Fame vs. Flame

A Filmmaker’s Journal

Four years ago on a June day like this we wrapped production on my first feature film as a writer-director Healing River (then titled Over-the-Rhine). Never dreaming it would take as long as it did for the film to be released–or what the world would be like when it was!–I wrote the words below. I believe them more than ever. 


“Fame! I’m gonna live forever!” Those lyrics are from the title song of a once-famous movie that, ironically, most people under 30 have never heard of.

I just finished directing my first feature film, an intense, emotional drama about forgiveness and redemption. To accomplish this, I have been entrusted with an amount of money that (although tiny by Hollywood standards) is terrifyingly large. By that standard, at least, it’s the biggest event of my life.

It’s my goal as a filmmaker to impact people’s lives. But will I? How many people will remember Over-the-Rhine (Healing River) a thousand years from now? Heck, how many people will remember it five years from now?

“Fame is fleeting,” the expression goes. But fame doesn’t matter. What matters is flame. What matters is that my film (or this blog post, or what I said to that homeless guy I drove to the shelter last week) ignites a spark of truth, of healing, of transformation.

Fame fades. But flames spread. It can begin with the intolerant guy who has a reality check while watching my movie and, as a result, raises his children a little more graciously, treats that clumsy barista a little more kindly. When his children (or the barista) pass on the spark of forgiveness they’ll be passing a flame ignited by a movie they may never have heard of. And yet that flame may still be burning a thousand years from now.

So how do you ignite that kind of fire? You don’t. You go to the Source that lit the bush that “was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2) and let Him ignite it, or rather you. And then you pass it on. Again and again and again. Because fame may be fleeting. But flame—that kind of flame—

Lives forever.

Note: Healing River premiered on Amazon Prime last month and is currently one of Amazon’s highest-rated films. According to the reviews and comments by those who’ve seen it, it has indeed lit a healing flame, and many are passing that flame on (do please add your review there if you’ve seen it). You can watch or order it now by clicking here

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Movies, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Fame vs. Flame

  1. Forty years ago I was in a fellowship of young Christians in Traverse City – about an hour’s drive from where we lived. I was in my late twenties at the time. When we moved to St. Louis I lost touch with most of the people from that fellowship. Now that we are retired we summer where we used to live in Western Michigan.
    An old friend from the Traverse City fellowship contacted me a couple of years ago, after several decades and said she had moved to our area, and asked where I went to church. We got together, for coffee, and she started going to my church, where she’s gone ever since.
    I told you all that to say that just yesterday she was introducing herself to another lady at the church and saying that after her divorce she didn’t know what to do, and GOD TOLD HER to move to this area, because that’s where I was! I’d had no idea that was why she moved here. I have no clue what I did or said all those years ago that had made such a lasting impression on her, so clearly I didn’t – it had to be the God I was connecting to at that young adults’ fellowship.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dora says:

    What’s done for God’s glory never fades! Btw, it’s family viewing night today. My turn to pick, perfect timing 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  3. dovalpage says:

    Congratulations! I am going to watch it now.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. dovalpage says:

    Funny thing, I didn’t even know I could watch movies for free with my Prime membership. Gracias!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Amen Mitch! I told my parents about your film and they loved it. My Mom texted me: “Such a fantastic movie, Ryan!!! Please tell Mitch how much I loved it and his forgiving message.” Your film is already touching lives! Really looking forward to seeing it! God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jimspoor says:

    I wrote a much longer comment but realized it really just said “Thank You”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds really good! Will have to watch it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pastorpete51 says:

    Beautifully said. Thanks Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the idea of passing on the flame!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Yea! Burn, baby, burn with the Holy Spirit. I do pray that your movie impacts now. We need it. The Lord knows when people need hope the most.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

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