What Makes for a Great Movie?

Yesterday our Bible lesson was on Hebrews 11. It’s a familiar passage, one I’ve read many times, and yet this time, verse 4 came to life in a totally new light.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

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So then I turned to the original passage in Genesis 4 to see exactly what it said.

And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:2-7

Cain “brought an offering”, Abel “brought of the firstlings”. The difference between Cain and Abel was that Cain gave a gift, Abel gave his best.

I’m currently in the middle of writing our next script. And thought I’m super excited about it, there have been plenty of times these past weeks and months when I’ve wanted to pull my hair out. The problem is that with each movie, we raise the bar. We’re not content to just make movies, we want to push ourselves and give the very best we have to offer. But sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I want to give up and just finish it and shoot it and be done with it. And it could be a perfectly good movie with a good Christian message that would have a positive impact. But this passage reminds me that God doesn’t want us to settle and make good movies. He wants us to give Him our very best and make great movies.

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But what constitutes a great movie?  Some experts say a movie should be judged by how much profit it makes. Others say it can’t be a great movie unless it has a theatrical release. Still others judge it by the awards or accolades it receives or what the critics have to say about it. These are all wonderful worldly barometers. But I say God looks at the heart of the filmmaker and judges accordingly.

42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12: 42-44

God has blessed us each with different levels of talents and resources. For some filmmakers, a big budget blockbuster hit will be a Cain offering. For others, a micro budget short that is never distributed and is only seen by a small audience  will be an Abel offering. All we can do is take the gifts that God has given us, use them to the best of our abilities, and offer them to God with our humblest of hearts. The key is in offering our finest first fruits rather than our leftovers. We need to strive for excellence and though we’ll surely fall short, it doesn’t keep us from stretching and reaching. We write and rewrite, get critiques, and write some more. We plan ahead and take our time to get the best footage we can afford with the equipment, crew, and talent that we have. We edit, get feedback, and edit again. And only after we’ve done everything in our power to make it the best possible, do we give it to God as our sacrificial offering to use for His glory. And then perhaps our work will be like Abel’s, to continue to speak to people for years to come.  “And though he is dead, he still speaks”.

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Book Review – Their Name is Today

“We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow,’ his name is today.”                     Gabriela Mistral

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About the book -

Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy, happy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide. Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers through the challenges of education and family life. In Their Name Is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children. But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow. Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child’s right to the joy and wonder of childhood.

Review – This is a wonderful book for parents of children to rethink a lot of what society says about raising children. It’s designed to appreciate the innocence and beauty of childhood and to cultivate it rather than forcing our children to grow up too quickly.  As a parent of a adult child, so much of it just echoed what I already applied in my own parenting.

As a filmmaker, whatever I watch or read, I’m always applying it to filmmaking. This book had several sections that expressed so perfectly our goals as filmmakers:

“We’re not going to live forever. We have to pass on what we can because otherwise it stops here.

“Over the years I have learned that every child has a story to tell. Each of their stories needs to be told to someone who has the time to listen.”

In the context of the book, the author is speaking of the importance of family relationships. But as filmmakers, we can take that advice a step further. Each of us has a story to tell that only we can tell in a way that only we can tell it. Rather than following trends or trying to recreate what someone else has already done, we need to discover the story that God has given us and tell it so that others may benefit from it.

If you would like to receive your own copy of Their Name is Today, comment below. Drawing will be Saturday, Nov. 7.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Noah – Wordless Picture Book Review

I’ve always loved wordless communication. I enjoy mimes and interpretive movement,and, of course, silent movies. Years ago when I taught children’s church, my favorite resource was the wordless book that told the gospel using colors.

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So I was excited to receive a wordless picture book about Noah. Mark Ludy has done a great job of taking the familiar story of Noah and giving it a completely different twist. Rather than limiting his story to the basics, he creates a beautiful world for the story and populates it with colorful characters. The artwork is exquisite –  intricate images full of color and detail. Parents are going to have to be creative when they read it aloud to their children. They’re going to have to really analyze the pictures to be able to tell what’s going on in each picture. The children will enjoy observing all the many details.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is that like our silent movie, this book allows each person to interpret the story in their own personal way. It will be different each time they read it.

If you would like to receive your own copy, comment below. This would make a great Christmas present! Drawing to be held Saturday, Nov. 7.

