About time for my quarterly posting here… 🙂 Kathy Brace and I released our book, Born to Deliver, at the end of last year, and are so encouraged at how God is using it to touch lives and bring healing. My good friend, Molly Williamson, of Imago Photography generously offered to help us put together a book trailer that we hope will serve to spread a message of hope and redemption to even more people. Here’s the wonderful result of her creative talent and work on our behalf:
We had a wonderful time in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival! Our family went down early to spend some time relaxing and visiting the historical sites around the area. Here are some snapshots highlighting our time there:
Walking along the River Walk and through the King William Historic District.
A day in Fredericksburg, a small town north of San Antonio with a German heritage. We did the self-guided historic walking tour, which gave a us a good scope of the area. Here we are standing in front of the old courthouse, now the town library.
Dinner at an authentic German restaurant. Our waitress, Jessica, was fabulous!
In addition to The Alamo, there are four other missions located along the San Antonio River. We felt like we had traveled back thousands of years and crossed the Atlantic into Europe as we explored these architectural masterpieces! This shot was taken at Mission San José.
The 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas boasts a rotating restaurant at the top, where diners can overlook the city lights from their lofty position. Mom and Dad received a special promotion through our hotel, so they were privileged to partake of this special dining experience. Naomi and Joey took the tour of the Observation Deck and then rejoined Noelle and me.
While Mom and Dad enjoyed the splendid view from the tower and tolerated their not-so-splendid fare, Noelle, Naomi, Joey, and I had a delicious Mexican meal at one of the oldest restaurants along the River Walk. It was a super fun evening together!
Brilliant colors adorn every square inch of the famous 24-hour Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery in San Antonio’s Market Square. There was a vast assortment of fresh pastries and baked goods to choose from!
We savored each bite of our scrumptious delicacies!
Of course, no trip to San Antonio is complete without a visit to The Alamo! We spent the better part of an afternoon there, walking through the mission, reading the accounts of yesteryear, watching a documentary, and perusing the displays throughout the compound.
On Thursday, Lydia arrived and got settled in with us, then we headed over to the Municipal Auditorium. We are waiting in the lobby with hundreds of others as final preparations are made for the Opening Ceremonies!
The Opening Ceremonies were full of excitement and inspiration. The evening concluded with a showing of the new film, Divided, and a time of informal interviews with the film’s cast and crew.
Hmm…guess I was having too much fun on Friday and forgot to take pictures until that night. In this shot, John Moore, director of the forthcoming feature film, Ace Wonder, shares the stage with Doug Phillips and others involved in the film project.
The festival provides great opportunities to meet new people. I was excited to meet Sarah and discover that we have several mutual friends. Lydia, Sarah, and I had a great time getting to know each other!
The Awards Ceremony was, understandably, the most anticipated event of the weekend. We were absolutely thrilled when the Audience Choice winner was announced as Runner From Ravenshead! (Now available through our website!) Little Crew Studios obviously captured the hearts of the many movie-goers at the festival, winning the Audience Choice Award by a 4-1 margin! A huge congrats to the Steege family for such a remarkable accomplishment with their first film. We can’t wait for the next one. 🙂
The Awards Ceremony organizers did an excellent job of building the suspense up until the final award of the night – the $101,000 Jubilee Best of Festival Award. The honor went to the Jim Bowers family, for their documentary, Agenda: Grinding America Down. They ran out of copies at the festival, so we ordered ours and just watched it last week. It is an incredibly well-researched and eye-opening exposé of the socialistic and communistic underpinnings of many of the societal conventions that rarely garner a second thought in the minds of most Americans today. Well worth watching!
The Pajama School book trailer that Jeremiah Warren produced for my book ended up winning first place in the commercial category. This was an unexpected, but thrilling blessing from the Lord! Jeremiah is off to a great start in his filmmaking career, so I figured I better get a picture with him now before he becomes really famous. 🙂
With two of my favorite sisters! We had a marvelous time together and have been spending many hours discussing things we heard and learned and how we can implement them in our creative endeavors.
Apparently it is a tradition for some of the festival attendees to wrap up the last night with an excursion to Denny’s. Never ones to miss out on a party, Lydia, Naomi, Joey, and I hitched a ride with some others and had a fun time meeting some more new friends and talking and laughing into the early morning hours.
In addition to our time in San Antonio, our trip down south also afforded us the opportunity to make brief stops to catch up with old friends. The Vinson family welcomed their newest little member several weeks ago, so we were excited to meet her and take turns holding her!
We surprised the Chapman family by showing up at their church on Sunday morning. Our time with them was short, but sweet!
The Bremer family met us for dinner on our way home. It was fun to see them again and hear about the latest happenings in their lives!
