A Filmmaker’s Journal

Something Real

ICFF Award“Faith-based” movies are in the toddler stage. Hollywood only began to realize there was a large audience for such films when The Passion of the Christ sold massive numbers of tickets to churchgoers in 2004. But it wasn’t until Fireproof, a low-budget indie written and directed by a Baptist minister, made almost $40 million in 2008 that faith-based movies became a recognizable box office phenomenon.

They’re still learning to walk. Almost every faith-based film released has been criticized for ringing false, for being more concerned with being inoffensive than with creating something real. And there’s more than a little truth in the criticism.

We knew our film was different—it has a grittiness that is unfamiliar in religious movies—so we didn’t expect to win any awards. We just hoped to find out how movie-goers would respond. And we were overjoyed when Over-the-Rhine’s premiere audience cheered as the end credits rolled last Friday night. During the follow-up discussion, one viewer proclaimed it the best film at the festival, and loud applause followed. The reason, audience members agreed, was that it rang true, it felt real.

To be honest, I was disappointed when we received an Honorable Mention at the awards ceremony. I’d begun to hope our efforts at pushing faith-based movies to the next stage would suddenly be officially embraced (we’re negotiating a distribution deal currently and a big Best Picture award couldn’t hurt). But something far more significant happened the next morning.

My wife and I were climbing into the airport shuttle when a young woman in the back seat shouted, “You made Over-the-Rhine!” “Yes,” I admitted. Then Casey, a student filmmaker who’d just received her masters degree from the New York Film Academy, said, “Your film was so different from all the others, so real. That’s the kind of movie I want to make!”

We encouraged her. And she encouraged us. I silently thanked God all the way to the airport. Casey’s words, and a good stiff cup of dark roast, had made my spirits soar. But God had one more meet-and-greet lined up.

Just as we were about to board our plane, a young filmmaker fresh out of film school in Chicago said, “You’re the guy who made Over-the-Rhine.” “Yes,” I replied a little more hopefully. “I cried three times,” he confessed. “It was so beautiful and so real. That’s the kind of movie I want to make!”

I have met the next generation of faith-based filmmakers. And trust me, they won’t be toddling.

They’ll be running.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to A Filmmaker’s Journal

  1. So proud of you and what you accomplished! You obviously touched the hearts of many people!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Alexis Rose says:

    Wonderful. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations Mitch!!! so exciting. I join you with thanking God for the 2 young film makers who want to do it like you …. The ripples so powerful. I look forward to viewing it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. richp45198 says:

    Congratulations! Please make sure to post when your film might be in distribution so I can keep an eye out for it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Mitch and your Film Team
    Congratulations! And it sounds like you got your award
    from the young film makers. That’s the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. profsloan says:

    Mitch, well done! I hope we get to see the film over the pond in the UK. B

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m glad you’re looking ahead and gaining encouragement from that because you are dead on. We need good films, good stories, and the artistic expression of a God who gets right into the middle of our messes. So keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. ekurie says:

    ❤️ We have some independent film festivals where I live– Cucalorus, Wilmington Jewish Film Festival, Cape Fear (https://www.filmnc.com/film-festivals.html) but I don’t know anything about any of them. Where can someone buy a copy of Over-the-Rhine?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. VocareMentor says:

    Congratulations! Along with finding and audience, I hope and pray your film continues to have an influence on the next generation of filmmakers that are believers.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. yakpro2015 says:

    Mitch, Congratulations! Great follow up story. Give God the glory and He will lead you. Amen.Sorry I missed all the fun. If I hadn’t had a job in LA on Saturday, I would have stayed another week. Be blessed my brother. Our time here is short, good to hear you are making a difference. love to the family, Joe YAKOVETIC DESIGNS http://www.yakovetic.com 16221 Flallon Avenue Norwalk, CA 90650

    mobile: 909.241.6088

    SDG Soli Deo Gloria “To God Alone the Glory”

    From: Mitch Teemley To: yak_pro@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, May 8, 2017 9:35 AM Subject: [New post] A Filmmaker’s Journal #yiv6133683978 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv6133683978 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv6133683978 a.yiv6133683978primaryactionlink:link, #yiv6133683978 a.yiv6133683978primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv6133683978 a.yiv6133683978primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv6133683978 a.yiv6133683978primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv6133683978 WordPress.com | mitchteemley posted: “Something Real“Faith-based” movies are in the toddler stage. Hollywood only began to realize there was a large audience for such films when The Passion of the Christ sold massive numbers of tickets to churchgoers in 2004. But it wasn’t until Fireproof, a” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gerrymackrell says:

    A media that once espoused christian values is hopefully recognizing there is a large body of Christians out there who’s needs must be met. To ignore this spells disaster for the industry. The anything goes has gone too far.
    Congratulations. and keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What you described sounds better to me than any official reward. Congratulations simply for finishing your project your way. I’ll keep an eye out for your film.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. atimetoshare.me says:

    You both look stunning and all your friends are so very proud of you. As you so well stated, awards come in many ways. Sounds like you fared well. Keep spreading the Word!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. “Well done, my good and faithful servant” —- Your greatest reward is forthcoming. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Fabulous report, Mitch! God bless you and your team.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. barbara runck says:

    Congratulations!And,you both look like real Hollywood Celebs too!

