Category Archives: Fundraising

Don’t give up!

We received another significant financial commitment for the film this morning. Thanks be to God!

This fundraising activity (which must precede the production of the film) is just plain hard! It is requiring me to learn some new skills and to stretch out of my introvert comfort zone.

I think one of the most important lessons I’m learning is: don’t give up. No matter how hard the task, how impossible the odds, how stiff the opposition, how frequent the disappointment. Don’t give up.

Don-Give-Phrase-Blackboard-969190Reminds me of that story Jesus told about the “Shrewd Manager.” It’s always been a little puzzling to me because it sounds like Jesus is affirming dishonest behavior.

The guy gets fired from his job, and then goes around currying favor with his boss’s debtors by doctoring the books and underhandedly erasing some of what they owe. And then what happens? The boss praises the manager for his actions! For cheating! But I don’t think that’s the point Jesus is making.

I think he’s urging us to be alert and creative. The fired manager could have gone into depression, feeling sorry for himself. He could have given up. But he didn’t. And that, I think, is what Jesus is affirming.

Here’s the punchline of the story, as interpreted by Eugene Peterson in “The Message.”

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law–abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way––but for what is right––using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” (Luke 16:8-9)

The line jumps out, “be smart in the same way––but for what is right––using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival…”

Paul says something similar in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 (MSG)

And Jesus again, in teaching his disciples how to go about their work: “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16b (NIV)

Be creative, make the most of every opportunity, understand what the Lord’s will is… and Don’t Give Up!

Prodigal Project update

one-sheet-thumbnailIt has been awhile since my last update on the film. Not because nothing’s been happening, though. We’re making progress… slow and sure.

Sometimes I get anxious and frustrated. In the TV world, where I’ve spent most of my life, things happen much faster. In the “film biz,” progress is measured in months and sometimes years. But that’s the nature of the beast, so I’m learning to deal with it.

Here’s where we are…

Fundraising: Nothing’s real until the money’s in the bank. So raising the funds we need for production is the first priority and is taking most of my time these days. As of today, we have $265,000 committed to the project. We need a minimum of $500,000 – so we’re over the hump. Ultimately, we need to raise $750,000 to take care of marketing & distribution. We’re continuing to seek potential donors and applying for grants from foundations. Want to donate? You can do so here.

Cast & Crew: We’ve not done any casting yet. We won’t begin working on that until we’re closer to the funding goal. But we have begun putting the major crew department heads in place.

Among those already attached to the project, and some of the previous projects in which they’ve been involved…

  • Ken Roy, Line Producer – Lincoln, Mickey, John Adams, Hearts in Atlantis, Killing Kennedy, Blues in the Night
  • Rich Wills, Producer – Lincoln, Civil War 360, TURN, Troop 491
  • Jon Nelson, Director of Photography – First Landing, Gospel of Liberty
  • Richard Blankenship, Production Designer – Lincoln, TURN, John Adams, Captain Phillips
  • Jim Ed Wills, Editor – Lincoln, TURN, Troop 491, Killing Kennedy

Partnerships: We’re structuring our production company, Belltower Pictures as an independent non-profit corporation focused on producing, promoting and distributing high quality Christian-themed films, television and web projects… and to be an incubator for the next generation of Christian filmmakers… and to offer a way for people of diverse faith traditions to come together and work on a common goal. To that end, we’re constantly in conversations with churches and other organizations to forge partnerships, not only for this film but also for future projects.

Distribution: We’ve already begun developing potential distribution channels. A representative of a major film distributor recently told us, “The script covers a timely subject/scenario ripe for comedy… We’re rooting for you guys to pull the rest of the finance together and make the film, the market needs more comedies.”

If you want to keep up with what’s going on with the film, jump over to the Belltower Pictures website and sign up to receive updates.

Talk doesn’t cook rice

Rice“Talk doesn’t cook rice.”

That Chinese proverb resonates with me because I’m an introvert and don’t especially enjoy chit-chat. I’m a get-it-done person who’s much more comfortable with checklists and action plans. When I’m “just talking” it feels like I’m not doing anything. I think I should be out there doing something and not just talking about it.

Nevertheless, I must admit that while it doesn’t cook rice, talk is necessary to create the environment and circumstances in which rice does, in fact, get cooked.

I’ve been doing a lot of talking lately: with potential donors, partners, crew and cast members… essentially anybody who’ll sit still long enough to hear me tell about the film we’re working on, “Shooting the Prodigal.”

The conversations are mostly invigorating. But I often feel the need to take a nap afterwards. I get emotional when I talk about the spiritual implications of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son – the subject of our film. My voice starts to quiver and I have to take a long, embarrassing pause before I can continue.

Most of my conversation partners are kind, patient and understanding… thankfully.
They often respond with wide eyes and enthusiasm. Not because I’m eloquent, which I’m not. But because of the inherent truth and power contained in the story.

When Jesus talked, people listened. And for those with ears to hear, his words changed their lives. They went out and cooked rice with new purpose and meaning.

I pray that our telling of the story has the same effect.