Early 2009 had been a whirlwind. I had shot and edited my first short film (a recap of a mission trip to Arizona and the Holbrook Indian School taken by Grants Pass Adventist School and Rogue Valley Adventist Academy, an excerpt of which can be viewed by clicking here), attended the SonScreen Film Festival, visited with folks producing films and broadcasts, and overall feeling incredibly blessed. There was no doubt that the hand of God was present and moving within my life and this new venture.
Having once created a line of Christian apparel called “His Way Designs”, I began to explore possible names for the new film company. His Way Films was already taken and after racking my brain for days and coming up with what I thought to be a great name, my wife Michelle threw out a gem. “How about This Way Films?”, she shared. It was brilliant! I loved it and began to adapt the old His Way Designs logo to better suit the new name. I loved the simple message that could be related through the logo and its use of a modified ONE WAY sign, rotated 90 degrees to point vertically. After all, this was HIS film company.
Having met with another Adventist filmmaker (which is another story in its self) and hearing the way in which he utilized branding (different business names for different audiences ranging from conservative to liberal on the spiritual scale), I began to consider other business names which might be utilized down the road.
While down at the film festival, my brother-in-law shared his love for the “This Little Light of Mine” theme. I too loved this theme and it’s symbolism as well and proceeded to register the name, this little light films. This additional company name really reflected our mission — to create a grassroots ministry which reflects Christ and is shared individual to individual utilizing technology and modern media.
As I began to share my vision for the film ministry several friends and colleagues suggested that I consider doing some commercial work to both learn the trade and also earn some money. I bristled at the idea, wanting to focus on projects spiritual in nature. Besides, I didn’t have any experience.
I loaned my camera to a friend and colleague who works at our local NBC affiliate as a video editor. After returning from an out-of-town trip, I stopped by the station to pick up my camera. My friend was out of the office and had left the camera with the Creative Services Director (the guy who’s in charge of shooting commercials to be aired locally). Greatly impressed with the camera and it’s HD (high definition) capabilities, he asked if I’d be willing to rent it to the station and if not, what my half-day rate for filming was. I shared that I was not interested in renting the camera out, but was indeed available for filming. I left with a smile on my face, thankful to my friend for making sure I met the Creative Services Director, yet I hadn’t embraced the event as God’s leading toward commercial work, so simply placed the notion aside.
Months after designing logos for each film company, I had decided to move my office home which required remodeling the basement. Needing some extra help with the project, my brother-in-law drove up to Medford to spend a couple of weeks doing demo and construction. One day while watching a little TV as we ate dinner together with Michelle, he shared, “Man, there are some really BAD commercials on TV here!” I agreed, “We could certainly do better, don’t you think?” He adamantly agreed. “What do you think about trying to secure some commercial work, sort of on-the-job-training? We have the desire and equipment. Forget film school, we could learn AND make a few bucks!”, I related. Michelle whole-heartedly agreed with our assertions. “Great!”, I said to myself, “That’s something to look into.” We started back to working on the basement.
The following day at our lunch break, I ventured upstairs and saw that I had a voicemail from one of my printing clients. “Hi Brad, this is Guy. I remember you got a fancy, new video camera. I have a client that I’m needing to do a training DVD for. I’m wondering if you’d be interested in working with us to produce such a project. Hope you’re doing well. Give me a shout and let me know what you think!” A wide smile crossed my face as I listened to the message and I broke out in laughter as John came upstairs to find out what was up. “Answer to un-prayed prayers!”, I said. “One of my printing clients just called and asked if I’d like to help him produce a training video…”
Up to that point in time, I had not shared with anyone outside of family, close friends and a few colleagues what was going on with this calling to filmmaking. I didn’t have business cards, a web site, a film portfolio, a phone number for the film business… nothing. What I did have was a big God answering prayers before I had even taken things to Him in prayer. I was stoked. And I sent up prayers of thanksgiving and praise to our Father. I continued to pray throughout the next week that God continue to lead and open doors, windows, anything that continued to relate His guidance in this endeavor.
That next week I was asked to give the scripture reading and prayer at Church the following weekend. As part of my call to prayer I related to the congregation that even if they had had a good week or a burdensome week, God was in control and worthy of our praise. I asked if they had been blessed with answers to prayers and maybe even prayers not yet prayed. After the service, one of our PA operators approached me and shared his appreciation for the words I had spoken prior to the prayer. We began to share and quickly our conversation lead to God’s calling to filmmaking. He asked rapid-fire questions and I gave rapid-fire answers. I even pulled out my iPhone and we viewed an excerpt from my mission trip video as I shared with him my vision for utilizing technology as an evangelism tool. He was excited. He shared that earlier that week he had thought about a film project but couldn’t remember just what it was at that moment, saying that perhaps it was because it was Sabbath, but promised to call me later that next week should he remember. That next Wednesday we met together over lunch, and to make a long story short, our meeting lead to another job — a DVD for the local model railroad park. Praise GOD! This time He answered prayed prayers!
With the gift of these “commercial” jobs I now had to re-evaluate just what business names to utilize for the film ministry and for commercial work. I settled on bringing THIS WAY FILMS under my corporate umbrella along side my printing and graphics businesses. This was a big emotional step as you may recall that months prior I had convinced myself that God was not calling me to do commercial work. Yet now, it was clear that I had been too headstrong and set on “my” way of accomplishing “His” work. He was clearly leading me toward commercial endeavors, providing several thousand dollars of work without much real experience or any marketing of the film business. As I considered this paradigm shift, I began to pray earnestly about His leading. I knew He was leading me toward making Christian films, but also saw and felt His leading in commercial work. A couple of weeks after meeting with my first two commercial clients I paused one Tuesday morning to pray. “Lord, I trust that you’ve sent the Spirit to guide me and you’ve called me to this ministry. I thank you for your leading and answers to both prayed and un-prayed prayers. I also know that I’m weak of faith at times and get focused on my will, loosing sight of your will. Please continue to remind me that you’re in charge. I am your servant, and I’m listening. Thank you, Father… Amen.”
Not even two hours later my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered it any way, “Good morning, this is Brad.” The lady on the line introduced herself as a manager of a large local technology-driven company I knew well. She related that my client, Guy, had given her my name and number, and shared that her company was looking to produce a 28 webisode training series and was wondering if I’d be interested in filming and producing the series. We chatted for several minutes before hanging up. I raised my head to heaven. Two hours! I had an answer to my prayer and assurance of His leading in less than two hours! It was more than confirmation. I excitedly related the happenings of that day with several friends and family members over the next few days. To a person, I heard the same thing, “Why would they pick you?”, as we laughed together. There was nothing I had done… no credentials, no business cards. There was only one reason for clients seeking me out…
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT