I. “Convicted”

II. FIGHTER – Official Selection at World of Women Film Festival 2016

III. UTC’s Boulder Competition

IV. Wax Masterminds

V. Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary


| “Convicted” |

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you would expect it. When time is numbered, how can you attempt to piece it all together?

This was our team’s submission for the 54 Film Festival 2016- Middle Tennessee.

Genre: Medical/Political Drama // Action: Hiding // Prop: Clock // Line: “Make it stop.”

Our location was set at the Escape Experience: Chattanooga. Our friends there were kind enough to let us set up shop all night filming. Our story focuses on a man who is experiencing his final hours before his execution. We see glimpses of his sister’s interrogation. Whether or not our man committed any real crime, we wanted our audience to grasp the story through the details. We wanted to take the audience on this man’s journey as he clings on to life’s most precious moments. Now questioning the innocence of our character, we introduce the morality of the death penalty. Our film doesn’t attempt to lean one way or another. It’s merely there to ask the question and to provide a different perspective.

Winner: Best Direction | Best Score

Runner Up: Best Actor (Cory Holland) | Best Make Up (Laura Natalie Homer) | Best Cinematography (Jordan Powell) | Judge’s Choice

Nominations: Best Actress (Rachael Rodgers) | Best Editing | Best Wardrobe | Best Set Design | Best Sound Design | Best Picture





That’s right. Official Selection for the World of Women’s Cinema Film Festival in Sydney Australia!!!!!! The festival experienced some delays. However, the festival is happening at the end of this month! Samantha, Kelsey and myself are incredibly excited to have our film played in yet another country! It feels surreal to have something you created playing in a country half way across the globe.

Many may be wondering when FIGHTER will be officially released for you to view. VERY SOON. We are still awaiting festival acceptance letters. So we shall know very soon! Thank you all for  your continued support. I can’t believe it’s almost been 2 years!


| “UTC’s Boulder Competition” |

In the works is a little promo video to show off the awesome things UTC’s Merrell Ambassador is doing for the outdoor program. Coming soon…


| “Wax Masterminds” |

I love getting able to reconnect with clients back in the ‘boro! Here is one such company-


| “Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary Documentary” |

Probably one of the coolest projects to date would be- Brushy. It’s a prison located in Petros, TN that closed its doors in 2009. It’s the same prison the hold the infamous James Early Ray. For those that don’t know, he assassinated MLK, Jr. Most know Brushy from the chaos that ensued when Ray escaped the walls with 6 other convicts.

The project has been underway for about a month now and will be my main project until June. The documentary will be approx. 15-20 minutes on the history of this maximum security prison. I have captured around 6 hours of interview footage filled with recollections and stories you can’t even imagine.

I have the enormous honor to put together such a rich piece of history. In the next couple of years, Brushy will be transformed into a whiskey and moonshine distillery, RV park, concert venue, restaurants, etc. The main prison itself will be conserved into a museum for travelers and tourists to walk through the halls and to get a glimpse into the life of Brushy’s inmates.

For now, here’s a little teaser into the playground I get to play in…


Exciting things are coming……..



The Making of “Found”

This video was particularly fun to work on. Thanks to my partner-in-crime, Jacob, we set out one night to make a “cool video”. I had been feeling down about not having the opportunity to make videos that were rich and impactful- the kind of videos that attempt to reveal something deeper than “buy this”, “look how cool this is”, or “you should like this”. Generally, that’s the motive behind most videos. No, the kind I like to make are the ones that no one will pay me for. In essence, they are the ones about human nature. Even more, they are the ones that reveal our connection to our Father and how that guides our every move and desires.