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

The Good Book Movie Receives Film Innovation Award

In the past six months The Good Book movie has received sixteen film festival accolades. The most recent recognition, the “Film Innovation Award” from Churches Making Movies, was a special award created specifically for The Good Book movie for its innovative approach to sharing the gospel without words. Other festival accolades include “Best Inspirational Film” at Holywood Christian Film Festival, “Best Feature” and “Best Female Director” at GloryReelz Christian Film Festival, “Best Faith Film Runner Up” at Mount Dora Family Film Festival, and nomination for the prestigious “Best Mission” Stellae Award at Pan Pacific Film Festival.

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Filmmakers Fred and Sharon Wilharm at the Pan Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles.

“Only the Word of God could move people to tears without ever uttering a sound,” says Minister Sheri Brooks, director of GloryReelz Christian Film Festival. “The Good Book is a remarkable film that engages and edifies. Astoundingly unique, incredibly moving!”

“Most people don’t have a clue what to expect,”  says writer/director Sharon Wilharm. “They think it’s going to be like the old silent films with melodramatic action and title screens. They’re pleasantly surprised to discover it’s more of an hour long music video. Perhaps the comment we hear the most from audiences has been, ‘I didn’t know what to expect, but it far exceeded my expectations.’”

Michelle Danko of Faith Filled Family magazine says, “The film was unlike ANY movie I have ever seen. It was amazing! I would give this movie a perfect score, ten out of ten.”

Starring Jenn Gotzon, Evan Fielding, Apolonia Davalos, BK Bomar, Amanda Pentecost, Rebecca Lines, and Josh Childs, The Good Book tells the story of a small Bible that is passed along to fourteen strangers, impacting the lives of seven of those individuals. It’s told without dialogue, using only dramatic action and a dynamic soundtrack. The movie concludes with testimonies from a Bible smuggler and a convicted murderer whose lives were impacted by a Bible.

The Good Book also screened at International Christian Film Festival, Poconos Mountains Film Festival, Bedias, Texas, Christian Film Festival, Faith and Family Films, Christian Film Festival – Indianapolis, Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival, Louisville’s International Festival of Film, and the I Will Tell NdinadZawapanga International Film Festival.

The Good Book is the fifth feature film for Mainstreet Productions. Their last movie, Flowers for Fannie, is currently available in Christian stores as well as iTunes, Google Play, Christian Cinema and other online retailers. The Good Book is being distributed by Bridgestone Media Group and will be released nationwide in January 2015.

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For more information, visit the website at www.goodbookmovie.com.

Rebekah Cook – Actress, Coach, Casting Director, and Script Supervisor

There are a handful of names that keep popping up in discussions of faith-based films. Jenn Gotzon is one. Rebekah Cook is another. I’ve been hearing about her for years and just recently had the pleasure of getting to know her via facebook. Rebekah Cook is an actress, coach, casting director, and script supervisor who has been serving the Christian film industry since 2009. Born overseas as a missionary kid, she moved back to the States to pursue screen acting, and has since worked on over a dozen feature films.

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When did you first discover a love of acting?
I always enjoyed playacting as a kid. When I was about eight years old, my mom and older brother produced a home movie of a musical for a Christmas gift to extended family, and I played the lead role. That’s probably when I realized I loved acting. I kept doing plays and skits at church and such, but it wasn’t until much later that God planted the dream in me of acting for film.

How did you get involved in film acting?

While watching a Christian indie film, and one actress/character in particular, the desire was birthed in my heart to impact people by helping tell powerful stories of hope and faith and purpose. I was fifteen at the time.

I studied for several years on my own before setting foot on my first set, as an extra in a City On A Hill production, Not A Fan. But it was through apprenticing with Advent Film Group and getting hands on experience with what goes on behind the scenes that really gave me my jump-start in the industry–on both sides of the camera.

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 What faith-based films have you been a part of?

In chronological order of filming:
Alone Yet Not Alone
Treasure In Heaven
Indescribable
The Screenwriters
Christmas Grace
In His Steps (web series)
Beyond The Mask
Surrender
Polycarp: Destroyer of Gods
In His Steps (movie)
Love Covers All
Princess Cut
Wanted
Catching Faith
Breaking The Silence
The Bryan Lawrence Story

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Which came first – cast member or crew member?

Technically, my crew credit came first. I was a casting assistant for Alone Yet Not Alone. Because I was interested in acting, I sent in my own video audition to the casting director, and got a callback. I was then cast in a featured speaking role in the film, but unfortunately that scene didn’t make it to the final edit. My first larger roles didn’t come until a couple years later, for Christmas Grace and  In His Steps.

