since there are way too many things to say about this film to fit into the five-and-a-half minute runtime, i thought a written commentary would be better. the following goes through the entire sunday morning film scene by scene and gives some insight into each aspect of the story being told and the production itself.
it’s extremely comprehensive, and you may not want to read it all at one sitting. i’ve divided it up according to the timer on the Vimeo video, in case there’s a specific shot you’re wondering about. if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me or ask in the comments below.
0:00 – opening titles
the typography is consistent with fonts selected to represent the entire 2020 Vision. Jeff McKeand really developed a great, cohesive look for all of the associated Vision materials, and this film is just one more part of that, as far as i’m concerned.
you might notice a little flicker and jitter with the text title. i did this to simulate old optical film titles. i want sunday morning to feel like a “film” from the start, rather than a “video”. it’s video, and it’s not a snooty thing (like “i’m a filmmaker, not a videomaker!”). for me, it’s about longevity. i really wanted to make something that was going to last a lot longer than even the year 2020, if possible. this desire went all the way into the shooting.
we used a DSLR video camera (Canon 7D provided by Wyatt Lampley) with 35mm camera lenses (my own and some borrowed from Brother Tom Beckwith) to help provide that cinema feel. most every shot also makes use of an anamorphic adapter.
without getting into the nerdy details, only big cinema films are shot with anamorphic lenses, typically. so when our eyes see anamorphic film footage (which looks just slightly different than normal movie footage) our brain immediately perceives it as big and epic.
this is helped further with the use of moving shots. nearly every shot was from a small Dana Dolly system to provide a little lateral slide.
basically, i wanted the look of the film to indicate the emotional scope of the story and the spiritual scope of the Vision.
the title “sunday morning” came about as several roads of thought all came together during the development process (development is the ideas / writing phase). first is the 2020 Vision logo itself. coming out of the first design featuring the horizon of the earth, Jeff designed a very simple, good-looking logo incorporating that horizon with a rising sun, demonstrated by the gold part of the 2020 in the final logo.
in thinking about that sunrise, i started imagining that Great Spiritual Awakening which David has been preaching about for months now. i imagined a literal awakening as a metaphor for the spiritual one, the city of Murfreesboro coming alive as the sun peeks out from behind the pastures and buildings.
also, we all come from a myriad of places — different backgrounds, neighborhoods, cities, languages, races, cultures, etc. — so in a way, the North Boulevard campus is the one thing we all have in common. to be sure, it is us the people that are the Church, but this building is a sacred and special place the binds us together. so i wanted to be sure to include many shots of the building itself, which of course is mostly quiet except for Sunday mornings.
since this awakening was about us coming together as a family of faith into a community of action, i wanted to start at the edges of town, deep in quiet bedrooms and slowly emerge through town and end up with all of us at church worshipping together.
at this point, some of my other interests come into play. as a child of the 80s and as someone who has been reading about and researching freedom in all of its various forms over the last few months, i couldn’t help but think about the powerful “Morning in America” ad that Reagan’s campaign ran leading into his 2nd term. it was so full of American optimism, a warm nostalgia that — rather than longing for the good ol’ days — founds a new growing, maturing society on top of the foundation of solid truths proven by the will and blood of our forefathers. i wanted to tap into that rooted optimism, so that ad is at least an indirect inspiration for this film.
the final road that brought me to the sunrise metaphor begins at the fear of new. while some are comfortable with change, nearly all of us have some fear of new or unknown. i know there are probably many in a community of faith that are curious (if not scared) about where we will go as a church over the next seven years.
having heard the Vision in detail, i wanted the church body to have a sense from this film that this 2020 Vision is simply another movement in a long symphony of God’s composition, that God’s story is told day by day, and each day is wonderful and beautiful and exciting and terrifying. while we are waking up to something new, it’s no different than any other day, any other Sunday morning. if there’s one thing that happens every day of our lives, despite our circumstances, despite weather, despite our feelings, it’s that the Sun will rise.
“His mercies are new every morning.”
since the music has already started, i’ll go ahead and mention it. the score for sunday morning is comprised of two stock music tracks — Hope (by Brian Crutchfield) and Morning Glory (by D. Ehlert via Boldtrax).
i’ve often referred to going through stock music tracks as the tenth circle of Hell. i’m sure i listened to around a hundred tunes during the selection process. out of that, i liked maybe five or six. none were the right length, and none had the exact flow or shape i needed, so it was clear I’d have to graft two together. that limits me even further, as you not only have to find two great tunes, but they have to sound like they go together. thanks be to God, i found these two tracks, and they were really perfect.
