As hard as it is to write a book, it’s 400 million times harder to market and sell it. (You only think I’m exaggerating!) So last summer as I was contemplating various ideas, I was thrilled to come up with a project that I thought would be very successful. After hours of planning, collaborating with Advent Film Group to co-sponsor, and lining up a bunch of bloggers to spread the word, I launched a Pajama School Promo Video Contest. With a desire to support independent Christian filmmakers and collaborate with others on a creative endeavors, I thought this seemed like the perfect project.
I could hardly wait to see the interest and view the submissions that would come pouring in. And then came the first unexpected obstacle. Just before we announced the contest, I received word that the film festival had been postponed 9 months. I debated whether to move forward with the plans or postpone the contest. But when it came down to it, too many elements had already been set in motion that would have made it nearly impossible to halt the contest. So even though I knew some momentum might be lost, we launched the contest and hoped that many aspiring filmmakers would still jump on board.
I waited. And waited. One friend submitted an endearing video that I really liked. And then a while later another filmmaker submitted a very professional clip. As the deadline approached, one other promo came my way. Not quite the downpour I was anticipating, to say the least. I was highly discouraged, but pressed on with the voting anyway. The original plan was to have a panel of judges vet the submissions down to three finalists. That was obviously unnecessary now. Some other aspects of the plan got scrapped, too. In the end, Jeremiah Warren beat out the other two submissions and won the free pass to the festival. And that was the end of that failed idea. Or so I thought.
As the deadline for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival submissions approached, Jeremiah contacted me to say that they were including a new commercial category and wondered if I would be interested in having him submit the promo video he created for Pajama School. I was game for it and gave him the go-ahead. Honestly, I pretty much forgot about it until several weeks later when Jeremiah e-mailed to say that the clip had been accepted as a semi-finalist into the festival. I was thrilled! The film would be shown, along with all the other semi-finalists, at specific times throughout the festival weekend. It began to occur to me that the idea I had chocked up as a royal flop was now going to result in potentially hundreds of people viewing the promo for my book. God’s words in Isaiah 55:9 come to mind, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” But the best was yet to come.
A couple days before we left town, I was talking with a friend and expressed that I was excited to be attending the festival, especially because my promo video would be showing. She asked if it had a chance of winning and I said that I wasn’t really expecting anything. With a sideways glance, she came back with, “Oh, you know you want to win.” As I drove back to my house, I pondered her comment. It suddenly struck me that the Pajama School promo clip actually had a chance to win first place in the commercial category. I know…I’m a little slow sometimes.
Our whole family immensely enjoyed sight-seeing in and around San Antonio for the first half of last week and attending the film festival for the latter half of the week (I’m hoping to post a few pictures soon!). But I could hardly believe it when the Jubilee Awards Ceremony arrived on Saturday night and the winning commercial was announced, “Pajama School book!” I knew Jeremiah had done an excellent job, but it was exciting to have that affirmed by a panel of eagle-eyed judges. There were many other far more significant awards bestowed upon culture-impacting filmmakers that night than the one granted for the one-minute clip promoting my book. But hidden within the seeming smallness of the honor was a big message to me from the Lord. He can bring forth fruit even when we perceive failure. And so I am inspired to keep dreaming, to try new ideas, to be unwavering in faith, and to develop a deep and abiding fortitude.