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So one night, Jake comes to me and says “I have a date planned for us”. I was curious to see what he had in mind. It ended up being the absolute, most wonderful, perfect date. He said, “We’re going to get up before the sun comes up and film a video in the woods”. Did I say perfect? Yes, I did. It was exactly what I wanted, and also what I needed. It’s curious how God works sometimes. Because no more than an hour later, a HUGE thunderstorm came. Production value. We grabbed my gear and started prepping to catch this amazing storm. The next morning, we got up at around 5:00 am to get some early dawn shots over at Possum Creek near Chattanooga, TN. We were familiar with the area and knew it would make for a great place for our shoot.


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So the idea of the video was to create something centered around the theme of Romans 8, particularly verses 18-25. We had been focused on this passage at our local church and felt like it would make a great framework for a story. We played around with a “lost & found” theme, too. I tend to think that I’m closest to God when I’m with loved ones and nature. Therefore, we have Jacob, Shadow (his German Shepherd-wolf hybrid), and the woods. So, Shadow has run away in our story, and Jake is on the mission to find her despite the unforgiving weather and terrain. Much like when we seek God in unrelenting times, we also tend to believe more in what our eyes can see and our hands can do. To have faith, hope and belief in something that is unseen is something entirely different. It’s scary, it’s unpredictable and out of our control.


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Just like Jake searches for Shadow in the darkness, we too are called to seek God in the darkness. And we are told that if we seek God with all of our heart, we will find Him.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?”

-Romans 8:24

This video was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm Sigma lens. A lot of the moving shots are just me and the camera with no support. The coloring is practically untouched. Every lens flare is 100% natural. Music licensed through The Music Bed.

I find it interesting that such an organic process on such an organic story could turn out so good with such little effort.

My Outdoor Family

It’s been such a joy to work on this project for MTOP. Middle Tennessee Outdoor Pursuits has been one of the greatest work experiences I’ve ever had. “Getting paid to go outdoors? Heck yes.” It’s been a rewarding experience like none other. Not only was I privileged enough to learn the skills needed to successfully lead trips in the backcountry, but I was lucky enough to have to opportunities to test those skills practically whenever I wanted. I was encouraged to get outside and just to have fun. “Wait, and you call that a job? Yes!”

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Honestly, MTOP has prepared me for the future probably more the credit hours for my degree did. I learned leadership, teamwork, planning, scouting, guiding and safety. I learned how to look out for people and know when to pick people up mentally and physically. I learned that overcoming schedules is just as important as overcoming fears. Life is too short to play it safe and sit on the sidelines. It’s about getting out there and seeing the world through your eyes and not through the eyes of others [online]. Yeah, National Geographic make the Smoky Mountains look really good. (But they look a whole lot better in person.)

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College is an important time in a young person’s life. It’s where you make those life decisions that stick with you into your adult life. What will your career be? Where will you go? Who will you meet? Life is just a series of steps. Will you wait until the last step to take a risk? Will it be too late then?

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As much fun as kayaking down a whitewater river is, the people are what truly make this program what it is: great. I’ve made lifelong friends through this program. While our love of the outdoors is what brought us together, it’s the love for each other that keeps us together. We work together. We plan together. And we live life together. MTOP will forever be a community for young folks who love the outdoors.

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And the best part, their trips are freaking cheap. So go and get involved at MTOP!

And here’s the video….

FIGHTER to screen in Los Angeles July 25th


FIGHTER has been chosen to screen at the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles International Shorts Program July 25th, 2015 at the renown AT&T Center in downtown LA. The news came to us last week and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have our film showcased in such a manner. We feel honored to have our creation play in such an influential city amongst such amazing talent.

When the journey of FIGHTER began last year, we had never imagined that we would be presented with such opportunities to share our stories. Kelsey, Sam and I came together through our passion for filmmaking and travel. We started prepping for a film we knew nothing about. We started from scratch and continued to push forward into the unknown.

It’s crazy for me to sit and think back to the experience that was FIGHTER. The experience was far more than I could have ever imagined. Jara’s story continues to inspire me much like the audiences that watch her. While I may not be in a foreign country off filming an incredible person’s life right now, I know that in life we go through different journeys for a reason. If we went jetsetting to Paris everyday, it wouldn’t make the moments when we go super awesome. If we won awards for all of the little things, it wouldn’t make those moments where we had accomplishment mean something.

