Graduate Uses Film to Develop Relationships

By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Andrew Lohrenz Chooses to Make a Difference by being the "Lighting Guy"

The road was just a small strip of dirt carved into the mountain, weaving through the dripping green Vietnamese countryside. The camera crew sat in one van, the director, translator and government official in another. One of the only passengers who didn’t seem to mind traveling on the dangerous road was Andrew Lohrenz ’04, who had grown up in Guatemala and knew a thing or two about maneuvering vehicles through dense forests and muddy roads.

The crew had traveled half way around the world to film a documentary about the battle of Long Bay, a gruesome three-day battle during the Vietnam War. Lohrenz’s background as a missionary kid and his experience as a director, writer and lighting technician made him a perfect fit for the film crew.Lohrenz on set

Lohrenz’s love for filmmaking began when he was six years old and lived in Guatemala. He and his younger brothers would take two long, wooden poles, a sheet, a generator and film projector into small villages, where they would then show “The Jesus Film”. As images of Christ flickered on the bed-sheet and captivated the audience, Lohrenz became passionate about making, showing and lighting films.

“Rather than go back to the mission field my parents are on, I decided that film was going to be my mission field,” Lohrenz said. “Every day involves getting up and showing people what it’s like to be a Christian in the film industry. It's about showing people that there is another way to live yet still enjoy this life.”

Contrary to the strict stereotype, being a Christian has not limited Lohrenz’s work.  If anything, his willingness to work on projects has allowed him to form deep relationships with people without compromising his beliefs.

“Fortunately, because of developing relationships and caring about people’s projects as well as the people themselves, the people that I’ve gotten to know understand that I’m going to give them 100 percent even if I have to step out for a while,” he said.

If any project calls for a scene with nudity or graphic violence, he will light and prepare the set prior to filming but will wait outside until the director has finished filming the scene.

“On one project, I was the only Christian in the department and I asked the producer if I could step outside during particular scenes. By the end of the second week, everyone in that department had also gone to the producer and asked to be able to wait outside during the nudity scenes,” he said. “Part of that was due to developing those relationships so when they ask me why I’m not present during those scenes our conversation delves into topics that beg more questions. I use film to develop relationships with people, many of whom may only have experienced broken relationships.”

Lohrenz with the film crew's Vietnamese translatorIronically, the only set he has been fired from was a Christian movie being filmed in 2010. “We had a dress code on set—no shorts. It would have been fine except it was the middle of summer and everyone in my department had to do heavy lifting,” he recalls. “That wasn’t the problem. The people running the show were offended by the non-believers and wanted to fire them. I got into a pretty heated argument trying to keep them from getting fired. As a result, I got canned.”

When asked why he chose lighting as a profession, Lohrenz sat back and thought for a moment. “It’s like painting with electricity,” he finally said. “I know that sounds strange. Camera work involves high stress, I can’t paint or do make-up, and I don’t want to be a sound guy because I already have enough voices in my head,” he laughed.  “Within weeks of beginning, I saw that the grip and electric departments as some of the most entertaining individuals as well as some of the most creative. That’s why I chose to be the lighting guy.”

Since leaving JBU, Lohrenz has been involved in over 20 movies, and has worked on many TV series as well, most notably seasons 2 and 3 of “Prison Break” and “The Good Guys.” His most recent film, “Suburbanite”, follows the true story of a hit and run accident that left the victim still alive. Lohrenz is currently raising funds for his next film and hopes to release “Suburbanite” later this spring. A complete list of projects may be found of the IMDB website: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2264500/

 

 Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is the staff editor and writer for university communications.