Christopher Shawn Shaw is the director of the movie Church People, which was written by the film’s lead actor, Thor Ramsey. Church People is Shaw’s feature directorial debut. Christopher is no stranger to acting or filmmaking, he owns a production company called Anchor Productions, he has directed and produced a comedy cooking series called Something Smells Funny, and he’s been quite involved in the 168 Film Project. 

In this episode Christopher shares with us the 10 year plus story of how Church People was made, and I’ll give you one spoiler, it involves a gold fish.  

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my guest today is actor director
christopher sean shaw who directed the
movie church people which was written by
the film’s lead actor for ramsey
church people is shaw’s feature
directorial debut
but christopher is no stranger to acting
or filmmaking he owns a production
company called anchor productions and
he’s directed and produced a comedy
cooking series called something smells
funny if you’ve been following or
participating in the 168 film
competitions you’ll have come across
some of his work
in this episode christopher shares with
us the 10-year plus story of how church
people was made and i’ll give you one
spoiler it involves a goldfish this is
episode 46.
christopher it’s great to have you on
the show
thank you so much thanks for having me
it’s great to be here so tell us a
little bit about where church people is
well um it is available on demand as we
record this um
it should be on dvd soon
um but i don’t have a date
but um this year is what i’ve been told
um it was supposed to be on dvd and on
demand at the same time but uh the dvd
uh part got delayed
um but uh on demand on several major
platforms uh christian cinema
amazon prime video google play apple tv
uh voodoo vimeo
and i think i’m forgetting one but if
you go to the website
uh there’s a buy button there and when
you click that it shows you all the
options for where you can get it on
demand you can rent or buy it as a
digital download
so that’s where it is now as we record
this um
people are still enjoying it every once
in a while i still get a message here
and there
uh people who know i’m connected to the
project say they saw it they really
liked it
great response that’s great how about
the theatrical release you had a
theatrical release and then a host to
screening uh
yeah and
and if i’m not mistaken the host of
screening uh the host of showing might
still be available there is i think
there’s still a button on the website
that says host a showing and if you
click that you can fill out a quick form
and uh see if you can get it hosted at
your school or at your church um so i
think that might still be an option
that’s through faith content network
so um at least click the button and and
write laurie her emails in there and see
um but uh but yeah we had a theatrical
in mid-march it was a three-day fathom
and um
i was told we were
number 10 at the box office so we made
the top ten
if you average this the screenings out
of what was playing and how many screens
on a first screen average we were number
10 of the box office wow that’s
and how many then we had a window
i think it was about a month after that
we had a window of premium video on
demand so there were virtual screenings
through the website
or there was a salem now and you know if
you wanted to show out 20 bucks to see
it then you could see it then but uh but
now it’s cheaper than that even if you
want to buy it
and um uh it’s it’s on demand on on
probably some of your favorite uh
streaming platforms including christian
cinema so that’s really cool that’s
great how many churches did they did the
host of show do you know
that’s a good question um our domestic
distributor and marketing team at
collide media group would know that uh
they’re in tennessee and they’re the
ones who put together that incredible
trailer that we got right um
a really fun trailer that doesn’t give
too much away doesn’t give the funny
funniest parts away there’s some funny
in the trailer of course but
but what i really like about that
trailer is it really succinctly
gives you a taste of what the movie is
without giving everything away yeah um
they did a really great job a gentleman
by the name of scott edge
was their editor for that trailer and uh
so shout out to collide media group in
but they would have an idea of how many
uh churches uh
uh did the um
the screening i know there were a lot
interested who uh weren’t able to do it
for one reason or another
but there were
there were a decent number that decided
to that’s my dog getting off my lap
good um
so let talk me through how you got into
christian film is this something that
you wanted to do since you were
interested in film or did you come at it
later in life
uh later in life because uh growing up
and what i went to college for was
actually acting i wanted to act in film
i wanted to be a quote unquote movie
and so i went to college for acting i
grew up in ohio i went to otterbein
college which is now otterbein
