming so final locations are not locked but I think our locations add a layer of beauty to the story that helps engage the audience even more.

Rhiannon: The story revolves around her character as she develops from a young, immature, sheltered girl. Having grown up in the same small town since birth she has never experienced anything beyond that. She curiously wants to attend college in Arkansas but quickly realizes the tension that will bring into her life. It is at this point that she is hit with the harsh reality of the world and she has to find herself through the experience of college through good and bad decisions, through love and loss. I have Jenna Huffstetler cast as this role and she has always been the only one for this. We are really close friends and ever since I had her read the script she fell in love with the story and this character, so it was an easy decision and she is great in this role. A real natural at portraying a character in search of what life means in her debut acting role.

Kevin: This is the lead male, and a character close to my heart because he is based a lot on my personality, so how he responds in situations would likely be how I would respond in real life. He is somewhat naive and lives in this perfect world where everything works out. Even with the loss of his father while in high school he sees life as a glass half full and doesn't truly understand the heartache and stress that can come with life events. He quickly develops into a character that understands his role in this world and that while he is young and inexperienced he has potential and he just needs to figure out how to harness it in his relationships and in his future career. This role was filled by Stephen Brown who has had lead roles and been supporting cast in numerous films. And I knew I needed a strong presence that could develop quickly in this story. So when we opened up auditions for this character I received several and while good performances they didn't grab my heart. When I saw Stephen's portrayal of a turning point in the film I almost burst into laughter and tears because he was the one, he knew my vision, he got the character.

Ben: Plays a crucial role in the middle of this film that rocks both of the lead characters worlds. Played by Brice Heller a phenomenal actor that is going places in the film world.

Kevin's Mom: A now widow with a huge secret that helps shape Kevin unlike anything he has ever experienced. Played by Kimberly Huffstetler, a natural in the role and capable of relating to not only relating to the character but to the story.

Professor Stoneham: Befriending Rhiannon one day after class was one of the best decisions for them both. Providing wisdom and a much needed Godly influence in her life in a troubling and dark time in 

Rhiannon's life. Played by Charay Vaughan would is a strong and passionate woman who embodies this role perfectly. During the table read the world jumped from her mouth and hit in hard, I can't wait for the audience to see her in this film.

Thanks Trey. Let me turn my attention to Kimberly for a moment. Kimberly, how did you become involved in this production? I notice you're not only and actor but I also ans assistant director.

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Kimberly Huffstetler  Funny that you asked..  This entire film has "fallen into place" from before day one.   I actually met Trey on a shuttle van going to film a scene on the set of WAR ROOM.   It was so ironic, but he and another friend were sitting behind me on the van, and overheard me talking to my film friends about my kiddos...only to realize he knew one of them really well.  

He immediately texted her to see if I was on set somewhere.  The two of them had met in a church group years before became and remain close friends .  He then introduced himself from the back seat of the van.  I saw him another year or so later when I was out with my daughter, and in conversation, he talked about this story he had written years ago and how he wanted to film it.  My daughter had told him later that I had done other films .  

In talking about this story he had written, he told me he had the perfect lead actress, and was interested in casting me as the mom of her boyfriend when he got it going.  I told him I would love to help him out.   Then I saw him months and months later, only to ask him how things were coming on the film...and in a condensed nutshell.. it wasn't.  

At that very moment,  I felt strongly led to help him.   Since I had only worked on the 'other side of the camera' once before, I knew I did not possess the qualities I needed to assist the way he needed , but knew I could help some since I had worked in film before from a different level than he had.  I didn't say anything but went home and wrestled for another week or two before finally getting his number from my daughter and asking him if he wanted to meet up over dinner and discuss his film.

 He was excited, I was excited, but finally after feeling that TUG TO HELP long enough,... long enough  that it wouldn't go away, I told him I would help anyway I could.  I meant that.  I didn't feel like I could contribute anything, except my best, since I didn't  have the proper experience or training to be in the position he wanted me in.  I did have many film connections crew, cast, and set knowledge since I had been in and around that community there it began...A funny yet Ironic thing.... 

It was months into planning before I knew that the lead he originally told me he had cast and wanted years before this, was my very own daughter, Jenna Huffstetler.  She thought Trey had told me,  he thought she had told me...and I was so amazed and a bit freaked at the same time when I found out that she was the one he hand picked long before we ever met up.  I had no idea I had agreed to help with a project my daughter was in.  

