Being the third film in the revisiting series, surprisingly I feel more distant from 'The Rebel for Christ' (2013) than 'HERO UNKNOWN' (2012) and 'Bloom & Wither' (2013). I don't see this as a bad thing. What it could be is that there was a lot that felt complete about this production as the other two I'm more conflicted about.
Walking around some of the areas where 'Rebel' was shot, I am flooded with memories, mostly of the joyous kind. I feel at ease, in a way. I can take a breath, knowing the positive significance of the film. The significance isn't just from taking a creative leap forward, but most importantly this film saved JN Films.
Revisiting 'The Rebel for Christ' (2013) as it will turn 6 this fall, I am reminded of two key virtues that have continued over the years: inspiration and friendship.
During the summer of 2013, I was close to giving up on film-making. The films that I was producing at the time weren't living up to the initial promise of 'HERO UNKNOWN' (2012). I was too focused on the wrong elements of film-making. My films were distant and not connecting with viewers. Then in July of 2013, I ready a story about a young woman (Alicia Zieg, now Alicia McIntire) in high school who helped others while dealing with her own personal struggles. Her story had a beating, vibrant heart; this was a story I knew that I wanted to tell. After reading her story, I was inspired again. I was inspired by her amazing virtues, and I was, as a result, inspired to create.
Production was ready to shoot in late-September/early-October. For the most part, it was a smooth journey as I was able to collaborate with a team of new faces and returning folks. Several of the returning individuals I previously worked with included Megan Floyd ('Bloom & Wither'), Alicia Scherer ('Bloom & Wither'), Zac Parnell ('Bloom & Wither' (again)) and Will Johnson ('The Lyle Project'). Before, during and after this production, many of the cast and crew became close friends, lasting to this day. Friendships were examined within the narrative while friendships were developed behind the film. No matter the pros and cons of the finished product, this film did a lot more than one may possibly think.
The cool thing about developing these bonds from film-to-film is that sometimes they last for years and years. I am gratefully still connected with Alicia and her husband Russell (also key to the development of the film), and I have had the opportunity to visit with them a few times here and there. Seeing their progression in life has been a joy; if she didn't my offer to interview her, and if we never made 'Rebel', then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know them.
Signaling the heart of the story, and the heart of the journey, let me leave you with this:
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
-Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV