Documentary filmmaker Stephen McCaskell is best known for his work on the Media Gratiae films Puritan, Luther, The Church, and a series he made with Tim Challies called EPIC: An Around the World Journey through Christian History. His work has given him the opportunity to travel all over the world. He has recently taken a position with Ligonier Ministries as Supervising Producer.

You can purchase most of Stephen’s films through Media Gratiae.

my guest today is documentary filmmaker
steven mccaskill
steven is best known for his work on the
media gracie films
puritan luther the church and a series
he’s made with tim charlie’s called
epic an around-the-world journey through
christian history
his work has given him the opportunity
to travel all over the world
and he has recently taken a position
with ligonier ministries as supervising
this is episode 44
welcome stephen i have long admired your
your films are great service to the
because they not only entertain us like
a great documentary should but they
bring us face to face
with important figures and movements
that we’re so unfamiliar with today
so i am just grateful to have you here
on the program
thanks for having me on the podcast todd
i really appreciate it i’m
i’m not one to normally give interviews
um i’m always very hesitant
because giving interviews just i mean
honestly it makes me nervous
but when you sent over the list of
that you you had for me i was thinking
wow these
you know these are things that are very
familiar to me
and things hopefully i can speak on well
and in a way that would be
encouraging for up-and-coming filmmakers
in our world and uh and
and hopefully would be edifying in in
some way
well your commitment to helping other
filmmakers is commendable i know on your
uh you’ve posted about seven articles
that cover the process of making a
which we’re going to get to in in the
but it shows your heart for raising up
the next generation of filmmakers
so how did you get started in making
i started making documentaries in a kind
of roundabout way
before i was doing film i was a web
and um every web project i worked on
i truly believed was a piece of art and
i tried to
create it in such a way that i was
really proud of it how it looked how it
how it left the user you know feeling
after they had used it
and what i came to find just over
you know a handful of years of me being
in web development
was that most websites at best only last
two to three years and then they are
replaced so all these
all these pieces of you know art that i
was creating
were quickly replaced with newer
websites that had
you know the code the the web code
language is always changing and always
and design on web is is especially
uh progressing and so you know websites
being replaced is quite common
and so all the projects i had
worked on today i don’t you know there’s
probably very few that are still
and so within the creative agency i was
at at the time it was called polymath
there was a video department and i had
asked the ceo hey
uh you know could i could i join one of
the video shoots
and the whole idea there is i saw
film as a way to create
a piece that was timeless and by
timeless i mean
it’s not necessarily going to last
forever but it’s going to last a lot
than you know two to three years on
average um
growing up i remember my mom watching
it’s a wonderful life
every christmas season the the you know
the 1950
whatever uh black and white version of
it’s a wonderful life
and and that still replies every year
you know so there’s a sense that film
is timeless and has this imp can have
this impact
um to last you know a lot longer than
than a web project and so that that kind
of interested me and i wanted to
um i wanted to see what it was like to
be on a film set
and see what it was like from beginning
to end to make a video project
growing up my friends and i made short
films quite often
and normally goofy kinds of things but
we you know we had
camcorders and we would
we would put together a narrative and
and film it and edit it
in imovie at the time and um
you know so we had lots of fun i never
really thought hey i’m gonna make a
career out of this though
so at polymath when i joined my first
video shoot i
i was thinking wow there’s there’s a lot
of uh
there’s a lot of things that kind of
lend to my my skill set that i have that
god has given me
and so i started getting more involved i
first started out as a
as a producer and um
within two to three years i
grew into the role of the director of
video production so i wasn’t
in i wasn’t in charge of directing
uh although i i had a role in an
assistant directing
i was more of the producer of the films
and the video projects and
slowly i started doing less and less web
and more and more video work and
it was during this time i
had been thinking how cool would it be
to do
a film on charles spurgeon i had
a huge interest in spurgeon spurgeon
played a pivotal part in my own
christian life uh his book all of grace
is still one of my favorite books today
it is just such an encouraging reminder
who god is who christ is and what
god has done for us in christ both
as the justifier and the just and so
it’s it’s not a long book i would
encourage all to read all of grace
so i started to put together the team
for what
uh became the team to make the
documentary through the eyes of spurgeon
through the eyes of spurgeon was a
kickstarted project
and it was my way of seeing is there
even a market
for this kind of thing and so the
kickstarter goal wasn’t
huge by any means it was i think it was