university in westerville ohio
and i was a theater performance major uh
bachelor fine arts
and um over the years though you know i
had access to a vhs camera at the time
you all remember what vhs were yes of
it wasn’t beta it was vegan i am that
old and i still have my beta camp my
betamax oh wow yeah we no i don’t think
we ever had a beta cam but i had a vhs
and when i was in college my parents got
me a vhs slim cam it was only four and a
half pounds it was really thin
and it shot really good standard
definition video so i would get these
ideas in my head and i would like for
seeds and of course i would act in the
and um i would shoot scenes here and
there uh rarely completed pieces like a
completed short or something it was
um a scene or or maybe it was a really
short self-contained short
um and i just remember thinking man i
wish i could be in front of the camera
and behind the camera at the exact same
time because i love doing both of this
yeah but over the years um
i found myself um enjoying
more and more being behind the camera
and so
you know i still like to act here and
there and i have a literal run-on
performance in church people
but um
really my passion now is uh
directing creative producing
i also enjoy editing quite a bit so um
so yeah i also do some consulting
and um i noticed you’ve got a lot of
short films and tr mini trailers you
know on your youtube page yeah
yeah css 301 yeah yeah yeah yeah well
that started about um
i think i got on youtube around 2008 or
2009 somewhere in there and so
yeah i would have these like little
short ideas or whatever and i put some
of my 168 phone projects
shout out to
if you’re looking into getting involved
in filmmaking
or acting or cinematograph whatever it
is film related
do the 168 film competition they have
different categories now um
i think traditionally initially it
started out it was a speed film making
competition and it still largely is
uh but now you can do like if if you’ve
done a 168 before you can do what’s
called an alumni
you’re not bound by the 168 hour time
limit of doing it all in a week
so anyway the way the 168 works
is um there’s a theme for the year
and then there’s a
bible verse that you randomly draw
that’s related to the theme
and uh and then you springboard from
there into about 10 or 11 days of
writing the actual short film
and then after that like right after
that you have 168 hours if you’re in the
speed film competition you have 168
hours to shoot edit and turn in a
finished short film and thor ramsey and
i did our very first 168 together oh
in 2010.
cool and believe it or not that’s when
he told me about
uh what was then called youth group that
was what church people’s original title
um and so um
yeah this is a really fun story i’m sort
of backtracking now but uh basically
i was a bachelor at the time i was in my
bachelor pad i connected with thor
ramsey um and i was a thor ramsey fanboy
because i knew his comedy
i saw him on the thou shout laughs and
and uh he hosted bananas for about three
and uh bananas was a a
a clean comedy tv special that they
actually believe it or not they shot it
in ohio
um he didn’t live in ohio but they shot
in ohio
and um
but uh but yeah
these are all in christian cinema right
um i don’t know where bananas is now i
but that but i was part of i did do uh
the um
netflix style ran a dvd kind of thing
yeah yeah and and and
okay so let me let me tell the whole
story because it’s it’s really um or
more in depth maybe not the whole story
so i was in a funk in 2009
and i i had this mindset like if i was
going to do christian content
it had to be heavy and meaty you know
where’s the meat and where’s the heavy
scripture verses and where’s the heavy
message and where’s the tears and that
you know it had to be a drama basically
but very very heavy
but i’m a quirky goofball
and so
my very first 168 was in 2008
and it was a it wasn’t it was a an
intense subject matter that dealt with
and um i wore way too many hats on that
one i started it i wrote it i directed
it i edited it i did craft services i
mean like i wore like seven hats on that
but as the actor in it
my quirkiness came out and like i’m so
it’s a drama
and there’s maybe a hint of comedy but a
lot of that had to do with just my
quirky sense of humor so i’m a quirky
you mentioned my youtube videos you’ve
seen that i’m a quirky goofball
so even when i would do something heavy
like that my quirkiness would come out
and in 2009
i just recently moved out of a
housing situation that wasn’t um
wasn’t healthy i had way too many
and um i moved out into my own bachelor
pad there was peace and quiet and i just
i sensed the lord was changing my heart
and that i needed to laugh
and so i was i was a member of they had the rental
cue with the dvds at the time and um i
was just getting one after and i what i
decided to do was i’ll just go to the
i’ll go to the um the comedy section of
their rental queue
and uh just go in alphabetical order for
the most part
and early in the alphabet is b for
and so i just