Which do you prefer – cast or crew?

I love acting! Bringing a character to life is definitely my passion. There are so many pros, but there is at least one con–you typically aren’t there for the duration of the shoot. With crew, I get to help with and witness the unfolding of the entire story, and there’s often a deeper team bonding with that.

Crew positions I’ve held include 1st assistant director (1), 2nd assistant director (2), casting director (2), casting assistant (1), extras casting/coordinator (2), production coordinator (1), script supervisor (9), on-set dresser (2), and 2nd assistant camera (1). I’ve been blessed on several sets to work as both cast and crew on the same project, when it’s a supporting role that allows that. So right now, I’m happy doing either and both!

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How has working in casting made you a better actress?

Working in casting is the fastest way I know of to get a heartbeat on the current market for actors: the demand, the competition, the self-taping process, etc. And working as a reader is one of the best, most fun acting workouts I’ve ever had! Rarely in film do you get to play a role you don’t look like, but as a reader that’s not a problem, because you’re always off-camera.

Then there is the reviewing process. When you go through a few hundred video auditions in the space of mere weeks, and work with the director and producers to put faces to characters, you begin understanding the dynamics of why actors do or don’t get cast, and how casting shapes story.

I can always learn from the actors who are auditioning. What are they doing (or NOT doing) that is so effective? What is missing that makes a scene feel flat?There is a lesson in each audition, good and bad, and when I make the effort to find it and improve my own business approach and acting craft, it’s quite the education.

Finally, whenever I find myself on the other side, I can better imagine what the director/casting person might be thinking, and that helps some with nerves. I try to keep distractions to a minimum, present my best work and be truly me, then give them space to build the ensemble they need. Anymore, it’s difficult to take it personally if I’m not cast, because I sympathize with what the casting team is going through; I’ve been there.

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What exactly does a script supervisor do?

That’s a common question, even from fellow crew members! One of the reasons this position has such mystery about it, is because how the job gets done can look a little different from person to person, and it’s a one person deal. The “duties” can be very basic, or can get overwhelmingly detailed. I’ve been doing it for about three years now, and I keep adding layers and customizing for each new production.

The basic responsibility is to keep track of continuity as the story moves from the page onto the screen. This translates to making sure everything that’s supposed to be seen or heard on screen, gets seen or heard on screen the way it’s needs to, and everything that’s not, to keep it out.

Film scenes are shot out of order due to locations and actor schedules, etc., so anything that affects achieving a smooth storyline in the editing room is in play. This includes lines, blocking, prop/set dressing elements, wardrobe, hair, make up, time passage, camera angles, eyelines, weather, sounds, lighting, and more. Obviously, there are crew departments that cover most all of these areas. The script/continuity supervisor’s job is to help coordinate so that everyone gets and stays on the same page for how their area contributes to the whole, and be the last line of defense for continuity.

So what are some tangibles? You’ll have the standard clip board and log sheets, to take down detailed notes for each take, a marked up script with different colors and custom shorthand symbols to help track what is needed for each scene and character, and usually a stopwatch to time each take and a camera of some sort to take photos of the set and the video monitor. You also get the crew call sheet and sides for that day, to stay abreast of the filming schedule.
The script supervisor sits right next to the director at video village (where the camera feed is set up), and also gets a feed from the sound mixer to better hear the actors deliver their lines. During a scene, another thing to watch for in the periphery is the director’s body language reacting to the performance. After a take, they discuss any notes or issues with the director, and with other crew as necessary. If the take was a “print” (a film term still used with digital media) to use in the edit, the take number is circled on the log sheet.

During set-up time for a shot, or even days before a scene, any extra time is spent making and organizing notes, running lines with an actor if they request it, or following up with a crew member to help prevent any continuity errors before they happen and become a “holding on ____!” problem. After wrap is called for the day, there is still the daily summary report to finish and final notes to make in the script. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a few hours, depending on the day.

Before production starts, I like to get the locked script as soon as possible and begin making my own breakdowns, picking apart the pages and scenes in every way possible to digest the information as best I can. If no script revisions are made during this process, this can take as little as a week or two.

Once principal photography is over, all the notes get handed over to the editor. One of the scary things about this is that even if the script supervisor “caught” all the continuity errors and marked them down, it’s entirely possible that the editor or director will decide to use one of those takes anyway, and they may still end up in the final edit! That’s one of the reasons I try to exercise “preventive continuity medicine” instead of simply diagnosing the symptoms as they show up on set.

