Some friends and I recently participated in the 72-hour Faith Film Fest hosted by the Christian Television Network affiliate in Mt. Juliet, TN, and our film entry won several awards including the top prize of Best Film. I’d like to use this little corner of Finding Christ in Cinema to share this good news, share the experience, share the film, and share where the director and I plan to go from here.
Film Festival Free-for-All
The idea of the festival was simple: create a film that focuses on a Biblical passage chosen at random by the producing team within the allotted time limit. We had 72 hours – from 6:00 PM Thursday, October 9th, to 6:00 PM that following Sunday, the 12th – to come up with the story that implemented the chosen passage, flesh out that story into a workable screenplay, capture the performance of that story, and then edit that story into a solid film.
Thursday evening, Richard and I attended the festival’s “Starting Gate” event where we would meet the men and women behind the festival’s curtain, meet the other participating teams, and ultimately draw the Bible passage that would serve as the foundation for our story.
After the rules and guidelines were announced, I sat in the audience my fellow competitors as Richard stepped up the platform to draw our passage from the fishbowl:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
To be honest, I couldn’t help but hear a construct of Pete Seeger and the Byrds singing in the background as Richard read the passage for everyone.
After we left the studio and joined another team for a quick bite, we took to the task of formulating a grounded and engaging story with this passage as the capstone. We did not, however, use the passage as a starting point.
Instead, we first considered our audience which we divided into two categories: believers and non-believers. We then realized that if we tried to make a film for non-believers, it would be regarded as foolishness, thus ruling out that audience (sorry to sound elitist, but it’s just true). This left us with the only other section: believers.
Then, we thought about what kind of film would actually edify fellow believers and stir them up to love and good works – as should be the purpose of any Christian film – and we ultimately decided that it would be best to offer a reflective mirror instead of a propagandist prescription with the hope of rousing certain fellow believers to self-examination.
With our goals in place, we then began creating the story…and this is where I leave you.
The Film Itself
Please go ahead and take seven minutes to watch the film.
Got it? Good.
“Disturbing…but a story that needs to be told.”
Since its public release via Facebook, Richard and I have both received mostly positive reviews.
For some, gnarls and hisses and borderline boos arose for Saul’s villainy, and vivid applause erupted for John’s response. For other, tears (yes, real tears) fell at Saul’s behavior and its effect on his children, but those tears were wiped away in relief when John makes his choice at the climax of the film.
But I think Michael (you know, the FCC podcast co-producer and co-host) said it best via electronic correspondence:
Wow! A very disturbing little film on so many levels…but a story that needs to be told – as uncomfortable as it may be.
But What Do You Think?
We’d love to hear your feedback as well regarding this short film. Winning the awards at the ceremony and the comments we’ve received so far have encouraged us to continue in this path of storytelling and film-making, and we hope that the fruits of this labor will stir, shake, and maybe even turn upside down the world around us.
If anything, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this mission and that God is and remains glorified over everything else.