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 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 were nominated for multiple awards). 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. It’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, made my spirits soar. But God had one more meet-and-greet lined up.

Just as we were boarding our plane, a young filmmaker fresh out of film school in Chicago said, “You made Over-the-Rhine!” “Yes,” I replied. “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.

99 Responses to A Filmmaker’s Journal

  1. Lucie says:

    Oh gosh , Mitch, have i been so self absorbed in my own bubble this year that i missed your great event??😔

    Many, mamy congratulations, my friend! Many congratulations…💕

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    I’m working on finishing the novelization of my screenplay Over-the-Rhine, a drama about addiction, death, and forgiveness. I’m striving to keep it real and honest, while wondering if Christian readers, like faith-based movie-goers, will find it too real. After the movie Over-the-Rhine’s premiere (below), I wrote about the audience’s response.

    Have we finally come of age?


  3. Tina says:

    Very cool! And Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Matilda S. Novak says:

    God will use, (and IS using) “Over the Rhine” to impact the world.
    i’m glad he’s letting you see that, and pray the coming months will bring even more
    divine encounters to encourage your hearts.
    Is it available on Netflix, or Pureflix?
    i so want to see it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations! And I love the picture! Blessings. – Annie

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations, Mitch. I can’t wait to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, how rewarding to get that response! I’m thrilled for you, Mitch!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: A Filmmaker’s Journal | Mitch Teemley

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