Volunteer team leaders sought

Belltower Pictures is looking for a few energetic, take-charge volunteer leaders to head up teams of volunteers for the upcoming production of the feature film, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL.

No prior experience is necessary. We’ll provide orientation and training over the next few months. Pre-production of the film begins in January. Principal photography is scheduled for May.

This is an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and participate in a huge project that will truly make a difference in the world… an opportunity to be a key leader in the production of a motion picture that depicts God’s love, grace and acceptance… an opportunity to work with folks from many different congregations… an opportunity to use your talents, skills, energy and leadership abilities… an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an exciting new endeavor… and an opportunity to have fun and make new friends.

Interested? Contact Volunteers@Belltowerpictures.com.

Here are the teams that need leaders:

Prayer Coordinator (Filled) – Coordinate prayer effort throughout pre-production, principal photography and post-production. Collect prayer requests from the set and disseminate to prayer teams and individual pray-ers. Coordinate folks to lead a brief prayer time for the cast and crew each day.

Intern Coordinator (Filled) – Work with area high schools and colleges to recruit and deploy interns.

Production Office Coordinator (Filled) – Coordinate the staffing of the production office during pre-production and principal photography. Make sure someone is there during specified hours to answer phones, handle photocopying, handle mail, and take care of other administrative needs.

Transportation Coordinator – coordinate rental/borrowing of vehicles and drivers to get out-of-town cast and crew where they need to be; assist with transportation needs regarding moving of equipment, sets, wardrobe, etc. This involves recruiting and scheduling drivers as needed. In most cases the needs will be identified well in advance, but there may be some last-minute changes.

Craft services Coordinator – Coordinate the staffing and supplying of craft services during principal photography. Craft service provides snack food and beverages to the cast and crew. This involves recruiting and scheduling people to staff the craft tent during all hours of production, purchasing food items, and keeping the location clean.

Donations Coordinator – Secure donations of goods and equipment needed during for production. (food, props, vehicles, generators, RVs, etc.) These needs will be identified well ahead of time. But again, there’s the potential for last minute needs.

Security Coordinator – Provide security at all locations during principal photography, including overnight securing of the locations and equipment. Recruit and schedule people to handle crowd control and generally keep the location secure when we’re shooting in public places.

Picture Vehicle Wrangler – Find and secure vehicles that will appear in the film (motorcycle, vintage sports convertible, bicycle).

Extras Casting Director – Recruit and coordinate Background Actors for all scenes as required.




Why are we making this film?

A representative of a major film distributor recently told us, “Your script covers a timely subject/scenario ripe for comedy… We’re rooting for you guys to pull the rest of the finance together and make the film. The market needs more comedies.”

I wonder why there are so few comedies that deal with faith themes. Maybe we Christians take ourselves too seriously.

I think it’s time we lighten up, enjoy this life God has given us, and share that joy with everyone around us. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously, let’s take Jesus seriously. Let’s look at who he was when he walked around in human form. Let’s ask not only “What would Jesus do?” Let’s ask, as Eugene Peterson reminds us, “How would Jesus do it?”

Belltower-Pictures-website-shooting-the-prodigal-promo-posterJesus told stories. Great ones. “The Good Samaritan.” “The Great Wedding Banquet.” And my favorite, “The Prodigal Son.”

That parable is the basis for the feature film in development by Belltower Pictures, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. It is a comedy: A movie about a church making a movie about the Prodigal Son.

When Jesus taught, he would start talking about how blessed his listeners were. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… the merciful… the pure in heart… the peacemakers… the persecuted.”

How could you not smile and feel good about yourself after listening to Jesus talk about you like that?

And Jesus could be really funny! That story about the guy who offers to take the speck out of his friend’s eye while walking around with a big ole plank in his own eye… that’s great stuff!

Jesus must have been fun to be around as he went about healing, blessing, comforting… and telling those wonderful stories.

That’s what we want to do. Tell stories of hope and grace. Stories that put a smile on your face and a warm glow in your heart. And you shouldn’t have to be a church-goer to enjoy those stories. We want to paint a bright picture of God and His relationship with us.

And why shouldn’t we have a little fun with it?

I recently read an article by a young filmmaker who talks about why she makes movies. She talks about how very hard it is and how long it takes. She says, “The question ‘Why?’ never stops being asked. It should be fun to answer. Even if you’re exhausted and it’s been two years of work and you’re still going at it, it should be fun.” (Ana Lily Amirpour, “Know Thyself” in MovieMaker Magazine, Issue #110, Volume 21)

As of this writing, I’ve been at this project almost five years. It is hard. I’m often exhausted. But you know what? It is fun. It’s also challenging, fulfilling, and thrilling. I believe God has given me a wonderful gift by planting this passion in my gut.