0:15 – the stars
the lesser lights of night. most are bigger and hotter than our own sun. while many are lost in darkness, the sailors and wise men of old would navigate by the zodiac images intimated by the stars.
whenever i tell a story, i always like to begin where i will end. space feels so empty, dark, and void. like the deepest darkness, just before God speaks light into our life, the early morning must begin with the total absence of the Light we crave.
those stars are totally fake by the way. every single shot in this film has been run through Adobe After Effects — most just for color correction and to add some film grain. but some with skies, like this one, have had a little work done. as becomes apparent in the next shot, the sun has already risen above the horizon. the sky that morning was a pale teal, cloudless and cold.
0:23 – the front of the church
our church building has many wonderful and attractive features, but ask those of us tasked with getting a good wide shot it, and we’ll all tell you it is notoriously difficult to photograph. this was complicated even further for me by the camera rig we were using, as i was never really able to get wide at all. since we were shooting with a DSLR, i used our rig on a tripod to snap a bunch of stills from one spot and merged them in Adobe Photoshop using its built-in photo merge feature. this image comes from about 27 different stills.
the flares from the street lamps were added in After Effects using Andrew Kramer’s Optical Flares plug-in, a must have if you are shooting an anamorphic film. the false flares combined with some film grain help blend this completely fake shot into a believable opening.
0:26 – the backyard
we dissolve to the backyard. the steeple and sky color connect us. the back of the building is lit by the risen sun. all of this is shaded back into darkness to match the opening shot. you can see that darkness slowly fade away as we dolly and pan across the gravel into the grass.
this shot and its associated dialogue were one of the first things i thought of. i thought, people are going to be scared of new, and a lot of those same people remember when this building was built, when it was new.
so who better to open our story than a charter member, someone who has seen a lot of “new” come to pass. Mrs. Grandstaff calls him “little Billy” and remembers him as a neighborhood paperboy. but today, he’s Bill Sloan, an elder and leader. a man who has been part of the North Boulevard family since day one. he’s seen it grow, and today he leads us as a shepherd. his warm, relaxed voice was the perfect way to invite us all on this Vision.
0:57 – groundbreaking
Brother Sloan’s memories take us back through time. this famous photo of the North Boulevard groundbreaking reminds us that what we have today once didn’t exist. it’s foreshadowing a future that has yet to come.
for those that are not aware, the North Boulevard church building has not always been at its present location. in 1995, the church walked from its old location to the new location, at that time an empty field. they brought bricks with them to signify the new building that was to take place. and a few young people, including a tiny little Rachel Young, turned the shovel to start the process of building our current campus.
the 3D look is a simple but tedious trick accomplished with Photoshop and After Effects. Anne Batey is the voice here.
1:03 – front walk bricks
this shot dollies across the line of bricks at the main entrance of the church. these bricks are the very bricks brought over on that day in 1995. every Sunday morning, hundreds of people cross from the world into their church assembly over these bricks.
the voice you hear is David Sproles.
1:07 – the previous campus
now owned by MTSU, this beautiful columned building sits on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, formerly North Tennessee Boulevard. while the church has always been called North Boulevard church of Christ, it’s not always been the same North Boulevard!
the voice belongs to Nancy Palmer Webb, another charter member who is now an elder’s wife.
1:11 – East Main Church of Christ
North Boulevard only exists because there were men and women in the 1940s that had a vision for a church across town near the college campus. with the blessing of the eldership (and $12,000 to buy the land), the North Boulevard church was planted in 1947.
the voice is that of Amy Sain, Children’s Minister at NBCC.
1:17 – the first day
this photo is the most widely associated with North Boulevard’s first day. while there are other photos from that day, this photo incorporates the old barn, the sign, the street, the cars of that period, etc.
in order to make it 3D, i had to use some of the other photos to fill in some of the holes, so you can see some of the original elders standing in the front yard. the colorizing was all done by hand in Photoshop. again, film grain and a false sun flare make this still image come alive, and we almost feel like we are there on that spring sunday morning…
you hear the voices of David Skidmore (youth minister), David Young (preacher), and Cheyana Avilla (nbyg student).
1:28 – Alfred Blackman
in 1812, Alfred Blackman was baptized by Barton Stone (of Stone-Campbell fame) at a tent revival in Kentucky. when he returned home to Rutherford County (the area now known as Blackman community), he brought Restoration movement Christianity with him. East Main was born in 1832 out his early group of believers. through Blackman, North Boulevard can trace their church of Christ roots directly back to Barton Stone himself.