and there’s a bunch of those and so i
would watch the the televised version
the un the uh non-televised version
the behind the scenes antics that they
would do with the guests
and i remember sitting there in my
bachelor pad watching thor ramsey pop up
and you know the graphics at the
beginning and like they had these cut
out graphics and it was just really fun
and animated and
i was sitting there going man i wonder
what it’d be like to be friends with
somebody like thor ramsey
and that was around the time i started
getting more into facebook
you know 2009 so
i had this bright idea like okay i’m
going to start connecting with these
comedians i’m seeing on you know thou
shalt laugh michael jr and and thor
ramsey on on bananas and john brainy and
his guest of bananas and all these
different comics that were i was seeing
in the christian circuit like i’m going
to see if they’re on facebook
and so i just started fretting them on
facebook and they would graciously
and um
i was also at the time um making these
quirky videos um so you’ve seen my
youtube channel have you have you had
the pleasure of witnessing goldie the
no that’s one i did not see you missed
goldie the goldfish that’s an integral
part to this story man
so seriously so i get this idea for a
funny uh video about a bachelor and his
goldfish i didn’t have a goldfish so i
went out and got a goldfish
and um did this video that one
idea turned into like 10 or 11 more
most of them i think are on my youtube
channel um i think all of them except
for the last one i never edited where i
flushed him
oh no
well he died i mean okay but in my
history in my history of of of goldfish
you know i had two goldfish in college
named daryl and daryl and they lasted
for like maybe a week you know
this one lasted for nearly a year or
about a year
lots of videos and um and yeah the last
i had like a mock
funeral service where i flushed it down
the toilet and i never edited that one
together so that one’s still
on the shelf somewhere
behind the scenes waiting to come out
people might not have been ready for
that one
because they like well goldie was a hit
or miss so either typically people
either really liked golden goldfish or
they’re like what’s what’s this bachelor
and this pad doing like what’s going on
but um
so anyway um i was doing these quirky
videos and i was sharing them of course
on social media
i was also sending them to to comedians
hey you know maybe somebody’s going to
want to do a collaboration or something
and little did i know at the time that
thor ramsey was he had this script
called youth group
and he’s like
well if i’m going to get this thing made
i’m going to have to network with
here’s a guy videoing his goldfish
it looks pretty good
so he reached out sort of in an overt
kind of or not overt
covert kind of way
um his his um
message to me and we’d had some
messaging but it was very sparse um
like you know
hey how many like or is bananas still
happening and you know quick response to
that he’s not much of a
heavy communicator on
on social media and now he’s
he seems to barely be on social media
but that’s what he hires his directors i
that’s where we met we met on facebook
and then waiting to hear the part of the
story of how we met stephen baldwin that
was on twitter but um
so anyway uh he sends me this message
that’s really like
um verbatim tell me about your film
background dot dot dot
and i’m i’m freaking out i’m like what
what what do you want well like what’s
like i had no idea he had a script he
wanted to make him like no clue with
that but i’m like concurrently you know
he’s done
different kind of tv spots where like
you know i’m like what just wow does he
want to interview a filmmaker maybe like
what what is and i’m freaking
brain spinning like what’s going on
and um
ended up finding
finding out that um
well so i responded this really long
you know he had like six words i had a
really long
because you’re telling him about my
field background no i really i wanted to
start out as an actor i went to college
for acting blah blah but as i’m
responding i sense
i guess you could say in my spirit or
whatever but i sensed
like go ahead and ask him because i was
i was going to ask him to be part of my
168 film project that year 2010
i had already asked michael junior i’d
already asked john branyan
um and i was going to get around to
asking thor but i never did and then
this message comes in it’s about 10 days
before i’m going to go down to start
getting ready and ramp up for the 168
film project
and i just i i asked him
and um
and he graciously he basically said that
could work send me the dates or send me
the info
uh again long message short message
and long story short he was available to
do the 168 that year and that turned out
to be
even to this day
one of uh people’s favorite short films
that he and i ever collaborated on
called skip listening
have you seen skip listening i haven’t
seen that either no you would probably
really enjoy it yeah um it was a really
great collaboration
i remember sitting in editing for it um
