It’s a film… and a confession


Shooting the Prodigal posterAfter six years in development and production, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL is complete. I hope it is the first of many from Belltower Pictures, the non-profit film company we launched in 2012 with the mission to “entertain, inspire and tell great stories that reveal spiritual truth.”

Right now we’re sharply focused on distribution and marketing plans for the film. There will be announcements about premiere & release dates, strategic partners and other news in the coming weeks.

I will use this blog to share some of the stories from the journey. And I also want to engage you in conversation around the themes in the film, the most prominent of which are acceptance and inclusion.

But I want to restart after this long blogging hiatus by making a confession – I struggle with fear. It started with a case of postpartum depression after we finished principal photography in July. It built as we moved through post-production. Now as we deal with the details of marketing and distribution, it has grown into a full-scale battle.

Fear of failure. Fear that the film’s story will not resonate with the audience. Fear that it won’t find an audience at all. Fear that my best efforts are not good enough. Fear that what I thought was God’s call into this venture was not God at all, but rather my ego and delusion. Fear that the money will run out before we finish the job. Fear that I’ll fail my family, friends, colleagues, and everyone who has invested time, energy, passion and money into this project.

Sometimes the fear is paralyzing. My sweet and patient wife often must endure my sullen moping.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus says, “Fear not.” And there are Paul’s comforting words in Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is often the Psalms that offer me strength to move forward. Psalm 13 in particular encompasses both my gut-wrenching pain and the relief I seek…

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.

 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord ’s praise,
For he has been good to me.

6 thoughts on “It’s a film… and a confession”

  1. I am so sorry about your worries and concerns, but I am blown away with the vulnerability you expose in this post. It is awe inspiring. Because my husband suffers with depression from childhood abuse, I can understand how you might minimize how far you have come in this journey, and oh, how far it is! Such a beautiful and much needed message spread to so many through your movie!
    None of us can predict the future, but this I know: “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” -2 Chronicles 20:12
    Keep clinging to that, my friend, and we will keep praying that God’s will for you will be done whether it is what you expect or not. He is a God of surprises after all! Sending so much love and support, Jeannie

    1. Thank you, Jeannie! I hope my post didn’t come across as sad and defeatist. But your words of encouragement and prayers of support are like a fresh breeze! I’ve talked with others… filmmakers and other artists who put their vulnerable creative souls on display for the world to see and critique… and have found many share these same fears. I hope my post helps them feel comfort and hope.

  2. It’s all understandable. You are putting yourself out there by entering the world of filmmaking, and because you are doing this as a person of faith – entering the “faith-based” arena – it’s even more understandable. The world of filmmaking in the internet age is not very forgiving, especially not to films made as ministry.

    The big thing is to not take any of it personally. Negative reviews are par for the course, and often reviewers are looking for things not to like. At the same time, many people will tell you that it’s brilliant and they love it – simply because they love you, or they love what you are trying to accomplish from a ministry POV. In my opinion, appreciate the second group of people, but don’t let their positive opinions go to your head. As to the first group, if their reviews are thoughtful, then listen to their opinions and apply them to your next outing so that you can improve.

    The big thing is – don’t take any of it personally, the good or the bad. You are making art for Christ’s sake, and it will be what it will be – and God will use it how He uses it.

    In the meantime, you’ve done something amazing, and you’ve made a movie! That’s something that most of us can’t say that we’ve done. Good or bad, it’s quite an accomplishment. Congratulations, and best of luck with the next stage of your experience.


  3. By the way, I love the concept of your film, and that you are making a comedy (not made very often in the genre). I hope to be able to see it and review it for my own blog at some point.


  4. The earlier commenters have offered wise words! I’m especially impressed by Jeannie Dortch — a very special lady, most talented in her own right! I’m very pleased to have been able to observe the project thus far, and can hardly wait until a “grand opening” preview or whatever is available to “the masses”! Blessings for you and all those who made your project possible; I’m confident God will use it well!

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