Blackman’s tombstone in a small unmarked cemetery near 840 and Veteran’s Parkway serves as one more reminder for us that God accomplishes His purposes generation after generation, day by day.
you’ll again hear David Young’s voice, reminding us of our legacy of revival.
the morning Joey Robertson and i went to shoot this shot, it was bitterly cold. we were up so early because we wanted to be ready to shoot when the sun rose, so it was pitch black. having only seen the cemetery on Google Maps, somehow we were able to find it in the dark. much of the cemetery is in ruins — grown over with thick weeds and headstones fallen over. but you can still see the work that was done a few years ago when David Young and some others cleared it out, i believe as part of an Eagle Scout project.
we set up and waited for the sun to rise. unfortunately, if it rose, we never saw it. heavy cloud cover made for a blue-gray, dreary morning. it was cold and damp, and Joey and i were really, really cold. we even filmed a short behind the scenes video. it’s not particularly interesting, but i include it here as it includes the text on the tombstone.
filming Alfred Blackman from paul andrew skidmore on Vimeo.
since there was not much of a sunrise, our original shot was the tombstone against an ugly gray sky. luckily, that made it easy to remove the sky in the computer and replace it with one of our own choosing. so the sky and sunlight you see in this shot are entirely phony. the original shot looked like this:
if you’ve never been to see it in person (and you probably haven’t), i recommend it. though maybe during a dry, warm spring day.
1:32 – tent revival
it’s a very short shot, but just meant to keep taking us back through time, connecting us with the early Restoration movement preachers as mentioned earlier.
the field is actually the field in which you’ll find the small Alfred Blackman cemetery. in fact, the stone wall in the left foreground is the stone wall around that cemetery. this shot was taken that same morning. thanks to After Effects, Google Image search, and the Optical Flares plugin, it’s now a nighttime shot of a tent meeting.
the sign reads: “Gospel Meeting, Alexander Campbell, July 10-12”
the voice is again Cheyana Avilla’s.
1:35 – the Conversion of Saul
this is one of my favorite paintings by my favorite painter, Caravaggio. known for his contrast of light and dark and his use of very realistic and weathered subjects, his Biblically-themed paintings come alive, almost like a frozen play right in front of you.
i wanted to include Paul as a way of ushering us even further back in time, this time thousands of years. Paul’s Missional evangelism epitomizes the Great Commission that we today wish to embody.
turns out, it’s one of David Young’s favorite paintings as well.
the voice belongs to Bob Webb, elder and husband to Nancy Palmer Webb.
the light that blinds Saul temporarily blinds us…
as the darkness subsides, we find ourselves at…
1:45 – the beginning of time
these simple renderings of Jupiter and Saturn are made possible by some excellent resources provided by NASA. the passing asteroid field gives us a little sense of motion and perspective.
again, we’re back in space. at the beginning of time. God speaking light into the universe. light from the sun overtakes that darkness…
the matronly voice here belongs to Anne Batey.
2:00 – the garden
sunlight streams down into a small, manicured garden, where Adam comes alive and takes his first breaths, exploring a strange new world.
the garden is actually the backyard of Bob and Nancy Webb. don’t look too closely or you’ll make out the barbed-wire fence. we covered up the posts with dead limbs and leaves at the base. pan too far left, and we’d see their shed. too far right, and we’d see a swingset and the neighbor’s house.
Adam is played by Alan Powell, singer for Anthem Lights, a band from Nashville comprised of Christian guys. this shot was bartered; Joey and i agreed to film a short music video for them one night, and Alan agreed to drive to Murfreesboro before the sun rose to take his shirt off in a stranger’s backyard in 20° weather.
just out of camera view are the blankets (including an electric one) to keep Alan warm between takes. the cold morning air made for some great breath, though, backlit by the rising sun. it was a great visual to help symbolize Adam’s first breaths, breathing out what God had breathed into him.
“evenings… mornings…” is spoken by Anne’s husband, Tom Batey, followed by David Skidmore again with “and they were good.”
2:14 – Noah
where to begin…
about half of what you’re looking at is real. actually, i take that back. it’s actually all real. but most of it was not there the day we filmed.
the clouds and sky are fake. i just found some photos of building thunderheads online. the mountain is an actual photo of modern-day Mount Ararat, where the Ark will eventually end up. i don’t know that Ararat would have actually been in view when Noah was building the Ark, but it helps provide scale for the impending flood.
the Ark is also an actual photo. a man in the Netherlands decided to build a full-scale model of the Ark. so i used a picture of it rather than trying to build my own.
the animals are all from image searches. while there is motion on a few of them, they’re all still images. except for the Zebra. she belongs to Billy Boner, on whose farm we shot this. the Zebra’s name is Nancy. fun fact: the little blob in the left-center is an Aardvark. just wanted to have animals from A to Z in the picture.
then there’s Noah. after a long day of filming, Wyatt Lampley and i went to Chick-Fil-A. while eating there, i noticed an older gentlemen with this really great beard sitting alone doing crossword puzzles. so i just went and asked if he would want to be Noah.
i was wearing my Alabama shirt at the time, and despite his being a die-hard Tennessee fan, Terry Davis put aside our differences and agreed. within a few days, we had him standing in some church VBS costumes in a field full of Zebra doo. he never complained once.