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Edward says:

    Congratulations! Please keep us posted when it’s released!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is so exciting, Mitch! Praise God for his vision and provision. I can hardly wait to see it.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Adding my congratulations to the many already posted. How encouraging that young filmmakers out there are looking up to the likes of you for inspiration. Perhaps we’ll finally have worthwhile, uplifting films to choose from. Meanwhile, can’t WAIT to see yours!! P.S. You and Trudy make a stunning couple!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Don’t worry Mitch. If God wants your movie “out there” He will make a way!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Jon says:

    Love to hear God is still thinking outside the box. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Congratulations, Mitch. I’m glad Hollywood has you as director and writer. It’s not a coincident that you got affirmation from young filmmakers who are your admirers. God is using your success to make your followers to do what your do. Isn’t it great? To God be the Glory! I just saw the cover of National Geographic featuring Jesus. Perhaps the younger generation has been looking long enough and couldn’t find anything, and turn to the direction they haven’t gone before!! Congratulations to your work again. Your photo with your wife is impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. BelleUnruh says:

    How wonderful to hear from those young people that they wanted to make movies like you! The best compliment you could get.

    I wouldn’t be too upset about losing. Remember when John Wayne won best actor against Dustin Hoffman, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton and Jon Voight? Not that I’m saying he didn’t deserve it, but look at the company! A lot of awards are given just because of who they are, who they know and what is going on in their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Wow, that’s great! Now I’m excited to see this film! So glad you inspired other creators along the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Is there a trailer released yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for the movie! And congratulations on the award.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Congratulations Mitch! I hope your film will be released in Australia?

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Anne J. says:

    I’m sure the time’s changing and the next one will get the Best Picture. Still, congratulations! Often, considering the politics and “popularity contests”, the feedback from the audience – the real people (not that awards people aren’t real) – is the best “award”.
    We had, in South Africa, a faith-based film that I fell in love with. It’s quite old now. It’s called “Faith Like Potatoes”. It’s the life of Angus Buchan.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Tbh I have avoided ‘faith-based’ films because the ones that I have seen have always been dire. Apart from the couple of kids films I remember – Treasures of the Snow and The Tanglewoods Secret. They were ok and my children loved them. But generally he acting, the script, the plot – ugh.

    I know this sounds daft but I didn’t realise you were an *actual* filmmaker. I kind of thought it was a hobby or something, I don’t know. But I will look out for Over the Rhine if it comes out on DVD or online in the UK 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  30. @vapor_sage says:

    ah, those unexpected gifts, way to go Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. cricketmuse says:

    Congratulations! Interestingly, we just watched Fireproof last night. Faith films have indeed come a long way. Risen is another example of a well-done faith film put out by Sony, who wisely realizes there is an audience out there wanting real movies about faith. Looking forward to your updates.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Paula says:

    Congratulations on “Honorable Mention” and glory to God for His allowing you to be a part of that mention. I hope I get a chance to see the film and will be carefully watching the credits (as I always do). My TV/Film degree took me elsewhere, but that’s all up to God too, is it not?

    Now for the challenge an agent would present: “What’s your third film about?”

    Again, nicely done, Mitch. So proud of you and am so glad you were affirmed in your work.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Congrats…And, just for the record, the more acclaim a movie receives during the film awards, the less likely I am to watch it. I will be looking forward to the release of your movie.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. gpavants says:


    That is so awesome and and answer to prayer. That has been my beef with Christian made films. They need loving it out actions combined with the real world. I pray your film will run. Yes, things are changing. How can I see you film? Where is it playing?

    In Christ,


    Liked by 2 people

  35. Great photo! Thanks for sharing the events and the applause from the young film makers you met. Sounds like you are the trail blazer for them! Feel PROUD!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Jennie Key says:

    There are few things more satisfying than hearing your work has inspired someone to go their own way. And using your gifts in a way that points to the King we serve. I am happy-dancing for you and your team. Congratulations. Keep me posted. I still think there is a story here.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. carhicks says:

    Congratulations Mitch. How exciting to know that you touched those people and they had such a reaction. I hope I get the opportunity to see your film someday.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Janet Oldfield says:

    So excited to hear about the reaction of the audience Mitch – always more important to me than what critics think. Great accolades from the two film students who commented that this is what they hope to do. That’s the real success. I will be watching in fall or winter to see your movie in the theatres. Congratulations Mitch and Trudy!

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I can’t wait to see this! Thanks for what you’re doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Congratulations! God has truly chosen you to pave the way for yourself and others.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Congratulations Mitch!!! This is SO amazing. God is good and I am so very proud of you! And I love the picture of you and your beautiful wife! Can’t wait to see Over the Rhine! 🎉🎉

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Jan Brown says:

    Congratulations! Never be disappointed with Honorable Mention! The next generation(s) are smarter, stronger and more involved in improving the world than they get credit for. How uplifting to meet those young people!

    Liked by 2 people

  43. jrusoloward says:

    Congratulations! It sounds like the movie was a success. Not only did you receive an Honorable Mention, it spoke to people. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Theophilus says:

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to watch it! I pray that you land a streaming deal….

    Liked by 1 person

  45. I’m not only proud of what you have and are accomplishing Mitch, but so very encouraged… God is so faithful to raise these up for the future of Christian filmmaking! Oh, and beautiful picture of you and your ‘love!’ 💕 💕 I’m so looking forward to seeing your movie! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I hope to see your movie and share it with my family when it is released. One of my granddaughters, soon to be 14 years old loved the movie ‘Woodlawn’. She thought it would be boring but she totally switched gears as we sat in the theater watching the movie. It was well done and it was a piece of history that she had been learning in school…with a different perspective, a godly one. Looking forward to more quality faith-based movies, grateful for those who have been paving the way! God bless

    Liked by 1 person

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