I like script supervision because I get to work closely with the director and the actors, as well as interact a lot with the majority of the crew and be a support for their roles. It satiates my detail-oriented side while keeping the big picture in mind. And it certainly doesn’t hurt my feelings to have a front-row seat for the action on the screen!

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Are there other filmmaker roles you’d like to pursue?

For a story I was super passionate about, I could see myself co-writing and directing someday. But for now, I really enjoy the different hats I already wear! I’m always open to learning something new, and love being a part of team telling a meaningful story that will touch someone’s life.

What do you find most fulfilling about being involved in films?

The most fulfilling thing ever is to see lives changed as they draw closer to God. When someone comes up to me and says they saw me in such-and-such a movie, and how God used it to speak into their life, that is an amazing, humbling feeling. When I’m able to portray characters dealing with real, relatable struggles, and point to hope, truth, and beauty in the midst of pain–that’s where my heart is.

Something I didn’t fully expect going into film was how deeply stretching, challenging, rewarding, and even sometimes painful, the experience of making a film could be. When I’m part of a faith-based production, I live life very closely with a group of fellow creative professionals, many of whom are Christians, and even if we all have different backgrounds, we truly become like a family. I love that!

A film set is like a can of condensed life. After a month, it can feel like you’ve been working together for a year. The emotional ups and downs are also heightened, and then you add in some sleep deprivation…. It’s a great way to discover areas in your character or habits that need to be addressed, with God’s help, and with the help of the “family” He has surrounded you with.

Each time I leave another set, I go away changed. Changed by the friendships I’ve made or deepened, changed by the story we’ve invested collective years of our lives to tell, changed by the way God revealed himself to me in new ways, and changed by the ongoing privilege of encouraging others around me in their journey.

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Anything else?

A few years ago I was asked to give a talk about casting and acting, and quickly discovered that I loved to teach! Now I coach actors online via video-chat, as well as doing workshops at different events.

To learn more about an acting webinar I’m doing on October 29th, go to: http://webinars.mwcfa.org/acting-in-the-christian-film-industry/

For information about when I’ll be doing workshops at the Christian Worldview Film Guild & Festival in Texas next spring, visit: http://www.christianworldviewfilmfestival.com/rebekah-cook/

If you are interested in private online coaching, you can fill out an application here: http://www.actressrebekah.com/private-coaching.html

There are more pictures, trailers, and other fun info about films I’ve worked on at my website: www.actressrebekah.com

Finally, if you’d like to stay up date with what I’m up to in the biz, please feel free to connect with me on Facebook. On my actor page, https://www.facebook.com/actressrebekah, I share industry tips, casting calls, project updates, and links of interest. See you there!

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Weekend in Chicago – Illumination Experience Tour

As filmmakers it’s important to constantly be learning, growing, and developing our skills to take our movies to the next level. That’s why when Fred discovered the Illumination Experience Tour, he knew it was something he wanted to participate in. So this past weekend we headed to the windy city and he got to sit at the feet of a Hollywood cinematographer and see firsthand how Shane Hurlbut created the look of such movies as Crazy/Beautiful, Act of Valor, and Rat Pack. As part of the experience, entire movie sets were brought in and the participating filmmakers got to set up lights and run the cameras. Even better, after getting to play with the Hollywood equipment, they got to see how the same looks could be achieved using consumer and prosumer products. So many little tricks to transform simple shots into visions of beauty, bringing life to each screenplay.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/103187055″>Illumination Experience Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/mzedu”>MZed</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

While Fred was studying cinematography, I was hard at work on our next screenplay. Something about traveling always brings out my creative juices. Pretty much every project we’ve been involved in has been conceived during a road trip. This time was no exception. For the past year I’ve been tossing around ideas, not sure where God would lead us next, or if He even wanted us to do another movie. A few months ago, we concluded that yes, we were supposed to do another movie, and so I began working on a script. But this weekend was a major turning point. All these movie pieces I’ve been gathering for a number of years suddenly fit together into one major idea. I won’t give out any details just yet, but I will say it builds on everything else we’ve ever done and it’s distinctly us, a unique story that we can tell in a way that no one else can. Can’t wait to get it all down on paper and polish it and tweak it and get it ready to share with the world.

If you’re interested in taking your filmmaking skills to new levels. sign up for one of the remaining dates for the Illumination Experience Tour with Shane Hurlbut. 

