Monday, March 28, 2016

Introduction to Beyond the Chariots at The Christian Worldview Film Festival

I was thrilled to present the awards for Best Animated film at The Christian Worldview Film Festival, with another animated friend, John Fornof, who introduced my performance of Beyond the Chariots the night before:

John directed me in The Dragon and the Raven and taught with me at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

You can see photos of my performance of Beyond the Chariots by clicking here.

Photo by Evergreen Media Productions 
Video by Stacey Bradshaw.

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.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter in Emmaus

Rich and Joyce Swingle on the
Sea of Galilee in 2011.
Joyce wrote the drama, "Easter in Emmaus," which we performed together this morning at Westchester Chapel.  Dr. Linda Warren opened the service and led in prayer and worship. Testimonies are by Jerry and Jan C, Eva P., Linda Warren, and Tom M.



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

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.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fiddler on the Roof

I LOVED the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof

The only way it was "modernized" (usually done by adding expletives, etc.) was a brilliant envelope: They had action at the beginning and end which compels us to consider sharing the burden of those under oppression. For the Jewish people of Anatevka, where the musical takes place, it is the pogrom that sends them away. For Christians in ISIS occupied territories today it is the nun.

Fiddler was first produced on Broadway in 1964, and the first person cast in the production was Austin Pendleton, who I interviewed in grad school. It held the record for the longest running Broadway show by the time the first production closed ten years later. This is the sixth Broadway production, and it's been performed all over the world, with an astonishing 1,300 performances in Japan. I know I sang "Sunrise, Sunset" in elementary school, though I can't recall the context. 

I think it's a perennial favorite for the same reason Downton Abbey was so popular that it's been shown in every television market on earth. Both portray the tension between tradition and modernity. Proponents for keeping tradition are overjoyed because it shows the need for traditions. As Tevye says, "Remove tradition and we're as shaky as a fiddler on a roof!" Those that want to see traditions changed for a better world love it because they see how progressive ideas take hold.

Fiddler even has a solution for how to determine which traditions to keep and which to leave behind. At Tzeitle and Motel's wedding Perchik asks if any of the young women would like to dance with him. This is unheard of in their culture and his request is called sin. Perchik asks the rabbi if it is sin. Is it forbidden in the Good Book? The rabbi can't think of anything that forbids dancing, and so they dance. Had the rabbi been given a moment to think and pray it might have come to him that throughout The Song of Solomon the phrase recurs: "Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready." (The Message) Not that I'm condemning all dancing. There was a saying among Christians when I was growing up: No premarital sex because it could lead to dancing. My point is that young people should be encouraged to keep their heads clear so they can hear the Lord's call to marriage and not rush where their hormones are leading the way. 

After my performance of Beyond the Chariots in St. Louis I answered questions, and one was from a mother with a couple of teenaged daughters wanting to go into the arts professionally. She asked what is one thing I would recommend for them. I recommended getting plugged into a Christ-centered, Bible believing congregation. Without a foundation whatever faith structure has been built in their lives will be in grave danger of falling. I added another: Read the Bible cover to cover every year. Without a solid foundation in the Good Book everything will sound good enough. 

I was a sociology/social work major at George Fox University, and my mentor, Mike Allen, taught a concept that has been a guiding light for me along the way: Cultural relativity is fine, so long as it lines up with biblical absolutes. 

One of my favorite moments in the production was when they celebrated Sabbath. As they lit their candles the walls of their home flew up revealing all the other families of Anatevka and all over the world lighting their candles and welcoming the Lord's presence into their day of rest. It highlighted the power of community in using traditions to keep us close to the Lord.

Christians should know:
*Some honest conversations with God, like "With Your help, we're starving to death!"
*A couple of sexual innuendos
*Some smooching to celebrate an engagement
*Hope expressed that the Messiah will come at some point in the future



I play a lead in Providence, a modern silent film which you can now bring to your community.