If you would like to see more information about this incredible opportunity, follow the link here.

Life Changes & Current Projects

So the month of May has been a pretty hectic one for this girl.

We’ve got 1: Graduating college. 2: Finding a big girl job. 3: Moving to Chattanooga.

While this has been one of the most exciting months of my life, it has also been the scariest. For anyone who knows me, you’ll know that I don’t do good with change. The reason: fear of the unknown. I don’t like change because it means saying goodbye to something I knew very well for something I don’t know at all. But God called us to not live comfortable lives. My life thus far has been “comfortable”. If I don’t want to look back on my life and regret actually “living”, I have to leap into the unknown.

It’s crazy to even conceive the idea of “no-school-ever-again”……. what?

I don’t even know what life was like before school! Nevertheless, I come to a point in my journey where I have to dive in head first. No more training wheels. I have the weirdest combination of “I can totally do it!” and “Kelly, what are you doing?” It’s the weirdest, guys.

Until I figure out just what exactly I’m doing, here’s a little insight into my current projects —>


In conjunction with MT Athletics, I am putting together a 50th anniversary video for the incredible Coach Dean Hayes. I’ve had a really great time uncovering old photographs & footage to put this piece together. Coach Hayes’ story really should be made into a film. It’s one of those stories that’s gold. He’s a man who initiated integration at MTSU, he saw integration in women’s athletics, he led a couple of athletes to the Olympics, and he even was the Olympic Coach for track & field in 1988. On top of being in a handful of Hall of Fames, he’s also had 49 conference championships. This man is the real deal. Working on this project has been a tremendous joy. I really dig this type of stuff.

#2 | MTOP

My next project is something that is very near and dear to me: MTOP. I have been an outdoor trip leader for MTSU’s Outdoor Pursuit for the past 4 years. Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t know too much about the outdoors- or life for that matter. What I did know was that I loved people and I loved being active outdoors. Working for this program has by far been one of the most rewarding opportunities I have ever had. It’s taught me far more than what it takes to do a certain activity. It’s taught me lessons about life that I will take with me forever. I’m working on a video for the program that shows our participants who we behind MTOP really are. I love these faces so much.

#3 | The Church @ Spring Hill Promo Vid

This last project is going straight to the root of why I do what I do. Our mission here on earth is to spread the gospel and show the people around us how Christ acted on earth. I look in awe at those who take such an initiative to spread the gospel to their community. The Church at Spring Hill is a church plant that is launching this fall. I hope that my hand in their efforts can help bring more people in that community to God.


So happy today because FIGHTER received the “Audience Favorite” award at the MTSU Student Film Festival this past Friday. It’s always a wonderful opportunity when you can present your work before students and faculty. There’s something about being around those who are from the same community that makes you feel like family. At other festivals, you may not know everyone there and the story behind what it took to make each film. So, needless to say, it felt very good to win an award at this one.

Also…… FIGHTER has been accepted into the Festival South Film Expo in Hattiesburg, MS at the Grand Theater! The girls and I couldn’t be happier! This good news is such a blessing! Stay tuned for more info about FIGHTER’s journey.

2015 – 54 Film Festival Middle TN

This past Saturday, the Regal Hollywood 27 Theatre was filled with many talented filmmakers who competed in this years 54 Film Festival. Premieres like this are always so special to me because it puts what I do into perspective. Sometimes when you work on projects and you are isolated in dark rooms, you tend to feel like you’re the only crazy person out there. But when you get a chance to network and gather with those who “get it”, it inspires you to continue going at it! It inspires you to keep making beautiful things.

We had some wonderful accomplishments: Best Score (Austin Fray); Best Actor (Cory Holland); Best Actress (Marissa Grinestaff); and Best Use of Line.