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The Allen Family – With Josh Allen

I’ve interviewed plenty of musical artists before, but The Allen Family is my first reality show interviewee. Their new tv show Home Sweet Bus premieres Tuesday, October 28 on TLC. Here’s a little sneak peek at what life is like for this Southern Gospel singing family of ten. 

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First, Josh, tell us a little about yourself and your role in The Allen Family.
My name is Josh Allen, and I’m the third of my parent’s eight children. For eighteen years my family, The Allen Family, has traveled around the world, first in evangelistic ministry, and now as a Southern Gospel Music group. Besides being a family of ten that travels full time, we are unique because we have lived in RV’s and tour buses with no stationary house anywhere else since we began our ministry. I am nineteen years old, and since we’ve been on the road for eighteen years, that makes me a founding member of the group! Haha! After living on a bus all these years, our family attracted the attention of a production company interested in how a family as large as ours could live on the road full time like we do.

Tell us about a typical day for your family.
Good question! I am just as curious about this as you are! I have absolutely no idea what a typical day for our family is like.  Living on the road means our surroundings are always different, as well as our situations. In a year’s time we’ll travel 60,000 to 75,000 miles, so we could be anywhere doing anything, and are rarely in the same place twice in the same year. That’s typical!

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What led to The Allen Family getting a TLC show?
We received an email from a production company in California looking for a family like ours to be in a show for a different television network. We sent the company a demo of our family singing and telling about who we were for the network’s consideration. After viewing what we had sent, this network decided we weren’t what they were looking for. However, the production company liked what they saw and decided to pitch our family to other networks. Ultimately, it was TLC that decided to develop the show about our family. They filmed a pilot episode earlier this year, and it will be premiering October 28.

What is it like filming a reality tv show?
It was definitely a different experience to be on camera all day. You are constantly thinking about what you are saying and watching how you react to certain situations. Even if you’re a “good” person who gets along with everybody, you can’t help but be in focus mode when everything you do is recorded!

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How is reality tv different than what happens in reality?
There are many different types of reality tv shows. In some shows the cameras role 24 hours a day, capturing everything that goes on. In other reality shows everything is scripted, and things only appear real. Our show was not scripted, nor were we filmed 24/7. They would film us during the daytime hours as we did our “usual” pursuits, and every now and then they’d ask us to do something so the audience could see how we did that particular thing.

How has filming the show impacted your singing ministry?
We’ve received enormous support from our friends in the Southern Gospel Music industry, and of course, our fans are excited as well! Since the show has not aired yet, we are unsure of what to expect. We have been told that we will receive many more supporters, but we’ll also receive many haters. Our family very firmly believes in honoring Christ in all we do, so naturally the show could irritate a fair amount of people who don’t appreciate that.

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What are your goals for the show?
Our main goal is to shine the light of Christ to the world while also showing them that family still works. We want to give broken families hope that they can rebuild on God’s word and create a family that can stand the test of time.

Anything else?
If people would like updates on the show, or would like to know when we’ll be singing in their area, they can visit allenministries.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Walker Haynes – Actor and Filmmaker

I love hearing about filmmakers and how they got their start in filmmaking. Each has their own unique story, but one I haven’t heard until today was a filmmaker whose first movie was sold to Lionsgate. Walker Haynes’ most recent film, Hamlet’s Ghost, premiered at Cannes Marché du Film and then screened at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival. 
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Tell us, Walker, when did you first develop an interest in filmmaking?

In 2005, I began writing a script (Gunfight At La Mesa), with the intention of taking a concept through every step of the filmmaking process as an exercise in producing a film. I co-wrote the script with my friend Chris Fickley, who directed the project. We broke down the script and took it through pre-production and production. Once the project was in the can, I went through the post-production phase, and edited the film myself. Finally, after completing the project, It was sold to LIONSGATE which then took us through delivery and distribution.