Nancy Webb’s voice here, again.
2:22 – Abraham and Isaac
this was the last shot we filmed for the video, days before it had to be shown! weather was being uncooperative, and we had actors schedules to contend with, but we were finally able to work it out.
Isaac is played by North Boulevard member Mason Edmonson. i didn’t want to use North Boulevard members for the Biblical recreation stuff, just because we usually laugh when we see someone we recognize doing something that isn’t who they really are. but we’re generally accustomed to seeing actors play historical roles without any problem. but since Mason is out of focus and his head is cut off, i figured that was okay.
Abraham is played by a friend of a friend of mine, Robert Willis. Robert is a teacher at Smyrna High School where he works with Robert Sain (whose voice is featured later in the film). he’s also my neighbor, living just a few streets down. often early in the morning, i’ll see Robert running through the neighborhood, no matter the weather or temperature. and, as it turns out, he grew up going to East Main Church of Christ.
this was filmed in the backyard of the church, just a few feet away from where Bill Sloan starts us off. the knife is one of Houston Sproles’ throwing knives, wrapped in leather scraps from the Turner’s shop. the firewood is from my family farm. the glint on the knife was added in After Effects.
“sacrifice and blessing” is spoken by the adorable Addison Sain. i believe she is the youngest voice in the narration.
2:29 – Moses
the farm belongs to Edwin McKnight, as do the goats. the goats would follow Moses anywhere, as long as he had a giant Tupperware pitcher full of feed, which he does in the first shot, though you can’t see it.
we shot very early in the morning in the field behind the McKnight’s house. their grandson watched us through the big picture windows of their home, and he kept saying “it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful.” i assume he meant the sunrise, but he could have been talking about our anamorphic Canon 7D with 70-200L series zoom and matte box on the Dana Dolly system. it, too, was beautiful.
Moses is played by David Rubio. i originally called David to see if there were any people at Otter Creek (where he is the youth minister) that might make a good Noah or Moses. turns out, David had not shaved nor had a haircut in a while. while a lot of the youth knew David, i didn’t think they would immediately recognize him in this state. besides, this film was primarily for the house meetings which was for the adults. he makes a great Moses.
when we didn’t need the goats in frame, Marshall Wingerter was a great goat wrangler.
the last shot features the only fake thing in this sequence, the flaming bush. it’s made of fire elements from Andrew Kramer’s Action Essentials 2. the sky is darkened a bit, but the field and sky are all God’s handiwork.
Robert Sain is the voice here.
i love this moment in scripture. i love imagining a frustrated, jaded Moses, relegated and banished to shepherding out in the wilderness. when suddenly, he see something glowing and smoking in the distance. what is that? why isn’t it burning up? scripture says that Moses says to himself that he must get closer to see this strange thing. i love how intimate and personal the scripture is here regarding Moses’ curiosity. i once did a painting of this moment, and this scene was inspired in part by that painting.
in many ways, the beginning of the 2020 Vision is like the burning bush. we’re just arriving, maybe happening upon it. God is there, already burning, making a place in the wilderness holy by His presence. what is this strange thing? as we arrive, it speaks to us, and our lives are never the same…
Emma Sproles transitions us to the next section with “dawns and dusks…”
2:40 – Bethlehem
a still photo of modern-day Bethlehem. i tried to crop out most of the highways and telephone poles. quickly, up into another phony starfield where one bright star signifies Christ’s birth.
this speck of light dissolves into…
2:45 – the tomb
light breaking through as the stone is rolled away.
Alison Avilla’s soft little voice speaks to us here.
Christ’s whole life, He lived as one headed to death, a cruel shameful death by crucifixion. that Sunday morning in the tomb, when He woke up, it was the first day that the cross was behind Him. how amazing He must have felt that morning. how beautiful that first light must have been.
in keeping with the Sunday morning theme, i hope that we live out this Vision as Sunday morning Christians, rather than Friday Christians… that we proceed not in fear, but in forgiveness and love and mercy, stepping out of death into eternal life until God takes us home.
this whole sequence was built in After Effects from found images.