you know during that 168 speed film week
and uh we’re sitting and editing and i’m
really hoping he wants to do more stuff
together and i looked over and i said
so uh you want to do this again next
year he’s like next year i want to do
this again next week
it was a great experience we had a great
time and so we’ve done
168 film projects since
um we’ve collaborated on some stuff
outside of the 168 as well
but it was during
as we were casting for skip listening in
that’s when he told me
about youth group
and at the time he wanted to direct and
star in it
however as we were filming skip
listening uh between
takes uh
he he he said to me something about um
like i don’t think i want to direct it
anymore and i’m like
who do you want to direct it
hoping he would say me
and he’s like you could direct it
and that’s literally how i initially got
the gig
wow so i was utilizing my resources
making golden goldfish videos
i was sharing my content
thor saw it
he reached out
we collaborated on something
he changed his mind about wanting to
and said i could do it oh that’s
incredible you are live
you owe a lot to that goldfish
may she rest in peace
that’s a great story yeah it is true
it’s absolutely true so i tell people
whether it’s actors
filmmakers cinematographers whatever it
there is so not an excuse anymore
shoot something
or set up a camera and act out a
and and this sounds so simple and and at
first hearing you might go well this is
that’s kind of goofy but think about it
people don’t know you exist
unless they know you exist that’s right
and people don’t know your work
unless they know your work yeah
they got to see it
but i don’t have a camera really
really yeah you don’t have a camera
you don’t have a smartphone
i mean seriously i mean
i had a smartphone um i had an iphone
5s for
several years i just recently got that
one i just showed you
but um
that one even had a decent enough camera
that you could
you could shoot a short you could shoot
a monologue i mean yeah it’s not
the most ideal obviously i love shooting
on red i don’t own a red
yeah you know
so if you don’t have a red or an re
alexa or know somebody who does or you
don’t have the latest dslr technology
i bet you got one of these yeah that’s
right well i was good enough and the
cameras on those are getting so good
yeah it was good enough steve steven
what’s that it was good enough for steve
and soderbergh yeah there’s been there’s
been feature films even made by by
lesser filmmakers than steven soderbergh
yeah there’s been feature films made off
um less recent that’s right um
smartphone technology yeah
shoot with what you do there’s there’s
there’s really no excuse so i mean
unless god tells you how to go about it
i tell people
i mean that’s the precursor if god tells
you something other than i’m telling you
yeah yeah listen to him he knows better
but you know if you don’t know where to
start or what to do one network with
people who are like-minded
surround yourself by people who are
better than you
and who do things you can’t do so for
example i can write
i’m not the best writer
thor ramsay’s brilliant so if i have an
idea or something he’s one of the first
people i go to
to pitch it yeah
you know because he cannot and he’s also
prolific he can knock out a short film
in a day or two yeah he can knock out a
feature script and and yeah it’s not
shoot ready
but it’s close yeah he can knock out a
feature film script in like a month or
three weeks
it just depends on how much you know how
how long he sits out on time and works
on it but he’s prolific and he’s
brilliant and he’s really great with
comedy yeah i mean he’s great at drama
too but
his comedic chops i really i gel with
them i mean rarely do you get a script
and read it and laugh out loud
i laugh out loud with this right true
that’s so true so
yeah i mean if you’re not making films
how are you going to learn how to make a
and youtube is the greatest distribution
place for that kind of thing we have the
technology that that there’s no excuse
anymore if you’re going to want to learn
if you want to learn how to do
filmmaking and you want to do a feature
film you’ve got to do a lot of short
stuff first right yeah and the other
thing too is
you mentioned youtube there’s so many
free tutorials on youtube it is not
funny you want to know how to edit
there’s whole courses that are free on
youtube of this is how you do this and
yes they sell bigger more in-depth
courses but if you want to know the
yeah there’s a guy on youtube named
i think his name is darius but the
channel is
d the number four darius
i’ve seen his channel yep that dude has
literal one man feature film productions
yeah meaning
he’s the man behind the camera he’s the
man editing he’s the man producing he’s
the i mean like he’s the cinematographer
and he walks you through that like how
to do that
i prefer to work with the team
because i’m not a cinematographer i know
i love finding interesting angles and
stuff but i don’t know lighting worth a
squat you know what i do those shorts
that you saw most of them um or the the
one-man productions most of those were
natural lighting
in the room whatever i just used the
lights that i had there
but it wasn’t like oh set up a c-stand
and set up a this and then that
i don’t know that stuff
so i hire a dp
sound sound is huge yes it’s a higher
sound guy
underrated and that’s where people fail
the most and and and take this nugget
is more than half
that’s right of your moviegoing
more than half
you can get away with a lot with sound
that you can’t
without that quality sound yeah
so yeah so i i prefer a team but this
guy differ darius i mean he does it all
so i mean there’s all kinds of resources
that are free
some of the courses are pretty
inexpensive you know maybe a few hundred
bucks yeah some of them are more some of
them are less but i mean
if you know the basics and you practice
and you use your smartphone or whatever
i mean and actors i mean set up your
iphone on a little i mean you can get a
cheapo tripod on amazon or whatever
and um and set up your iphone to do a
monologue yeah
and then share it and give feedback i
mean there’s all kinds of facebook
groups there’s linkedin groups
so there’s really no excuse
like you you don’t have to wait for your
phone to ring anymore like you don’t
have to wait for a big time producer you
don’t have to wait for bruckheimer to
call you you just don’t
um and it start and it’s it starts with
some basic
like-minded networking and you can do
that in spades on social media now of
course you got to be careful on social
media too there are
creepos out there and there are um
sketchy people out there so
yeah but you know you see how many
friends that somebody else has that are
with your friends and you can ask people
and hey have you ever worked with
so-and-so or what i mean like
the information’s out there yeah
i mean we have christians have been
saying for decades that we need to get
back to owning the media we need to take
control of the media and start making
content that we
that fits our world view and is
proclaiming our savior and
this is the time we have an excuse we
have all the opportunity of the world
all the technology we can do our own
distribution we’re not in need of
anybody from hollywood to tell us that
we can do something so let me tell you
the next part of the story so yeah so so
what happened after he said okay you can
direct it all right so later that year
um yes this movie has been that old by
the way this has been an 11 plus year
journey for me longer for thor as the
original writer
but um so
late 2010 we shot a proof of concept
trailer we shot a mock trailer
from actual scenes from the movie at the
so um he went through the script at the
time pulled out scenes that would make a
fun funny trailer and we took a 12 and a
half hour day and funny enough we
actually shot it
at the same mega church location calvary
community church in westlake village we
shot at the same location
that we shot the feature at
six and a half years later wow um really
great how that came together
but anyway we had a connection there his
name is matthew reichmeier filmmaker in
his own right editor
he’s got a movie uh paul’s promise
coming out soon
um but uh he was um he was on our
producing team at the time
um in the early early on and he had
access to calvary community church so we
spent a 12 and a half hour day
got a
a small crew together actors together
and we shot a proof of concept and it
was online in december of 2010
and i am sharing that thing like crazy
because the original plan didn’t happen
the original plan
was somebody who showery made nameless
you know who you are
was supposed to
share the proof of concept with 10
wealthy individuals that he knew
and hopefully get like let’s let’s shoot
this thing for 100 grand 10 000 each you
see if we can do it that way for some
reason that part of the plan never
happened we did the proof of concept
matthew reithmaier edited it together
did a great job
again paul’s promise go check it out
when it comes out
but um anyway uh so yeah and then that
thing never happened where a certain
individual was supposed to share it with
his wealthy friends
and so i am just blasting social media
with it over the next couple years i
mean like i would go on these spurts it
was share share i’m sure i annoyed some
but it was a really fun and you know how
many times i heard
if i had the money i would give it i
would i would i would give it towards
this movie if i had the money i’d give
it to you
i’m like where are all the people with
the money
yeah so i’m on i’m on
twitter i’m on facebook i’m on linkedin
and on twitter i’m blasting it to like
you know because you can at just about
anybody on twitter i mean
steve martin jimmy fallon they all got a
tweet from me you know wow um uh
pastors you know uh uh mark driscoll uh
entrepreneurs michael hyatt
michael hyatt responded actually was
like uh you know this is really fun he
actually retweeted it
uh and said this looks very funny
so there were people who liked it
but then either when money came up or
