Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reflections on the Christian Worldview Film Festival and Guild

I was so blessed by the Christian Worldview Film Festival and Guild this year!!!

You can click through to my notes on Facebook for lectures by Phillip Telfer, Brett VarvelChad BurnsBobby Downes, Stephen Kendrick (Making God's DecisionsGuild closebrunch), Rich Christiano, and a directors panel with Rich Christiano, Brett Varvel, Ken Carpenter, Stephen Kendrick, George Escobar and Chad Burns. You can hear some of these sessions and many of the breakout sessions here.

I got to work with a number of talented students through four workshops, including one at Living Water Fellowship for their drama team before the Guild began, and I got to co-teach a workshop with Mimi Sagadin (Return to the Hiding Place, Princess Cut).

With Stacey Bradshaw who
was the costume designer.
They let me keep the pants.
The Screenwriters, in which I play Forrest "Woodsy" Woods, took runner up for Audience Choice and Best Score, but the real encouragement was that Mike Hill and his family won several awards. They've cast me as the lead in a short film they're doing in Southern Oregon in June: A Matter of Perspective. I asked Mike's son, Ethan, which awards they won and he wrote, "...by God's grace we won the Sanctity of Life award, The Fatherhood award and runner up for young filmmaker and finalist in best animation. (Joni and Friends promo - which you were in also placed as finalist:)" I'm even more excited about working with them this summer!

I got to speak with the creative team after Rather to Be Chosen twice, and lamentably I missed The Messenger's Box, in which I play Jesus. I got to see one of the Joni and Friends videos, but not the other. Just too much going on!

This is the second year in a row I got to perform in a live project during the Guild. This time it was for a TV pilot (TBA) with friends Anita Cordell (Providence) and John Hotea in his film debut. He asked us later how he could have improved and I told him about my first film and how I was expecting more feedback. I asked the director if I could do anything better, and he said, "I would have told you if I thought of something."

During past Festivals I've performed short pieces (Jonah in 2013 and Gideon last year), but this year I got to do almost all of Beyond the Chariots. Afterward a young man came up to me and told me that when I performed that play at his church two years ago he rededicated his life to the Lord after the play. He said this year it confirmed his commitment to live for the Lord.

I've tagged these wonderful people
here.
Another highlight for me was when Nathan Jacobson (who's been in four films with me) and I planned dinner, and I ran into Rachel Marley (former student and teammate on our performing arts team in Sochi during the Olympics). I asked Nathan if he was OK with her joining us. Before we knew it we'd blossomed into this group of former students and castmates! After introductions I had the professionals share a tip with my former students.

It's impossible to capture all that happened throughout the week for myself, and then multiply that by the hundreds of lives that were affected, and it's mind-boggling. The spiritual impact the Guild and Festival had on me personally was immense. I made some significant life choices after hearing Stephen Kendrick speak, and the week gave me much hope that future films will point more clearly to Jesus Christ as the Way the Truth and the Life. Someone suggested we set up a red carpet, and one of the organizers, Rhett Simpkins, said, "We're not about the red carpet but the Narrow Way."

What follows are the observations of Vickie Lynn Smith. She was one of my students, and through leads I sent has been involved in professional productions, including Rather to Be Chosen, The Messenger's Box and Lifestone Velocity...

I coached Jonathan DeRoos
on his role for Lifestone Velocity
while at the
Rocky Mountain Christian
Filmmakers Camp
for a scene in which
Vickie (left) played Alice Jones.
Rebekah Stought stood in
for her character for
rehearsal there.
Day one, Monday, was good. Mostly because of my excitement to be there and see friends old and new. Not bad, right?... That in-between feeling was enough for me to beg God that night to turn that around the next day. Every day I kept asking God to make the next day better and boy did he deliver!

He first showed up by convicting me left and right. Real fun stuff.
-Brett Varvel spoke powerfully about the impact of our lives and testimonies. Then he blurts it out. "Will God say 'Well done my good and faithful servant!'... or will God say '...come on in' " Ouch. I've been saved for over 15 years and have a nice pile of ashes to show for it. Point taken.
-Stephen Kendrick talks about Alex and him being a team. Never tearing down but always building each other up. I feel that principle is usually emphasized within marriage- not brotherhood. I've failed in possibly every single relationship to build up instead of tearing down. As a friend, girlfriend, daughter, and sister. ugh.
-In another main session, Stephen's gaze lands on me and says "The Holy Spirit can pump joy and life and peace into you." I guess that's what it means to hear God and not the speaker. Wowzers. I nodded and promptly wrote that line down!

Now for some light. Saturday! One of the best days of my life. I wind up casually walking up to Travis Palmer and ask him what his story is. Well, he spent the next four or so hours pouring into me- his story, testimony, lessons learned, and God's faithfulness. It hits me about 30 minutes in that I am speaking to one of the coolest, most God-used people. He asks me then about me, where I'm from, etc. I tell him I'm from Detroit and we talked about its dire need for salt and light. To sum it up, God used Travis to assure me I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be (geographically that is). I felt positively ordained, hearing that I'm supposed to be loving on and influencing the Detroit film community. I felt so filled with joy. He prayed. I cried. It was great.
Little did I know that wasn't all. I wind up sitting next to Greg Tull at dinner. He asks me what my passion is. I tell him what I do and why I like it. He's no dummy. He repeats the question. I said to myself, this is maybe the 100th time I've had this conversation... maybe it's time I'm honest. I tell him while I enjoy being on set- crew or cast- the real fire is music. That ultimate dream is my music being in movies. Scoring films. He spent the next 15 minutes ministering to me and encouraging me and making it crystal clear that I have no business burying that God-given passion!

He prayed. I cried. It was great.

Oh yeah, that morning I had the honor of recording a little guitar diddle with Tim Casey for a short that was filmed at the festival. God is good. He knew all along:)

Before the award ceremony we worship "..let it be a sweet sweet sound in your ear!"
Yup. That's my prayer. It is now!

I've felt like I'm going to burst since Saturday. While reading texts and posts that are underlined with sadness about the week being over, all I can think is it's okay. This week was amazing, but only because of God! And God is with me always- not just when I'm with hundreds of other Christians! I'm ready to make this year count. I'm ready for the old Vickie to die and the new Vickie to raise triumphantly with Christ. I'm ready to toss the junk to the side and focus on my wonderful heavenly Father. I'm ready to make my abba proud! I can't thank you all enough for doing what you do and allowing God to use you. I'm forever grateful.

with love,
the new Vickie :)


I play a lead in Providence, which could be heading to a city near you. Sign up at www.RichDrama.com/Updates to get the announcement.

Registration is now open for the 2016 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

1 comment:

Rich Swingle said...

Here's a report from Hannah Kenney, a graduate of the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp, who went on to help start the Midwest Filmmakers Academy: What I Learned at the 2016 CWVFF.