Anne Batey’s wise voice reminds us of God’s rein of goodness.
3:00 – a new day
after a few days of camera tests, and a few early mornings, i just had not gotten any good sunrise footage yet. either there were no clouds or the weather was awful. after several early mornings, i decided to take a much-needed morning off. i slept in (all the way to 6!), and as i walked out of the house to get some coffee, i saw a really gorgeous sunrise. i was irritated that i had not just gotten up and shot anyway. so i suddenly decided i was going to try and get something.
in 30 minutes, i had everything in my car, and i raced to the church’s backyard. i set everything up by myself (for the first time), and shot what i could. that’s where this shot came from. there’s not much to it, but the sky is pretty and the silhouette of the trees is nice. it reminds me of some of the beginning and ending shots from ET.
i was worried it wouldn’t be used for anything, but this shot is perfect to open up a new section of the story. thus far we’ve gone backwards through the history of the church, forwards from the beginning of time through God’s surprising Vision for creation, and arrived here — present day.
we start on the edges of civilization and work our way to the bustle of a Sunday morning at North Boulevard. Nancy Webb and Alison Avilla alternate narrating the opening of this sequence. i love the contrast of the wise grandmother with the young child, as if they are different parts of the same soul…
3:10 – stone wall
this stone wall is part of a farm i saw on the way to Marshall Wingerter’s the night before. to me, it said American farmer, Rutherford County farmland, old Murfreesboro. it helped to draw a connection with the foundations of the past, like the warm fuzzies of the “Morning in America” ad.
3:15 – barn
the stone wall ends near this barn. though the shots were different colors, they were shot at the same time. one depicts the dark, cold morning, the next, the warmth of the rising sun.
the owner of the farm saw us shooting, and like Moses to the burning bush, he came to check out this strange thing. the camera rig when fully built looks kind of like a cannon or a howitzer, so it attracts attention whether we want it or not. not only was he kind enough to let us photograph his barn, he was actually on his way to have breakfast with Tom Batey, whose voice is featured in this film. I’m never surprised at all of the places where North Boulevard’s members have influence.
3:20 – our family
at this point, we start seeing members of our church family. i wanted to include many different backgrounds, family types, ages, cultures, etc. i wanted to try to represent the church as completely as possible. in the end, it came down to schedules and weather and such, as these things often do. but i was pleased with the cross-section of the congregation that is represented here.
first is NBCC Children’s Minister Amy Sain slipping into her youngest’s bedroom… well, actually, it’s Delaney’s bedroom, but that’s little Addison pretending to be a sleep. she was such a great little actress! Robert slips from the master bedroom into the hallway in the background. this is one of my favorite shots in the film. it’s such a sweet moment. i had time to light it the way i wanted. i had Joey to help me.
just for the record, most of these little 3- to 5-second shots take about an hour to set up, about 10 to 15 takes to get the camera move down, then another 45 minutes or so to pack out. spending 4 hours (including driving time) to get a 3- to 5-second shot was pretty typical.
Bill Sloan’s voice returns to bring the memories of the beginning of the film into the immediacy of the present.
3:25 – worries of yesterday
next is Rhonda Wingerter in one of the only “staged” shots. they were all staged, really, but here she’s playing someone kept awake by the “worries of yesterday” (per the voiceover), whereas most shots are just people doing what they normally do on a Sunday morning. Anne Batey narrates.
3:30 – thinking about tomorrow
i wanted a pregnant couple for this soundbyte. Cary and Ashley Sanders fit the bill, and their two current children (Noah & Eden) are adorable. she wasn’t showing much when we shot, so we stuffed her with a throw pillow! maybe she looks more like this now…
the voice is David Sproles.
3:35 – our fearless leader
this whole shot featured David and Juile Young in bed, David sits up, turns on the light, then gets out of bed. in the edit room, i just needed a few seconds, so Julie got cut. sorry, Julie!
let’s all spend a moment contemplating the visual metaphor of the light bulb coming on in the hands of the man that has been bringing us this Vision piece by piece…
3:37 – ties and curlers
the Harrison’s were kind enough to let us invade their incredibly interesting home. there were so many little neat nooks and corners that we could have featured in their home. in the end, i loved the idea of Joyce with the big curlers in her hair.
Don’s tie is blue… i tried as often as possible to have people dress in blue or gold in keeping with the Vision color scheme developed by Jeff McKeand.
3:38 – the Avillas
nothing says “busy morning” like three females sharing bathroom space. while staged in their dining room(!), it’s no doubt a good idea of their typical sunday morning.
