1/21/15

Peter Wigand, "Blood" and the "M" Word



Director Peter Wigand

Sexual sin is often NOT talked about.  There are some that believe that if sin doesn't affect anyone else, then it's not really sin.  Or maybe it doesn't count as much.

Jesus himself had much to say about the subject, as does the Bible.

Director Peter Wigand's film was made for the 168 Film Project in 2013.  "Blood" is a daring film that takes on the "M" word (masturbation) with so much subtlety that you might not even know it is going on.  Yet it gets to a discussion about lust that we all need to have.  

To see the 10-minute film, click here.  Note: There is zero sex in the film, but there are very mature themes.  So, Mature Audiences Only, please.

The Bible says nothing about M, but clearly condemns lustful thoughts.

Many adolescents and really all men of faith have to wonder if it is possible to do this without lust and therefore avoid shame and guilt feelings.

Some call it a pressure release with which we have been availed and a necessary way to avoid greater sins.  Why does it even work?  Why are human arms of a certain length?

Whatever the truth, here is an interesting verse that could speak of doing the difficult thing and "suffering" or striving to want holiness more than we do a release.  Therein lies the key, what do you allow into your mind and for how long do you allow it to distract you from your true purpose.

1 Peter 4:1-2 "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God." (NIV)

Here's a candid interview with Peter Wigand.  Enjoy!

168: What was the collaboration on the set of "Blood" like?
PW: It was great actually. It's the first time I got to direct a narrative film with a strong Christian message, and for some reason it was clear God wanted me to do this. So He really brought it all together. We had regular prayer on set and our meetings, and the difference that brings is enormous. Everyone was filled with a positive energy and wanted to do their best all the time.

Describe the collaboration of shots and ideas with your Director of Photography?
PW: "My DP, James Drake, is one of the most talented, yet humble people I know. He was great in collaborating with me and handled my “cinematographer moments” very well.

I think a strong collaboration with your DP is one of the most important things.  He and I went out to the location once we had a rough script and "shot out" the movie in little stills to be sure we are on the same page.

What were you trying to say with the film?

PW: It's easy to forget (or to not REALLY believe) how God's grace through Jesus' all sufficient sacrifice really does make us clean if we accept it. A lot of us still live as "bondservants" to sin or religious thinking, trying to somehow redeem ourselves through good deeds or sacrifices of some sort (in our film we took the literal approach obviously).

The foundational verse for "Blood" is Hebrews 9:22 "The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (of sins)." (NIV)

It's the old covenant versus the new covenant. Christ entered the heavenly tabernacle once and for all (as described in Hebrews 9). 

But, instead of dying to ourselves, or letting ourselves "dissolve" in God's grace and forgiveness and through that, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is really the only thing that can set us free from the power of sin, we still hold on to the idea that we can somehow be righteous and please God through something we do.

It’s to indulge in pleasure that seems less sinful than acting out the sinful fantasies. It's using other people in your mind for your own pleasure.  It's selfishness.

Yet, Jesus clearly points out the importance of thought life and attitude of the heart. (Mathew 5:28).
Also, the old and somewhat worn out phrase “what would Jesus do” can be applied here as well.

Hebrews 4:15 says "(Jesus) has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin." (NIV)

And by LIVING in his grace, not abusing it as a ticket to sin, we ought to live holy lives which starts in our hearts.  Romans 6:14 "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."

But why do we deceive ourselves into thinking it’s fine if we do it? We think it’s fine, cause we aren’t God’s son and we are still in our weak flesh that we have to battle. But that’s just half the truth.
The truth is we ARE children of God, through Jesus’ sacrifice, which involved His very own BLOOD. 

The symbolism of the lamb and it's sacrifice in your film is hard to take for some.  Describe your process in making the connection with "the sin that no one talks about."

PW: Its interesting that there is a sin that automatically brings more shame than other sins. Sexual sin does bring shame, but I feel like masturbation is probably even one of the most shameful sexual sins.

That's why we chose to have our character struggle with that very thing. It needed to be something that he was so ashamed of that he can't talk about it with anyone else, which is exactly why it has so much power over us.

James 5:16 says: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

Of course in the story he also commits straight up adultery (as in extramarital sex) and it's interesting how most people are more uncomfortable watching the scene where he disappears in the bathroom (alone), but are fine with the scene that implies him having had sex with the other woman.

Anyway, it shocks me how we are believe that we don't need to be as accountable to God when it comes to our thoughts and imagination, our hearts and minds.  

Matthew 5:27-28 says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

I used to think that it was OK to indulge in that kind of sin as long as it was all imaginary, but God worked on my heart a lot over the last couple years, and it's clear to me that only if we give our all to Jesus can we be free and live life to the full.

