CFDb Interviews John Morrison ~
How did you first get involved in the film industry?
Movies were a way for me to escape a very trying childhood. I loved watching them, talking about them, studying them, and making them. My first few short films were filmed on a DVR camera that my grandmother had bought me for Christmas one year. They were terrible, but I was having fun with it and learning at the same time.
I was a socially awkward kid. I pretty much stayed to myself all through elementary and middle school. I became a Christian in 10th grade and made some awesome friends who shared my passion for film. We made a few music videos together and would show them to our church on Sunday nights as an offering time filler. We did this for a while until we all graduated from high school and went our separate ways.
At Oklahoma State University I got involved with the Student Union Activities Board as a member of the Film Committee (we basically organized movie showings at the theatre in the student union). Towards the end of the year I was asked to coordinate a film festival. It was the highlight of my college career. Thirteen films were submitted and we had over 100 people in attendance. It was during that festival that I decided to look into what it took to write a film (I minored in English). I devoured book after book on screenplay writing and read over two hundred scripts. After a year of that I decided to write my own, On Bradbury Street.
Figuring out what to do with it after I wrote it was another matter altogether. I read that certain film festivals promote the writer’s work very effectively, so I entered those contests. I ended up finishing all three festivals in the top 5-10% (I was a Quarterfinalist in the most prestigious one, the Nicholl). I was contacted by a dozen or so producers who asked to read my work. Nothing ever came from it, though, and I felt a little defeated. After a year or so of pitying myself I decided to finally write another script. And then another. And another. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have each of them advance to later rounds in the Austin Film Festival, PAGE Awards, and the International Filmmakers Screenwriting Awards. Those little victories have caused me to take filmmaking seriously.
What led to your idea for your film, ‘The Artisan’?
I became a youth minister at a very small rural church after I graduated from college. During that time I decided to really read and understand the New Testament church and the fivefold gifts (apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor, and evangelist). I became a member of a small house church during that time as well and I discovered there was this whole subculture of people who believed that those gifts were still active and necessary today, especially the apostolic and prophetic. It was an exciting time. The Artisan comes out of that time in my life where I thought that every day presented an opportunity to do a miraculous work of God (by miraculous I mean healing the sick, raising the dead, and giving life-changing prophetic words).
Please tell us more about the film, ‘The Artisan’?
What if someone operated in signs and wonders today like Jesus and the apostles of the New Testament? This is the central theme of the film, but it is not the whole story. The story is really about the main character and his experiences as he manages to fast for 40 days. It is not an evangelical film, nor does it really have an overbearing message. People will be affected by it, yes, but the goal is to basically show what could happen if signs and wonders were the norm as opposed to something that just happens every now and then. The film will be controversial in this respect, but that’s okay. We want it to be.
How can people get involved with this film and when do you expect it to be released?
There’s so much that goes into the making of a film. We are less than two months out from shooting our first scene and have realized that we do not have the necessary funds to A. Officially get started, and B. Release it to a wide audience once we finish (unless it does well in the dozens of festivals we will be entering). Because of this, we decided to create a Kickstarter project (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2084463537/an-artisan-feature-film?ref=live) in an effort to raise just enough to cover certain upfront costs that we didn’t initially expect. Donating to the project would be the first, big, step in helping get it made. Also, spreading the word will help a lot. Posting the Kickstarter video, or the CFDb link on your Twitter and Facebook would go a long way in getting us “out there” and we need all the help we can get.
Is this your first film? If not, tell us some of your other films.
This is my first feature film, but it is in no way my first “film.” I’ve made over 50 short films and music videos. I’ve never wanted to submit any of them to serious competitions because the image quality was so poor (all shot on that old DVR my grandmother gave me). I did make a film for a college class about the life and times of a woman growing up in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and I wrote a short film (directed by a friend) that placed 4rd in a small festival in 2007, though.
I decided it was time to try my hand at a feature film after a few years of writing screenplays and hoping other people would be willing to produce my material. I heard that some serious films were being shot on a Canon 7D and that it was incredibly inexpensive so I bought one. Then I bought a professional microphone. And then 1000 watt bulbs. And then etc…
How can others learn more about you and your work?
Right now the best way to learn more about An Artisan is to visit the Kickstarter page (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2084463537/an-artisan-feature-film?ref=live) as we will be posting updates there in the near future. Also, the CFDb site (http://www.christianfilmdatabase.com/review/an-artisan/) gives some good information on the project. I’ve created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of getting the word out about the film as well. You can reach me there (https://twitter.com/jdmorrison33). My email is also a good way to reach me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would be happy to discuss the film and other ideas like the New Testament church, fivefold ministry, signs and wonders, fasting, or really anything.
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