just over ten thousand dollars canadian
by the time it was all done and we had
raised a little bit more money i think
our budget was between twenty and thirty
thousand dollars
but we traveled we traveled um
to europe to to england and across the
us to do interviews and to film on
and so through the isis version was
the first feature film documentary i did
the plan all along was to release that
for free on on vimeo and youtube
and it was received really well with the
help of
the spurgeon library at midwestern
baptist theological seminary which is
in kansas city we were able to
um i mean get quite a a viral
reaction uh on twitter and on facebook
and and it was well received and people
were encouraged by it and people enjoyed
and from that point i had
uh different people reaching out to me
hey you know what what’s next for you
what what’s the next project
and i honestly wasn’t even i was going
to be happy if a thousand people watched
if you go on youtube now i think it’s
it’s over a million views i
i don’t know what is that exactly now
but there’s there’s been
millions of views and people from every
country in the world
uh that have watched it and have
benefited from it and i had
now i had people reaching out saying hey
what what do you want to work on next
you we might be interested in helping
you fund your next project nice
that’s really where you want to be and
it seems like that is what has defined
your career
and your films often have a lot of
animation and i read somewhere
that you have a background in animation
my background in
animation started out in through the
eyes of spurgeon
i had seen a really cool technique
camera mapping or 3d camera mapping i
think it’s called
where you take this archival image
that is that is flat and too deep um
and you you create a 3d space for it in
after effects
and you know you’re able to make what is
normally a quite you know stat well it
is a static and boring image that you
probably could only use for a few
seconds uh you can
draw it out and use it for 10 to 15
seconds because you are moving
throughout the scene in the 3d space
and so while i’m kind of familiar with
after effects
enough to be a little dangerous i
have always leaned on those that are
motion designers and animators and so
even for through the eyes of spurgeon we
had reached out to
a guy named luke pennings who
was a student at the time who did all
the camera mapping for through the eyes
of spurgeon
and when the next film came out that we
were working on which was
uh luther the life and legacy of the
german reformer well this was
a very different beast we had a team of
that were that had seen spurgeon and
were had benefited from it
and they wanted to fund the next project
and so
luther was born and this was right
before the 500 year
anniversary of the protestant
reformation so we thought this would be
a great time to
look at luther’s life again it had been
done before
and and there had been some good
docudramas and good
documentaries done on luther’s life but
we thought we could do it
in a way that looked at his life a
little differently we wanted to spend
time even focusing on some of the more
aspects of his life one of the charges
that is brought up against martin luther
is that he was
anti-semitic and so
we wanted to tackle that head-on and and
we did in the film
uh we also wanted to use animation quite
heavily in the film because
there’s so much of his life that is hard
to just
go on location and and and tell and it
just doesn’t really do it justice
and so there’s there’s just over i think
it’s 10 minutes
of a full animation
in the film and we had our good friends
up in vancouver canada uh ordinary folk
work on all of that animation and then
all the illustration
was done by a good friend up in
washington at the time he was in los
his name is ramel so with ramel
and jorge from ordinary folk and a crew
animators up in ordinary folk in canada
we we put together this uh
this style for what what became the
that you see in luther and if you
haven’t seen luther and you have amazon
prime it’s available to watch for free
on prime
so you can you can go to amazon and
check it out there
another thing that was unique to luther
was it was my first time
instead of using licensed music actually
composers to write original music this
is something i had
always wanted to do um and because of
the success i guess you can say of
through the as dispersion i had
i had different people reaching out to
me and one of those people was jorge
from ordinary folk the animator and
another was uh two others were jared
and eric lutz or lutz i’m not sure you
say his last name
but they’re both composers that have
worked on
uh different feature films in in
and uh i quickly came to find out
it’s not that much more money to write
original music compared to licensing it
and so i loved that
idea and that’s one of my favorite
things still about luther
and is the is the original score you can
find that
on on spotify and listen to it for free
there or
wherever you listen to music but it’s
one thing that i’ve
taken uh from luther on to
all the other projects i’ve worked on i
almost never
license music anymore i i like to work
with composers to
create the the atmosphere that
you know you know you spend so much time
focusing on the atmosphere and the
feeling of how it looks
um why wouldn’t you spend the amount of
time with how it sounds
which you know complements and elevates
the atmosphere that you’ve created
and so it’s one thing i i highly
recommend is
is reaching out to different composers
and working with them