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

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.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Art and Science of Online Auditions

Next week I'll be teaching at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild, and what follows is my notes for my class on Monday: 

The Art and Science of Online Auditions
by Rich Swingle

[Find this sheet online with live links and things Rich thought of after this went to print at www.RichDrama.com/OnlineAuditions.] 

There are no ready formulas for acting; it is an art, not a science. The actors' talent and creativity and how and when it blossoms and flourishes is ultimately mysterious. Acting, however, is a craft as well as an art. The actor can acquire tools and practice techniques that can strengthen or deepen their instincts, imagination and creativity; technique serves the imagination.
—Richard Feldman

The breakdown and sides for A Matter of Perspective can be found at www.RichDrama.com/AMatterOfPerspective. If we don’t have time to coach you on an audition today, please check www.AMatterOfPerspective.us after the Festival for instructions on… well, online auditions. 

Finding Auditions
www.Facebook.com (Like the film and casting groups Rebekah Cook and I Like) I have a link to my groups at www.RichDrama.com/Tips.
Only a handful of my 20+ roles didn’t come through one of those two sources.
If you have other sources please post them at the bottom of www.RichDrama.com/OnlineAuditions.

Headshots and Résumés
I have a link to an article that will help you make sure these are right at www.RichDrama.com/Tips

Getting Coached
Consider getting coached for your auditions. Patricia Mauceri, Michael Joiner and Rebekah Cook all offer Skype coaching. I have links to their websites at www.RichDrama.com/Tips.

Cameras
There are a wide variety of cameras, so I won’t list any. You can film with a camera phone if it has a good resolution and you have good light. Laptops also make great cameras. You should use the best camera you can use.

Mic
There are a great variety of pro microphones, but I’m only going to list the one I use: The Zoom H1. It’s $100 and does a great job. You don’t have to have a pro mic, but it will definitely give you better sound.

Memorization Helps
In an ideal situation you’ll have your lines memorized, but you should always bring your script to a live audition. For a taped audition you don’t want to look down, so you have options: PowerPoint or Keynote with a clicker (I use Kensington). Don’t forget to edit out those pesky clicks. A teleprompter, but off to the side of the camera. An ear prompter. Jeff Rose (see him this week in The Screenwriters and The List) uses this a lot. He uses "Instant Memory Systems."

Upload Options
The casting director’s preference if stated! 
www.Vimeo.com (best because they have password protection)
www.YouTube.com (be sure to make it unlisted unless they specifically ask for it to be public)
If you know of other upload sources that can be password protected or unlisted please post them at the bottom of www.RichDrama.com/OnlineAuditions

Even if it's a Christian project you'll still want to do your due diligence and seek the Lord's peace because there may be elements in the film you don't feel comfortable supporting.

In My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers says, "Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first." It may sound impossible to make a career in acting when there are so many projects out there that are propaganda for worldly wisdom. But I've been able to make a 20-year career in acting and applying acting concepts to the business world, and I've done my best to honor the Lord with all of my choices. I do a one-man play on John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before the Emancipation Proclamation. He was speaking to Quakers who owned slaves, but I think his words are just as true for Christians striving to honor the Lord with their skills: "The case is difficult to some who have slaves, but if such set aside all self-interest, and come to be weaned from the desire of getting estates, or even from holding them together, when truth requires the contrary, I believe way will so open that they will know how to steer through those difficulties." I've found the Lord faithful to provide for two decades, despite the narrow path I've chosen. 

Our faculty for the class:

Rebekah Cook (www.ActressRebekah.com) has served in the casting department for several films and was casting director for Polycarp and two which will be screened at the Festival: The Screenwriters and The Refuge. You can hear her in voice roles for The Screenwriters and Badge of Faith at the Festival. 

Mike Hill (www.LightSym.com) has been involved with video and film for the past 30 years specializing also in leadership and visionary planning.

Rich Swingle (www.RichDrama.com) has been involved in the performing arts full-time since 1995. He’s performed and/or taught in over 20 films and in a dozen one-man plays in 39 states, five continents and 28 nations. He has taught in over 40 colleges and universities including an annual workshop at Princeton University.