3:40 – the Wingerter brothers
speaking of fighting over a bathroom…
these guys were a great help with the equipment. also, as we were leaving, i noticed Christmas lights that were about to set their house on fire. Marshall and Trevor are now forever in my debt, so i am holding onto that card until i really need it….
the voice of Nancy Webb draws us together… just before we see her…
3:42 – the Webbs
making coffee, of course.
3:44 – the Paynes
every morning, Brother Steve brings his dear wife Gloria a cup of coffee as she rushes to finish getting ready. even though it’s staged, i love that we captured this daily sweet moment between the two of them.
3:45 – the Hurts
we filmed the Paynes and Hurts in the same day, which i thought was amusing.
i knew about the Hurts because of Nicole having shared her story with the nbyg at True North. i really admired their courage as a couple (with husband Jim) to talk about what God had done in their lives, so i was honored to feature them in the film. their adopted daughter Sydney brought some beautiful diversity to our story, a reminder that God’s love is bigger than one race, color, or family.
3:47 – Marguerite Grandstaff
what a lovely woman.
we filmed this shot just after we shot a hour-long interview with her. i think i spent about four hours at her house that day. Joey was there for most of it. after the interview, she invited us into the dining room for coffee and store-bought pecan pie and ice cream. we sat and she told us about working in the navy during the war and about the neighborhood kids that come to visit her in the afternoons.
shortly after we left, she went to the hospital with double pneumonia! if we’d known she was feeling so poorly, we’d have rescheduled. but she was a trooper and a wonderful host. i’m glad to see that she had recovered; i saw her at church a few Sundays ago (she didn’t recognize me right away because I’d shaved my beard). i asked how it felt to be back at church, and she said it felt like she’d finally been able to come home. you’ll find few people that have a bigger, deeper love for North Boulevard than Marguerite Grandstaff.
3:49 – the Matlocks
i loved how open and sunlit their kitchen was, so we set up a breakfast scene. Mr. Matlock was grateful, as he hadn’t had breakfast yet!
after the shoot, i sat with them for a bowl of cereal and we talked about God’s work in China and the growing church there. it was such an encouraging thing to hear about. i love his passion for that work.
then i went and gawked at his awesome cars.
3:50 – early morning departure
we actually shot this at sunset. once again, it’s the Wingerter brothers.
David Young speaks of our deep desire to follow Jesus, a nod to everything related to discipleship in the Vision.
3:51 – the Sproles
words can’t express how much I’ve come to love the whole Sproles family over the course of working on this film.
Renee helped most directly by calling people for me. i knew no one would know who i was, on top of the fact that i didn’t know who to call in the first place. i made so many lists for Renee over the course of production. a lot of what is in this film is there because Mrs. Renee helped me set it up.
David and i enjoy a lot of common interests, Houston and i enjoy playing piano (and Nerf wars) together, and Emma Jane enjoys making fun of me for being such an introvert weirdo. when i was sick in days following the completion of the film, the family brought me soups and other delicious goodies.
we premiered the finished film at their house Saturday night before we showed it for the first time at North Boulevard the next morning.
3:53 – out the door
i was only at the Batey’s to do an interview, but grabbed a quick shot of them leaving for church. so glad i did.
3:54 – NBCC’s influence in the community
this section shows only Stones River Manor and MTCS, only because i didn’t have time to shoot more or screentime to show more. there are a lot of ministries, businesses, and services in this community that exist only because North Boulevard and her members set out to make their community a better place.
this part hints at an even greater influence from a fully matured church body. discipleship and the School of Christian thought are ways we might grow in influence among our neighbors. Amy Sain narrates.
3:56 – new ways to speak old truths
Mike Jones does pretty much everything media-related at NBCC, from the website to the sound during services. if you’ve never noticed him, that’s a testament to how well he’s done his job over the years.
as we prepare for a broadcast ministry, i thought it was appropriate to hint at that with the Vision on a TV. turning on the TVs is one of many things that happens early on a Sunday morning that most people don’t even notice. but someone has to put something on those TVs, someone has to turn them on and off, keep up with the remotes, etc.
this was one of a few things i noticed as i started researching how the church building “wakes up” on any given Sunday morning.
i had to have a young person narrate here, and Houston Sproles did perfect.
4:02 – prayer room
to hint toward the widows’ ministry, we got Jazzine Page to meet us with Rachel Bowen. this was probably the first time i had ever even been in the prayer room. it’s just off the hallway right outside the auditorium. as Rachel prepares for her marriage, how sweet for a lovely widow to pray over her.
i love the “happy accident” of the 2020 Vision logo on the tv through the doorway. and props to Rachel for wearing gold (Vision color)!