It's sad how ineffective our churches and Christians are in this country (or most of the western civilization) and I truly believe that being subdued to the power of sin (which happens by being fine with having "a little bit of evil" dwell in our hearts) is the reason for that (sadly, for we males, who are supposed to be the leaders) most of the time, its the sexual sins that keep us down.

Anything else you want to point out?

PW: Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  Hebrews 9:14 says:
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”

One thing we tried to portray in the film is the seriousness of the consequence of sin, which is death. Blood stands for life. The shedding of blood (death) is necessary for redemption.

The reality of sacrificing and shedding blood for our sin is STILL here. Just because Jesus did it once and for all over 2000 years ago, doesn’t mean He didn’t shed His blood for the very sins we are committing TODAY or may even still commit!

We take His sacrifice MUCH too light-heartedly when applying it to our lives.

People cringed and shifted in their seats when our film “Blood” suggested (through the power of sound design) the sacrifice of an “innocent, poor” sheep. Yet we don’t seem to be too upset to “make use” of Jesus’ blood over and over and over again.

This is not supposed to be a guilt trip, but rather to remind us of the reality of the sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and how it OUGHT to impact us much deeper than our superficial, selfish struggles in the flesh, such as masturbation.

And on top of Him giving His own life for us, he even gave us a helper, and promised us that there is ALWAYS a way out, 1 Cor. 10:13: " No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

What are you working on in the near future?

PW: Currently I am working on a short film called "Bound."  It's about a man who is bound to an electric wheel chair on which he escapes the nursing home to find his freedom. Although it's only a 7 pages long it will be quite the production and we're hoping to be ready to shoot in the summer.

I am also working on a feature about the life of someone I personally knew and recently passed away.
The story deals with addiction on a very deep level. My writer and I are currently sifting through his (many) life events trying to shape it into an engaging drama, but we still have a long way to go.




12/19/14

Writer Producer Brian Bird Takes on Congress - Faith and Family Values

Brian Bird is a successful writer/producer, longtime friend and 168 Board Member.  He will be featured at our Dec. 27th workshop in Columbus, OH: "Create! Actor-Writer-Producer Workshop" 
See Short description below. Register Here  

Here's a fascinating story on Brian's Hallmark Channel original series, "When Calls the Heart."  It shows the importance and power of social media for entertainment.


 Brian Bird, Writer/Producer

"When Calls the Heart" was seen on TV by Indiana Congressman Marlon Stutzman and his wife, Christy, and they fell in love with the show. They joined a Facebook fan group for the show called the Hearties, which sprang up organically during the first season of the show in 2014. 

The Facebook Group "The Hearties" were so passionate about the show that they helped #WhenCallstheHeart to trend nationally on Twitter (top 10 topics) during the final three episodes of Season 1.

On Facebook, the Hearties grew from nearly 4,000 at the end of the Season 1 airings to almost 21,000 members today.  All that happened without any marketing support or paid-ads, instead through word of mouth and "e-Fangelism."

A similar organic groundswell happened with the fans of Joshua and Rebekah Weigel's "The Butterfly Circus." These phenomenon are a testament to what happens when artists accomplish their primary job, to make excellent art.

In June, Brian was invited by Congressman Stutzman and his wife to join five other Congressmen and their spouses for a visit of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA.

Brian was asked to make a short presentation about "When Calls the Heart" and the need for more family-friendly programming on TV and in films.

Brian's visit with the group led to an invitation in November 2014 to attend a luncheon on Capitol Hill of the 75-member Republican Study Committee, along with private meetings with 10 other congressmen and their legislative staffs, to continue the discussion on family programming.

MIDWEST WORKSHOP:

"Create! Actor-Writer-Producer Workshop": with Brian Bird, Writer/Producer "When Calls the Heart," "Touched by an Angel." See more at the link below: https://www.168film.com/About/News-Press/ctl/ArticleView/mid/529/articleId/28/168-Winter-Schedule--Ohio-Workshop-for-Actors-Writers-Producers

At the workshop, Brian will speak (via Skype) on "Producing 'Faith' in Hollywood Today." He will answer questions, including How has the game changed? and How do I Make My Project Irresistible to Hollywood? For Actors, Brian will discuss being smart about your career and exploring the other side of the camera. Actors will learn to create memorable auditions.


Register Here: https://www.168film.com/Store/Product-Details/168-Create-Workshop-OH

11/26/14

Interview with Greg Gearlds-Write of Passage Winner

Congratulations to Greg Gearlds, our Write of Passage Winning Writer for 2014.  

That means he wrote the best 12-page screenplay in one week (168 hours, based on a foundational scripture) with an advisor called a Development Executive (DE).  Allen Wolf is the winning DE.  Both are interviewed below. 