um and even if you’re finding you know
find a student
that’s just graduated from a music
school and um
and work with them i think i think
you’ll be rewarded
um with that whole process and then the
end product is stronger
now you’ve worked with media grocery on
most of your projects
my relationship with media garage is an
interesting one
back in 2000
i think it was i joined them on their
shoot they were uh shooting a
feature film documentary called logic on
on the preacher martin lloyd jones and
so i joined them for
i think it was 10 days in which i was
just a grip
and this was before i had filmed through
the isis virgin so
i was i was just really there to to
learn to see how
it was to film a feature length
on location and
and six seven years later and you know i
had been working with them on and off
different projects but six seven years
later i find myself with a work visa
and i work visa to work here in the in
the states
and being canadian that’s it’s it’s not
easy to get
and so my wife and i decided hey
maybe we should move down to where media
gratia is and just work
because at that time i had been working
remote with them why don’t we work
in closer proximity to them and at the
same time we can
attend christ church new albany where
pastor john snyder pastors and i had met
john on some of the shoots beforehand
and had
spoken to him and so we thought hey this
might be a neat opportunity for our
family just to
you know just to do this and to see how
the lord would use
you know a year of us being down here so
we moved here in april 2019 thinking
you know we’re only going to be here for
a year and then
2020 rolls around and we find
that coven hits and we’re still here
and media gracie is going through a
transition in which
they ask me to be the director of media
and so i step in after much prayer uh
and and am the director of media gracie
at the start of 2020 and
um i i served as the director
for about a year and a half and it was
during that time
uh we we did a project called the church
and we did a few other
smaller projects in-house and it was i
mean it was a really great time
the the team you know i love every
member of the team it’s a small
uh close team everyone really works well
together everyone knows each other
everyone has their own strengths it’s
very complimentary
yeah yeah so about a year and a half
later i was offered
a position at ligonier and
john snyder the the pastor of the church
featured in several of the early studies
for medigrate
was willing to step in and to serve as
the director of media guarantee so it
freed me
to to go to ligonier in which
uh i’ve been that ligonier now for just
just a month we are about to move the
down there so i’m very excited about
that so my new position at ligonier
is supervising producer
of film and so
i’ll be working on long form documentary
just like i have done the last decade
but also shorter form documentary work
and so there’s there’s a wide range of
projects that we already have
in the works and i i’m not going to talk
about them yet but
i’m very excited for all of them and i
can’t wait to
to get them out and show you guys i
can’t wait to see what you have cooking
at ligonier
let me know when you have a release and
i’ll post it here will you still have a
relationship with media gracie in some
my my work with media gracie is is all
done now
media gratia as a ministry has uh
i guess focused and become a little more
narrow and specific in what they do
in that they’re going to primarily be
doing the podcasts that they do
and different teaching series
i think in the future they might do a
documentary or kind of a documentary
project again and if that happens most
likely they will
outsource um some of that work to
actually make that happen but
yeah my work with media grate is uh is
all finished now
now you’ve had the opportunity to travel
quite a bit shooting your documentaries
and i know that some of the countries
that you’ve been shooting in have not
been as hospitable to you producing
christian material
tell us a little bit about your travel
i feel like i’ve been very blessed to
have traveled
to over 50 countries
all all for work uh it honestly doesn’t
even feel real and it doesn’t even
feel like work you know when you love
your job uh it doesn’t even feel like it
like you’re working and so
i’ve i’ve been to over 50 countries for
all sorts of
uh different projects i’ve been to cuba
for a short documentary film called
bibles in cuba
in which an organization had brought in
in thousands of bibles to cubans that
didn’t have a bible and
we were capturing them receiving a bible
that they’ve been
praying about their whole life and
i mean so that was a neat experience
i’ve been to the middle east
several times to document
what isis was doing specifically to the
christian villages and to the christians
uh in the nineveh ancient nineveh plains
around mosul
um ah yeah it’s
it i mean it’s it’s incredible if if i
look back thinking
i’ve been to over 50 countries and had
amazing experiences met amazing people
captured you know hopefully some
stories and that that no one else has
really been able to capture
and hopefully it sheds a light on how
the lord is working in different parts
of the world that’s that’s really my
hope and i think
everyone’s hope who is a part of a
an international you know film project
especially when it
is to do with modern christianity and
the lord is is actively at work because
one thing i think we we find it really
we find it really easy just to see
you know what we’re going through or
what our country is going through