We are so grateful for the opportunity the Lord provided for us to take this trip and we would all love to return to the festival in 2012 and take a host of other friends and families with us. 🙂 But we’ll have to see what the Lord has in store in the days ahead!
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.
As I mentioned several weeks ago, our family is planning to attend the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival this year. We are thrilled for the opportunity to visit some of our Texas-dwelling friends, explore the sights around San Antonio, partake in the festivities at the event, and enjoy fellowship with lots of people who are actively engaged in impacting the culture!
I’ve wanted to attend the festival in previous years, but have had to content myself with reading reports from others who attended. This year, those who can’t attend in person will almost feel like they are there because I’m excited to report that my friend, Caleb Hayden, and his friend, Mark Stubblefield, have launched EventBloggers.com. They will be providing “up-to-the-instant social media updates on Facebook and Twitter, video reports and interviews on YouTube, and blog posts with recaps of the films, workshops, and all the exciting happenings.” Also from their website:
“EventBloggers.com is part of a larger vision for a journalism organization with a global reach – Providence Report. We are excited about our planned 2011 launch of this organization that will inform and equip the body of Christ for disciple-making to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to demonstrate the good news of the gospel around the world.”
What an exciting vision that I pray will bear much fruit in the years ahead! Hope you all will be able to join in on the action in San Antonio. 🙂
Anyone who has read my review of The Runner from Ravenshead knows that I am a huge fan of this highly original film! So you can imagine that I was doubly excited when the Steege’s e-mailed to tell me that they are semi-finalists at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival!
We now have copies of the film available for sale through our Sibro Publishing website. And through the end of the month of September, we’re offering FREE shipping on all orders placed through our website!
You may also enjoy reading the interview I conducted with Little Crew Studios. What an inspiring family!
I just received word from Jeremiah Warren, producer of the winning Pajama School book promo/trailer that it was selected as a semi-finalist in the commercial category at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival! How thrilling is that?! Our family is already planning to attend the festival this year, so this is an extra special bonus. 🙂 I’ve wanted to attend the event ever since they first started it, but for various reasons, it’s just never worked out before. Lord-willing, this year we’ll be there to take part in the exciting festivities!
Here’s the video:
If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, then this may be the contest for you! HSLDA has just announced a Commercial Video contest with cash prizes of $1,000 for Critics’ Choice Award and $1,000 for People’s Choice Award. The objective is to have a viable commercial that HSLDA can use, so it must be top quality. You can view all the information and rules on their contest page. I look forward to seeing the videos that are produced for this!
Thanks to all of you who entered the drawing for The Runner from Ravenshead and helped spread the word about it! The winner is Stephanie. She will be receiving her own copy of this great family film! For those of you who didn’t win, I’d encourage you to get your own copy and help support the work of the Steege family as they seek to impact culture through film. Plus, you’ll also get a great movie out of it! 🙂
As I mentioned in my review of The Runner from Ravenshead, I had the opportunity to spend some time one afternoon with the cast and crew of Little Crew Studios (a.k.a. the Steege family). After watching the film and being blown away by the quality, I wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at how five kids under the age of ten, guided my a mom and a dad, were able to pull off such an incredible feat!
Where did the idea for the storyline come from?
After starting with two others and eventually scrapping them, Joel said that they settled on a simple concept – an escape and pursuit theme. They built the story around the Old Testament Cities of Refuge that were a foreshadowing of what was to come with Christ.
How did you acquire the skills to produce the film?
When I asked this question, Joel interjected with a slight rewording, “You mean, ‘How are we acquiring the skills…?’” Their family saw this project very much as a learning experience, often stopping filming along the way to learn new skills that were needed in order to continue. What one might realistically expect to accomplish in six months took them two years because of this approach.
Amelia told how one of the drawbacks of the long time frame was that by the end of the filming they had almost outgrown their costumes! The kids took it all in stride, though, and obviously enjoyed the process very much. And in spite of their young ages, each one is becoming well-acquainted with the film industry and is learning skills that will serve them well the rest of their lives. Brendan was especially excited to share about his oversight of the mic, a very essential component in good filming!
The off-set time devoted to learning skills consisted of building a library of books dealing with every aspect of producing a film and studying them intently, participating in on-line classes, and getting insight from others in the field. One thing they realized and accepted is that they couldn’t do everything in one film. It was important for them to retain focus and do what they could do well. For example, in The Runner from Ravenshead, a static camera is used almost exclusively due to the equipment limitations the Steege’s faced. They acknowledged this limitation and then worked with it to their full advantage.
How did the children prepare for their roles?
The Steege’s started out by giving their children a copy of the script, reading it together, and then working with them to memorize the lines. According to them, “It didn’t take.” Recording the lines in an audio format so that the kids could listen on their own and at night in bed proved to be a much more effective learning strategy. Most of the rehearsing was parent-directed, but even when they were playing sometimes they would be rehearsing lines or scenes with each other.
