OFM is pretty good at making documentaries. Over the past 5 years we’ve made documentaries in a dozen African countries, bringing light to unreached people groups and bringing prayer and support to ministries.
Most of the media we produce is for a western audience, the church largely. Connecting the church around the world with what God is doing in Africa.
But a few months ago we were presented with an opportunity to do something totally different. Something almost crazy. Something so far outside our comfort zone, on a scale so large, that God had to be behind it.
The challenge was presented to us to create a film that would “bend the heart of the African church to missions.” The church in Africa is big. It’s strong in many ways. But it has traditionally been lacking in mission vision, in seeing its role in finishing the task of the great commission among Africa’s 900 unreached people groups.
As our team brainstormed how to do this, we realized we needed to do it through the form of a drama. Presenting information only goes so far, and in Africa, particularly, story-telling is the primary form of communicating values and mores.
And as we discussed what this drama would look like, we realized that a 20-minute short film wouldn’t have much effect or opportunity to spread. A truly African story, for an african audience, told in an entertaining and dramatic way, that could end up in every church in subsaharan Africa or satellite TV, or theatres. This would have to be feature length.
Our writer sequestered himself away, and with an outline of ideas by the team, cranked out a 90 page screenplay in a couple months. We started looking at Kenyan screenwriters to partner with to flavour and rewrite parts of the script with authentic dialog and characters. We started looking at actors, directors, cinematographers, and studying films being produced from Kenya and the rest of the continent.
Now we’re in the process of raising money. Lots of it, but not as much as the higher-end Kenyan films, since our salaries are already covered as we are support-raising missionaries first. And we’re hoping to find actors and crew that are Christians, believe in the value and purpose of this film and willing to not try to retire early from this film. About $125,000 is what we need.
Right now I’m in the process of casting, which I hope will take place in the few weeks between my Iraq trip and our furlough starting June 2. After we return in Kenya at the beginning of August, and assuming we’ve raised the necessary funds, I’ll jump into the end of pre-production and start directing. We’re slated for production during September, October, and part of November.
Exciting! And a little intimidating, as a director who’s never directed anything. But at least I’m married to a director…