and not to re not to remember that
there’s almost
you know 200 other countries out there
as well you know and they have
different contexts and different
and different pressures different
issues that they are going through as
well and many in which that
christianity is is not tolerated
and is in fact hated in in a much
different way than you know we
experience here in the west
i can imagine it has a potential to be
more dangerous in being a war
because you become the target and you’re
not just a target for
militant extremists
this next question i have is a bit more
why do you think documentaries are
important for the church
such as the ones that you do that focus
on church history what
place do they have in serving the church
one of the biggest projects i’ve been a
part of not necessarily budget wise but
scale wise is epic
and so epic was published through
zondervan and
with epic we travel to 24 or 25
countries telling the story of christian
history through different objects
and so that’s that’s what makes epic
unique there’s a lot of i mean there’s
not maybe
lots but there’s different projects out
there where you are telling
parts of history through uh people
or or places and so what makes epic
unique is that it’s told through an
object and so
the goal was to find different objects
around the world at different parts of
christian history
and see how that object ties into
telling a part of you know the the
history of the church and
there might be some i mean personally i
love church history i love
um i love history just in general but i
love also church history
i think every christian should know
church history
because church history is really a
family history
and as soon as you have been adopted
into this family
you know you’re responsible for knowing
your family history
and so one of the i mean one of the most
successful and easy ways to
to to learn your family history
is by watching epic or there’s a there’s
an excellent book by
sinclair ferguson called in the year of
our lord
it’s it’s a really enjoyable uh
practical experiential
book um it’s not heavy and
scholarly it’s really accessible but in
that in that book
every chapter is a century and so you
you can see how christianity went from
you know from jesus’s time here on earth
to the apostles
and then down through the centuries up
into today it’s it’s a fascinating book
and that’s
that’s kind of what we did with epic as
um so it’s a little different in that we
are telling the story through objects
and there’s some
centuries where there’s just no objects
left well we all know the cliche
those who don’t know history are
destined to repeat it
and we’re seeing that being fulfilled in
the christian culture today
your work makes church history
and understandable and what i love about
your work is it’s not just focused on
the who
what and where but also on the how and
the why
those are much more important questions
and through these interviews with
various individuals
we get to hear how certain historical
figures and events
and even their convictions had great
impact on the church leaders of today
and i say that knowing that your work
probably hits a very niche market
even within our christian culture me and
some of my friends
we buy almost every documentary you
but not everyone who’s a christian is
like us
i say that because i suspect it’s
probably tough for you to turn a profit
on your films
it is definitely challenging to make a
with i think with almost anything but
especially with film
there’s so much uh time and energy and
resources put into creating
film and and to do it well especially
you know as soon as you
start talking about animation and
composing and stuff like that
then when you’re all said and done you
know you have
half a million dollars put into it and
it’s it’s it’s hard to get that half a
million back
with luther for example there’s there’s
so many of us
including myself i i didn’t take a penny
of the funds that were raised
to make it so i luther even though it
was a full-time job for me for two years
was a full-time job on top of all of the
other projects i had
going on that actually funded and paid
for my bills
and there were others that worked on
luther in the same fashion
so i think if you want to see
films get made and to get out there
there’s all there’s going to be
sacrifices along the way and
and they come in one way or another it’s
definitely not a
it’s not a lucrative business you know
christian documentary filmmaking
i do think it’s helpful though
and i think that the church can benefit
documentary storytelling um
i focus so much on historical
documentary film
making but i have a friend brandon
kimber who’s done the american gospel
films and those those deal with modern
christian issues and i know those have
been so helpful for so many to
reveal to uh to reveal what
what is going on in the current church
context and
how how unbiblical it is and then to to
actually dig into the bible to see what
the bible
teaches and so the kind of work i
have done tends to be more
church history which i think it’s
important to know church history because
like i said earlier it’s it’s
when you’re adopted into a family it’s
your responsibility to know your own
family history
but beyond that i think it can help
safeguard us against potential heirs in
the future
and i think it also can help
push us to know the lord more and and
more experientially seeing how
the lord has worked in the past and
how he’s worked through the simple means
of grace in different
people’s lives and how that can be an