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What is your filmmaking education/background?
My training is in acting; I received a B.A. from Bryan College with an acting emphasis. In the summer of 2001, I was accepted into a competitive acting program in London at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). As an actor, living and working in Los Angeles, my experiences in front of the camera along with the time spent editing Gunfight At La Mesa and other projects, has given me a well rounded approach to the filmmaking process. I’ve now produced multiple feature films, all with some form of distribution attached. I’ve been an actor and stuntman, and I have worked with cameras, sound, post-production and visual effects. I’ve co-written two scripts which have both been produced and sold. My intention is to master the craft of acting as well as deepen my experience and understanding of the filmmaking process.
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Tell us about your latest film, Hamlet’s Ghost.
Hamlet’s Ghost is a time-travel film about a modern Shakespearean actor who must travel back in time to confront enigmatic forces from the past and future. My co-writer, Cleve Nettles and I wanted to make a film that engaged the viewer and asked questions about existence and the “what if” of time-travel. Sprinkle in a little Shakespeare and history, and there is something there for everyone. Also, a major objective of mine was to make a film that was appropriate for kids and adults alike, so getting the DOVE foundation seal of approval was significant. Another goal in making Hamlet’s Ghost was to bring a level of excellence within the art form itself. Too often, due to time and budgetary constraints, we filmmakers have to sacrifice and make choices that affect the story or quality of the visual image. Hamlet’s Ghost has flaws, as all films do, but there is a quality there that I am happy with, especially given the obstacles we had to overcome; the talent of the cast and crew shines through in Hamlet’s Ghost and that impression is impactful on the viewer and evident onscreen.
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What has been the response to Hamlet’s Ghost?
Hamlet’s Ghost was originally submitted to the Festival de Cannes, and while it was not an official selection to the festival, the film was granted a World Premiere screening at the Cannes Marché du Film. The reviews have been very good, and the Q & A after the screening at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival led to a discussion of existence, worldview and the nature and destiny of man. These are all questions that we must all address, and if Hamlet’s Ghost is a catalyst for this conversation, then it is already a great success.
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What is your goal as a Christian filmmaker?
I am interested in making films that ask questions of the viewer. Too often, people watch a movie and check out, just want to be entertained, or be spoonfed a worldview. While there is value in that, it is not of an eternal nature. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the significance of life? These are the big questions that every individual must answer, and if I can contribute to that and point people to the hope that is offered in Jesus, then that is the true nature of my calling.
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What are you doing to make a difference for Christ in Hollywood?
Working in Hollywood is very difficult; there is a rivalry of worldviews competing for your attention every day. Being salt and light means loving people because God is love. That gets reflected in daily work and conversation on set and after wrap. The opportunities to encourage, uplift and pray for co-workers are there every day, and I try to be faithful to that calling. If you want to make a difference for God in Hollywood, it requires not being afraid to roll your sleeves up and get a little dirty. It is exciting to see a growing community of believers in Hollywood striving to make a difference in our industry and reflect the love of Jesus. Finally, Christians should be making art that is excellent in form and execution, inspired, and of a quality that brings glory to God; I aspire to this as an actor, director and filmmaker.
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Anything else?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this interview. May God continue to bless you and your work; please head to the sites below if there is an interest in connecting via social media. I would love to hear from people who view your site:
Twitter: @walkerhaynes
Twitter: @HamletsGhostmov
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2224219/combined (Hamlet’s Ghost)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/walker.haynes.14 (Walker Haynes – Personal Profile)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WalkerHaynesPage?ref=hl (Walker Haynes – Actor Profile)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HamletsGhostTheMovie?ref=hl (Hamlet’s Ghost)
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Christmas Grace – With Writer/Director Keith Perna

One of my favorite things about having a movie on the film festival circuit is getting introduced to so many wonderful new films. Christmas Grace has been in four of the same festivals as our movie The Good Book. It won “Best Cinematography” at GloryReelz Christian Film Festival and “Best 4 to 14″ at Pan Pacific Film Festival. Now on the  heels of its nationwide release to stores, I got to interview Keith Perna to learn more about this charming Christmas movie.

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Keith, thank you for taking the time to share with Faith Flix about your new release. So tell us, when did you first develop an interest in filmmaking?

When I was seventeen God started to get a hold of me and show me how far from Him I was. As I started having devotional time with the Lord and growing in my faith, I remember sincerely praying for God to show me what he wanted me to do for Him. It wasn’t long after that that I took a class in high school in which I discovered that I had a love and a talent for filmmaking. It took me a few more years before I was fully surrendered to doing Christian films but God eventually got me there.

What is your filmmaking background?

After high school I attended Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts (it’s now School of Media Arts). I graduated from there with a diploma in Video Broadcasting. Within a couple years I started working on some film projects around the Metro Detroit area, mainly doing grip work. These were secular films, but I did learn a lot while on the films and had some witnessing opportunities on some of the sets. But God started tugging on my heart to pursue films that honor Him. I finally quit resisting God on that and answered that call in 2005 with the founding of Bright Horizon Pictures.

