5 Questions: Professor Jerry Stayner


Jerry Stayner has been an adjunct professor with the media arts department for 15 years. He also works for the LDS Motion Picture Studio in Provo.

What is a big project between the Church and BYU that you’ve enjoyed?
I love the missionary project. This latest one with “Preach My Gospel,” we did reality or documentary style. It’s a really good training tool because we go out and get the missionaries making mistakes and teaching lessons with investigators, showing how to really teach. That was a really fun project. The New Testament Bible videos in Goshen, Utah is great, just recreating the stories of Christ is awesome. It’s a gift to the world, all these videos, and it’s great to hear feedback.

Two highlights were the two films I did outside for Disney Channel and with Columbia TriStar/Sony Pictures. But, the films I’ve done for the church are so much better. It’s a great place to work just knowing that what you’re doing and creating makes a difference. It really is showing the people of the world that we’re Christian, that we believe in Christ. With media and the Internet, we can teach people all over the world. Where countries that missionaries can’t get into, they can open up “Bible Videos” and see Mormon.org, really it’s a missionary effort and to be a part of that is just a great blessing.

Why do you love the media arts process?
Just creating something is an art. You have the director and all the elements of film production. Then you get the film and raw takes, and you have to make it flow and tell the story. The story is so important; emotion is important. Little details of facial expressions, character development, all of these little things that really make an edit powerful. A lot of people can cut it together, but its just a little trim of a frame that brings that glance or expression that tells the story or what they’re feeling.

Why do you like working with BYU students?
Most of them are really ambitious; they work hard. They don’t get in trouble. They’re really respectful. It’s hard because I didn’t come from a teaching background; I didn’t go to college to teach, but found out it’s a passion I have that I really love. To get that relationship with the students and to see them learn, when I can show them something and they finally get it, it is great. It’s interesting to see what they come up with. It has helped me to see different styles of editing. Students either have it or not; that type of editing is kind of a gift. It’s fun to see the students who really catch on and have it.

Why can it be important for us to see a visual representation of a story, especially for the New Testament Bible videos?
Well, I still think books are better than films. There are very few films that are better than books because it’s your own imagination. I just think it really helps to see a representation of it visually. We live in a world of media, and it helps to show what it was really like. When we can bring emotion to a story and bring truth to a story, it’s really good to see and hear it.

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