Samantha Taylor said she believes in God.
"I don't go to a church," she said. "I wake up every day - that's proof enough for me."
The Augusta State University film student didn't grow up in the church, but said she's been to enough to notice a problem.
"The signs. All these churches had these signs with these messages," Ms. Taylor, 25, said, "but things going on outside weren't consistent with what these signs say."
For an editing class a year ago, she created God at Work, a four-minute film of church signs and outdoor images throughout Augusta.
In May, she edited the film to 60 seconds and entered it in Film Your Issue, an international competition to engage ages 16-25 in dialogue about issues concerning them. The competition jury included Walter Cronkite, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and actors John Cusack and Mandy Moore.
Ms. Taylor made it to the semifinal round, listed in the top 36 from more than 150.
"I was shocked, I couldn't believe they picked mine," she said.
HeathCliff Rothman, the founder and president of the competition, said hers was an "easy choice" and from the moment he saw it he was sure it'd be a semifinalist, one of 24 American films selected.
"When you consider that we had entries from many states and from Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, South America, the Philippines, Israel and so on, the fact that it made the semifinals among very stiff competition I really think speaks very well to what it was in many respects," he said. "It stood out because as filmmaking it was very superior for originality in how she told the story, how she presented it, juxtaposing the exterior of churches and the signs and the messaging against the people in need. It was very unique. I loved it."
Ms. Taylor said alternative band Sneaker Pimps' song Blue Movie, with a chorus of "Get on that gospel train for my lord is coming too soon," kept the problem on her mind: poverty, crime, drug addiction and homelessness were abounding outside of the churches.
"It's kind of like, the church signs say that everything's wonderful, that God will make it all better, but they expect God to just do that without having to do any work themselves. And that's not all people, there's always exceptions to the rule, but that's just been my experience, what I've seen myself."
She was further bothered by church people who behave inconsistently.
"I know some people who go to church Sunday, it's all wonderful, then by Monday they're doing the same stupid stuff - lying and so on," she said. "It happens in all religions, you think because you go to church and you praise God in front of people that that's all you have to do."
Ms. Taylor said she "took a few creative liberties" in the film, staging a drug deal, a fight, all based on things she's seen.
"Everybody needs a reality check," Ms. Taylor said. "It (the film) might not fix the problem, but at least it will make somebody think about it."
Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see God at Work, see chronicle.augusta.com/religion, or visit www.filmyourissue.com.