Amirpour says about her work, “I make films to make friends and find real intimacy, a connection with others based on something that’s meaningful to me.”

This story… this truth that God loves us and constantly seeks us out, ready to embrace, celebrate and affirm us… that’s what’s meaningful to me. And I want to connect with others who feel likewise. I want those who are turned off from the Divine Reality to have an “Ah Ha!” moment as a result of our artistic creation. I want them to see that “God is Love” in a world of hate and indifference. I want them to see that Christians are not afraid to poke a little fun at ourselves to show how God loves us in spite of our weaknesses.

Some of the world’s greatest art was created in homage to God… a response to the divine-human relationship. It is filled with beauty, nuance, grace, subtlety, and artistry. Created by artists who were not afraid to break out of the mold and try something new.

That’s what we’ve set out to do: create a unique, fun, beautiful, engaging work of art that leaves the audience basking in the warm glow of God’s love.

My prayer every day is this: “God inspire and guide us to tell Your story, Your way.” May it be so.

(This post was originally published on Davidepowers.com by Belltower Pictures president David Powers.)


Let us entertain and inspire

I finally got around to watching that Christian movie that’s been sitting next to my chair for the last three months. I knew I needed to watch it. Everybody at church who’s seen it says it is great.

“Have you seen it?” they’d ask

“Well, not yet,” I’d confess.

I felt guilty. But I was dreading the two hours I’d have to spend with it. I knew what was coming. The protagonist will cry when he reaches the bottom of his arc. Somebody will preach at me. And somebody will accept Jesus or make a commitment to live a better Christian life. That’s the “Christian Film Formula.”

Cover of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

To be honest, I’d rather spend time with one of my favorites: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

But I “needed” to see that movie, so I loaded it up and settled in for the tears, the sermon and the altar call. The movie did not disappoint.

It was well-made. Great lighting, camera work, editing, and music. I laughed. I cried. I was inspired.

I’m a Christian. As a member of the choir, I was effectively preached-to. And the makers of the film claim “thousands coming to Christ as a result” of their movie.

There’s a market for these films. Sony and Fox have each set up distribution divisions for Christian and Family Movies. There are more than half-dozen web sites that specialize in the distribution of Christian and Family DVDs.

But I wonder how deep the market penetration is among folks who are not part of the religious establishment.

It seems to me there’s a niche waiting to be filled: really good movies that entertain and inspire, and will appeal to people outside the Christian cocoon… movies that tell great stories with a voice that’s neither preachy nor condescending.

Let’s face it: our culture is less churchy than it was for our parents and grandparents. Much of society yawns at our well-intentioned efforts to “reach” them with the Gospel. But we really do have some good news to share. So how do we do it?

Obviously, the best way to preach the Gospel is to live an authentic Christ-like life. Do the things that Jesus did. What’s the old saying? “Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.”

Sometimes, words are helpful, too. But what words? And how to speak them?

My younger son and I were walking around Greenville, South Carolina’s downtown area on a recent Friday evening. We came upon a young man, standing on a box, preaching judgment and condemnation from a Bible he waved in our faces. Is that the way to communicate the love, joy and hope offered by God through Jesus? I don’t know. And I surely don’t want to judge the young man, who must have been doing what he believed to be God’s will. After all, there’s plenty of precedent for that approach in the Bible.

But really… must we take ourselves so seriously? Can’t we lighten up a bit? We have some great stories to tell. Let’s have some fun telling them. We can even poke a little fun at ourselves… Lord knows there’s plenty to laugh at.

Remember how Jesus started his Sermon on the Mount? It wasn’t, “Repent or you’re going to hell!” It was, “Blessed are you…”

Our little writing and production group is passionate about breaking out of the “Christian Film” mold to produce something that entertains and inspires those beyond the typical audience for such movies.

It won’t come across as the typical, sanitized, well-scrubbed Sunday school tale. In fact, it might be perceived as a little irreverent. We’re not trying to, but we’ll probably offend some of our religious friends. But who knows? Maybe a few Christians will be entertained and inspired, too.

I think that’s what happened when Jesus first told the story of the Prodigal Son.

(This post was originally published at Davidepowers.com by Belltower Pictures president David Powers.)