It’s sort of weird, filling your dance card with both independent filmmakers and evangelical Christians.
On the stereotypical surface, it would appear that these two groups of people truly have nothing in common. But in the past five years of making Paradise Recovered, we’ve discovered that there are a lot of indie filmmakers and a lot of evangelicals who are fed up with the status quo in their…er…uh…industries.
We suspect that this has a great deal to do with a greater number of people having access to technology that amplifies their voices. Filmmakers have access to tools that allow them to make micro-budget, watchable films at a fraction of the cost of studio films. Many Christians are using these same tools without the permission of their leaders, and they are asking questions that rock the boat come Sunday morning.
The formula seems simple: Take new technology, add a dose of freedom and independence, broadcast it to an audience, and you have new content.
Finding audience can be a tough job, especially in the cacaphony of new voices. But over time, voices seem to band together. Film festivals start to become almost trade show spaces for independent filmmakers to network and share ideas, and evangelicals weary of the megachurch, mega-paraChristian organization model start to gather together in similar venues and chat rooms to discuss new ways of telling an old, old story.
Giant studios and giant church organizations aren’t necessarily bad. We love a huge budget blockbuster now and again, and we get a pretty big thrill when World Vision sends us a letter telling us that the kids in the village we’re sponsoring no longer need our help. Their village is self-sufficient.
But we also love going to a festival and watching a newcomer tell a story with a lot of heart and energy. Something that makes us belly laugh. Something that stops us dead in our tracks and makes us think.
And we’ll be forever moved by the work of those Christians taking spiritual abuse head on. Sometimes, it’s one person who stands up to announce that the emperor-pastor indeed has no clothes, and that ghettos of self-righteous legalism aren’t indicative of what Jesus called “the Kingdom of heaven.”
Both indie filmmakers and Christian writers share another similar perception problem. That if you make movies or write books, you must just be rolling in cash.
Not true. Most indie filmmakers we know are worried about how to come up with rent this month, and most Christian writers have learned how to maintain their fifteen year old cars themselves. So when you purchase an independent film, book, or music, you’re not lining a corporation’s coffers. You’re paying someone’s mortgage or helping with a tune-up.
Social media is changing the landscape here for both parties. Indies and Christians can both connect with their audiences via social media – and up until Facebook recently required groups to promote their status updates, that was a pretty good deal. Twitter, Reddit, and even Pinterest help you target the folks that are most likely to enjoy your film, blog, or project.
Of course, if you hit the mother lode, and you get some studio or distributor to slap a marketing package on your piece? Still no money. The ‘last in, first out’ principle applies. The distributors and studios will always get their money first. But it might be worthwhile to go that route a time or two in order to build a body of work so that, in time, you start to see some income that makes sense.
Anyway, the bottom line is that no one is truly getting rich making art or writing books about theological issues. Unless they are doing so for a big corporation or have branded themselves to the point where everyone feels obligated to watch the next (insert famous actor/director here) or read the next (insert famous pastor type) here.
We didn’t make Paradise Recovered to make money. We didn’t do it to lose money, either. We made Paradise Recovered because we wanted to tell a story that we saved our pennies to tell. We also made it to be a part of two growing movements of people finally adding their voices to a expanding public square.
We did it to start somewhere. Even if that somewhere was at the beginning of a worldwide recession. Which might not have been the smartest move, but we’re happy with our success. It’s a tough economy for everyone, and we’re grateful to have what we have.
We also did it to launch some careers and to help other artists get some exposure. We’ve delighted in connecting with hundreds of like-minded filmmakers, spiritual abuse experts, Christians learning to ask questions, and complete strangers who “just loved your movie.”
And we have a couple of new things brewing. New scripts finished. New ideas slowly coming to life. We’ll keep you posted.
Thank you, THANK YOU for all of your continued support! We look forward to making more films and asking more questions.
We believe this is just the beginning.
All our best,
Andie Redwine and Storme Wood