Eight months ago the decision was made to open a book manuscript that I had started last year and use it as a foundation to begin a new screenplay. The story was a simple one. Take a teenage boy raised with nothing but the mountains and his faith and drop him in the middle of our high tech, fast paced, modern world. What would we look like through his eyes?
The script was written and rewritten. Joseph Stam was brought in to add to it with his unique perspective as a contemporary writer and his spot-on sense of comedy. It was hammered and molded until we felt we had something fresh and new. With no sense at all as to what waited ahead of us in 2020.
“Cross Purposes” Our short film from last year was taking off, and the family drama series, I had just completed looked like it would need more time to develop the funding needed to launch it. So everything was pointing to “Found.” being the right way to go for our newly formed production company.
Then COVID hit.
There were so many questions. Would this even be possible? We went ahead with online casting. A process I did not enjoy as I found it very difficult to get a true sense of what the actors could do without being there in the room with them. Such tremendous talent was auditioning, and I had to trust that I was making the right decisions with less information than I usually had. It was beginning to look like COVID was slowing down and we would soon be back on track.
Once we had a cast in place, we had to start finding locations that would work for our 22 different sites that the movie required. And although local Abingdon merchants were willing to open their doors to us outside of normal business hours, there were many places that would normally be no problem to access, but were suddenly locked down due to the pandemic. And with cases on the rise, it was beginning to look like another shut-down would stop production altogether.
Then a large portion of funding suddenly dried up and we were in big trouble. Within 36 hours, God had replaced the missing money through a very generous donor without my even needing to ask and we were back on track. And that’s the way it went crisis after crisis. Every time I would lower my expectations and ask for something small, God would provide something bigger than I ever expected.
That’s when I knew this was his project and not mine. I’m a fairly resourceful guy and can handle a good deal, but this project was so far out of my control that I couldn’t even pretend to have everything in order. Too many stepping stones were falling out from under our feet. My limits had been reached, but his kept growing. And somehow, in the middle of a global crisis, this film was made. And it is beautiful.
There is still a lot of work to do in post production and many decisions yet to be made, but I’m truly in awe of what God has done through the hands of a ragtag bunch of artists fighting off a raging pandemic to create this story. It reflects each one of us and the heart we have for storytelling. And like Shadrach, Meshach and Obednego, the flames didn’t touch us as we worked long hours everyday for weeks.
This photo that Danielle Bullen took means a lot to me. In this business spotlights shine on individuals and highlight them, but that doesn’t ring true in this case. The light isn’t on me. It is behind me guiding the way through a very dark tunnel. And that’s how making this film felt. So, for “Found.” that’s a wrap! It’s exciting to see where the road leads from here.