Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fences - A new VCC feature film

Whenever I write or talk about what is happening in and around the Vineyard with film and video production, I cannot help but personalize it. I felt as though I was leaving a dream behind me in Los Angeles when I accepted the call to come to Cincinnati a little over three years ago. It was confusing because I felt as though God really wanted me to pursue a vocation in and around film and TV production. When the unexplainable and undeniable circumstances occurred surrounding the opportunity to return to Ohio and align with VCC, Debbie and I had no choice but to follow what was clearly a God-inspired invitation to work here. We haven't regretted it. God was (and still is) in it.

That reality didn't take away some of the confusion and grief surrounding what felt like a calling in LA abandoned half-finished. I remember holding back tears my last day in Hollywood thinking, "I have a new calling to pursue, but this one isn't finished yet." Secretly I wondered if I had somehow failed God...or maybe I had never been called to the entertainment industry to begin with. Maybe I had just fooled myself into doing something I wanted to do. I had, over the course of my five years outside of vocational ministry, received various emails from well-meaning people telling me that I was denying my call to be a pastor and should leave the "Hollywood experiment" behind and work at a church again. Those emails had always fueled me to prove them wrong. I hated the mentality that working at a church was somehow more of a calling than some other vocation. On that last day in LA, I began to wonder if maybe they were right. Had I fooled myself into following some self-centered dream that God had to come and rescue me from by giving me a church job? I had no answers to those I decided to leave them on the west coast and come here.

I remember thinking of he moved to a new land in faith. And I tried to do the same. I would let my old dreams die on the vine because God had intervened and given me a new worthy adventure. So I came to Ohio to be a pastor and help lead a church.

What slowly became obvious, though, is that when God gives you a calling it isn't that simple. Looking back, God seems to have been busy taking the seemingly unconnected strands of my life and weaving them together. Doors in the entertainment industry that were closed, began to open once I moved here. God had moved other people to VCC with aligning passions. So personally, this is the one area of my life where I most feel God's love and grace toward me. The dream I left in LA followed me to Cincinnati. And I have no idea where it is going from here, but I am thankful. I still hold back tears at times...but now they come from overwhelming gratitude. God loves me enough to allow me to be all I am...not just one part of me at a time. For a guy like me, that's the best gift he could give.

So all this brings me to an announcement. Over the next year we will be shooting two feature films through VCC. In 2011, we will produce a romantic comedy currently titled A Strange Brand of Happy. We had hoped to shoot that movie this year, but we need a little more time to round out the funding.

In the meantime, we will be making a low/no budget digital feature called Fences. Here's what it is about:

Josh, a young white social worker, moves into a predominately African American neighborhood in Cincinnati. His next-door neighbor is George, a recently retired African American who doesn’t exactly welcome Josh into the neighborhood.

Over the course of one day, through a series of misinterpreted events, both Josh and George learn that in order to really become neighbors they are going to have to do the hard work of getting to know each other. Blurring (and sometimes crossing) the lines of racism and prejudice, both men discover that the real healing will only come in time…one genuine conversation at a time. 

We believe that Fences will initiate conversations in Cincinnati and beyond about the subtle prejudices we all have. And we believe these simple conversations will lead to healing. This forum gives VCC an opportunity to say the sorts of things we have said for 25 years in a new, culturally relevant way. It gives our voice a microphone to the world.

So, Fences will shoot for about twelve days beginning September, 27th. We are depending on volunteers to pull this off. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. We have lots of video professionals and actors already volunteering their time. At this point, we could use help with the following:

-individuals or restaurants who can provide a meal for 15-20 people.
-people who can provide snacks and drinks for the other volunteers on set.
-locations for shooting: specifically a convenience store exterior, gas station, car wash and a suburban house with a closed in patio room.
-help gathering and finding props.
-cars for out-of-town actors to borrow for a week or so.
-people committed to pray for the project.

If you want help with these things, email us at and we will be in touch this week.

We'd love to have you be a part of this. All of us together can create something amazing. God is good.

1 comment:

Jim Zartman said...

It seems so obvious- Who has influence in our society? The entertainers! So why not join them and use art. Strangely, I think that is why I am excited about and believe in working on these projects more than (or just as much) anything else we are doing. Love it- It's and honor.