I’ve been listening to Michael W. Smith for as long as I can remember and I always enjoy his music. This month he released his newest album SOVEREIGN and today he released a music video from one of the songs.
“I’m really passionate about the song SKY SPILLS OVER. It was fun creating it in the studio and I’ve been overwhelmed at the response it gets when we perform it live every night. My son Ryan is a really talented filmmaker so I always enjoy working with him on a project. But what made this project even more special was that 3 of my own grandkids were in the video. This video was a lot of fun to make. I hope people enjoy it!”
Michael W. Smith
Here’s the video link. If you enjoy it and would like to own the cd, just comment below and tell your favorite Michael W. Smith song.
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Two years ago we had a dilemma. We had to choose between attending a film festival where our movie Flowers for Fannie was up for an award, a local screenwriting conference, or an arts conference in Roanoke, Virginia. We chose the arts conference and it turned out to be a life changing event. It was at that conference that I first met Jenn Gotzon and not only cast her as an actress in The Good Book, but also gained her friendship, something I treasure dearly. At that conference we also met Torry Martin, George Escobar, Greg Robbins, and Dr. Fred Eichleman, the man behind the conference. Dr. Eichleman is a fascinating man with an amazing movie ministry and I’m excited today to get to get to share about Point North Tidings, his publication that provides an inside scoop on Christian movies and the people who make them.
First, introduce yourself and your role with Point North Tidings.
I am a retired teacher who has been involved in the media all my life. During my teaching career I used commercial films and TV shows in my social studies classrooms. Everything from Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to classic Star Trek. About 1972 a group of Sophomores approached me about sponsoring a science fiction literary society and I agreed. Later this revolved into media conventions which my wife Carolyn and I ran from 1976 to 2006, thirty in all. We had film festivals, work shops, authors, artists, and film and TV stars, memorabilia sellers and even plays. Autograph sessions of course. Now, who was our first media guest? Hold on to your hat. I was involved in the US Senate campaign for John Warner who won and served many years. Carolyn and I took care of his wife, Elizabeth Taylor who became a friend and came to two of our events. We had a scholarship program and she financed one in drama. Our attendance finally grew too big for us to handle, 1,500. One feature we had, unusual for most media events, was a Sunday morning chapel. We were pleased at the authors, artists and stars who enjoyed taking part and that led to a shift in emphasis around the year 2000. The last few events we ran were Point North Christian Media Conventions.
What is the story behind the name of the publication?
One of our early helpers was Star Trek star Grace Lee Whitney. Her son, a Christian jazz band leader plus also a public school teacher, called his group Point North. She gave us that title and we formed an organization which we incorporated as Point North Outreach. We also began a publication which we titled Point North Tidings that I became the editor of. We have five directors who are the bosses, though I am one of them. The very first to get involved was Deanna Lund a dear actress friend who is like a sister to Carolyn. They share the same birth date and year. Another is actress Rhonda Fleming. I fell in love with her when I was twelve years old. Rhonda, in her day from the forties to seventies was the number one leader of Christian Bible Studies having as many as fifty attend in Hollywood. Working with her were Jane Russell and Connie Haines. Those who attended included future president Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Another director and the very first person I talked with about this dream was Joyce Meadows, now director emeritus. The most recent addition was Nancy Stafford who got us to put Tidings on the net and more than doubled our readership. Carolyn and I are also directors. We have an advisory board of stars, authors and others.
When did you first develop an interest in promoting Christian movies?
Frankly it was Rhonda who first revealed to me that there could be a connection between Christian evangelizing and Hollywood. I was a Freshman in college when I first heard about the Gospel Pop group she sang with with that included Jane Russell, Connie Haines and Beryl Davis. Up to that point as a Christian and a movie fan I never put the two together. I will add that I was greatly influenced that Freshman year by three films that I love to this day. A Man Called Peter (which had me considering the ministry), The Robe, and I’d Climb the Highest Mountain. I have always liked the idea of promoting faith and family films and for me this was what we could do with Point North Outreach. After a while we felt more could be accomplished through a publication than with conventions.
Tell us about your God at the Movies Bible study.
