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SJMC helps fuel Veninga’s passion for filmmaking

Friday, December 1st, 2023

Drake University SJMC digital media production major Chris Veninga has found success through filmmaking. But that wasn’t always the plan.

Veninga came to Drake as a marketing major. Then he switched to psychology. But a conversation with his dad and a January-term editing class changed everything.

This prompted a return to his high school passion of making films.

His first was Park Pine, a dark drama about a school shooting. Influenced came after that, with help from digital media professor Lakshmi Tirumala.

Now a senior, Veninga achieved festival success with his film Gun to the Head – being invited to 10 film festivals. Veninga attended one in Florida and a student festival in Connecticut. In March, he will be attending one of these festivals in Decorah to be apart of a panel discussion on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Veninga described Gun to the Head as an OCD and Mental Health project.

“This film was inspired by my own experiences with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” he said. “When I went to therapy for the first time, not knowing that it was OCD, I described the feeling of racing thoughts as a ‘gun to the head.’ I took the experience and personified it in this film.”

He’s currently working on a sequel to Influenced, with several Drake digital media production majors playing a role, and according to Veninga, “All scripts go through Lakshmi because he knows what he is talking about.”

“None of this stuff could’ve happened without the support I’ve received from people within the SJMC,” Veninga said. “I’ve had professors and students alike help write, critique, shoot, plan, and edit these films. They go above and beyond for me not only because they enjoy doing it, but because they believe in what I’m doing.”

Last summer, Veninga completed a blink-182 fan-made music video.

“I thought it was weird that this song didn’t have an official music video, so I decided to make an unofficial one,” he said.