Pastor’s Kid, a feature film based on a true story, directed and produced by alumni from Biola University’s Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts, opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, March 15.

In this raw, true story of faith and redemption, college student Riley runs from her painful past of abuse and religious hypocrisy. However, God has other plans for Riley when an unforeseen circumstance compels her to confront the very source of her anguish — her estranged mother. As she unravels the layers of her painful childhood, Riley discovers the transformative power of forgiveness and the strength to break free from the chains of her past.

“I consider religion to be the backdrop of this story of reconciliation and being called home,” said producer and alumna Natalie Pohorski (‘11). “Riley's story is so honest and raw, something you don't often see in ‘faith films.’”

The film is directed by alumnus Benjamin Ironside Koppin (‘11) and produced by Pohorski. Koppin is an award winning writer and director with a passion for finding honesty and truth within the medium of film. He loves collaborating with actors, pushing each other to find what is authentic within each moment. This is one of the reasons this film is meaningful to Koppin.

“I have always wanted to see a film that expressed the realities of faith, both in showing how religion can be hypocritical sometimes but also the beauty of authentic faith in Jesus,” said Koppin. "This story [Pastor’s Kid] captured that for me.”

Since graduating from Biola University with a degree in Cinema & Media Arts, he has directed eight feature films and numerous shorts, including documentaries and narratives. His documentary work informs how he approaches narrative storytelling, often shooting his films himself in order to have a more intimate relationship with his actors, pursuing beautiful mistakes instead of manufactured moments.

Since graduating from Biola in 2011, Pohorski has taken many different turns in her career. Starting in horror television at Lionsgate, she soon gained experience in marketing agency production, attraction installations for resorts, interactive experiences for NASA, acted as managing director for the Wisconsin film commission, all the while staying active in independent films. Currently, Pohorski is making her mark in video games as a lead producer on the Call of Duty franchise.

Koppin and Pohorski were asked a few questions about their experience with this film and what they hope those who watch it will gain.

What do you hope viewers get from the film?

Koppin: I hope that no matter who you are or what you believe, you can feel seen and heard in this film.

Pohorski: Ben's answer is pretty exact. I guess I would add that I hope it gives viewers permission to feel and explore topics they may otherwise turn away from.

How was your experience working on it with other Biola students/alumni?

Koppin: We had a great team of Biola students/alumni as crew on this film and it was just honestly amazing to make something so raw/honest about faith together. We had many shared experiences growing up in the church and it was beautiful to be able to express some of that while making our art.

Pohorski: Our team was small and scrappy, but also talented and willing. No one showed up with egos, just an interest in doing our best. Everyone treated the sensitive subject matter delicately, which I think is very special. One of my favorite set experiences was unwinding with Ben and (Ben’s wife) Kristin after a particularly heavy day, driving around in the van with milkshakes and listening to Relient K, which was very reminiscent of us in our Biola days.

How did Biola's film program help you prepare for it?

Koppin: Biola's film program has always been an amazing place for the intersection of faith and art, which helped give us the wisdom needed to make a film like this so that other Biola students could be encouraged to express their faith in an honest way.

Pohorski: The value in Biola's film program for me was always in the relationships and real world experience it gifted me. To be honest, Pastor's Kid isn't a huge departure from the films we were making together while at Biola 15 years ago. We were always trying to push the envelope and felt encouraged by the staff to do so.

Pastor's Kid was released in 32 theaters nationwide on March 15. Tickets can be found on Fandango for showings through March 21.