Lisa also mentioned that when she and her sister were growing up they memorized Scripture passages and put hand motions to them, then recited them in front of large groups of people. She carried on this practice with her own children so that they would get accustomed to memorizing and being able to recite things in front of an audience.
All of this training has proved very effective, because each of the young cast members did a fabulous job interacting during the interview and contributing valuable bits of information. 🙂 And their presence in front of the camera is superb as well!
How long did it take to produce the film?
The filming was sporadic, as it was 100% dependent on the weather. Consistent lighting was a major consideration that affected filming hours as well. During the actual filming, 70% of the recorded audio had background noises – most notably due to the flight path right over the filming location. For this reason, the Steege’s opted to record all of the audio separately. As you might expect, it was a challenge to balance working too much on the film (which would burn everyone out) and taking breaks that were too long (which would result in loss of focus and memory).
What are some of the major deficiencies in the Christian film industry today? How did you seek to avoid those with The Runner from Ravenshead?
There’s still a pervasive feeling of poor quality because most Christian films have a small operating budget. Without the funding, you’re not going to have as many professionals working on the project. In The Runner from Ravenshead, the Steege’s wanted the name of Jesus to be prevalent, but not over-the-top. Although Joel asserted that there is a place for all types of Christian films, they aim to make theirs engaging and meaningful without resorting to a preachy feel. People go to watch a movie for fun, not to hear a sermon. As a filmmaker, though, you want them to leave not only entertained, but also with a sense of hope and the idea of something bigger.
For some time now, I’ve felt like one of the hindrances to quality acting in independent Christian films is that acting is still not perceived by many Christians to be a legitimate career choice. While great strides have been made in many of the technical aspects of filmmaking, I’ve observed very little emphasis on acting. When I posited this to the Steege’s, Joel readily agreed. In fact, he said that at a recent film festival, one of the producers who spoke said that if he had a $50,000 budget, he would spend $40,000 of it to get one good actor!
What was the hardest part about the production?
Undoubtedly trying to do the project while simultaneously having to learn so much of the “nuts and bolts” of the field itself. Particularly with some of the technical aspects of filmmaking, there is a steep learning curve, making it hard to move forward until you’ve developed a better working knowledge. Harrison is one of the ones responsible for rendering and said that he felt like editing and piecing everything together was the most challenging part of the production.
What are some of the key things that you learned along the way?
Amelia expressed that she had learned a great deal about acting. Lisa added that all the kids learned a lot about how to be relaxed in front of the camera. There’s a lot of tension on the “hot seat” and it’s amazing how every one of the other kids can be reciting the lines effortlessly while the one in front of the camera flounders. Apparently this same phenomenon plagues even the most experienced actors and actresses! Clint Eastwood avoids using the term “action” altogether when the cameras start rolling because of the negative reaction it generates from those on set.
Brendan pointed out that he especially enjoyed learning how to do the mic. And Lisa said that endurance was a major emphasis, too, as they sometimes spent long hours working and re-working scenes to get them just right. Obviously there are frustrations and irritations along the way, but by-and-large working on this film project has been a wonderful adventure for the whole family. Addison concludes with, “We’ve got a long ways to learn!”
What advice do you have for other aspiring filmmakers?
Without hesitating, Joel exclaimed, “Go make a movie!” There’s nothing that beats hands-on learning. If you have the opportunity to work with a mentor, that would be great. A lot of learning the craft, though, involves trial and error. You have to know when to use the “tried-and-true” formulas and when to break them.
You also have to realize going into the project that it’s big. Good quality productions are hard without good quality people. Don’t expect to produce your best movie first. It takes time. After all, you’re trying to learn and replicate the quality that you see in films where people have devoted their entire lives to honing their skill in a particular area. So keep a learner’s attitude and be patient.
The Steege’s dream is to continue doing this long-term as a family. And if their productions keep getting better from here on out, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
Little Crew Studios has graciously offered to give away a DVD of their new release, The Runner from Ravenshead! You can read my review here: http://www.pajamaschool.com/2010/06/21/review-of-the-runner-from-ravenshead/.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. To improve your chances of winning (and to help spread the word about this new film!), you can earn one additional entry for each of the following:
1. Tweet this: Win a DVD of The Runner from Ravenshead! – http://bit.ly/9e5AHm
2. Share about the giveaway on your Facebook status.
3. Put up a blog post linking to this giveaway post.
4. Come up with some other creative way of spreading the word and share what you did in a comment! 🙂
Just leave a separate comment for each entry. The winner will be selected using a random number generator on Thursday, July 1, at noon. Enter away – I think you all will love this movie!