One spin off of our work has been something Carolyn and I wanted to do. Have a Bible Study in our home that used films and scripture together. That is how we came up with our God at the Movies Bible Study which we hold monthly. A couple times our church has invited us to hold it there. One advantage we have is that from time to time there is an unreleased film that we are granted the use of a screener to review for Tidings and often use it in our Bible Study. We did this with The Good Book for example.
How long have you been publishing Point North Tidings?
This is our twelfth year for Point North Tidings and for two years before that we had a newsletter. It has been a joy to work with, however in recent years this old guy has had to get help in our work. I have to add that we do not put this on the net ourselves. We have a dear friend in England who does this for us at no cost. Very shy about her name being released. (Of course I tell Kate I don’t think William and his mom would mind. kidding.) It is not her, but she is like a queen as this could be very expensive. Today 90% of our readers get Tidings on the net and the other 10% the old fashioned way. It is free and to be a subscriber they just have to send their email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We always assure people it will be kept private.
Have you ever thought about being a filmmaker yourself?
Me a film maker! Well I am working on a novel, it has been twenty two years since I have had one published and before that three textbooks. Folks say it would make a great film or TV series. I would be more interested in being a writer than an actual film maker though I would love to have a role or be an extra in one of Nancy Stafford’s films. Carolyn and I were extras in two films and our small parts ended on the cutting room floor. If I would make a film it would be a Western that would parallel the life of Paul. One of those things you plan in your mind, but never put on paper.
Tell us a little about this upcoming issue.
We are very excited about this coming issue, Volume 12, Number 2. It has more film information than any past issue and like all of them a great deal of fun. I cannot single out any one thing without offending someone, so I will say there is kind of a theme. This issue has more of a Christian activist touch than any past one. In my opinion our nation is greatly under attack by The Enemy. There is spiritual warfare going on, which is what my novel is about if ever finished. Christianity is under attack both in this nation and around the world.
Point North Tidings, Volume 12, Number 2 will be out Sunday, May 31. It is free. Just send your email address to email@example.com and it will be kept private.
After seven weeks of filming, we shot our final scenes on Sunday afternoon. It was bittersweet as we’ve enjoyed the many new friends we’ve made with this project as well as enjoyed working again with old friends in the industry. But filming takes its toil on the body and it’s good to complete the filming process and begin work on post-production as well as focusing more attention on marketing efforts.
Each filming weekend had its focus. This final weekend was all about Teen and Young Mitchell.
Friday we filmed all the scenes with Teen Mitchell (Josh Allen) alone. The majority of the scenes took place in Mitchell’s bedroom, a set we created in an empty commercial space. This was our first effort at creating a set and I must say we all enjoyed it. We had fun collecting furniture and props suitable for a teen boy’s room in the 80’s.
Saturday were the scenes with Young Mitchell (Chase Anderson). The Springfield Antique Barn was a beautiful location for Mitchell to purchase Rachel’s Bible.
The biggest scene of the day was where Mitchell is picked on by the bully boys (Alex Dozier, Tucker Meek, Hudson Meek) at the neighborhood park.
We also shot a scene where he cuts through Elmwood Cemetery then ended the day with Mitchell falling asleep on his front porch and awakened by his mom (Carol Anderson).
Sunday, the final filming day, was when Teen Mitchell finds his calling as a preacher when he competes in a speech contest at the church. Springfield Baptist Church chapel was the perfect backdrop for the climactic scene.
This past weekend we took a step back in time and rocked the eighties with Teen Rachel and Mitchell. It was a jam packed weekend that included bike rides, cheerleading tryouts, first days of school, newspaper staff meetings,prom, and a slumber party. We had approximately thirty teen actors plus parents and other adults. It was a loud weekend filled with lots of laughter, fun, and many new friendships. Perhaps the most amazing thing was that we had a rain chance of 100% two of the filming days, and yet we were able to film all our outdoor scenes without a sprinkle. We were prepared to work around the rain, but God graciously gave us beautiful filming weather.
Now back to work for our final weekend of filming!
What a pleasure to have attended the 2015 International Christian Film Festival (ICFF) last month in Orlando. My young colleague Brianna Beaton and I had our hands full trying to cover all the wonderful activities!