encouragement for us to keep running the
that’s a very good point how often do we
read in the bible about the importance
of remembering god’s works
and declaring his testimonies that’s not
limited to the works and testimonies
that we see in the bible
and given that we have about what three
thousand years of history
under the old testament covenants the
new testament covers one generation
basically less than 100 years or so so
the testimonies and works of god that we
have under the new covenant are found in
church history
not a scripture but certainly very
valuable for us
i do just want to follow up with my
question because
you made your film through the eyes of
spurgeon available free on youtube
and i just saw that you have luther
streaming on amazon prime for free
i just want to ask you if your
documentaries aren’t making their money
why are you making them available for
and not re trying to recoup your money
maybe i miscommunicated a bit there
the documentaries that i’ve worked on
are passion projects and so i’m not i’m
not out there
i’m not i’m not trying to make money
with them personally
that said um luther for example
the um even though i i didn’t take a
on that project and there were other
people who didn’t as well because they
they wanted to see the project get made
in the same way i did
and so they were happy to put time
you know above and beyond their normal
work on it
but the people that funded that project
have made
that money back and and a bit more
and so you know that project
partly due to the the timing of it with
the 500 year anniversary
some of the conferences conferences we
were able to get in on
um you know around that and and due to
uh lasting nature you know every every
is also reformation day and so
it’s becoming i think it’s you know i
feel like it’s becoming more
popular every year for protestants
to you know celebrate that in in a in a
fun way
also you know in a serious way
remembering how the lord used the
and so often people will you know watch
luther again uh every reformation day or
or have a
have a viewing party at their church or
small group or something like that
after a period of time it just made
sense that
to to put luther on amazon prime
and so amazon you know if you have
amazon prime it’s free
but you there’s a bit of kickback that
you get um
every view and so it’s not
uh it’s not not making money and you
know you’d be surprised still how many
watching on amazon prime then want to go
watch or go buy the dvd
and give it to their whatever their
their parents or
their friend who uh maybe doesn’t have
amazon prime or doesn’t have the
internet connection
um and so they’re still you know they’re
still and there’s still people buying it
on vimeo and itunes uh to have in their
libraries so even though it’s
on amazon for free people are still
looking for ways uh to purchase it
and you know above and beyond all of
that there’s also church licenses and so
that’s a pretty decent revenue stream
a documentary that you know is going to
be benefited by the church and that
churches can
can use um so
that’s that’s luther puritan um
has also done well it was uh it was
a bigger investment than luther to make
because it’s also beyond beyond it just
being a feature film
it’s also uh you know a huge uh
huge study as well and so puritan has
continued to do well and i i see it
doing well in years to come as people
learn about the puritans and want to
learn about the puritans i mean there’s
no better overview
visually than to watch you know the
puritan documentary so it’s not that
christian documentary filmmaking isn’t
i mean it’s not lucrative but it’s also
not impossible to
break even um or even you know make a
bit of profit and and funnel it into the
next project
i just think early on especially you
have to be okay with
those sacrifices that you have to make
and uh
and and not really worry about making
money because that’s
that’s really not our goal anyways you
know we want to
we want to represent our creator well
our god does everything with excellence
um and so we want to strive to to do the
you know with our projects now you
crowdfunded spurgeon
would you consider crowdfunding a
project again
i probably would use crowdfunding again
i guess it depends on the project
we did crowdfunding on spurge and we
also did it on luther
and the reason we did it on luther was
it that it never was the intention that
the funds we got through kickstarter for
uh would be the all the funds that we
needed it was
it was really just a proof of concept i
had you know i had done a lot of
research and
seen that there there was already some
good luther you know documentaries and
docudramas out there
so i was curious like do people even
want another luther film
and so the kickstarter was more of a
proof of concept for luther
and the luther kickstarter was a success
so then we raised the rest of the funds
uh from different individuals and and
made that happen
knowing that there was that market so i
would i would use kickstarter again
potentially to fund
a project that’s a bit different than
what i normally do so you know church
history documentaries
so maybe if i wanted to do a
a narrative short film that was
fiction or uh some kind of parable
day parable i would probably go through
kickstarter with something like that i
think i think that might be a fun way to
the community and that’s one of the best
things about kickstarter is the
around it there’s some uh backers from
the spurgeon project when you when you
support a project on kickstarter you’re
called a backer
