Saint Francis students help prep theatrical release for next Christmas season

From left, Jonathan Schlegel, Kennedy Sites, Drew Mosier and Veronica Loeffler

In the summer of 2022, Drew Mosier—then a University of Saint Francis junior—was talking with his friend, a cinematographer, about a movie the friend was working on.

“Drew stuck his nose in there, as Drew does,” said Miles Fulwider, Saint Francis associate director of the Division of Creative Arts.

Mosier, a highly driven music technology major with a minor in film, wondered who was overseeing post-production editing and audio on the movie. Turns out, that role was open.

“My friend said, ‘I’ve been wanting to see if Saint Francis would be interested in doing something like this,’” Mosier said.

Mosier knows an opportunity when he sees it. He dove in. He took the possible project to Fulwider as a proposal for his senior project, and started down a path that would consume him and several fellow students for nearly a year. The short story: Fulwider created a Special Topics class and Mosier headed a group of students who handled post-production and audio on the theatrical movie, “The Christmas Prayer,” which is headed for a November 2024 release.

“When students come to us with a project, I just love that,” Fulwider said. “Drew and I had a conversation and we started working on roping other students in—because they were going to score the whole film with all original music—and I thought we needed to make a class out of this and structure it.”

The class was small but highly motivated, and included Mosier, Jonathan Schlegel, Veronica Loeffler and Kennedy Sites. Another student, Sydney Wagner, also contributed to the work and two Saint Francis alumni, Denise Blane and Seth James, provided editing work at times during the project.

Mosier served as the post-production supervisor, essentially putting the pieces of the film into a coherent flow and incorporating the added audio components. “The group of music technology students created Foley sound, sound effects, edited dialogue; basically, if you can hear it, the music technology students tirelessly worked to make all that happen,” Fulwider said.

Schlegel composed the movie’s soundtrack. Schlegel said he spent more than 600 hours on the soundtrack. “It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every second of it,” he said.

Schlegel’s work was an example of how collaborative the process became.

The students thrived working together.

“My main goal was, ‘This is a cool opportunity. Let me share it with as many classmates as I can,’” Mosier said. “I think the most fun part of this project was working with my classmates. We’d work countless hours at a time. Sometimes, you’d start at 8 or 9 in the morning and plan to work about four hours and take lunch. Then we’d check the time, and it was 6 or 7 at night.”

Schlegel plans to release his original soundtrack movie once the film is released publicly. “His score is brilliant,” Mosier said. “It’s amazing he did this while going to school.”

Additionally, the entire film was mixed in Dolby Atmos, which is the current industry standard for immersive audio theatrical, home theater and personal audio spatial audio experience. This included students not just mixing everything for standard delivery formats, but also making it available in the latest immersive audio format.

The nonstop work was at times exhausting, but the film eventually came together. It’s a prodigal son Christmas story with some humor and a heart that aligns with the Saint Francis mission. The students attended a fall screening in Cincinnati and the audience response was overwhelmingly positive.

However, the distributor who purchased the film decided to release it for the holiday season later this year, a slight disappointment for the students who hoped it would be in theaters in 2023. The delay will be another positive—a stronger promotional push should raise awareness of the movie. “This is the best scenario for the movie’s success,” Fulwider said.

Fulwider praised the students for their commitment and the high level of performance they delivered in a project with a real-life result.

“It was exciting to have a project that I never once worried whether they were going to finish it,” Fulwider said. “This shows how we can provide opportunities for students. It was great to work with a small group of really dedicated students where everybody had a specific responsibility.”

Mosier took the lead, and he hopes he set the stage for the scope of future student projects.

“This was a great experience for everyone, and I hope this sets a new trajectory of what can be done,” Mosier said. “Hopefully, other companies will see this and partner with Saint Francis. I hope I’ve helped raise the bar on what we can do.”