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…our luggage from the carousel, hopped into the waiting car and headed over the bridge into the City by the Bay. We arrived at the beautiful 1920s era theater and were immediately greeted by the festival tech seeking our HD screener. And suddenly it got real.
As we glared at one another in that “tell me you have it” way, it became shockingly apparent that neither of us had retrieved the box of master tapes from the airport carousel 45 minutes back over the bridge in Oakland.
The Producers stare at each other in stupefacation. MK drops to his knees. With arms outstretched, he raises his face to the sky.
God POV. Camera pulls back and rain begins to fall.
That’s the way my brain remembers it anyway. This was our first feature film, our first festival entry, and our first large audience screening – that would be evaluated for distribution, and the foundation of our industry reputation. It was merely my impassioned career hanging in the balance. No pressure.
In retrospect, this was the auspicious beginning to a longstanding camaraderie with the organizers and staff of this festival that has continued some 20 years. And it was through this group of faithful Christ Followers that we were first presented with the concept of “An Audience of ONE” based on Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae.
Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve. (1)
The process of getting this feature produced was long and difficult, involving becoming unequally yoked with partners, securing a private investor (later investigated by the FBI), taking out a 2nd mortgage on my house, crew embezzlement, partner betrayal, company dissolution, and the residue of ongoing heartache. Not atypical trials and tribulations of a career in filmmaking.
So, why continue? There is a myriad of far less painful careers. But, not for me. In the same year that Jesus personally revealed Himself to me, He also revealed my calling to storytelling through film. I was eleven. I have forcibly tried to put away this infuriating passion by boxing up the books, awards, project binders, and tapes and move them all into storage, so as not to be mocked by them. But each time I have, each time I have told myself that filmmaking lives only in my past, in short order, God opens a window and light leaks in. Then He cracks open a door, ever so slightly, and even against my will, hope is again renewed.
Discouraged by “no”, logistical obstacles, closed doors, and the people – oh, the people. I must be constantly reminded that I am not doing this for myself. I am not doing this for a client or boss, nor even to support my family. As I walk this long and broken road, there is a Singularity to whom I answer and strive to please. An Audience of ONE.
And in case you were wondering, a valiant member of the festival staff rapidly retrieved our box from the airport. Our film was screened and the audience gave it the “Thriller of the Year” festival award. Glory to God.
(1) Colossians 3:23-24 AMP