We also were Runner-Up for: Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Make-Up, Best Editing, Best Film, and Judge’s Choice.

Overall, I was pleased with our final product in “Through Thick and Thin”. We as a team grew so much from last year’s film, “Apart”. We were able to tell a clear and defined story of one of the hardest questions in life. More than the product of a great film, my favorite part of this whole experience is the feeling of accomplishment. Not only did each of us work together to make something great, we had a great time doing it! I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and uplifting people. I couldn’t be more proud.

Now…… check it out!

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“Through Thick and Thin” Teaser is here.

This year’s Murfreesboro 54 Film Festival went extremely well! The Back Road Films team chose the genre “historical fiction/ period piece”. Along with that, our prop was a ‘bottle’, our action was ‘biting’ and our line of dialogue was “You promised.” Quite an order to fill for only 54 hours of production time!

This year didn’t fail to be anything but a ton of fun! Our team works so well together that I couldn’t imagine doing these timed competitions with anyone else. We had a long night of writing Friday night and ended up completely re-writing our story at 6 AM on Saturday morning! We started shooting around noon on Saturday- a much later start time than initially expected. However, we were able to wrap shooting at 5 PM. Whattttt?

Easy? No. But those quick 5 hours were filled with a lot of professionalism and talent. We all went into it as a unit and pulled off what we needed to do. Then, it was passed off to editing! I spent just around 2.5 hours before I retired for a 12 hour nap! Ha! On Sunday, we had Risha and Scott on audio making it sound gooooood. And we had Austin at another location making that incredible music that you’ll get a glimpse of below.

Our Crew this year was (drum roll)……

Kelly Rozell – Director | Writer | Editor

Alex Hochstetler- Producer | Writer

Jeffrey Brant- Assistant Director | Writer

Jordan Powell- Director of Photography

Risha Chesterfield- Audio | Dialogue |Mixing

Scott Gregory- Audio | Mixing

Austin Fray- Music Composition

Spencer Holloway- Lighting | Assistant Camera | Gaffer | Writer

Derek Beistad- Behind the Scenes

Amber Powell- Behind the Scenes

And our starring roles: Cory Holland & Marissa Grinestaff

Here are some behind the scenes stills of the weekend:

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And here is a 54 second teaser trailer of “Through Thick and Thin” to whet your taste buds until the premiere March 21, 2015 at the Regal Hollywood 27 Theatre in Nashville, TN. The Murfreesboro screenings start at 2:45 PM. Award Ceremony is at 5 PM.



Our film “FIGHTER” will also be showing at the 54 Film Festival on the same day, showing at 12 PM. So go and check it out too!


Gearing up for the 54 Film Festival

In less than 3 weeks, the Back Road Films and crew will be getting ready for a weekend full of movie making! The 54 Film Festival which is held in the Middle TN area annually creates a high paced environment for filmmakers to push their limits and test their skills. When the clock strikes 7:00 pm on Friday, February 27th, tons of teams and crews across the mid-state will scramble to pull 25 genres out of a hat. Exactly 54 hours later, each team will have written, shot and edited a 4-7 minute film that will be judged amongst the pool of films. If you fail to turn your film in on time, DISQUALIFIED. On top of pulling off a feat like this, each team must incorporate a line of dialogue, a prop and an action. Fail to do these also, DISQUALIFIED.

Needless to say, the competition is very exciting on top of unpredictable and spontaneous- just some of the adjectives that come to mind. The premiere of these films will be on March 21, 2015 at Regal Hollywood in Nashville, TN.

For more information and samples of last years films, check out the 54’s Facebook page here. And a video of our team’s thoughts after shooting can be found here.

The Back Road Films took home 6/13 eligible awards including: Critic’s Choice Award, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Sound Design and Best Score. To watch the film “Apart”, click here.

We’ll keep you posted on events leading up to the big event this year!