Recent IU graduates take on technology and cinema as their film heads to Cannes festival


From left, Eli Bevins, Heather Rachael Owens, Sydney Franklin and Lu Bevins attended CMF Hollywood in July 2015 to support the film “My Dear Arthur.”

Last May, Joyce “Eli” and Jean “Lu” Bevins had graduation on their minds. Both earned master’s degrees from the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington.

Fast forward to just one year later: Their film “My Dear Arthur” will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It is one of 30 titles Campus MovieFest is taking to the prestigious event in France.

Each year, the Campus MovieFest program lends free laptops and camcorders to college students around the country so they can complete films within a week.

This year’s CMF filming wrapped up at IU last week, with more than 75 teams signed up. Of all the five-minute films submitted before the deadline, 16 will be shown starting at 9 p.m. April 8 at Whittenberger Auditorium as part of IU Late Nite.

Winning films

Eli and Lu Bevins are twins, business partners and independent filmmakers.

In 2015, they didn’t finish one film for Campus MovieFest. Instead, they submitted three.


Campus MovieFest will announce its IU winners for 2016 at a 9 p.m. screening April 8 in the Whittenberger Auditorium.

Lu said they prepared for the competition by getting as much rest as they could the week before. “We knew we weren’t going to sleep.”

“We kind of tagged-teamed,” Eli said. “We usually write together, we usually direct together. I do most of the editing for our film projects, while she does most of the filming.”

All three films made an impression in last year’s CMF competition.

My Dear Arthur” won best picture at IU. The short thriller spans time, revealing a mother who found a surprising way to dodge punishment for witchcraft.

The Exit,” which deals with domestic violence, received one of four local jury awards.

And “ID,” a film about racial stereotypes and prejudice, was awarded a national honorable mention in the Elfenworks Social Justice category.

Double features

Raised in West Philadelphia, the Bevins sisters attended Overbrook High School, the same school Will Smith attended.

In high school, they never had a computer class. Despite this, both earned bachelor’s degrees in computer science at Elizabeth City State University, a historically black college in North Carolina.

Eli and Lu first came to Indiana University in 2009 as summer interns, where they conducted research alongside faculty in the School of Informatics and Computing. They returned two more summers before entering the master’s program.

All the while, their focus on technology has been interwoven with a shared interest in the arts.

Even though they joined film club in high school, filmmaking came later. “But we’ve been writing since forever,” Eli said.

“We really do have the same passions in writing, films and words,” Lu said. “Our talents and passions are pretty much the same. It’s not on purpose!”

As undergraduates, they ventured into stage plays. When they couldn’t find anyone to shoot those plays, they began making films.

Philadelphia to Hollywood

As their first major film project, the Bevins twins made an hour-long documentary about a Philadelphia neighborhood, Mill Creek. “It went through hard times in the ’90s and ’80s,” Eli said.

“Coming from West Philadelphia, so many things we saw first-hand,” Lu added.


Lu and Eli Bevins said they are grateful for the support of the IU School of Informatics in their endeavors in both technology and film.

They drew upon those experiences when they entered their first CMF competition. “A lot of the shots you see in ‘Systematic Living’ are shots from Mill Creek,” Eli said.

“We looked at poverty and the injustices of growing up in poverty,” Lu said. “We also wanted to talk about things you don’t see in theaters.”

In 2014, “Systematic Living” was screened at CMF Hollywood and was the overall Elfenworks Social Justice winner. For this honor, it was shown in-flight on Virgin America Airline and garnered a $10,000 prize.

All business

After graduation in 2015, the Bevins sisters returned to Philadelphia, where they are pursuing twin interests: information architecture and film.

“Technology goes with everything,” Eli said.

Lu has been working on a website for a Hollywood actor, a project that originated at IU. As Eli said, “Who would have thought a class project for something technical would have led to the opportunity to network with someone in the industry?”

Both sisters are interested in growing a technology business that specializes in serving the online needs of independent filmmakers.

“Everything is so technical now, everything is online now,” Eli said. “Your online presence — as a company, as a business, as a studio — it needs that presence for people to trust it.”

And they are working on music videos and films through Eli Lu Productions, which they founded in 2009.

Just last week they released “When Karma Calls” in an online event. They wrote the feature in 2014 and began filming that fall. Because the cast included fellow IU students, they had to work around classes, tests, theater productions and other obligations. Scenes sometimes were delayed for days, weeks or months. Parts of one scene in the Indiana Memorial Union were filmed nearly a year apart.

In the film, IU alumnus Deshawn Tyree stars as a man obsessed by a mysterious shooting he witnessed. His blog becomes the catalyst that brings together others who have seen Karma materialize in unexplained ways.

“Working with the twins Eli and Lu is a real treat because they both are creative, down-to-earth people with different leadership styles,” Tyree said. “Eli’s more task-oriented, while Lu may be more relationship-oriented… I truly admire them.”


With “My Dear Arthur” on its way to Cannes, Eli and Lu Bevins hope their team can be represented. Generously, they want their lead actress, Heather Rachael Owens, to be there.

My Dear Arthur cast

The “My Dear Arthur” team shared a light moment during filming. They hope to raise enough funding to send one person to Cannes, where the film will be shown in May.

Owens, a recent IU theater graduate, was offered her role after appearing in “When Karma Calls.” She immediately agreed.

“They both have a lot of my respect, both professionally and personally. On set, they know what they want from you, but are also good about letting you explore a bit on your own… On a personal level, they are very friendly, driven women who I am honored to call my friends,” she said.

Now a month before the Cannes Film Festival, “My Dear Arthur” has a GoFundMe page with pledges covering more than half of the trip’s cost. Its makers share the hope that the balance can be raised, even if it is five dollars at a time.

Other IU student film showcases

  • Students who have spent the year studying with IU professor and Hollywood veteran Robby Benson will present their films in free public screenings at 8 p.m. April 26 at the AMC Showplace Bloomington 11 (by the College Mall) and at 3 p.m. April 30 at IU Cinema.
  • The Spring 2016 Student Film Showcase will be curated from documentary, narrative and art films made by IU students in various departments. Their films will be presented at 7 p.m. at IU Cinema over the course of two nights, May 3 and May 4.

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