This week, we sat down with Jaye Beekhuis, a junior at Azusa Pacific University in Cinematic Arts working toward a double major in Screenwriting and Honors Humanities.
Tell us a little about your background before coming to APU, especially as it relates to your interest in pursuing Cinematic Arts.
When I was younger, each day after school I would board the bus, plug my headphones into my brand new iPod, and press my face against the glass to eagerly watch the world rush by outside. Day by day, I began to transform the familiar monotony of my small town with the help of a fun new game. The rules were simple: spot something I had never noticed before and weave it into the narrative of my ride home.
Ever since I can remember, I have been hyper-observant to stories in the world around me, so when I began to write them down, it felt entirely natural. French film pioneer Agnès Varda once said that cinema is “one part conceptualizing and ordering the world. The other is accepting the world as it is.” This has become my screenwriting mantra. I consistently focus on embracing the messy world around us, for better or for worse, and transforming its organically human stories into beautiful works of art with truths that transcend.
Though I am a Screenwriting major at APU largely due to my aptitude for writing, there are countless other factors that seem to have destined me for this path. Before I could even write, I used to disappear into my room for hours and emerge with pages of scribbles, which I would then proudly translate into stories to present to my family. I spent my summers reading, and I like to think the patriarchy shivered in nervous anticipation when I wrote my first novel about a princess who saves a prince. In fifth grade I read Little Women ten times, and I decided I wanted to be just like Jo March (yes, before Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan, I’m an og fan). Add to the mix my mom, who graduated from APU, and my dad, who works in television, and everything seemed to fall neatly into place.
Love the reference to Agnès Varda! Truly, one of the all-time greats. You’re also in the Honors Program. How has that been and how has it intersected with studying cinema?
The Honors College has stretched me in every way imaginable, and I truly mean in every way. It has challenged my preconceived and socialized ways of thinking, improved my writing and research skills, and tested the boundaries of just how little sleep a student can run on before falling apart. However, most importantly the Honors Program has led me to discover my immense passion and calling for creativity and its relation to the Divine. I believe so deeply that we are instilled with the ability to be creative, and even called to be creative, because we were made in the image of the ultimate and original creator. Delving deeper into this passion through the lens of the Honors Program has taught me so much about the spiritual foundations of beauty and truth, and this knowledge has greatly impacted my work as a screenwriter and student of cinema.
In a more literal or logistical sense, double majoring in Humanities and Cinema is a lot less poetic. As papers in the Honors College are due Saturdays at six pm I have spent many Friday nights writing until the wee hours in the morning only to finish just in time to get up for set on Saturday morning. As a Screenwriting major in particular, I spend a lot of my time writing. I am always working on pitches, essays, speeches, treatments, or scripts, and as exhausting as it may be, it truly is what I love. Along with enough writing practice to last a lifetime, both majors have introduced me to some of the greatest storytellers of all time. I am extremely lucky, and I do not think there are many better ways to study story.