so there’s still there’s some backers
from the spurgeon project that i still
have contact with
that’s one really neat thing with
kickstarter is that is that it’s
community building
you know you can you offer rewards to
people that help fund your project
uh so i yeah i would consider using
again for sure
you’ve been able to get some very
significant and influential
leaders in the church to be interviewed
on your films do you find it hard
to get them to be involved i mean how
does that work
getting interviews especially when
you’re first starting out can be a very
thing because you have to go through you
know pr people
or their assistants and and in reality
you have to first convince that person
that you are worth their time and then
they ask
the actual person that you want to
interview if if they want to do it
um i’ve had several people say no to me
i think the key in asking for interviews
is i mean to just be clear and upfront
in the email or in the phone call or
however you’re reaching out
what you’re doing what what the end goal
of the film is
and what questions you want to ask them
help them to be as prepared as possible
it also it also you don’t want to
ask someone you’re interviewing
questions that are
not even related to their field so find
that are the
you know if you have a question on a
specific time in church history and you
know there’s a scholar
who that is his area of study is that
time in church history
well then go obviously ask him those
questions don’t ask him questions about
you know a different century that he’s
not even studied in so you want to be
smart when it comes to asking the
questions yeah pretty much like any
industry really you got to get past the
and then you got to be very efficient
with the use of your time
do you compensate those who you
interview for your films or do they do
just out of goodwill you know as far as
the terms of how we
interview people and what we offer them
most of the time
you know almost almost all of the time
we there’s no there’s no compensation
um you know we’ll provide them a copy of
the film when it’s out
um most of the time people are happy to
involved in a project uh especially now
you know knowing that there will be tens
of thousands of
eyes on it you know they want to get in
front of these people as well
because you know they’re authors and
and so on there have been a few
occasions in which we have offered
some sort of small compensation but i
mean that’s never a motivator for any of
these people they’re happy to be
involved in these projects i think it
might be different um
if we were talking about you know a
secular film or documentary
there’s a there’s an excellent uh tv doc
on national geographic called trafficked
you know they’re going to all these
really hard to reach places
uh entering peop interviewing people
that never are interviewed
um because they’re often doing
illegal things and so i’m assuming
you’re gonna have to compensate these
people or
incentivize them to be interviewed um so
in that case that would
obviously make sense but in our case uh
rarely if ever is there any compensation
what advice would you give a young
documentary filmmaker who’s just
starting out
over the years i’ve had several people
reach out to me asking hey you know hey
steven how can i get into documentary
you know what what kinds of things do i
need to know in this area
and so i spent some time either
earlier this year or late last year
putting together
a guide to documentary filmmaking and in
i have interview release forums i have
how you build a budget
i have itinerary templates i have
literally everything that i
use is is available
on that documentary or that guide to
documentary filmmaking
and that’s available on my website uh
it’s it’s all free and the idea is
there’s i i don’t i could have sold it
for money and
sure there’s a lot of value in in the
process and everything that i’ve
learned and you know put together in one
but honestly i just want to see more
filmmakers out there making films
i think it’s kind of crazy that there’s
only a handful of us
in this little world i i i want to see
and so you know i hope that’s an
encouragement to
up and coming filmmakers to to hopefully
learn something and improve on and and
do it better than i did
let’s talk about my favorite documentary
it is brilliant and in my mind the best
of your work in terms of production
of taking very difficult history and
and making it easily digestible and as a
result it’s very impactful on a personal
and spiritual level
how did puritan come about the puritan
came about and this goes back to my
relationship with media gratier
and so i had worked with media grantee
on a few projects they had known
of my work on luther and discipleship
and and some other and and spurgeon so
reformation heritage books
which is uh joel beeke and team up in
grand rapids michigan
they asked media gratier and said hey
would you be willing
to do the documentary
the definitive documentary on
puritans and and more than just a
documentary let’s also make it a study
with different lectures and so media
grate then
proceeded to ask me and said hey stephen
would you be willing to be the director
and producer of this
and you know i was over the moon i at
this point i was in canada working on
i think i had just finished discipleship
and maybe i was about to start another
project and so
it was it was perfect timing and it was
i mean it was right up my alley
and so with with puritan i had worked
with my good friend
barry cooper on the screenplay and i had
worked with barry cooper