Prizes include $1,000 cash, introductions to Hollywood Pros, including Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken," “When Calls The Heart”) and an InkTip Script Listing to provide exposure to their extensive network of producers, reps, manager, agents, and others.

Any WP script may be produced for the 168 Film Festival's Write of Passage Spotlight.  Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made. Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made.  


Greg Gearlds

From Greenfield, Indiana, Greg Gearlds is a writer/director. We asked him some probing questions and got probing answers.

JDW: What do you do for work?

GG:  Currently, I am Senior Manager of e-Commerce for a division of a global sporting goods company.

JDW: How did you learn about 168?

GG: I think I came across 168 in an internet search for Christian film festivals.

JDW: What was your inspiration for this year’s story, “The Tall Grass”?

GG: Mainly from personal experience.  We lived in a neighborhood for about five years and after we moved it really hit me that I didn't know anything about our neighbors.  I didn't know what they did for a living, how long they'd lived there and in some cases, I didn't even know their first names.  For the record, I don't think this is a good thing.  So, I took that concept of not really knowing your neighbor, threw in a conflict about the lawns and the story kind of came together.

JDW: How do you see the verse in your story? 

The 2014 Verse: Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. NIV

GG: Basically the main character in the story, even though he is a Christian and goes to church, is so self-absorbed in his own "stuff" that he simply doesn't see his neighbor the way that Christ would.  The grass and his focus on that "thing" (in our own lives it may not be grass) keep him from serving his neighbor as we are called to do.

JDW: The graduation of the character (from angry to healing) gives your story depth.  What is the big picture in terms of salvation?

GG:  It is really the path all Christians should be on.  It may not be angry to healing but we should be changing and becoming more Christ-like every day.  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we should be able to look in our past and see that we have grown or are growing away from our un-Christ-like traits.  Of course, we will never be perfect as long as we are living and breathing on this earth, but we should be changing.  

JDW: What obstacles have you had to overcome in life?  How have they helped your writing? 

GG:  I honestly can't really name any obstacles that I've had to overcome; my life has really been pretty easy.  That's not to say I don't have challenges, everyone has challenges, and those challenges certainly influence what I write.  

JDW: Tell us about your other films/works of art?
GG:  I've shot two short films and the real purpose behind those films was to get better as a writer.  I wanted to take what I had written on the page and translate that to the screen and see what worked and what didn't.  Both films we shot on prayers, favors and broken shoestring budgets and unfortunately they look like it.  I still believe that story is number one, but when it comes to films, production value is a very, very close second.   I love stories so I also have written a number of short stories and do quite a bit of photography. You can see the short films and some photography at www.greggearlds.com
JDW: Tell us about your family and where you live. How has your environment and family shaped your writing?

GG:  I am married and have two kids, ages 9 and almost 14.  We live on a small family farm and try, emphasis on try, to live a simple, slower lifestyle.  We have a large vegetable garden in the summer and raise goats and sheep and pigs for meat.  We also milk the goats.   We home-school the kids, which really fits well with our lifestyle.  I really think the desire for a simple life shapes my writing by making me look at the things that get in the way of that.  

JDW: How did Mentor/Development Executive, Allen Wolf help shape your story?


GG: Allen was great to work with.  He really challenged me to show not tell - the first rule of screenwriting right?  But, it’s still probably one of the most often broken rules.  Allen called me out when my descriptions were weak or in some cases missing altogether.  Through this he really helped give life to each of the scenes.


Interview with Winning Development Executive (and wiseguy) Allen Wolf:


Allen Wolf


JDW: You are a three-time winning Development Executive of the Best Screenplay.  What is your secret?

AW: My secret is being the best Development Executive ever. Period. I’ve also conquered humility. Done.

JDW: Do you recruit in Indiana?

AW:  I’m originally from Ohio so I recruited about 500 people from the Midwest to sign up for this contest in the hopes that at least one of them would end up on my team. That just happened to be Greg.

And good for him for playing the odds. People from the Midwest create some kind of magic when they work together on screenplays and Greg and I proved that without a doubt. Unfortunately that’s the only kind of magic Midwest people can create together other than levitating spoons, which has never been that handy.

JDW: Do you have any ties to the Indianapolis 500 or the Colts?

AW: I founded both. It’s hard for people to believe that but I’m kind of a slowly aging Benjamin Button but in reverse. I’ve been around for a long time. I used to own 500 colts on a farm in Indianapolis, which is where I got the idea to create both. Now I ride my colts to watch the cars race or cheer while whatshisname makes an awesome touchdown. Go, Go Indianapolis!


In all seriousness, it was a pleasure to mentor Greg throughout the process. He’s a talented fellow.