LU’s resident cowboy filmmaker rides to make an impact on students

It was a cold and foggy night on Jan. 14 when Jeremy Hawa, film instructor in the Lamar University Department of Communication & Media, stood on the stage of the Jefferson Theatre in Beaumont alongside his wife and daughter to show his gratitude. Hawa thanked his cast, crew and family before he reached a specific group of individuals. With tears starting to fill his eyes, Hawa began to speak to his other family.

That night, Hawa and his production company Light Strike Productions premiered “The Powder Horn,” a Western-horror short film project shot across North Texas. Surrounded by the cast, professionals in the industry and members of the community, there was a row of seats occupied by a certain group of young crew members that worked on the project. Those crew members were the students of Hawa.

jeremy-hawa-jefferson-2023.jpgWhen it comes to many professionals in the film industry, it’s often said their desired goals are fame, success and riches. For Hawa, there is only one goal. That goal isn’t an award, money or even recognition in the industry. Instead, Hawa does what he does for one reason: impact. More specifically, Hawa does what he does to make an impact on the students that walk into his classroom and onto his set.

“I had always had it in my mind that I wanted to have my students involved in it,” said Hawa. “There are things we try to do beyond the classroom learning where we get them hands on experience. I knew that opportunities like this were not going to come along very often.”

The teaching style of Hawa has always been to provide hands-on opportunities and experience that brings the students away from the walls of a classroom. For “The Powder Horn,” Hawa provided those opportunites to 15 students and a few LU alumni.

One of those students in the audience the night of the premiere who watched his name appear in the credits was James Cottingham, a recent communication graduate who studied under and worked with Hawa.

“It was definitely a culture shock to work on a set that big,” said Cottingham. “Jeremy took a chance on me and because of that I had multiple jobs open up and began the networking process.”

Cottingham added that, despite the most intense cold he’s ever felt, he will never forget the experience of working on “The Powder Horn” due to what came out of it.

 “I met three of my business partners and we started a company from that night bunking together in a hotel room,” he said. Cottingham, along with three former students of Hawa’s, launched Run Picture Run Productions because of the opportunity provided.

As Hawa has opened up doors for his students and provided them opportunities to be paid for their work, the same has been done for him by those same students.

Dallas Rector, a former coporate communications major at LU, served as script supervisor and executive producer on the project. An executive producer is someone who helps fianance a film. Rector, having been impacted by Hawa’s teaching and passion, decided to return to favor.

“He was one of the first people to contribute to our Indiegogo campaign just because he wanted to see it go,” said Hawa. “It blew me away because I know that sacrifice, but Dallas wanted to do it and it was something that was so humbling. It meant more than words can describe.”

jeremy-hawa-field-2023.jpgRector explained that he decided to finance a part of the film because of Hawa’s impact on him as a student and even today.

“Jeremy made a huge impact with how I perceived the world of filmmaking,” he said. “He shattered the idea of it being this far off, and dream-like fairytale, and made it feel like a tangible goal that I could work toward. It was a great feeling to be able to finance just a small part of the project.”

Rector added that his learning under Hawa has never stopped despite no longer being in his classroom.

“Jeremy is such a joy to work with,” he said. Every day was just him in his element doing what he loved to do. He wouldn’t hesitate to pull me to the monitor and continue to teach me. He’s a lifetime mentor that I know I’ll always be able to count on.

The stories of Cottingham and Rector are examples of what Hawa lives for. He has a passion for the art of filmmaking, but his true desire and goal is to form everlasting relationships with those that he teaches.

“It’s those relationships that I like to build,” said Hawa. “What I want to ingrain in my students is that it’s always been the relationships that are built that have been the most joyous thing, and that’s the impact I hope I have on them. Love the creative, but don’t miss the big picture.”

As he aims to have an impact on the lives of the students, Hawa recognizes the impact that his students have on him.

jeremy-hawa-horse-2023.jpg“You can be in a business for so long, and sometimes you kind of start losing perspective on things,” he said. “Seeing how excited the students are and seeing their optimism and hard work, it reminds me of why I’m doing this. It really inspires me, and by teaching them they’ve afforded me the opportunity to continue to learn as a filmmaker myself.”

As Hawa neared the end, he spoke to place a reminder inside the hearts and minds of his students, past, present and future, and also himself.

“Films can be forgotten. Relationships are forever,” Hawa concluded.

To learn more about the Department of Communication & Media, visit

 All photos were captured by Paige Rivero from Burned Out Studio