Drag racer Joseph Jenkins stands with both feet planted flat beneath him, staring down the long black strip of asphalt. He can smell the smoky wood burning from a distant fireplace. He feels the morning’s heavy, damp coolness in the air as he listens to the roar of invisible charging engines in his head. It’s like he is standing in the middle of a very vivid dream; except one that, within a few anxious-filled hours, will accelerate him into a deeper reality, taking him much, much further than this single, fleeting moment in time.
“I can win this,” he tells himself. “Just stay calm and cool. Let the engine do the work, and keep the wheel steady on the strip. Don’t jump the light. Whatever you do, Joseph, don’t …. jump …. the …. light!”
He always talks to himself and checks things out before a big race if he has the chance. He walks the asphalt and inspects every divot in the road, every crevice, every crack … He leaves nothing to chance. He has to see what he is up against; as if the blacktop is his rival and not the dragster revving his engine beside him.
Today, however, isn’t just any other day of racing finely-tuned motors. It is to be a showdown between long-standing best friends. Although he is not aware of it at this moment, it will also be the start of Joseph’s new journey, teetering between failure and triumph – leading him into redemption; and finally, truly finding himself. He doesn’t know it now, but he is about to drive right past his old life and into a revolution of transformation. Something he’ll never see coming until it’s too late; but a soul-driven conversion that will eventually guarantee him a win …. Even if it isn’t exactly the victory he has in mind … as he makes his way down the ribbon of rubber-stained concrete.
“Gentlemen, start … your … engines …
Living Water Films, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, has a simple mission statement. Their intent is to “produce edgy films that provide spiritual nourishment and healing for the nation.” Their upcoming movie, Adrenaline, is a great example. It is a sometimes intense, bold movie with stars the likes of John Schneider, “Bo Duke” from the “Dukes of Hazard,” “Smallville,” “Nip/Tuck,” and more recently, “The Haves and the Have Nots,” created by Tyler Perry; Gregory Alan Williams, known for “Baywatch,” “Sopranos,” “The West Wing,” “Necessary Roughness,” and “Drop Dead Diva;” and Charlene Amoia, “How I Met Your Mother”, “The Mentalist,” and “Castle,” to include a small collective of the entertainment venues its actors have participated in. Joseph Jenkins is played by Michael Rosander with Myke Holmes as his best friend. Anthony Reynolds plays the part of racing challenger.
Joseph Q. Simpkins is the founder of Living Water Films and has worked on many big screen and television projects himself, even before coming to Wilmington and starting the film studio. He and Adrenaline producer, Del Baron, agree on the focus for the production company; however, there are times that can be challenging, too. Their official objective is to instill good family values, as well as touch on those of an apostolic nature.
But according to Simpkins, “Generally labeling themselves as a Christian film group brings about a couple of problems immediately. To begin with, there is always a fear that non-Christians will be offended by it, mainly because of the Christian movie’s long-standing history of being poorly written, under produced, and badly presented. When they hear that label on it, they think oh, that’s going to be another bad Christian film.”
Baron adds, “When you say you are going to do a Christian movie, people think it’s going to turn into a Bible study in the middle of it which we’ve seen in a lot of the movies. They literally pull out scriptures and start a Bible study in the middle of the movie, and that, in ways, can turn people off.”
Certain elements, however, seem to be turning the tide at Hollywood and Vine. Groupie movie enthusiasts did not initially believe in it, but at its showing, Mel Gibson really shocked movie goers when he created The Passion of the Christ. Finally, a Biblical presentation with a moving storyline, believable characters, and stunning visual effects that could have rivaled any the secular world put up against it. This year’s The Bible enjoyed the same applause, maybe more as a matter-of-fact, with its pin-point accuracy, advanced graphics, and powerful message.
Another important element of solid storytelling is to have the right people working on the project. When Living Water Films is involved, the director has to be someone with a heart for the story and a dedication to its message.
Says Simpkins, “I think it’s important for a director or anyone that is developing a project to have a critical interest in the project that they’re doing rather than just doing a story because it sounds good or it might do well out there. If you don’t have a heart for it, or your heart’s not in it, I think it will never be what it could be if the right person is directing it.”
So far as Living Water Films is concerned, there is hope that their new movie, Adrenaline, which is meant to target young men and their fathers, will not only provide a way to share the good news, but to help get them involved with each other’s lives again so they may grow closer and stronger together.
“When we grew up, we were working on cars with our fathers, so this movie kind of brings us personally back to that time. We want to instill a little bit of family values and redemption in movies,” said Baron.
Movies are meant to entertain – but is that all? A good storyline can carry a film to the end; but, a creative, rich presentation can lay that story in someone’s heart forever. That’s what Living Water Films is all about; presenting a story in such a way that movie goers will forget what they don’t see – typical Hollywood’s constant infusion of bad language, irresponsible sexual escapades, and graphic violence, into a high percentage of their star-laden (and an increasing number of failing) blockbusters.
“If it’s a good story, you don’t need that. If they’ve got a bad story, they promote it with what they think is going to interest people to watch it and forget about the story,” said Simpkins. “I’m more interested in a story that could be changing people’s lives. Our experience with the films has been, we see some two or three people and their lives have changed, and then there’s who knows how many countless others that we don’t even know about? One person comes up and says something about how it really changed their life and I have got to believe that that was more important than anything else I could have done. Did that please God and that changed somebody’s life? Then, to me, that was all that mattered.”
The best way for movie goers to support positive family, redemptive movies is to go out and buy tickets to see them.
“We don’t want our kids growing up too fast. We want to protect our kids and our families as much as possible. I think its key that we continually need to support these films. You just can’t keep making films without the support. That’s the key, too; to not only support Living Water Films and Adrenaline, but for good, clean films in general,” says Baron.
As with the many facets of our personal lives, when it comes to being successful in the movie business, it’s not surprising to hear that a good bit of it revolves around money. More and more information seems to imply that Hollywood has its ears perked up because Christian films are actually starting to make money. People are going to see these types of films and, as long as they are bringing in a positive cash flow, Hollywood and the film industry will continue making them.
Simpkins said, “That’s a real important message. If people support bad movies, they’ll keep making bad movies. If they support good movies, we’ll keep making good movies.”
One of the projects that Living Water Films has been working on this year is the movie, Adrenaline. It is about 65% funded and needs a little bit of financial support from you to complete it. Any amount will be accepted!!
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