Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 Christian Filmmakers Guild & Festival||Recap

Here it finally is. My recap on the 2014 Christian Filmmakers Guild & Festival.
There's so much to say. So much I learned, so many amazing people I met, so many awesome sessions, so many great films I got to see. Its hard to sum it all up in one little blog post. But since many of you have asked how it was, I'll just take a few minutes here to share some pictures and a few of my highlights.
The worship times were, hands down, the best thing. Such an incredible foundation for the week.
I was so blessed by the emphasis the Telfer family placed on worship and how that was the #1 important thing, glorifying God in all that we do. 

About 250 people attended the guild, which was the first three days of the week. 
The guild was basically workshops, classes, and main sessions for filmmakers, directors, actors, composers, scriptwriters...etc.
The main sessions were so amazing. I found myself continually challenged by the speakers and their dedication to excellence while honoring Christ. 
Above, George Escobar gives one of the main session talks.  
(George Escobar is the owner of Advent Film Group. His first film was "Come What May" and one of his recent projects that is coming to theaters in June 2014 is "Alone Yet Not Alone")
A few notes from his talk:
*There are two kinds of films
1) those worshipping the creation
2) those worshipping the Creator
(VERY convicting to think about this)
*we need to enter the land God has given us, and bring back the fruit of the land, like the story of the twelve spies...applied to making movies

Probably one of my favorite sessions that I heard all week was the main session talk given by Rich Christiano, who did the film "Time Changer". 
His session was so SO convicting.  
One of the first things he said was this,
"As a filmmaker, you have to decide if you're going to be like Abraham..or if you're going to be like Lot. If you're going to choose the land God has for you...or if you're going to pitch your tent towards Sodom." (Hollywood)
*God is looking for faithfulness in motives.
*Our films that we make, direct, and act in...should ALWAYS please the Lord.
*Die to the "Hollywood Dream" and go ALL OUT for God
*People add Jesus to their lives, and movies, instead of turning their lives and movies over to Jesus
*If God is not pleased, you won't be reaching anybody. So many people lower their standards to try to "reach the world". You don't reach the world by lowering your standards. You need to reach the world by building the church. (witnessing, discipling) And yes, you need to preach to the choir. Because the choir isn't all saved. 

How I wish that everyone could hear his talk! There were moments when he was speaking that the whole room was deathly still. I know God was dealing with a lot of hearts, including mine. This guild was pretty diverse-there were those that were super conservative filmmakers, and then those whose goal is to make it big in Hollywood, and then those who were riding the fence. But this kind of session...was convicting for EVERYBODY. 
Hands down, the funniest speaker was John Fornof. 
For those of you who don't recognize his name, he is the genius and writer behind certain well-known radio theater dramas like Adventures in Odyssey, The Lamplighter Dramas, and the most recent and in the works radio theater project,  G.A. Henty Audio Adventures. 
{ah! so pumped about those coming out!}

I went to his scriptwriting talk not so much because I think scriptwriting is my "thing" (although I do want to learn more about it) but more because the title intrigued me and I thought "I could use this is ALL areas of writing"! 
The title was "How To Turn Writers Block Into A Blockbuster". 
Here are a few of my notes from his session:
*we need to write from our heart, not from our head
and since "writers block" is all in the head...well then! write from the heart!
*if you focus on fear that your writing won't be good enough, you will be paralyzed by that fear. choose to focus on the joy of what you're writing, what you want to communicate. 
*set aside specific writing times to "meet with God" and let Him speak/write through you.
*the story you're writing...needs to spring from your "God story". In other words, use experiences God has take you through and weave those into your writing.

In his main session talk, he said this about writing well and writing God's way:
"You'll go from a writer who a writer who a writer who inspires." =)
*take the camera of your mind, zoom out, and focus on God
*instead of following your heart and your dream...follow God's heart and God's dream for you. Because its not about you. Its all about Him. 
So. Do you know God's dream for you?
Rebekah Cook (actress & casting director) taught one of the acting classes. I learned a lot from her and in the course of our conversation at lunch afterwards we even made a few Kalona connections!
{small world it is}

During the guild, there were multiple tracks to choose from, such as acting, videography, editing, scriptwriting, networking, advertising, worldview, social media tools, etc etc. 
I attended all acting classes except for one session when I went to the scriptwriting class.

The speakers at the acting track were great. They all had different ways of teaching, but the sessions all flowed together really well and I learned so much at each one.