My daughter has worked  a few  background sets and did some modeling, but never had a leading role it was even more exciting for me to know I would be able to witness and work with her on a level other than family.  And that is how it all evolved....  It was definitely ordered of the Lord and been guided by His Hand also.  We have a "no budget" film basically,..and God has blessed us with  a crew of 17 awesome people who are regularly donating their time, and doing an outstanding and amazing job. Our Cast, who have also been awesome and amazing, has totaled over 109 people for the scenes we have shot so far and we are still filming.  We have even been blessed to have a more  seasoned  and experienced well known actor who donated some time to our project,  who also  believes the message in the film is worth promoting.  The doors have just opened and we have walked through them, so we know there is a higher power at work going on here.

Wow! That's quite a story. Funny how things work out. I need you to clarify this "At that very moment,  I felt strongly led to help him."  Does that mean I felt a strong need to help him?

Kimberly Yes...but when you feel led to do something, you aren't always doing it out of your own will or desire.... The story is a great one, but it's a teenage romance... and those are generally the last genre of films I watch... so I knew that tug was not all me.

Trey, how did you come to choose Darin to be your cinematographer?

Trey  When we first started this production we were going to have another individual as cinematographer and editor. Then we added on someone else for when the first couldn't make it. Both this options weren't dedicated to the film in the way that I thought we needed and had other obligations so it was quickly decided we need a third alternative and fast. At that moment, Darin arrived on the scene (pun intended). He is a Christian and believes in the message we are portraying. I will never forget one of the first things he said to me and that is, I'm committed to this film and we will get it done no matter what. That was 7 months ago and here we are. Darin was the obvious and only choice at that point so the other two were dropped and he became our cinematographer and honestly it was one of the best decisions made in terms of the film. But also in terms of making a life long friendship and future collaborator for other projects.

Darin, What attracted you to Education In Love

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Darin Holiday  The positive Christian message is what made me decide to help get this made. Kim approached me and asked me if I would consider shooting this feature length movie. I first thought that there is no way I would be able to because of my schedule. I had almost decided to turn down the opportunity because I knew that I wasn't going to be able to devote all of my attention to it. Over the next month or so I began to feel the pull of this project and I also know that we need more positive films made in this world. This is a dark world in my opinion that needs as much light as we can give it.

I see. Sometimes you make room for things important to you. Considering your busy schedule how important was the planning for this project and who do you call on to assist you with this?

Darin  The planning for this was very important. Kim and Trey were really great in organizing our shoot days and making sure they were efficient. I give all credit to them for the planning. When I am working on a project I never stop imagining the scene in my mind until I think I have the proper look needed for it. We did most of our scene blocking on the fly and we were able to work together and very smoothly on that in most scenes. I could tell that as we progressed Trey was putting more confidence in me and trusted me. Even when I looked the most confused. (grin) So they get all credit for keeping me on track.

This movie has quite a large cast. Had you ever worked on a film with so many people involved before? Does this present any issues for the cinematographer?

Darin  First time working with a cast of this size. Lighting larger crowds can be much more difficult. Your lead actor may look great but the background talent may not, and you have to find a medium between the two if time does not allow for major lighting changes. Wide shots with talent moving around the lead actors can be problematic with lighting. All movements must be calculated to prevent shadows and over exposure on background talent. They can get too close to a light or too far away and cause underexposed images. You have to keep the backgrounds in check or it can cause composition problems also.

In what ways are you involved after the principal photography is complete?

Darin  I am going help as much as possible on the post end. I am working on the teaser trailer now and will be helping to get it edited and color graded.

How do you plan to market this movie?

Trey  We plan to market this movie with the main drive being that its a local North Carolina, faith-based film. From there we want to reach our cast and crew with the film first. Then reach our supporters from Facebook and other social media. Following that is the tough part of trying to reach local theaters and church groups (high school & college aged). I am confident we can do all the above, because God has provided thus far and I feel will continue to do so for this message. Another goal and way to reach the community is through film festivals locally but then across the country.

If you could sum up the tag line for this movie in one sentence what would it be?

Trey  To sum up the tagline of this film..."Is it worth it?"

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