whatever like it just it went nowhere
after that well i tweeted
from the movie twitter account
i tweeted stephen baldwin
and i said
something like hey would you would you
be willing to retweet this
he responded if i’m not mistaken within
less than an hour
wow and his response almost verbatim was
who do i speak with directly to see how
i can best support your vision for this
project oh my gosh
that is the first
response from a name actor like that
that we got
and so very long story short um
i i i basically from the movie account
was like well
connect with our director me
and uh
and so i think it was the next morning
i’m reading an email from stephen
baldwin that basically says i’ve been
looking for
uh filmmakers with the right comic
sensibility to do something just like
this oh
how about that wow so then there was a
there was like a 20 30 minute um
conference call
then there was an in-person meeting that
lasted almost three hours
and basically in 2013
he was on board with his producing
partner john
and um i’m thinking wow like because
they’re tight like we’re gonna go hit up
there’s four wealthy people we’re
thinking of right now there are
millionaires that will we’re going to
head up
and um
and three and a half years later
um yeah and none of the people they hit
up initially is who funded it mike
lindell with my pillow funded the whole
movie he and stephen were really good
friends at the time really uh yeah uh he
funded the whole thing
so approximately a 1.5 to 2 million
dollar budget
now think about this for a second
that is practically
unheard of yes
for a first-time lead actor in a feature
number one on the call sheet
first time
narrative feature film
that was my first
comedy narrative feature film yeah
that’s great 1.5 to 2 million budget
that i mean
it’s practically unheard of even for
somebody whose name you would recognize
right that’s true i mean typically they
try to make uh faith-based films i mean
they’re they’re getting better nowadays
especially with the erwin brothers and
the kendrick brothers their budgets are
really getting up there better but you
lesser known filmmaker you’re looking at
like 500 grand or less i mean there were
people who wanted to make
youth group for
far less than 500 grand wow
and you know and we would have taken at
the time we would have taken it it’s
just it never panned out for one reason
or another it just didn’t happen
but but that’s but that was like
like you get the 500 or more like
no yeah but mike lindell
put up
that’s at least 1.5 to 2 million i never
saw the final uh budget
i know the budget we were going for when
we were pitching and stuff was 1.5
um and then we got some name talent
involved and and um that was stephen and
john uh
got you know donald faison and joey
vatone and
thor and i weren’t connected to them and
of course stephen got um
billy baldwin and chyna phillips who are
married in real life a lot of people
don’t know that but they’ve been married
for like
nearly 30 years in real life i didn’t
know that and
church people
is the first time they appeared on
screen together as husband and wife as
husband and wife that’s incredible
yeah it’s a really fun story
and so many of your favorite movies have
fun stories like this or like
underdog stories you know like rocky i
mean that famous underdog story you know
stallone’s like i’m acting in this
and they’re like who
i mean do you know that stallone turned
down 300 000
in the seventies or six yeah i knew each
other something yeah i didn’t know how
much it was and how much is that now i
mean that like that’s a
gold mine he turned down because they
wanted to buy it out from him outright
and recast it yeah yeah no no he hung on
and look you know oscar i mean come on
yeah no doubt how many days did it take
to shoot
20. we shot it in 20 days that was a
tight schedule i would have loved
23 days i would have loved 23 days that
would have been i think would have been
less um
time crunchy but um but yeah 20. one
camera or two
oh two two for sure yeah i love two
camera shoots for multiple reasons uh
uh efficiency in not only production but
also in post-production because
if you’re
in if you’re editing within the same
take then you know the shots are going
to match yes when you cut from one angle
to the next that’s right
yeah i love steven baldwin’s character
that he he owned that character well you
have no idea how much he owned that
character he created that character
he went out and picked out the wardrobe
for that character on his own
yeah he definitely owned that character
that that character was basically his
creation that’s incredible yeah what a
great character that was fantastic
talk to me a little bit about the comedy
that you used in this because comedy is
not something we normally see in
christian films or
sadly films yeah and the very very
interesting thing about that is people
actually want more comedy yeah
i mean
uh uh thor and i did a comedy short film
called one night stand and it’s a
it’s a short that tackles the sin of
adultery but it’s a comedy but it’s not