The festival, held at the Orlando Crowne Plaza Resort, attracted widespread attention. I was impressed by the number of high-quality film submissions, the workshops, the participants themselves and the special guests. I saw a few old friends—and met some new friends too!
Some of the highlights of the festival for me included: gaining valuable insights from an amazing actress, Jenn Gotzon (God’s Country; Doonby; The Good Book); reconnecting with producer Del Baron and director Joseph Simpkins of the film, “Adrenaline”; hearing actor Ernie Hudson (Congo; Ghostbusters; Gallows Road) share a few of his experiences; meeting Garry Nation (the “Best Actor” from the film “Polycarp”) and drawing inspiration again from Sharon and Fred Wilharm’s film, “The Good Book” (which shouldn’t be a surprise since it was voted the “Most Uplifting” film at the festival).
I also visited with ICFF emcee Rosy Pizarro, Gideon actress/teacher Lynda Stein and Truth Television’s Jonathan Matamoros; and I reunited with Lola and Byron Jones of CMD Distribution. Finally, I got up close and personal with “the radical ride” itself, the Plymouth Barracuda (sorry—couldn’t resist the reference) used in the film, “Adrenaline.” I almost expected to see actor John Schneider emerge from the vehicle—but I’m sure that will happen next year!
Special thanks should be extended to the sponsors too: Affirm Films, Reel Kasting, Sony Pictures, Dragon Fly, Bridgestone Multimedia Group and 24 FLIX. Everyone who attended, presented and entered their films in this festival is an artist in the highest sense of the word! (Follow this link for the list of the winners: http://www.internationalcff.com/2015-winners.html)
In closing, this terrific, annual event is still in its infancy. I wonder what we might expect next year? I thoroughly enjoyed this event and I’ve reserved my tickets for the 2016 International Christian Film Festival. Have you?
Only two more weekends before we wrap up principal photography for Providence. This weekend is all the school scenes with Teen Rachel and Teen Mitchell. It’s our most complex filming weekend because not only does it involve the biggest group of cast members (most of whom are coming from out of town), but the teen scenes are all period, taking place in the 80’s. So it’s been fun rounding up costumes, props, set pieces, decor, and even vintage cars.
Well, much to do. Out of town actors start arriving tomorrow and I’m not yet ready. A filmmaker’s work is never done.
Participating in film festivals is a fun part of filmmaking. Just as each filmmaker has their own mission, their own style, their own reason for making movies, so does each festivals. Some are designed to provide entertainment for their local community. Some are designed to recognize filmmakers. Some do both. Some are big. Some are small. Most are somewhere in between.
I particularly appreciate the ones with a big vision, reaching beyond the basics and providing a truly special event both for the community and the filmmakers. UK Christian Film Festival is one of those. In its fourth year, the festival includes four days of short films, feature films, documentaries, and children’s films chosen from the top films around the world. I particularly like the way they partner with Bible Society’s Christian Resources Expo. We are honored to have The Good Book as one of the four short list feature films screening at the CRE at the ExCel popup cinema . I’m excited to hear from Executive Director Ray Horowitz as he shares about the festival.
What led you to get involved with the festival?
Because I have worked in the TV and film world for approx 15 years in the USA, UK and elsewhere, I have known many talented filmmakers that deserve to be recognised and given a platform. It is a particularly difficult industry for Christians to do so. We created UKCFF to find the best in Christian filmmaking from around the world, acknowledge and honour it and provide the platform that filmmakers need. We are committed to building a community of extremely talented, creative people whose talent is dedicated to the Lord and who have many stories to tell but share one vision.
How has the festival changed since it was first begun four years ago?
The quality of submitted films – and sometimes the budgets – has increased exponentially
What makes UKCFF unique?
Because of the UKs political and cultural history, we have ready access to Christian filmmakers from around the globe, including Bollywood (India) and Nollywood (Nigeria). These filmmakers and indigenous talent add unique pairs of eyes to the filmmaking landscape
How do you determine which films to screen?
We do follow a strict judging protocol, similar to that used by other film festivals. However, we also look for the Christian message told in the most creative ways.
