“Sanctuary” Q & A with director Cory Byers

The documentary Sanctuary has won the 2016 Fusion Doc Challenge at the Slamdance Film Festival. The film by directors Ashley Seering and Cory Byers profiles an abandoned church that was given a second chance. We were able to talk with Cory Beyers, the SIUE Mass Comm. Instructor to discuss Sanctuary and how teaching at SIUE has impacted his work outside the department.


How does it feel to be nominated and then win this award?  

Cory: The way this competition works is: filmmakers have 5 days to produce a 4-7 minute documentary with an assigned theme and in one of two genres. The top 12 play at Slamdance. So just getting into the top 12 is great because we get to show our film to a crowd of fellow film fans. It’s a great way to network and get exposure for the film.
Winning Best Film (Fusion Selection) was fantastic. Although we’re confident in our work, when you see other great docs, you never really know how the judging will go. We also won Best Cinematography, which we were really excited about. Story is key, but we also work really hard to make our projects look as good as possible. Being recognized for that is a great feeling.
How did “Sanctuary” come about?
Cory: The church is something we’d heard about, and when we (co-producer Ashley Seering and I) looked into it, we realized we knew one of the guys involved. So we did a location scout a few weeks prior to the competition and talked to him about the possibility of shooting there if it fit with one our genres and the theme.
How has teaching Global Village here at SIUE helped you in your own documentaries?
Cory: Teaching Global Village and producing short documentaries goes hand in hand. I always have recent work to share with the class in various stages to give them real-world examples of what they’re working on. I can talk to them about issues that arise and how to overcome them. Those are things they’re probably running into while working on their own projects. Plus, I can recruit help if I need crew members. This gives the students some real-world experience where they don’t have to worry about being in charge. They can just do their specific job and observe how we do things. For this one, we had three other crew members, all current or former Global Village students. Reid Linksvayer did all of the drone work and shot b-roll. Rachael Roberts and Sydney Dunn took photos and helped us get everyone to sign release forms.
What’s next for “Sanctuary” ? 

Cory: We’ve submitted to some other film festivals, and it will be screening at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana in February and at the Audiences Awards Film Festival in Los Angeles, CA in April.


Watch the Trailer for the Slamdance  Award-Winning Doc, “Sanctuary“.

Sanctuary – Official Trailer from Ashley Seering on Vimeo.

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