I am starting a new series of posts with this one. The focus will be on those who are willing to defend our faith, to put themselves in the public eye and stand up for what they believe in. I believe that we need to have our voices heard in mainstream culture, for this seems to be a media based culture, and let's use the resources available to us. The news reports of those who do good are too often buried in favour of sensational reports of the evils being done today, so I would like to do my part to support those who stand up for our religous freedom.
There is a pro-life short film called Volition that is the subject of today's post.
Behind the Scenes of Volition: Coincidences and Startling Circumstances
By John Jalsevac
(November 26, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The RED One has been described as the “Lamborghini” of digital film cameras; shooting in 4k resolution with a dynamic range close to that of traditional cameras, the RED prices at about $25,000, with all the necessary gadgets. And so, when a rented RED One was dropped on the second day of shooting the powerful pro-life short-film “Volition,” 22-year-old director Tim Morgan, and his younger brother and collaborator, Matthew, thought the game was up.
“At that point we thought we had to throw in the towel, because there was no way we could continue filming that day,” Tim Morgan told LifeSiteNews in a recent interview. And with only three days to shoot scenes in three different locations depicting three different historical periods, the film was already on a tight, if not impossible, schedule. It was beginning to look as if Volition was not meant to be after all.
Its circuit boards cracked, the camera refused to start up for ten minutes … at least, not until members of the cast and crew gathered around the camera and prayed over it. At that point it fired up, and the shoot was completed.
Tim says that in the whirlwind of post-production he and his brother completely forgot about the incident - until they sent the camera back to the manufacturer. The manufacturer, he relates, said that “all the circuit boards were cracked and there was no way this camera should have been able to work.”
This incident, which the young director posits may be a veritable miracle, is just one of a host of remarkable stories that surround the making of “Volition.” Indeed, the creation of the short film is steeped in coincidences and startling circumstances that hint that “Volition” yet has some definite purpose to serve.
Morgan relates, for instance, that for most of his life, while he had always been “pro-life,” he had never given much thought to the issue – that is, until last year when he attended the massive prayer rally, “The Call.” “That’s when it really hit me, hit my heart,” he says, “that there is a need for just some sort of voice in the arts, in the entertainment world, in defense of these unborn babies.”
At this point, however, Volition was, if anything, but a seed of a thought, without any definite form. It was one night, while doing some work in Israel, the birthplace of Christianity, of the Christ-child Himself, the ultimate proof and testament to the sanctity of human life, that Tim found himself in a fever and unable to sleep. “So I woke up and started a hot bath and pretty much wrote the whole outline for the movie that night,” he relates.
But with an elaborate script that called for scenes in Nazi Germany, the pre-Civil-War American South, and modern times, money was an issue. For six months after Tim wrote the script the brothers sought investors interested in making Volition a reality; but none were to be had. It was then, however, that they received an unexpected phone call from The Doorpost, an online film competition that they had entered some time back, and never thought twice about.
Now the representative from The Doorpost was telling Tim that the competition had selected the brothers as finalists and that they were offering them seventeen and a half thousand dollars to make any film of their choice on the theme of “hope.”
“It was like a door opening out of nowhere,” Tim says. “All of a sudden I have this budget for a movie I’ve been looking to get the budget for.”
The Morgan brothers promptly began to plan the shoot, advertising to find actors for the rolls and compiling a production team that involved numerous family and friends. Volition was beginning to take shape.
With only two weeks to go before production began, however, Tim was in Uganda filming a documentary for an NGO. Most of the other contestants in The Doorpost contest had already started shooting their films, Tim says, but he was halfway around the world, trying to finish shooting the promo for Show Mercy International (See the promo at: http://www.showmercy.org).
It was in Uganda that Tim says he found the final inspiration for Volition. “We were working with these orphan kids who had these horrendous stories,” he relates. “One kid, for instance, he saw his father chop down his whole family with a machete before killing himself.
“And I’m listening to this kid, and this kid has had nothing. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘If there was any group of people on earth, that it would seem that they didn’t have a reason to live, it would be these kids. But these kids have been given a chance by the people at the orphanage.” Some of these orphans, he related, now had dreams that would before have been inconceivable, such as becoming an engineer.
This experience in Uganda, which Tim describes as “life altering,” gave him the final confirmation that he needed, filling him with a sense of urgency. “Just seeing the beauty of a human life given another chance inspired me, and really crossed over to the issue of, ‘OK, there’s this whole group of people in the US and North America - the unborn babies - that are not being given the same chance.’”
This epiphany, he says, “really crossed over and inspired me, as I was making this movie.”
Back in his hometown of Atlanta, Tim and his brother launched into a hectic schedule of pre-production (two-three weeks), shooting (three days), and post-production (10 days). Numerous friends and family stepped in, sometimes at great sacrifice, such as one friend who flew from Calgary at his own expense to do the art design, and another from Portland. “They’re not doing this for me,” Tim says he realized at the time, “they’re doing this because they believe in the message of the film.”
The end result of that month of work was Volition, a short film of startling beauty and rare poignancy that cuts to the very heart of the debate over abortion, and, indeed, the very meaning of what it is to be human.
The “thesis” of the film, explains the director, is “that throughout history there’s been groups of people that have tried to classify other groups of people as less than human, as sub-human, through scientific means or whatever means possible, so as to rationalize the mistreating and the suppressing of the other group.”
As far as the reception of the movie has been concerned, Tim states that, as expected for a film that tackles such a controversial subject, it has been “mixed.” On The Doorpost’s website, he says, “There was definitely a lively conversation that this film sparked, which was encouraging to me.”
As far as Tim and Matthew are concerned, however, Volition is only the beginning of much more to come. According to the young director, there is a great need for Christians to enter into and influence the art world, including the film world. He and his brother hope to be two of those who do exactly that.
The Christian community, he says, “has kind of left the art world on the back burner. My vision would be them treating the art world, the film world, with the same sense of urgency as they’re treating, for instance, an overseas mission.
“This is an emergency for our culture, to be able to influence our film, our arts, the American pop culture in this way.”
“I know there’s a lot of Christian investors out there,” he concludes. “My vision is kind of having the Church as passionate about the art world and the culture and film, and having people, kind of like in the old days of the Church, where they would sponsor the artist that would influence the modern pop culture. I guess my vision is of seeing that happen again, where the Church sees the urgency of influencing the film and entertainment world.”
To watch Volition, go to: http://www.thedoorpost.com/hope/film/?film=420351f1aefa2b42b...
To find out more about Tim and Matthew Morgan and their film company, go to: http://www.rockyfarmstudio.com/
The brothers can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org