SLAUGHTER — Cody Dedon wants to be the best filmmaker in Christian media, and he’s well on his way to achieving that goal.
The home-schooled senior won first place in the 2014 National Christian Forensics and Communications Association’s first Short Film Contest for his eight-minute movie “Lost and Found.” Dedon, 18, wrote, directed, filmed, edited and acted in the film along with 17 friends and family members.
In five short scenes, the movie portrays the life of the fictional Reggie Kelly, following his path from a self-centered boy in 1950, to a success-driven college student in 1960, to a greedy middle-aged man in 1989, to a lonely elderly man in 2009 whose life is radically changed to enthusiastically serving Christ for the remainder of his now-short life.
“My goal is to be a Christian filmmaker, but be excellent at it so people say, ‘Wow, I have to buy that movie. I want to watch it 100 times,’” says Dedon.
“The topic for the film was determination,” Dedon says. “The main character is determined to please himself and then, once he becomes a Christian, he uses that determination to serve the Lord and share the Gospel with zeal.”
Dedon will receive his award — and the film will be shown — at the association’s national conference June 9-13 at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. The association is dedicated to training thousands of home-schooled students across America to engage the culture for Christ through speech and debate venues, according to its website.
Dedon will also be competing in four national speech and debate contests — contests he’s already won many awards for at both the regional and national levels.
Dedon’s home-schooling curriculum, taught by his mother Lanita Dedon, never included any media courses. He says he learned how to make a film by “paying attention” to how movies are made. The hardest part, he says, was writing the script with which he got help from his father, Tommy Dedon, and a friend, Will Douglas.
Dedon says he’s been interested in making movies for several years, so when the contest was announced he spent his savings on a Canon Rebel T3I, a Rode microphone, a stout tripod and a slider camera mount.
He did all the editing on his laptop in about 60 hours, he says. Each of the five scenes includes about two dozen shots from various angles.
Most of the shooting was done inside the Baton Rouge home of his grandparents, Billy and Mary Elizabeth Dedon, “so it would have a 1950s feel,” he says.
The movie’s elderly Reggie is actually based on a real person, Dedon says.
“My dad attended Bethany Church in Baker where there was a man who got saved as an elderly man. He had coats made with lots of pockets that he filled with Gospel tracts that he gave to everyone,” Dedon says. “The Bible says we are to redeem our time, and he said now he had a lot to make up in a very short time, to redeem the time he had left.”
Don Landry played the elderly Reggie who, after suffering in his loneliness, sees a local preacher on TV presenting a salvation message and then prays for forgiveness of his sins.
“Seeing Cody write it, direct it, act in it, do every part in it and then seeing the finished product just blew me away,” Landry says. “I’m very impressed with Cody as a Christian young man. I think he’s got a bright future.”
The Rev. Steve Foster, pastor of Community Bible Church, plays the middle-aged Reggie, who coldly uses a power-of-attorney agreement to put his mother in a nursing home against her will — a move that attracts headlines in the local newspaper.
“Cody did all that with one little camera — lots of different angles and takes. I think it is very high quality,” Foster says. “He’s very creative and has great potential to make a positive impact on the world.”
Cody’s mother says he really pours himself into a project when he sets his mind to it.
“We see films today that are supposedly the Gospel, but they are really more like a fairy tale,” Lanita Dedon says. “What God has done is very powerful, and that can be portrayed in a very powerful way with film.”
The teenager says he is looking forward to college, but hasn’t yet decided where he’ll go.
“My goal as a filmmaker is to keep it clean — no profanity, no innuendo — whatever I do, whether solely Christian or for entertainment, it has to glorify God,” Dedon says.
“Lost and Found was made for a reason — to share the Gospel. That is why we are here, period, to please the Lord,” Dedon says. “Pleasing the Lord is spreading his message of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.”
ä On the internet:
See Cody Dedon’s film “Lost and Found” at youtube.com/watch?v=3LypCj_0UOU