like irreverent in that sense or
but um
it was um it was at the 168 festival in
2017. we shot it years earlier than that
they had this special this one year at
the 168 they had an open category where
it didn’t have to be
solely a 168 film
and we shot it outside the 168
parameters years ago
and so open film we could put it in and
we did and it won audience favorite wow
for that day of screening
and so one that told me okay there’s
still an audience for this film in
particular but also i mean people love
comedy yeah and and when you
and typically at least my experience my
limited experience at festivals
typically it’s the comedy or the quirky
or the really unique ones that are going
to win audience favorite i mean that’s
just i mean people love comedies yeah
but they don’t get that much respect
and people tend to for some reason when
they want to make a film they tend to
gravitate towards
the heavy drama and the crying and stuff
like i did especially you know early on
when i thought well if i’m gonna do
christian content then it’s gonna be
you know
people tend to go for that and and when
you’re doing a short film and it’s a
drama like you know that’s an actor’s
dream yeah
getting to cry on camera you know like i
it’s it’s it’s kind of it’s kind of a
funny inside joke when
you know when it comes to film festivals
especially shorts
it’s like well i hear some more crying
you know we we actually did a funny
we actually did a funny little um
a little short before the 168 one year
uh where the end it was just a bunch of
different people crying and at the end
it was like 168. we love crying
but it’s true i mean like it’s true
but yeah so this this film is a satire
but what thor likes to say is it’s not a
it’s not a mean-spirited satire and he
says you can only satirize what you love
yeah so
and he says you can tell the difference
and it’s true
if you’re watching a satire for people
who don’t love the subject of the satire
you can tell because it comes across as
mean-spirited and they’re mocking it
and and some people get a take away from
our trailer that we’re mocking
christ or christian
or christianity itself and we’re not
we’re not
um and if you follow
thor’s through line through that trailer
he’s the voice he’s the one saying this
is insane we gotta stop this right
so so yeah so it’s a satire but it’s not
mean-spirited uh we like to call it a
gentle rebuke
because it’s it’s done with humor that’s
true but but it is it is it is a rebuke
that kind of ideology and philosophy and
methodology where
you got to get the butts in the seats
and you do a show to do it so it’s
basically the gospel plus bells and
whistles right and
the point is
you don’t need the bells and whistles
right it’s the simplicity of the gospel
and it’s all about jesus yeah that’s it
yeah you don’t need the bells and jesus
does not need the bells and whistles
attached to the gospel that’s right
but you guys your comedy was so
satirical it was
over the edge but just backing it off a
little bit you’re thinking wait a minute
this could really be the case you know
well yeah well
it’s funny you say that too because fine
line it’s funny you say that too because
the the um
the origins of this story and if you get
try it try to get an interview with thor
i mean he’d totally be open to it and he
could tell you this backstory but
thor was monitoring um
low budget independent features
and he saw the movie swingers which
isn’t what it sounds like but it’s uh
it’s john favreau and uh vince vaughn
right and it was made for 200 000
and it made like over 4 million at the
box so he was looking at stuff like that
but he really liked the comedic tone of
that movie
um just like the dialogue just the the
tone of the comedy yeah and he wanted to
take that comedic tone and put it in the
evangelical subculture
and make it about a youth pastor in
crisis very interesting and so he did
that and then at some point um i i don’t
know when this was this was probably
2008 or 2009 or something but he
actually his manager at the time got him
a meeting with sony
and at the time i think they were just
referred to as sony faith sony affirm i
don’t think existed yet okay but he had
a meeting with sony faith
and he was he was practicing and going
there to pitch two general market things
that weren’t over they weren’t
faith-based really right and so
he keeps he’s practicing the pitch he
takes friends out to dinner like they
practice it and he goes in
and like
do you got anything that’s got faith in
it like he’s at sony faith and he’s
pitching non-faith-based god so he says
well and he did
and he didn’t have youth group written
he had like 30 pages written
he didn’t tell them that but he said
well i have this one that’s
a youth pastor in crisis like we want to
see that
so he went home uh his computer was in
the shop or something he had to get it
back and and write it and he wrote about
a week
like i said he’s prolific yeah um he
wrote it about a week and um
and then he sent it in and there’s a guy
there named josh nadler who i think is
still with sony affirm