Rich is teaching two more classes this week, and this week you can see him in The Screenwriters, Rather to Be Chosen and The Messenger’s Box and in two shorts on Joni & Friends by Mike Hill and the production team for A Matter of Perspective. You can see when and where they’ll play in your Festival program and at www.RichDrama.com/Schedule 

Sign up at www.RichDrama.com/Updates to get the announcement and follow the Swingles’ worldwide travels. 

Rich leads the acting component of the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp (www.ChristianFilmmakersCamp.com). When this went to print there was at least one spot still open for this summer’s acting camp. We have filmmaking and audio camps as well.

Rich is a board member for Christians in Theatre Arts (www.CITA.org), another great way you can connect with Christian performing artists.


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.

Casting Breakdown for A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

I was cast as the lead in A Matter of Perspective, a short film which will be shot in Southern Oregon, where I was raised.

I'll be teaching next week at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild, and on Monday my class will be "The Art and Science of Online Auditions." Since 2010 I've performed in over 20 film projects, and I only did a live audition for one of those. I want to share some of the things I've learned over the years about recording auditions at home.

For our material, we'll be using sides from A Matter of Perspective, and the director, Mike Hill, will be a part of the process. 

Also, Rebekah Cook will be on hand. She's served in the casting department for several films and was casting director for Polycarp and The Screenwriters (which will premiere at the Festival). 

So my class about how to upload an audition will actually be a live audition for those we have time to see. The rest of you will go home well equipped to audition for this project and any others that come down the pike. 

If you'll be at the Guild, please consider auditioning. Instructions follow. If you can't get to San Antonio by Monday, watch www.AMatterOfPerspective.us for instructions on how to upload an audition after the Festival.

Friday, March 11, 2016, 3:00 PM Eastern
A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE (5 roles)
Non-Union Short Film
Producer: Mike Hill
Director: Mike Hill
Writers: Jeff Gerke
Casting Director (for the workshop): Rich Swingle with Rebekah Cook
Interviews: During Rich Swingle’s class at the Christian Worldview Film Festival, Monday, March 14, Workshop #2 (2:45-4pm), "The Art and Science of Online Auditions," Red Oak Ballroom A. Online auditions to follow.
Shoot/Start Date: June 20-24
Pay Rate: $100/Day, filming in beautiful Southern Oregon.
Location: Southern Oregon. Housing, meals and local travel provided but not transportation to Medford, OR.

SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY
ONLY IF YOU WILL BE IN RICH SWINGLE’S CLASS AT THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW FILM FESTIVAL send Headshot, Résumé and link to your Reel (if available) to Casting@RichDrama.com

Watch www.AMatterOfPerspective.us for future casting calls and instructions.

Click the NAME of the role to download sides. Please print them and bring them to the class. A limited number of sides will be on hand.

[ GARRETH ADAMSON ]
(CAST: Rich Swingle) A middle-aged Christian gift company administrator who has drifted from the vibrant, contagious faith that he once had, and somehow has become dissatisfied.  Even while living and working in a breathtaking rural community in Southern Oregon, he continued to grow bitter until one day, during a pivotal moment, he is shamed into the realization that he is missing all of the joy and contentment that God has for him.  After a second chance, he is awakened to the immense treasure he possesses and the beauty of his beloved hometown. LEAD


(MODIFIED LOCAL HIRE) MALE or FEMALE, 25-45 years old, ANY ETHNICITY. A tall, model-type from California. Garreth’s manager. It appears that he wants Garreth to work out of another office and needs his vice president, Ted (or Teri) to make it happen. It’s later revealed he stopped Ted from firing Garreth. LEAD


(MODIFIED LOCAL HIRE) MALE or FEMALE, 45-65 years old, ANY ETHNICITY.  Garreth’s Vice President. Needs to move Garreth to another facility, but wants to be kind in the process. SUPPORTING