Mrs. Marguerite Grandstaff’s voice here is timeless.
4:05 – Lifelines
where do they come from? we take one every week without thinking about the people who write the material, type it up, design it, print copies, fold, stuff, etc. here is Jim Bowles setting out stacks at the welcome center early one Sunday. the greeters will come here to retrieve their name tags and stacks to hand out. do you ever think about all that work when you grab one and then leave it on the pew (for someone else to throw away)? i certainly did not, but now i do.
so many servants make Sunday morning happen at North Boulevard.
4:08 – greetings
it wouldn’t be Sunday morning at North Boulevard without Keith Ivey’s smiling face welcoming us in the door.
at North Boulevard, there’s a place for anyone and everyone to serve others.
like his wife a few lines back, Bob Webb draws us together in connection. this particular line points to our desire to reach out to every community of people in our area.
4:10 – Tony Holt
few people are ever once as happy as Tony Holt is all the time! this man is full of the joy of The Lord, and he loves being at North Boulevard.
Landon and Niki Houston were happy to let us steal a few minutes from the beginning of their meeting with Brother Tony. Niki was really excited to be in a movie!
4:12 – worship
John Magnuson leads us in worship.
he also appropriately voices this section.
i hope we didn’t interrupt services too much to get these shots. i just really wanted to get some dynamic images, and it’s hard to get that from a tripod at the back door.
Mag leads us in Blessed Assurance, which was the first song ever led at North Boulevard, back on that first day in 1947. it was led by song leader Bill Bryant, father of Peggy Burgess and Dottie Adams (themselves charter members of NBCC).
the worship section includes a brief moment of meet & greet showing our diverse congregation loving on each other.
i love that i captured Brother Sam Bagwell’s smiling face as he hugs a sister. and i think that’s Bill Sloan on the far left?
4:21 – outward
this section is about all the places we hope this Vision will affect. starting with our homes and neighborhoods, then spiraling outward.
Amy Sain’s voice carries into a few driving shots in the residential areas around the East Main area. it’s not really our neighborhood, but i loved the look of these older houses and the anchoring nostalgia they provide. plus, East Main was wide enough that we could get far enough away to get a decent shot!
the courthouse is really beautiful. so many small towns built new courthouses in the 60s, replacing gorgeous decorated buildings like this with ugly government cement rectangles. so glad Murfreesboro didn’t do that.
i really wanted to film a lot of stuff around the square, just because i love the look, the old school, American, small-town feel of it, but there just wasn’t shooting time or screentime. i guess I’ll just have to write a movie and set it on the square.
the stone monument depicted at 4:27 marks the geographical center of Tennessee (noted by the red star on the plaque). Murfreesboro’s central location is what made it the perfect place for the state capitol for a short time before it was moved to Nashville. the stone monument is located off Old Lascassass just north of MTSU. Alison Avilla says, “our city.”
most of the Boy Scouts here belong to Conrad and Lavy Little, although David and Houston Sproles are also in uniform.
the day of the shoot, the place we had planned to shoot was in the shade, so quickly set up near an apartment complex to use their flag pole. while we didn’t have express permission, i was pretty sure no one would want to run off a bunch of Boy Scouts making a video for their church! i love the kids’ smiles. i really wanted to get Don Wright in there, due to his involvement with the Exchange Club and the way they promote the US flag, but scheduling and weather just didn’t work out. otherwise, the shot is exactly how i had pictured it… such a Norman Rockwell-y moment. David Sproles is the voice.
at 4:31, we hear Tom Batey’s textured voice take us out into “our world”. this is actual video of a Sunday morning worship service in Tanzania, Africa. the shot features several local Tanzanians as well as Calvin Groen, a missionary that North Boulevard sponsors.
this was filmed by Carson McNeal. Carson is a great filmmaker in his own right and has spent a few years in Africa doing mission work and filming. he and his family will be returning to Tennessee soon, and i look forward to working with him on some film projects in the future. so cool for this film to feature footage from the other side of the world!
4:33 – our church family
this section seeks to represent a lot of the different groups that study and worship together at NBCC.
the voice bringing us into this section is Joe Wakham‘s. Joe is the executive producer of pretty much the entire 2020 Vision message. he has taken an ownership of the Vision in ways that has really blown everyone away. his relaxed, familiar voice helps me to believe that we can do this.
the first group depicted is the children’s ministry, headed by Amy Sain. this shot is basically the only three seconds where we didn’t have amateur breakdancers in frame. everyone wants their fifteen minutes, i guess.
after the children’s ministry, of course, comes the youth group. we call it the nbyg, and seen talking here is my brother and youth minister, David Skidmore. i know! we were able to capture him talking on film! unbelievable! this is actually a shot from True North on Wednesday nights, but gives you a sense of the ministry.
the college and careers class, led by David and Becky Alexander (you can see David in the back), let us sneak in and get a quick shot at the beginning of their class.
