NewsLocal News


70-year-old graduates from BYU film school

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 01, 2019

PROVO, Utah – At 70 years young, Rick Chestnut is proud to call himself a college graduate, finishing film school nearly five decades after he started.

“By this tree over here,” Rick Chestnut can be heard directing his wife, Jill, as he picked up a camera attached to a tripod.

“Ready? Alright?” He said to her as he adjusted the lens and begins to film.

At 70-years old, Rick Chestnut is standing exactly where he wants to be.

“At my age, I don’t worry about the challenges as much, maybe that’s one of the advantages of being older, you’re not intimidated by the odds,” Rick said.

For decades, standing behind the camera was just a dream.

“I prefer being behind the camera, there’s no doubt about that,” Rick laughed as he stood in front of our FOX 13 camera.

Friday, one major achievement, turned that dream into a reality – graduating from BYU’s film school.

“It’s never too late to be what you could have been,” Rick said.

Deciding to return to school at the age of 67, proved to be a challenge for Rick.

“He had never even done a quiz online,” said Jill, Rick’s wife.

“I got very discouraged,” Rick said. “There were times when I’d come out of a class and thought, ‘I can’t do this, it’s over.’”

Yet, through every hardship, he persevered because, for the first time in decades, it was for him.

“I realized, ‘No, I’ve got to stick in here, I’ve got to do it,’” he said.

Nearly 50 years ago, Rick dropped out of college to serve our country in Vietnam.

Upon his return, he found his way to BYU. But soon after, his focus shifted to his wife and family. He started his career as an electrician, but always kept a toe dipped in the film industry – working as an assistant cameraman on various local films.

Five years after he retired at the age of 62, he found his way back to BYU with a little encouragement from his wife.

“My idea, in the beginning, was he should just take a couple of classes,” Jill said. “Then the next thing I know, he comes home after he had gone to BYU and he said, ‘You know, I think I could get a degree in this,’” Jill laughed.

Jill saw a difference in her husband immediately, “He cared so much more than he did when he was young, I think that’s the difference, I don’t know if the schools have really changed, but he has.”

Now, with a new degree in tow, Rick hopes his journey can inspire others – no matter how old they are.

“Our bodies age, but inside, our spirits are still young,” said Rick. “We still have the ability to do unbelievable things, so why give all of that up? Why give all of that up before you need to?”

“We think sometimes that something’s over for us, but in reality, life’s still there, there’s lots of opportunity before us,” he added.

Rick is currently working to develop some of the projects he started in film school, he is also working to finish a project he started decades ago.