Yesterday I wrote about film making and the presence of Christians working in this medium. I had some positive and negative things to say about evangelical attempts to make feature films. I would like to tell you more about how my friends at Intrigue Films view this and why I identify with their efforts so deeply.
Intrigue Films was birthed out of the conversion of several friends of mine in Phoenix, Arizona. These guys made the video of The ACT 3 Story which you can see on our Web site. They have also made a new feature film (without a title at this moment) that I had a role in as a minister counseling the lead actor.
I will tell you more about this film in a moment but first I want to tell you about my experience with this film. I went to Arizona in November to film a scene in which I was a minister situated in a church setting. The lead actor is a young man who grew up in the faith but has been running away for many years following the tragic death of his parents in a car accident. He had a career in baseball and now has made a wreck of his life. He walks into the church of his childhood (it is a Catholic Church) and sits in a pew quietly thinking. I walk in behind him and speak to him about the message of the cross and the mystery of Christ’s suffering. The camera shifts from us to the cross and back to us. My message is not about simple answers to his questions but rather about the real mystery of pain and suffering and how God took this suffering upon himself in the death of Christ and now in his resurrection he has overcome the world. It is about a three minute scene. There is nothing remotely like “preaching” in the scene or the film. This conversation is warm and personal and without pat answers. But it is filled with good theology and a magnificent worldview. I think the script got it right. I am not sure whether I played the role well but I enjoyed it.
While I was in San Clemente for our film seminar a few weeks ago I worked with the guys from Intrigue Films to record the voice tracks for this scene. What amazed me was to see the scene in post-production and then see how we could make the sound quality near perfect and put this voice back into the film. The viewer would never know there were two months between the filming and the voice. (This is common in post-production work now.) The process is called ADR, for Automated Dialogue Replacement. It was a demanding several hours that we spent with me speaking lines over and over until we got them like we really wanted them. I was coached and coached and worked and worked. It was like watching an artist paint a picture and it getting better and better with more and more work. I can’t wait to see the finished product. I will let you know more about this film when I find out about the release. I will let you know how to see it for sure when it is available. Pray for the post-production schedule and all the work to yet be done. The goal is to finish by April 30. The title and market plan have to be settled as well. We talked a lot about all of this during our San Clemente retreat.
Brian Godawa spoke to us about two central points regarding the making of a film. First he talked about the elements of incarnation that make a film work. Then he talked about the work of subversion in communicating a worldview well. All of this has to do with story-telling in the end. This is all in his two books, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom and Discernment and Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination. I encourage those who are really interested to get both books and read them. Brian also wrote the script for the major movie To End All Wars, which I think is one of the finest war films ever made. I treasure it and have seen it and used it numerous times.
My brothers at Intrigue Films have a great vision of making good films that people will enjoy. They want to get people of all backgrounds, including the unchurched, to enjoy their films and to enter into the worldview behind them. If you think about it pray for these guys. They are doing some important work in an area of culture where few Christians dare to go and even fewer succeed. I think they have the right idea and the right business plan to make it work. I want to be there to mentor and encourage them in small ways. I see this work as an extension of my calling to “equip leaders for unity in Christ’s mission.” This is not my normal day job but it is one that God has uniquely given to me and I admit I do enjoy it.