on luther he was a presenter for luther
and i’ve worked with him several times
since uh and he’s always
written my this the screenplays for the
documentaries i’ve worked on and so i
hired him wanting him to to write the
for puritan and if you read
if you go through my guide to
documentary filmmaking as far as a
process goes
i spent just a ton of time as the
reading and studying the puritans and i
put together
a very detailed outline of what i think
might work for a really good narrative
and story arc
and some of the questions and and the
themes we want to touch on
and then i got input from rhb and from
the media graphic team
and then i sent it to barry and barry at
the same time is reading
you know everything and then he develops
a screenplay so that’s the process of
how the screenplay gets it gets going
we got ordinary folk you know the team
from luther
to do all the animation for puritan
i got some of the same composers from
luther and so really it’s uh
it’s it’s it’s a lot of in a lot of ways
the core team
of of luther brought over to puritan and
hopefully you know we’re continuing to
on uh the last project
well i i loved luther uh but there is
something very special about puritan
every project i ever do i
at the end of it i look at it and i
think uh
like is this is this even good anymore
you spend so much time as a creative
thinking things through
and thinking hey this might be good oh
no this is just
this is garbage or you know this is okay
and so there’s
there’s so many emotions that you have
throughout the whole process of a
project especially over the course of
two two and a half years so at the
at the end of it you’re just kind of
ready for it to get done but at the same
time you don’t want to put anything out
that’s less than perfect
and while i mean you never hit that mark
and so you always are wanting to improve
and hope the next project is better i
think that’s just a
a helpful note for creatives i think
as as i mean being creative
is is tough in that it’s hard to feel
like you’re um you’re ever satisfied
with what you have made
and i think that’s a very normal thing
that’s why
having a team where you can collaborate
and push one another
to be to be better and
offload different things where you know
it’s maybe not your strength and it’s
someone else’s strength that is uh super
helpful and it’s always going to make
your end product better and it’s going
to make you
actually like your end product more we
absurd goals and expectations for
and um and then when we don’t hit those
things we
feel you know disappointed i think if
anything it just
you know i think it pushes you to make
the next project
better and you’re always continuing to
grow and to learn and to improve and
and you know lord willing your
your projects will reflect that that
well with that i am really excited to
see what your next projects are going to
be with league in ear
stephen thank you for taking your time
and for sharing your heart and your
and thank you for your generosity to
raising up young filmmakers
thanks for having me on the podcast todd
i really
appreciate it one more thing came to
mind uh if you don’t mind me
mentioning it oh sure puritan has been
out for i think it’s almost two years
and but there is something special
coming out
uh related to it later this summer or
early fall so consider yourselves
uh among the elite few that know this
because this is not a public
um there’s no i mean there’s no public
announcement of this yet from the team
but we are doing a puritan
collector’s edition uh i i’ve already
finished it all it is the feature film
but there’s five hours of unedited kind
of raw
uh interview content i mean it’s really
it kind of sounds boring but
if you enjoyed puritan it’s it’s
actually a really engaging five hours
and it’s it’s with
like uh you know j.i packer who passed
away just just recently so we have
his whole interview we have john piper
uh kevin deyoung um john mcarthur so
a lot of great people um that are
and you it’s it’s an interesting uh
um thing you know you have the the
interview we
asking the question or sorry the
interviewer asking the question and then
the interviewee be
responding and so uh it’s
it’s a different experience for the
viewer and kind of
you know it peels back the curtain a
little bit but what i wanted to say is
this puritan collector’s edition there’s
only going to be 4 000
of them made and they’re it’s a steel
so if you’re familiar with if you go to
best buy
you can see those those steel book dvd
or blu-ray cases
and so there’s only one company in the
world that makes these steel book cases
and we we got them to make 4 000 of
special and it’s special art and it
comes with an nft
if you’re wondering what an nft is uh
it’s it’s crypto blockchain related
i actually i wrote a blog post on on
what an nft is earlier this year so
that’s on my site if you’re
curious but keep an eye out for the
puritan collector’s edition i’m
very excited about that it should be out
later this uh
summer or early fall well count me in
for one of those i am looking forward to
stephen we pray that you’re moved to
florida and your adjustment to this new
and climate will be a blessing because i
know you’re coming from ontario
and we’ll be keeping an eye on what
you’re doing at ligonier
thank you for joining me on this episode
of the ministry of motion pictures
i hope this has been both inspiring and
you can find stephen mccaskill on the
web at stephen
we will have links to stephen’s website
his series of posts
on documentary production and his films
in the show notes of this episode