Sagu News

Get Monthly Content


Rob Price, MFA, Communication Arts Department Chair

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU)

[email protected]

For Immediate Release

WAXAHACHIE, TX – April 11, 2024 – A red carpet. A silver screen. A golden performance.

That three-color combination means it must be time for Digital Media Arts (DMA) students to premiere another award-winning film from SAGU Cinema.

Beauty for Ashes will be screened at the Hagee Communication Center Auditorium on Friday, April 19 at 7 pm. It is the 10th student film project produced by the Communication Arts Department at SAGU since 2008.

View Trailer here.

The short film (28 minutes) follows the story of Nikita Alexander, who accidentally breaks her grandfather’s heirloom just hours after giving her high school valedictorian speech. She ventures out on a “sell everything I own” spree to pay for the costly repairs. But when she comes up short and a shady pawn shop owner offers an alternative way to cover the remaining expense, Nikita must choose between hiding the truth or being true to herself.

Since launching its first student short film in 2008, SAGU Cinema has been winning awards while preparing digital content creators for the marketplace. According to Professor and Executive Producer Rob Price, Beauty for Ashes will be the last movie produced under the current production unit name. Beginning this fall, students will produce films under the label Nelson Films.

“I’m so excited for this new season we are about to enter as a university, and with that enthusiasm comes a natural transition to the name Nelson films,” Price said, who also serves as Communication Arts Department Chair. “This current crop of DMA students is extremely talented and dedicated to excellence which began back in late summer 2023 when I gave an idea to one student who has the gift of writing…”

That student was senior Cienna Webb. “When Mr. Price first told me how he wanted the ending to go and the theme behind it, I cried. It made me very uncomfortable, but I knew the story had to be told,” she said. “There are so many out there that struggle with such a sensitive issue. I just added to the structure of the story to give it some charm along the way.”

Webb knows about filmmaking more than most of her peers. During that prior summer, she served as an intern on the set of The Chosen during its principle photography shooting for season four in Midlothian, Texas.

Senior Chloe Hawpe served as Director and believes her experience as a filmmaker was invaluable. “From the inception of the script to the premiere night each step is vital to correctly hit the mark, and we did. I feel very prepared to move forward into a career in film production,” she said. “Plus, the memories I made on set will last a lifetime.”

Director of Photography junior Elijah Cook felt that being responsible for everything the viewer sees was both overwhelming and humbling. “I think my biggest challenge was being okay with not all of my shots going into the film. I tried all different types of shots and ideas and sometimes they just don’t make the cut,” said Cook. “But I am very proud of the ones that did.”

Other student crew members include: senior Carly Blankenship, senior Mallory Jones, senior Ashleigh Antillon, senior Garrett Klinkerman, and senior Kadley Harmon.

Local DFW actress Elizabeth Renee played the lead role of Nikita. “Everyone was such a joy to work with, and I loved being able to bounce different creative ideas off each other,” Renee said. “I got to work with so many talented individuals who worked great together as a team.”

Actress Erica Muse, who played the role of Sonia (Nikita’s older sister) agreed with Renee about summing up working on set with SAGU Cinema film students. “Working with the students at SAGU is wonderful! From the writing to the days on set, their creativity and commitment to their art knows no bounds,” she said. “I am grateful to have been chosen to work with them and look forward to seeing where they go from here.”

As a way to include a couple of “Easter eggs” into the film, Price personally asked two former lead actors from the first two SAGU Cinema movies to return to set. Ben Dane, who played the role of a news anchor in Breaking News (2008), reprised the same character Taylor Foster in a brief scene from a newscast scene in Beauty for Ashes.

Tom Young, who was the lead title character role in Murdoch (2010), agreed to play the sleazy pawn shop owner Conall. “I really enjoyed working with SAGU again! “They were knowledgeable and skilled at what they were doing and made the entire shoot enjoyable and fun,” Young said. “I can’t wait to see how it turned out.”

The film premiere event will also feature interviews with cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes video, a blooper reel, and several giveaway prizes for audience members. Tickets are available on this link at

General admission is $8. Student price is discounted to $5.

About the University:

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private Christian university established in 1927 by P.C. Nelson. SAGU is currently in the process of becoming Nelson University. The University is located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas, and offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees on campus or online. For more information, visit or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.

Pictured above: 2022-2023 SMA Team

Back to Top