Open Door or Open Pit?


Ambition! I’d just completed my final student film, was combing through Backstage, a well-known resource for entry-level movie jobs, found a production manager opening, and called. I spoke with an excitable assistant: “Can you come by now?” she asked. “Yes!”

The dingy, sign-free “studio” made me cringe. “Gotta start somewhere,” I reminded myself, and pushed the door open. I was greeted by Shannon, the assistant and would-be starlet I’d spoken with on the phone. Her face was freckled with hope.

She led me into a newly-IKEA’d office. Ben, the co-producer of Ropes, was a friendly, soft-spoken man who’d recently moved from Beantown to Dreamtown. This “dark, psychological study of bondage” was his first big break, he said. Ah, a fellow dreamer. Within minutes he offered me the position.

This was too easy. I asked to see the script. Ben hesitated, but then said I could read it while he ran errands. I turned to page one: “Heather peels off her bikini and sprawls across the chaise lounge as the camera savors every curve of her body.”

I wrestled with my conscience. Maybe I could get them to change a few things. Like add clothing. By the time Ben came back I knew I couldn’t do the film.

“Why?” Ben asked.

“Not my cup of tea.”


I took a deep beath. “Because it’s not ‘a dark, psychological study of bondage,’ it’s soft-core porn.”

Ben looked agitated, almost haunted. “Religious reasons?”

“Well, sure, it’s a God thing, but it’s also a me thing. I won’t exploit desperate young women like Shannon out there just so I can make it in the movie biz. She’s not meat, she’s a human being.”

Ben interrogated me further, but I finally managed to escape, and figured that was that.

It wasn’t.

The phone rang just before midnight. It was Ben. I assumed he was calling to rant at me. He wasn’t. “I thought about everything you said.”


He told me about his life in Boston…his film degree…his dream of producing movies in Hollywood, a rarity for people of color…and of faith. Yep, he was a God guy too. A God guy who’d invented one reason after another to avoid his God guy friends ever since he’d signed on to co-produce Ropes. So that was why he’d looked so haunted.

“I walked off the film tonight,” he said, “and I just wanted to thank you for telling me the truth I needed to hear.”

Ben displayed ten times the courage I did that day: The courage to abandon his first big break. To start at the bottom again, rather than a higher rung on the wrong ladder. And the courage to distinguish…

An open door from an open pit.

“For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet forfeits his soul?” ~Mark 8:36

About mitchteemley

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

41 Responses to Open Door or Open Pit?

  1. 👍👍❤️🙂….for all truth tellers.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story. Great courage. There are SOOOOO many forfeited souls around us, cloaked in sheep’s skin…in need of prayer. In need of love. It is overwhelming.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great story, Mitch. We all have to be true to ourselves. Did you ever hear from Ben again?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. gracespeaker says:

    Such a timely concept for all time! Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Caroll says:

    This is so inspiring. Staying in integrity and keeping our lives aligned with God’s word always pays off. I am betting Ben found a good position in whatever area God’s purpose for his life is.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. A testament to strength of character more than a story. Honestly and simply told for what it was and still is. Thank you. Sandy

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Nothing like ending on a cliffhanger, Mitch. What became of Ben after that?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. ejstoo says:

    Yup, always better to do good work than taking the quick easy way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ejstoo says:

      unless it’s just a problem that would take longer to explain than just solving it 😉


      • ejstoo says:

        Just also understand that some people make a living at it. Not my sort of thing. Don’t watch it…but they have some artistic standards etc that they have to meet…not the back door stuff…don’t know much of anything about it…like I say, I don’t watch it, but there are people who do and make livings that way.


      • ejstoo says:

        Oopsie…I think I might have made a faux pas with words. Like when I told my mother as a child that I wanted to have cats and we could build a cat house in the back yard….it has another meaning too….what I meant is that there is actual industry, not the filming in the back seat of a van type of stuff…and I didn’t know that churches were into the porn industry.


  9. I can relate to this experience, Mitch. It’s so much easier to settle for what sells.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. beth says:

    all about character – great post

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Gary Fultz says:

    We just don’t know what the other person is wrestling at the time. Choices matter every time. Thanks for the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Matilda Novak says:

    i’ve walked away from an “opportunity” as well…Will never regret that. i love the way you phrased it: “open door, or Pit”….Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nancy Richy says:

    Great post! Here’s to people struggling everywhere!! ✌🏼 💪🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  14. K.L. Hale says:

    What a beautiful turn to faith. Mitch, this touched my heart. Thank you for sharing~and being a man of God. Speaking as a woman, I thank you for many reasons. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good story and good message. I particularly like the turn of phrase in these two sentences: “Her face was freckled with hope” and “She led me into a newly-IKEA’d office.”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. murisopsis says:

    A wonderful turn of events – not selling out is tough for many. Glad you resisted and your resistance led another to make a good decision!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mary Sweeney says:

    So glad you stood up to your convictions, Mitch. It gave him the courage to stand up, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Damyanti Biswas says:

    That was an inspiring story. Every little change in ourselves can actually bring about a huge one in the world! Thank you for sharing this Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. revruss1220 says:

    A great story and a great awakening. God bless you for being in the place he needed you to be and for speaking the truth Ben needed to hear.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. #hood says:

    mark 8:38 is missing with 8:36 & 8:33


  21. Mitch, thank you for being a man of God who lives out your convictions. I hope your story continues to inspire others, like Ben, to leave exploitation and walk in righteousness. I pray Shannon was able to escape the snares of that path and find freedom in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Open Door or Open Pit? | Restored Ministries Blog

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