One of the speakers even showed us his acting skills by giving his entire 1 1/2 hr long talk in a flawless British accent, which was quite impressive and very unique, for sure. =)
Phillip Telfer (founder of the guild/festival) had several very convicting sessions.
Here are a few of my notes from his talks:
*even with all the media and modern resources that we have, we are not nearly as effective as the early Christians who had none of this technology. This is because we have strayed from the vision, the purpose.
*we say we want "the call" from God, but as long as we're not fasting and praying, we won't get the call
(in filmmaking circles, "the call" can mean anything from getting the call that your acting audition was accepted, or that someone wants you to shoot their film, or cast their film, or direct their film, etc)
*No matter where you "cut" the Bible, it always bleeds Jesus
(in the same way, films we make and what we do, needs to always be honoring and glorifying Christ)
One of my favorite statements made was this: 
"Its not about the culture. Its about the KINGDOM."
So true. The emphasis of the week was not on changing and reforming culture, but rather on building the Kingdom of God. Winning the lost for Christ. Challenging, encouraging, and stirring up the body of Christ. 
That is our purpose and our mission. 
Several attendees did impromptu, practice auditions and the different actor speakers critiqued them and gave advice. I learned a lot at this session-it was super helpful to see the whole thing from a directors perspective and get an inside peek at what they look for in their actors.
This little guy was probably the cutest kid at the fest. He was so into it-cracked me up. =)
This family (friends of ours) took the stage one night and did a fabulous job as usual with all their instruments, vocals, and family interaction.
Getting to meet and learn from Christian actor Rich Swingle was very inspiring. This picture is from the night he did his "one man act" and acted out the story of Jonah. Its hard to describe but suffice to say it was really, REALLY good!! He and his wife were so sweet and down-to-earth and encouraging. 
(and they acted husband/wife in the movie Indescribable, which is a movie I bought at the festival and brought home for my family. All of them loved it and my mom promptly said it was the best movie she had ever seen. Coming from someone who doesn't generally like most movies...thats a pretty big compliment!)
Some other friends sang the last night. They did a couple seven-voice accapella songs that were beautiful!
About 700 people attended the festival. 
My favorite thing about the whole festival was just the emphasis on honoring and glorifying God. It was so central; everything was based on that one desire. 
And it showed. It was so evident.  

I loved it. It was all so wonderful. I learned so much! The speaker lineup was so good---in fact there was only one speaker that I didn't like. (not one that I talked about in this post!) 

I did get to see a lot of fabulous new movies at the festival. It was especially cool to see friends unexpectedly appear in several of the films as I was watching them. =) Nothing like being all into the movie and suddenly sitting straight up thinking "I KNOW THAT PERSON!" =)
Due to time, I'm not, in this post, going to give any reviews of films I saw there, but I am hoping to do some reviews in the future, after the films are out officially in dvd and available for purchase. 

(For more pictures, highlights, and award winners, visit Christian Worldview Film Festival.)

I'm so thankful to my family for making it possible for me to go. I'm thankful to the Telfer family who, in spite of everything they had going on in running the conference,  adopted me as their daughter for the week and let me stay with them.  I'm thankful to Jesus, who has given me my love of acting and has blessed me with opportunities like this to develop and grow that love!

so theres my recap. (and trust me, I omitted quite a bit due to lack of time!)

have a blessed weekend wherever you are, friends!
I'm spending mine on my favorite Iowa home farm. =)


  1. It sounds fantabulous! I was just wondering, have you seen "What may come"? Is is appropriate for my siblings 10 and under?
    Have an awesome day Chels =D

    1. Yes, I have it, and it is very good! Nothing inappropriate, but our little ones didn't watch it because it has a more mature subject theme (abortion, unwed mother/pregnancy discussion, etc) It is nothing bad, just a little "over their heads" for younger ones. So I would probably recommend it not as much for younger ones, unless you want lots of questions about those subjects that they don't really know about yet. =)

    2. Ok, Thanks =D

  2. loved reading this!! super inspiring. I am SO thrilled you got to attend--right up your alley, chels. :) can't wait to hear more IN PERSON. #bringitON

  3. Thanks so much for sharing, Chels! The opportunity sounds amazing and I'm so glad that you were able to go :) Miss you!

  4. Sounds like an incredible opportunity! Just curious...did they have anything to say about some of the new Hollywood takes like "Noah" and "Son of God?" Oh Adventures in Odyssey - so many great childhood memories with my brothers around the radio :)

    1. I didn't really hear any talk about those movies there...I think it was the week after that that the previews and reviews on "Noah" started to hit. I've read quite a few reviews on the movies but obviously can't give a good opinion until I've seen them myself. Specifically I've researched "Noah" and so far I'm not impressed, even though I've read reviews from both sides, pro and con.
      Its such an awesome opportunity to tell the true Biblical account the way it really was. But considering that Hollywood produced it, I'm definitely not getting my hopes up that its accurate at all.

  5. are you thinking about acting in a movie?

  6. Amazing! Thanks so much for posting, Chelsy! Sounds like a really great time. Filmmaking has always intrigued me; it's such a great opportunity for us Christians to tap into.

  7. Since I wasn't able to be there most of the week, this was an awesome recap to read! So glad you could come; it was great to see you again! I'm so excited to see what God is going to do in and through the CWVFF. As Mr. Telfer has said the whole area of media is such a powerful sword that needs to be wielded very carefully, and I believe God has put exactly the right person in place to keep the vision and focus where it needs to be - on Jesus Christ. Nothing in this life is worth doing if it is not for His glory.

  8. I would have loved to be there! :)

  9. Thanks for including Indescribable in your review of the week of the festival. This confirms that our target audience likes our movie! Blessings!


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