- tell a great story and do it well,
- involve a lot of folks from around the community and give them opportunities to get to know one another as they work together on a meaningful project,
- give hands-on learning opportunities for the next generation of filmmakers, and
- in the process of making the film, model the values of acceptance and inclusion that were the centerpiece of the story.
The audience will ultimately decide if we were successful with the first goal.
I think I can say that we did succeed with the other goals. We had 200 volunteers from a dozen or so churches… and a number who claim no religious affiliation whatsoever. We provided opportunities for 14 interns from universities and high schools throughout Virginia to to learn and improve their skills by working alongside seasoned professionals. The participants reported an overwhelmingly positive experience… forging new friendships, strengthening old ones, learning new skills, and experiencing a positive & collaborative film set.
We received the following unsolicited email message from one of our volunteers… a 19-year-old sophomore film student at a nearby university. To me, this is evidence of the most important kind of success…
It was clear that the Holy Spirit was at work every day on set. Being an extra on the film was the highlight of my summer. I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to be a part of such an amazing project.
Most of all, I wanted to say thank you for the message Shooting the Prodigal sends to its viewers. When I first joined the project, I was nervous because I have a huge heart for the LGBTQ+ community, being bisexual, and I struggle daily with the hurt and pain some Christians can cause the community. But I was reassured when the first crew meeting was held and they played a video of Mr. Powers voicing his own concern over the church and how hurtful it can be not only to the LGBTQ+ community, but to everyone who isn’t yet a child of Christ, whether because of their religion, race, or sexuality. I was touched when I saw the movie at the screening at the Byrd Theater when Brother Bob remarked that Jesus loves all of his children, not just the ones the church thinks He should.
It can be very challenging to be around people who are too prideful in their belief to realize the hurt they’ve caused me and people like me. I’m not sure that I can put into words how much your movie and the message it shares has affected me for the better. I know now that there are Christians out there who won’t hate me and people like me because of the way I am. I know now that I can continue my life in Christ. I know now that I can be a filmmaker, a Christian, and not straight all at the same time, and I can do it all for the glory of God.
May we have many more of these kinds of successes in future projects!