[ ECHOLS ]
(MODIFIED LOCAL HIRE) MALE or FEMALE, 45-65 years old, ANY ETHNICITY. Vice President of Sales for Cascade Christian Gifts. Loves the Lord and all and everyone He’s created. Discerns that all is not as it appears in Garreth’s life, but wants to model life in the Spirit. ONE SCENE


[ TERRI ]
(MODIFIED LOCAL HIRE) FEMALE, 25-45 years old, ANY ETHNICITY.  Ted’s executive assistant. Needs to deliver some devastating news and is rattled by it. She and Garreth are playing with an attraction to each other. ONE SCENE


SYNOPSIS:  A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE is a story about a middle-aged Christian gift company administrator who has drifted from the vibrant, contagious faith that he once had, and somehow has become dissatisfied.  Even while living and working in a breathtaking rural community in Southern Oregon, he continued to grow bitter until one day, during a pivotal moment, he is shamed into the realization that he is missing all of the joy and contentment that God has for him.  After a second chance, he is awakened to the immense treasure he possesses and the beauty of his beloved hometown.

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.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Blood

I've been interviewed twice on The Dove, which broadcasts from Southern Oregon, where I grew up. Here I've posted an interview I did after our trip to Puerto Rico, Romania and London during the 2012 Olympics. After that I posted a music video by a young woman we worked with at the Arts Camp in Romania. In the interview I mention how I told her Dracula took people's blood so that he could live forever, whereas Jesus Christ gave his blood so that we could live forever. She went on to attend a Christian college, where she created the video.



Here's the music video by the young woman I mentioned in the interview. She's the one singing:



Here are the English lyrics:

I would like to go back Home, but I'm afraid I will be outside forever
I haven't another home just the world's prison of darkness
By day they fool you and midnight they rock you with new hope
I'm thirsty for real but they give me lies.

The silence is not mute. It's just I was so deaf.
You spoke to me, but I lost your voice.
I was waiting for my body, but it was sleeping forever
Until my soul wakes up with You.
Where may I go? Where may I run?
In this world I have no place.
Where may I go? Where may I run?
Your arms are waiting for me,
And it's enough for me…

I wish the pain froze in the past that which is in their heart.
The love which has changed for power and money can't help.
All people wanna shine but without dark it is impossible.
If their shine makes them blind they will not laugh anymore.

The silence is not mute. It's just I was so deaf.
You spoke to me, but I lost your voice
I was waiting for my body, but it was sleeping forever
Until my soul wakes up with You.
Where may I go? Where may I run?
In this world I have no place.
Where may I go? Where may I run?
Your arms are waiting for me,
And it's enough for me… x3

You can see my more recent interview on The Dove here.

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.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Fellowship Broken

Our Bible study at Westchester Chapel has been going through a fascinating exploration of how the design elements in the Tabernacle, which was given directly from the Lord, speak to us as Christians today. We typically don't record these lessons, but Eva P., the woman who taught the lesson this morning, gave me permission to summarize her lesson and record a monologue she felt like the Lord gave her. It's the Lord speaking to his people as they enter the courts of the Tabernacle. After Pastor Jim Warren opens the service with prayer I interview Tom M. about how he prayed for Sharon Mathai (known simply as Mathai) to encounter the Lord. You can see her whole testimony below.

Then Rachel Taylor teaches on Genesis 2:15-17 and chapter 3Dr. Linda Warren prays over the sermon and shares the announcements.

You can see Genesis 3 dramatized in our production of Paradise Lost below Mathai's testimony...



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Here's the full testimony of Sharon Mathai:


Below you can see Rich Swingle perform John Milton's adaptation of Genesis 3 with Terry Ewell and Doris DeLoach in Terry's production of Paradise Lost.



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

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.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Christian Trailers Interview

Here's a three-part interview I did with Christian Trailers:



I play a lead in Providence, a modern silent film opening in theatres coast to coast starting February 12.

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