Filming my own lessons
I’m sitting in my hotel room here in Taiwan, and we’re nearly done with this latest stretch of filming for Father of Lights. Every trip we take to film these movies is fairly unique, and this one has been no different. I always have a sense of what I’d like to film at the bare minimum, and in a sense, whatever we capture beyond that is pretty much gravy (and usually is the stuff that winds up making the finished film!). It’s that “gravy”, though, that I’m always worried about. It’s the great unknown for every film shoot, and these days, the great unknown is ultimately more scary then it has ever been for me.
For one, there is the pressure of expectation. No matter how much people tell me otherwise, I know there is a certain expectation that the next film must be better and more powerful than the last. It’s partly the reason I feel the need to end the story at Father of Lights. I only want what is genuine and real, and when you’re constantly trying to outdo yourself, then the theology you wind up pushing is one of greater and greater experiences. I don’t want to do that. I’ve seen too many ministries in silent competition of one another–if someone experiences this at their meetings, then someone else needs to experience something even greater. I don’t know if these “greater things” are legit or not, but I do know that mentality is a dangerous place to live.
The other pressure (a lesser one, but still something to give me pause) is the financial considerations I now have to make for each trip. Gone are the days when I just hopped on a plane by myself with a camera. Now I’ve got a crew, and a full-on production company to manage. To the world, these movies have microscopic budgets, but to us, they are enormous investments–and since the movies take so long to complete, there is that ever present weight of spending without any return.
So when I get on a plane now, it is with fear and trembling that the Lord MUST move while my cameras are rolling. Add to that the insane desire I have to allow the Lord to direct these things, and suddenly I find myself traveling to places I know very little about to film…what? Most of the time I don’t know.
Why am I writing all this? I suppose I’m introspective at the moment because I’m coming out of a week of being surrounded by incredible people with incredible wisdom, love, and Godly persistence. There is a holiness that has been tangible in every person we’ve filmed this past week. At the orphanage in China, with Randy Clark, Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, and Philip Mantofa in Taiwan. I’ve said all along the movies I make are very personal, and Father of Lights is no different. This trilogy is my journey into the great unknown of God’s goodness and love. If I am not getting impacted, then no one will, because it’s my interpretation of what I’m experiencing that ultimately becomes the story you will see onscreen.
I guess I always have a sense, then, of what the impact will be for most people–what they will FEEL when they watch these movies, and I get that sense while I’m making them. It is my feelings that will ooze from the screen–simply by the very nature of the medium I’m choosing to tell these stories through.
With Finger of God, there was a sense of initial skepticism, which eventually led to a humbling discovery that God really does love me. In Furious Love, it was the initial shock of the war, followed by the deep understanding that love truly does conquer all darkness. For Father of Lights, at least initially, there is a real sense of the importance of holiness and love and how it can change the world. But for this journey, it’s not about head knowledge anymore. You’re going to feel what love feels like.
And what you feel will leave you speechless. I know this, because I’m writing now in an attempt to give words to what I feel. But I can’t do it justice, because the love of God made manifest in us is breathtaking to behold.
I can’t wait to show it to you.