And the Emmy goes to…”
I was literally gasping for breath as the card was being read in front of a vast audience gathered at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in the fall of 1994. My mom had flown out from Texas, and my wife had been planning what to wear for weeks. It was the most exciting night of my life, and I can remember thinking that this must be what they call an “out of body” experience. I had worked and planned hard my entire professional career for this one moment, and MY dream was coming true. A young Baptist boy from the smallest of towns in Central Texas was about to become the newest Emmy Award winner, and I thought that nothing would ever top this moment.
Fast forward to the spring of 1995 when a dear friend of mine invited us back to church. I say “back” because I had never imagined that I could live a Christian life in such a secular business. As a matter of fact, I had been taught that very lesson as a child, and during my decision-making years I had answered the call of Hollywood, not the ministry, because in my mind the two could never mix.
So, that spring morning when I sat down in the balcony at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California, my skeptical mind only thought about getting through the next hour without being bored to tears. I had sat in church all my life and knew that the traditions involved in the services were never going to be relevant to me or my highly “successful” life. And then I saw the light.
Of a big, bright beautiful projector! And it was shooting toward an even bigger, more beautiful white screen. THAT grabbed my attention.
And so did God. That day was a pivotal day in my life, and God soon began to change my heart and attitude about the Christian walk and more importantly, my ministry. Although I wasn’t aware, Steve Moore was also in the building that Sunday morning and had been through a very similar upbringing and had also been wondering what to do with that big white sheet that had been hung behind the pulpit. We soon met and began sharing ideas about stories and images that we thought might inspire a few people. We never imagined what would happen next.
Steve came up with this great idea (he does that a lot) about a guy who has his priorities all out of whack. The message was simple but the idea of the delivery was clever and we decided that we had to make our first worship video. Now, we didn’t call it a worship video at the time. We didn’t know what to call it. We were just shooting from our hearts.
So, armed with a Hi8 camera that I rented for $400.00, we filmed “Busy Man”in three hours! That’s it. It starred Steve’s wife and kids, and the locations were our homes. The response to the first airing in our church was overwhelming. We began hearing about men throughout our church who were changing their lives because of the impact of the message they saw on the screen that day. We were stunned. We just wanted to have a little fun with the white screen, and here God had used us to begin changing lives.
The phone started ringing off the hook from churches across the country wanting a copy of that funny “Busy Man” video. I don’t even know how they found out about it. But, they kept calling, and we knew that we were on to something.
And it’s no wonder. Our lives are filled, or better yet, bombarded with media all day, everyday. We have become a TV savvy society and most non-believers now truly think that the process of being involved in a worship experience is just not relevant to their media-filled lives anymore. They want whatever message you have to be given to them NOW and in DSL time. I truly believe that the message of Christ that we try to relate in our videos can have a quicker and greater impact on some non-believers (and believers alike) than more traditional methods simply because of how our society has changed.
Let me say, at this point, that we have never intended our videos to replace preaching or praise. On the contrary, we hope to inspire those who need to be taught the good news by reaching them in a way and with a style that they are used to. We want ministers and teachers to use our videos as examples in or punctuation to their messages.
I often hear of frustrated ministers and tech people who want to use video in their services but have a difficult time finding good quality programming that is relevant to our times and also supports the message that they are trying to convey on any given Sunday morning. Clips from movies seem to be a popular choice, and congregations are always pleased when the message of the day is supported by this Hollywood offering on video. But I have always found it strange that the likes of Tom Cruise and Bill Murray would be involved in delivering God’s message. That’s not to say that our Lord can’t use these clips (or actors) to spread the word. But the use of these clips tells me one thing we are devoid of good quality story-telling that (here comes that word again) RELATES to the believer and non-believer. And not only a good story but one that is produced, shot and edited well. As if you are indeed watching a Hollywood film.
It’s a tall order but one I think Steve and I have been called to fill. Living in Southern California, we have been able to access some of the best talent and equipment that this area has to offer, and we are constantly amazed at the willingness of so many people to give their services for little or no money. This enables us to film deeply personal stories and then package and present them like a short little movie.
Our society expects perfection when it comes to the big screen. And that is what we have begun to hang up in our auditoriums and sanctuaries the big screen. Therefore, the stories we tell on those screens need to be as well-told as the ones they see at their local movie theater.
When Steve and I formed our company, we named it HE IS FAITHFUL FILMS. It is named this because He was faithful to me when I wasn’t to Him. It’s not necessarily a “cool” media name that some of these production companies give themselves, but it’s straight-forward and it constantly reminds me that He will always be faithful and will provide all that we will ever need. What a promise!
Our goal, like our name, is simple. To be honest. To touch people’s lives where they are today. To put the mirror up in front of their faces and show them that our God IS relevant and that they can have everything that God ever intended for them to have.
Over the years, my friendship with Steve and our partnership in HE IS FAITHFUL FILMS have been a life-changing experience. And God has taught me that it is always in His time and with total faith that we learn to become successful. Not the kind of success that I felt in Pasadena back in 1994 but the joy and rewards of spreading the story of life ever-lasting and the hope of redemption that our world so desperately desires.
If you came to my house you would see a very faded and tarnished looking Emmy sitting on top of the TV. It has begun to show wear and tear and is more of a rust color rather than the beautiful gold shine that it once displayed. I’ve decided to let it fade rather than restore it to it’s original state because it reminds me that my time and talents are now geared toward a more rich and heavenly reward. Souls are being won through these short films, and we are humbled beyond belief that God has worked through us in this manner. HE IS FAITHFUL!