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Where did you get the inspiration for Christmas Grace?

I’ve always loved Christmas movies! We have some favorites that we watch as a family just about every year which include It’s A wonderful Life and Allister Sims’ A Christmas Carol. You can certainly see influences from both of these films in the story of Christmas Grace. What got me writing it was I wrote it as a thirty five page stage play for my church to perform for Christmas. But it was a bit to elaborate for us to pull off, so I put it aside for a couple years. But along the way I thought it would make a great feature film with some extra work to the script. So I came back to it and started adapting it into a feature length screenplay.

What was the greatest challenge with making the movie?

There were many challenges! But the greatest I would say was pre-production in the early months of 2012. It was very stressful for me at that time, but God was working on me and helping me to learn to trust Him on a greater level. The issue for me was that the elements for the film were not coming together very quickly. I was trying to lock down locations for the film and wasn’t getting any call backs for a couple weeks. I also still didn’t have all the crew in place. But God had it all under control. I had to learn to do what I could do and leave the rest to God and not let it stress me out if it wasn’t happening as quickly as wanted it to. God demonstrated His control over the situation in that on one day, after a couple weeks, within a couple hours, just about all the locations I was trying to reach all called me back within that short time and I was able to start making progress on that.

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What is your favorite scene in the movie?

I think my favorite scene is the final scene in the film. Without giving it away, I will just say it’s a very touching scene between two of the main characters, and it ties together God’s hand of providence in the lives of characters in the film.

Tell us about the response so far to the movie.

I am so amazed by the response so far to the film! From the awards it’s won, to the great reviews I’ve read on it, to people telling me how they’ve been inspired by it, to how sales have taken off for it. Just today 10/14/14 I saw that it cracked into the top 100 Drama DVD’s on Amazon. That’s just amazing considering this is a small production with little advertising happening for it. It’s all God’s blessing and answered prayer! I have no other good explanation for it.

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What is your goal for the movie?

My goal is to see this film lead some people to Jesus Christ and/or see people grow in their relationship to Jesus. Those are the stories I really want to hear come from this film!

Do you have plans for any future movies?

I have another film I’m currently writing. I’m not ready to reveal much about it yet but it’s coming along well and I’m very excited about the potential it will have to impact people for the Lord!

Christmas Grace Cover Art

Jeremy Marr Williams – Actor

Jeremy Marr Williams is a leading man who plays the role of Victor Clay in Redemption of the Commons. It’s a great movie about a young man who leaves his small time life in a South Carolina trailer park to “find” himself in L.A. Just like his character, Jeremy knows what it’s like to leave his hometown to seek his fortune in L.A. Fortunately for him, he met with better success than his character.

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Jeremy, thank you for visiting with us today. I really enjoyed your performance in Redemption of the Commons. Tell us, when did you first discover a love for acting?

As a young boy I would always clown around with my football/baseball buddies telling stories about all sorts of crazy things happening. It kept things light but sometimes it got us in trouble when about ten to twenty people would gather around and things would get out of control. It was never a love or a thought about acting. It was just the guys getting together and having a good time. The first time I really pondered it as a career was on a flight to a wedding when I was 17. My dad, being a former business man and I were talking about occupations, future etc. when we somehow got on the topic of acting. He broke down the business steps needed to make it a reality, and I think from that point on a seed was planted.

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What was your first acting role?

I moved to LA with nothing..no headshot, resume, agent, place to live, knew no-one… I had nothing and I loved it. I saw it as a long camping trip, a bi-product of conquest. I set goals to have a place to live in three days, head-shots in hand in ten days, and an agent/agent meetings within two weeks. I found a place on the corner of Crenshaw and Venice Blvd.(reference any rap songs from the 90′s), It wasn’t quite Malibu, but truth be told, I was comfortable considering the location. Ten days later I signed with three agencies. Three weeks after being in LA I booked a role on ESPN’s Monday Night Football with Hank Williams Jr singing “Are you Ready For Some Football”. My character was the NFL sheild. It (the shield) was painted to a T on my face. The camera was close up on the shield and then I opened my eyes to reveal that the shield was a person. It was great fun working with Hank. No one really wanted to talk to him. I guess I was ignorant to it all and just kicked it with him like we were sitting around a fire. Good guy!

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How did you transition into film acting?

After being told too many times that I should get into acting, I finally decided that I’d give it a go. I went to a showcase with over 500 people and somehow won the top overall prize for a six week intensive scholarship to a film and TV school in Manhattan. I guess the journey had begun.

