Sunday, August 30, 2009

How Am I Feeling? Glad you asked...

I arrived home a few minutes before 5:00 a.m. yesterday morning knowing that Hitting the Nuts was in the can. I have two hard drives each containing 20-30 hours of raw footage that will become a 90 minute movie. I head back to work at VCC on Wednesday thanks to Dave forcing me to take an extra day off on Tuesday before returning. The hours until then will be the creative equivalent of a decompression chamber. I'd hate to get the bends.

The last three weeks clipped along faster than any other time in my life. Six day work weeks ranging from 12-18 hour working days morphed into one marathonic (yeah, just made that word up) adventure. The last thing I remember it was August 8th. Now it's nearly September.

People are asking how I feel. And I suppose that this post is in part an answer to that question.

I'd love to start with happy or excited, but I mainly feel tired. I've slept a lot over the last 36 hours and plan on more of the same in the days to come. The next feeling to register is relief. That may also seem a little odd. Perhaps it is a personality trait more than anything else, but I feel like four years of internal and external pressure has lifted. I feel somehow lighter and younger. The project is not completed, but now I know it will be. I hated having to answer for why it took so long to begin shooting to all those who would ask me over the years. It was a complicated story that I never enjoyed retelling.

Moving past exhaustion and relief I find a spirit of gratitude in my heart. I wrote in my previous post about the gratitude I have for my cast and crew, but there is also a huge feeling of gratitude directed toward God, my wife, friends, and church. I feel "lucky" if that is the right word, to have had their blessing to pursue this endeavor. Even if I never have the opportunity again, I have now done what lots of other people desperately want to do. I wrote, directed and produced a feature film. It is a blessing to be able to say that. I'm grateful for my own path and story that allows a pastor to make a mainstream comedy movie. I'm a man of complicated, some might say competing, desires and abilities. To see several realized at once is a great blessing.

Pressing even more inwardly, I realize that I feel a communion with God that I did not expect. Our film set, in my opinion, was a spiritual place. Heaven met earth time and time again. I heard the same speech from virtually everyone who came into town to make the movie. It went something like this: "I've never been on a set where people got along this well and supported each other and seemed to genuinely love each other. It was unlike anything else I have ever done." I heard that no less than ten times. Like I said earlier this month in this blog, this movie isn't a "Christian" movie. It's a regular old PG-13 American comedy. But when Kingdom people gather, heaven happens. It oozes even on those who have no words to describe it. The Kingdom came this month in Cincinnati.

I personally saw a glimpse of the afterlife on set. I don't want to freak anyone out by getting in too deeply here, but I had a faith breakthrough. For three weeks every time I turned around I saw the eyes of someone I loved. And I saw them loving one another. Because I was the one who pulled them together it was as if my personal story came to life in front of my eyes. It felt like eternity. So many friends from so many seasons of my life in one time and place. My wife and kids, my parents, Deb's family, my old friends Jim Nyberg and Jeremiah Smith from Las Vegas, improv playmates, friends from LA and Orange County and New York and Columbus and on and on...and all of them wrapped up in a blanket of the true community that I have been engrafted into over the last two years at VCC. Add in the countless faces I did not recognize a month ago who are now genuine friends and I nearly overdosed on love. It is impossible to explain with words. I only hope that each of you can find some excuse to get all of you friends in the same zip code for three weeks. It's life altering.

The entire process did leave me with a touch of sadness. So many people I love got on an airplane and left me. Who knows, really, if I will see them much more in this life. I have nearly dismissed the afterlife theologically speaking for the past decade. Not that I didn't believe in it, just that i didn't see the big deal. I have always felt like we Christians tend to overlook the present availability of heaven while focusing on the heaven to follow death. (I still think this is a big mistake on our part.) But this movie - an otherwise pointless poker comedy - taught me that the afterlife matters. I have tasted what it could be like and it is good. Relationship is eternal.

P.S. - if you are a distributor stumbling upon my blog, by "otherwise pointless poker comedy" I mean the funniest and most marketable indie comedy to be released in 2010. Call me.

9 comments:

Jon said...

I feel incredibly blessed that I have had the opportunity just to get to know you. I can't wait to see what the future holds for you, your family, and VCC...

Steve Fuller said...

Good stuff, Joseph. Congrats, my friend. It has been inspiring to watch you fulfill a dream. Thanks for that inspiration.

Sandy Maudlin said...

Awesome. You're the best. Glad the 3 weeks was so wonderful for everyone.

Zak said...

Joe,
I was truly blessed to have been part of the project. It was great to be among people who genuinely cared for each other. I think this reflects the leadership from You and Isaac and Mark and the others who guided this project from the beginning. It was a glimpse of God's kingdom and I'm also glad that many people got to feel the love. Hope God does amazing things with Hitting the Nuts even if it isn't "a christian movie."

Darrin Ballman said...

Very well put Joe...to envision and then organize a project like that is exhausting, gratifying and exciting (maybe in that order?)....but to see people come together and work - and serve as a team like they did in even the small sliver of time that I got to see is just phenomenal. It's in many ways emotional and humbling to see God show up and use an "otherwise pointless poker comedy" to touch many people's lives. I'm just glad I caught a glimpse. Cool stuff all the way around...I can't wait to see how it all comes together now....and I swear for the rest of my life when I hear the word opossum I will think of Matt Donnelly... :)

Erin said...

Joe, this was my first experience on a film set and although I didn't have a huge contribution (I was an extra poker player who got busted out by Dirty Rivers), this was an experience I will never forget. As a Christian, a recent college grad, and an actor fumbling through the business of entertainment without really knowing how to bring God's love into this industry, you are truly an inspiration to me. I would LOVE to work with you again in the future. I really admire your ability to see the good in these projects and in the creation process. God bless you and keep making movies!!!

random blogger said...

I have recently fininshed a book by Dan Miller called 48 Days to the Work You Love and hearing about your experiences in this blog, especially the process of making HTN has been an example that fits Miller's description of success. You say you feel "lucky" and Miller says "Luck is what happens to people who have clear goals and detailed plans of action." So here's to success-- pray it continues.

I enjoy reading your adventure.

Michael Joseph Sharp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Joseph Sharp said...

Congratulations.

I often tell students that success means getting paid to do what you love, ... but I'm starting to think the "getting paid" part's not that important.