CFDb Interviews Andrew Walkington ~
Share with us how you entered the film industry. Tell us how you knew you wanted to write as well.
I’ve been involved in the creative industries in the UK for twenty years. I started directing theatre at the age of 21 in the city of Liverpool. And whilst working in the theatre I taught myself how to produce films. I was nominated in the year 2000 for best newcomer to film at The Liverpool Echo Arts Awards for a short film starring Brian Blessed.
I then founded a film school in the UK called The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy. It’s an organization of twenty colleges and universities that trains young people in acting and production craft through making feature films. I directed six and executive produced a total of twelve feature films whilst leading the BYFA. However, for all the good that BYFA does I still felt out of place as its director.
I am a Christian and I’ve become increasingly burdened over time to put my faith at the heart of my filmmaking. Jesus is the centre of my life and it feels very natural, therefore, that He should be at the centre of my films. I’ve been heavily involved, in the past, with editing, restructuring and rewriting scripts but this is my first complete film ‘For Love’s Sake‘ as writer.
Please tell us more about the film, ‘For Love’s Sake’ and when will be the release date?
For Love’s Sake is a dramatic film that tells the story of the Walker family, Peter and Mary and their two young boys, James and Paul. Peter and Mary are both Christians and Peter is a lay-preacher in a local congregation. Mary is a believer but she is also an emotionally fragile person who struggles with anxiety and depression. She relies on her husband’s faith to a great extent.
One day Mary and the boys are faced with tragedy. Peter is killed in a motorcycle accident, an event that leaves them devastated. In her emotionally fragile state and without much support around her, Mary spirals downward mentally and suffers a breakdown, leading to a suicide attempt. While she recovers, her two boys are taken into protective care by the county social services department. Eventually the authorities remove Mary’s parental rights, believing that she is unfit to care for her children and that she is incurable.
The story focuses on the two boy’s struggle to cope with their situation as they are moved around through a series of institutions and a foster placement that doesn’t work out. James, the younger of the two boys, clings desperately to his new-found Christian faith and believes that God will heal their mom and reunify the family. Paul, on the other hand, is angry and skeptical. In his despondency he begins to act out – getting into fights and committing petty crimes like shoplifting.
Then a miracle happens, Mary is introduced to a Christian Psychiatrist, (Played by Bruce Marchiano) and with his help she begins to recover. She begins to understand God’s grace in a deeper way then ever-before, her faith grows and she regains her health and stability. Now, in order to regain custody of her children, she must prove herself to the authorities who remain skeptical about her health. It’s really a story about God bringing hope to a seemingly hopeless situation and about how He uses the foolish and weak things of the world to confound the wise.
For Love’s Sake is due for official release this September. It is available now at Vision Video.
How did God lead in the making of the film, ‘For Love’s Sake’?
Its an interesting question, “How did God lead?” There definitely weren’t any blinding lights, but I did feel a conviction that this was something I had to do. In autumn 2011 I approached the Eldership at my home church, explained my desire to start a new ministry and we prayed about it. Then I started to plan, write and meet with people.
I contacted United Christian Broadcasters in the UK and they were kind enough to offer funding to get the film moving. Then when I attended the International Christian Visual Media Association in the summer of 2012 I met with Vision Video, by chance and they agreed to fund the rest of the movie.
From a secular perspective my meeting with UCB and with VV would be seen as chance. I called Neil Elliot at UCB who rarely picks up his phone but on this occasion he randomly decided to answer, he had a good feeling about me and invited me in to talk more. At ICVM I sat in on a speed meet where I found myself sitting opposite Bill Carroll from VV and I was able to pitch the film. Bill then swiftly organized a meeting with Bill Curtis and the rest of the VV team. These two events enabled the film to be produced and both of them, for all my hard work were both, to a degree, accidental. But not accidental at all – I believe it was the Lord’s purpose and guidance. A very good friend of mine in Tennessee, Torry Martin describes such meetings as Divine appointments – and I think I have to agree. I’ve worked hard, I’ve tried to consider every decision in the light of God’s Word, I’ve prayed and I’ve set in place a committee of believers to ensure accountability. But for all these things it was God who introduced me to the people who would help make this film a reality.
Just one brief story from the film shoot – I was less than half way through and struggling when the Lord provided additional funding and I was able to hire in a couple more professional actors to bolster the acting ranks. I was offered a choice of two performers from a very good agency in London – I chose the actor I felt best fit the role. His agent called him whilst he was on a train from a gig in Manchester traveling back to London. Although he hadn’t prayed in a while he had made a commitment to Christ through an Alpha course a year or so earlier and so he decided to pray for work – recently he had been doing a lot of corporate work but he really wanted to act in a film drama. And then he gets the call, would you like to appear in a British Christian movie in Crewe, Cheshire? And his train was passing through Crewe when he was called. The actor told me he recommitted his life to Christ whilst working on the film. Of course, this was all just due to chance! Praise God that he saw fit to use this humble film shoot to speak to one of the actors about his walk with the Lord. “In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps.”
It’s been so refreshing, after working in the secular world of film and education to work on a Christ-centred film. I really enjoyed praying each day before we started filming and to know that this film is not just about entertainment or instruction but that its also my personal testimony – the film is semi-autobiographical.
Is this your first film? If not, what was your first film?
As I mentioned earlier I was founder of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy before setting up True Films. “For Love’s Sake” is my seventh feature film as director and my thirteenth as a producer. This is the first film where the whole film project is dedicated to the Lord – not that my other films are full of immoral content, on the contrary I was always careful to make films in good conscience – but this is the first where, from the foundations up, I’ve made a film that is unashamedly Christian. I find it odd, when two billion people on our earth hold some sort of Christian belief that so many movies omit to mention Jesus who is at the heart of life and is the creator of or universe. It’s also the first film I’ve produced that is designed for an audience and distribution. Every film I produced with the BYFA was about the student experience first, we won several awards but never focused on distributing the movies.
For those younger readers who might be keen on a filmmaking career – My very first film was made with a group of church friends, I was 18 years old and I created a terrible film about a jellyfish that went around eating people! At 28 I made my first significant short film, Day Return, it was nominated for an award and screened at several festivals in the UK along films directed by the likes of Neil Marshall. At 31 I made my first feature film, a comedy called Upstaged about a group of students who stage a Shakespeare play in their local studio theatre only to discover that a London West End theatre producer is visiting their town at the same time with a professional production of Hamlet. The film won a Gold Remi at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. And at 40 I’ve produced my first Christ-centred feature film with international distribution. Take your pick as to which film you would count as my first. For me, “For Love’s Sake” feels like my first true movie and made for the best of reasons.
Are there any other upcoming films that are in the works you can tell us about?
Yes. I’m in development at the moment. Bruce Marchiano and I got on so well on this production that we’re planning to make a new movie together and we’re discussing the possibilities with Vision Video. Paul Sirmons, line producer from Letters to God and Home Run is also helping out in a producer role. The working title is “The Bridge” and it’s about a Christian who meets a man on a bridge who is about to commit suicide. And rather than an easy spiritual journey for the Christian he is really challenged by the man on the bridge to the very root of what he believes and is made to make a stand for his faith. Both the characters are transformed forever by their encounter.
How can others learn more about you and your work?
You can take a look at my website www.truefilms.co.uk and the film’s website www.forlovessakemovie.com. You can also friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and you can always look me up on CFDb. And for more information about the wonderful people and films at Vision Video take a look at www.visionvideo.com.
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