Wow! What an honor that must have been. And looks like you’re been busy ever since. So, what faith-based films have you been in?

I’ve been fortunate to have been lead in three faith based features thus far. The Glass Window aired on TV as an Easter Special for three years on various networks to 35% of the country(ABC/CBS/WB etc.) It really is a great movie. The cinematic value and storyline really project well and the crew was top notch. I hope that more people will become aware of this Dove Seal film as it truly is somewhat of an unknown film in the Christian community. However, when people see it for the first time they seem to always recommend it to others. It’s loaded with truth.

Most recently I worked on a film produced by Austin Ridge Bible Church out of Austin, Texas entitled Genesis. Again, an amazing crew and production. The beauty of making faith-based films is that you meet some of the salt of the earth. It’s a humbling honor to work with such God Driven people. I played the role of Jacob in the film, and I feel it was one of the better roles I’ve played. I’m not big on watching any dailies during production, so I haven’t seen the footage, however it felt good. Genesis is having its premiere at one of their two campuses in Austin this November and I’m looking forward to getting back together with some wonderful people who possess such great vision.

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Tell us about your role in Redemption of the Commons.

Redemption of The Commons is the last of the faith-based films that I’ve worked on. Great story, Great Cast. Great crew. Great set. There was so much that went into making this project happen, and as an actor who really just comes in last minute, stays for four to six weeks and then is finished, you’re humbled by the months and years that various people have allocated out of there life to make a story a reality. It was certainly a joy and an experiecce I won’t soon forgot. And if I know KT like I think I know KT, it won’t be long until he’s on set again sometime soon, and I hope to collaborate with Windchime Pictures in some capacity in the months ahead.

My character is down and out, broke, a bit jaded, a bit lonely, downcast due to the lack of the successes he’d envisioned, and most importantly he’s searching to find his identity and place in this world. He attempts everything mortally possible to ‘make it’ in Los Angeles, but the fact of the matter is he’s not only broke, but he’s over 90k in debt, To Victor, he’s a failure. He went from wanting to keep up with the Joneses to hoping to keep gas in his van. He’s faced with returning to a land that he couldn’t wait to leave as a boy, and decides through a friend/father figure Pop that he should head back home to the trailer park in good ole’ South Carolina, Pops’ relationship gives Vic a new hope, a new vigor for life and instills within him the leadership skills that ultimately form his identity as a genuine man of God.

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What would be your dream role?

I wouldn’t say I have a dream acting role. My focus truly is Matthew 6:33 with every moment, that I may somehow fulfill, each day. I’d rather live as a humanitarian, evangelist, one who lived truth and loved others and life than to chase a specific project/role etc. I see film in particular, and media in general, as a powerful tool which can lead people in the way of righteousness where they can fully garner and attain “True Life and Freedom”. There isn’t much on TV with genuine substance, thus blazing a trail to provide more products which have the consumers best interest, inspire & give hope is my passion. Whatever roles I might need to play within these principles are my ‘dream roles’.

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What do you do when you’re not acting in films?

When not filming I stay very active. I enjoy heading out to the beach at sunrise with my Bible, a pen & paper and just ‘being’. Sometimes I’ll read two chapters, sometimes two verses. It’s not homework or a ‘have to’, its a ‘get-to’, and I’m truly there to be filled that I may become better than I was yesterday. Mornings are my fuel, I can’t be used if I don’t wake up daily and seek and be filled with that which is greater than myself. Nature is my sanctuary. The woods, swamps, lakes, mountains, and oceans provide sustenance for the belly as well as the soul. One of my favorite activities is going to nature in a place I’ve never explored, regardless of where I am on planet earth and getting a great run and full body workout in amongst the endless life and adventure that God Himself Created. I’m humbled as well as grateful for God’s mercies that I may run to Him daily. I like to get out with my dad and brother to the woods for some bow hunting or hit a trout stream in WV fishing. Coming from a large family there’s always a big time happening somewhere and with my all my nieces and nephews we’re sure to wear each other out one way or another. In the end, it’s all about how I can be used to bring Glory to God and the beautiful truth of His Son Jesus Christ.

Thank you again, Jeremy, and good luck on the upcoming release of Redemption of the Commons.

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Congratulations to Jeremy Marr Williams on his “Best Actor” win at this weekend’s Churches Making Movies Film Festival for his role in Redemption of the Commons.

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