What can people expect if they attend the festival?
To be entertained and challenged by some amazingly creative storytelling.
What are you most excited about this year’s festival?
The range, depth and creativity of film submissions is greater than ever. It is a genuine privilege to view what the Lord is doing through film worldwide.
All are welcome.
If you’d like to attend this exciting event, it takes place May 19-22 at the Oz Arena in London, UK.
For more information, visit the website.
This weekend we were honored to attend the first annual AFA Truth Awards held in Knoxville, Tennessee. Fellow filmmaker Daryl Hall (Fat Boys, The Lion) coordinated the event in order to provide encouragement to Christian filmmakers. The Good Book was up for a number of awards so we took a break from filming Providence in order to attend.
We honestly had no idea what to expect. We figured with it being the first year, that it would be small since it always takes awhile for these kinds of events to catch on. We knew that we would see a few familiar faces and that there would be food afterwards. What we didn’t expect was how beautifully run the event was nor what a warm and friendly environment it turned out to be. Trophies and awards took a back seat as old friends reunited and new friendships formed. Throughout the evening filmmakers and actors fellowshipped together, encouraging each other, and sharing stories and advice. We also swapped dvds so that everyone could go home and watch each other’s movies. Now I can’t wait until we have time to watch all these movies!
Here’s the complete list of award winners for this year.
Yesterday we filmed our last scenes with Young Rachel (Emily Knapp) and Grandma Rose (Patricia Binkley). After last weekend’s jam packed filming days, it was a fairly relaxing day of family memories – Rachel’s tea party with her dolls and animals, baking peanut butter cookies (which we forgot about and left in the oven to burn), decorating the Christmas tree, and saying night time prayers.
Here are a few screenshots from last weekend’s filming.
We’re at the halfway mark now. We’ve filmed all the Adult Rachel and Adult Mitchell scenes, a few Teen Rachel scenes and a few Young Rachel scenes. It’s been some pretty busy weekends made more complicated by the fact that I had a brilliant idea to tweak the script a bit and give it a new twist. Which is great, except it meant squeezing in extra scenes this past weekend. But we got it done, and they turned out great!
Day 5 consisted completely of Teen Rachel scenes at her home. We were all amazed when Teen Rachel actress Stacey Bradshaw arrived on set and she looked even more like Adult Rachel actress Juli Tapken then we’d realized. They even had many of the same mannerisms.
Friday, Day 6, was our most intense filming day yet. It consisted of all of the scenes with Adult Rachel and her mom Edith. Edith is without a doubt the most intense character in the movie. She is the only character who is played by the same actor throughout the movie. Which means that actress Irene Santiago plays a young mom in the 70’s for the Young Rachel scenes, 80’s mom in the Teen Rachel scenes, and elderly mom in the Adult Rachel scenes. Not only that, but in the later scenes, she plays a stroke victim.
We had no idea how it would work having one actress playing such a range but with Irene’s incredible talent enhanced by the makeup artistry of Jennifer Whitus, the transformation was completely believable.
After the intensely raw Rachel/Edith scenes it was nice have some fun date and wedding scenes in the afternoon.
Saturday, day 7 consisted of beautiful emotional scenes with Young Rachel (Emily Knapp) and Grandma Rose (Patricia Binkley).
After a full day of filming we relaxed by watching Flowers for Fannie with Irene and Rich. They especially enjoyed the scenes with the actors like Rob Wilds, Patricia Binkley, and Brittany Herd who are also in Providence.
The evening was topped off with texts from Jenn Gotzon letting us know that The Good Book won Most Uplifting Feature at International Christian Film Festival and Irene’s film Adrenaline won Best Director.
Although filming officially ended on Saturday, the fun continued on Sunday with Irene and Rich joining us for church then Rich performing his powerful one-man show at our church on Sunday night. Wow! What incredible talent as he transformed into numerous Biblical characters.
We concluded the fun filled evening by watching Adrenaline.
Just one day of filming this week then we take a short break to celebrate our daughter’s birthday and graduation from college as well as to attend the Aletheia Truth Awards Ceremony. When we return, we’ll be doing the teen scenes when Rachel and Mitchell first fall in love.