Brother Anthony Yanis did a good job of trying to ignore our monstrous rig behind him as he taught. and luckily, he showed a funny video that morning and we got this great shot of laughter. great smiles from Brennan Alexander, Justin Bowen, Erica Goslowsky, Addison Durham, and several others I’ve yet to meet. since we shot this at Christmastime, we had a lot of familiar faces in class that would otherwise be away at college.
at 4:39, we see a snippet of the Hispanic worship service, including minister Jorge Suarez singing along.
the church i worshipped with while i was in film school also had a Hispanic ministry. it was always a joy every few weeks when we’d have our bilingual service, but usually they didn’t like sticking to our rigid schedule. for most of the Hispanic families, there was no clock on Sunday. they’d come together for a long class, a long worship service, and a lot of just being around each other and sharing in each others’ lives. we could probably take a cue!
at 4:40 we see Connie Craig leading the ESL class. pretty much everyone in the class is from China, i think.
the ministry to Chinese people has grown at North Boulevard. my heart overflows every time i think about people from China learning about and worshipping Jesus freely here… something which they would not be free to do back at home. praise God that the Chinese church is growing strong and carrying the Gospel to their surrounding nations as they are able.
and it’s the voice of a teenage girl, Cheyana Avilla, that reminds of our new opportunities in the world. God entrusted his Good News to a teenage girl, so i thought using Cheyana’s voice for this note was perfect.
4:42 – a new day at North Boulevard
which brings us back to corporate worship. all of these different groups are sitting intermingled in the auditorium, gathered to sing praise and hear the Word of The Lord spoken with boldness. Brother Young humored me by using a scripted line at both services that day: “good morning! it is a new day at North Boulevard!”
i felt like this line sort of summed up a lot of the ideas i wrote about in the first section of this commentary.
4:48 – generations
we return to Brother Bill Sloan’s voice as we see him walking through the field behind the church, walking into the sunrise. but now we discover that he is not alone. he’s joined by his brother Gene, his wife, fellow elder Bob Webb, Bob’s wife Nancy Palmer Webb, the adult children of these families — Renee Sproles (David had to leave for work before we filmed!), Julie Link and her husband Jerry — and their children — Michelle Link, Meagan Link Monroe, and Emma & Houston Sproles. three generations of two families stemming from charter members, all members of North Boulevard. I’m sure there are more families with multiple generations at North Boulevard, but these two families were enough to make the point, i think.
it was super cold that morning, and it took quite a bit of rehearsing and placing to get the shot. and we only had a narrow window of time. too early, and the exposure was no good. too late, and the sun was too high in the sky. everyone was a good sport for standing out in the cold so early in the morning.
and major props to Houston Sproles for his blue and gold rugby shirt. he was definitely the most 2020-Vision-y dressed of anyone!
the idea here is that this “new” Vision is really the same Hope, the same Great Commission, the same Gospel, handed down from generation to generation. we hear this in the final voices as well — teenage Emma Sproles declares a new day; Anne Batey, a new dawn; charter member Bill Sloan declares the beginning of the Great Awakening at North Boulevard; grandfather and elder Bob Webb speaks with wisdom about the coming future; and the sweet voice of Alison Avilla sends us out, as her final line reminds us that this is only the beginning.
5:10 – sunrise
since i always begin with the end in mind, this is one of the first shots i did for the video. it was easy since it didn’t require actually filming anything or anyone. and it was part of the initial concept of taking us from the first logo image we were using into Jeff’s more stylized logo.
again, the earth was designed using images freely available from NASA (including cloud cover and city lights). i relied heavily on some tutorials from Andrew Kramer’s videocopilot.net. this shot took my quad-core i7 iMac about 14 hours to render in total, and that was only after pre-rendering a lot elements. the first pass render i did in the early stages of production took a full day or more.
this shot brings us back to where we began. stars. space. void. expansive. tiny lights far away.
then, breaching the darkness is a giant white hot ball of flaming energy. our Sun, close. providing us warmth and Light. the Light breaks over the horizon whether we’re ready or not. and it does it again and again and again, every day.
each day is new, with new opportunities, new mercies. but this Sunday morning is our day. what will we do with it?