um and josh actually called him up
and gave him notes
on at least
five rewrites i think okay
so he would get notes thor would
implement him he’d send it back he’d
call him up and on their last phone call
with notes
josh said you know what you need
is a big idea for all the characters to
come around together at the end
he’s like oh okay well that’s the big
idea i don’t know but now his antennas
are up for a big idea right out of the
blue he gets a call from his church
plant pastor
he’s like you’re never going to believe
what this church that if i said the name
you would know the name but you’re never
going to believe what this church
is going to do for good friday well what
what they’re going to do
they’re going to crucify a live human
being like no way
i’m looking at their social media right
now no way
so long story short they investigate it
it’s not actually a live crucifixion but
it’s a very intense
graphic passion play
and there were all these trigger
warnings of like you know if you fainted
the sight of blood blah blah you know
all that stuff right
and so
thor realizes
that the evangelical
church has gotten to such a place
that for whatever their motives are good
or bad or skewed or whatever
that he actually believed that an
american evangelical
pastor would actually do something like
this and he goes there’s my big idea
wow so that’s so it came about
that way that’s incredible because that
was what i was thinking it’s like well
this is over the top really i mean
and yeah and and nowadays it is but you
like we were talking before like
what’s it gonna be in 10 years yeah
exactly you know
so it’s a gentle rebuke for that kind of
ideology and methodology where i just
got to get more butts in the seats so
they can hear the gospel so how do i top
last year’s sermon or last week’s sermon
and what thor likes to say in interviews
too is that like you hit a glass ceiling
you know and if you hit a glass ceiling
and the people aren’t getting
what they thought
was maybe oh this church is alive and
spiritual and whatever but if you keep
topping yourself and you hit a glass
ceiling then they start feeling
disenfranchised and like oh like and
then uh and there’s a staggering
statistic out there that he likes to
that the average
leaves their church after seven years
the average i’ve heard that
i’ve heard the average pastor leaves in
seven years too oh wow i haven’t heard
that one wow no sometimes yes yeah
pastors have a lot of undue pressure
yeah i mean it’s it’s it’s insane i mean
well i mean
i used to work at a at a phone company
call center and before that i worked at
an emergency road service call center oh
so i dealt with the general population
and the public and you’re sure they
weren’t all christians but
christians have their own eccentricities
and and quirks and and whatnot too
we’re human beings so
i can only imagine
the crap that pastors go through you
know with
just little
chintzy stuff and then the bigger stuff
and then the stuff that yeah i mean i i
can only imagine
so lots of money
pray for your pastor i need to do that
more actually myself so i’m confessing i
need to pray for pray for your pastor
yes that’s true
so what’s next for you
um i would love to do more movies yeah
i don’t know anything specific other
than what you yeah yeah so so so here’s
something i wanted to talk about
um and you totally agreed when i
mentioned it but yeah
but um
a lot of people
you know we’ll say something like well
you know i can’t fund the movie
no maybe you can’t
but you might know somebody who can
you can at least get the word out
you know so if you see
even if it’s not church people i mean i
hope it’s church people but if you see
something like church people or
you know you really love the kendrick
brothers movies or their own brothers
movies or whatever
purchase the content
and share it yes
share it on social media social media is
huge yeah we got a movie made and
ultimately because of the hand of god i
totally believe that
through the tools of social media
i met four on facebook and i met steven
baldwin on twitter
i mean come on
20 years ago wouldn’t happen that way
that’s right
so if you
like the content
share share share
when the dvd comes out take a selfie
with the dvd share it on all your
the trailers on
instagram twitter facebook
i share it on linkedin pretty regularly
if you see a post with a trailer
like it comment and share that feeds the
algorithm it helps the organic growth
newsflash we don’t have a hollywood
sized marketing budget no
they don’t understand that that’s far
you need to have at least
twice your budget
for your for your marketing it’s it’s
usually the same as your budget
well it depends it depends yeah i think
um depends on how low your budget is
well no well i think uh perfect example
star wars you know the newer star wars
trilogy each of those films is somewhere
in the neighborhood of 200 million
dollars to make
if i’m not mistaken i think their
marketing budget was double that
but typically what i’ve heard is you
want to have about the same amount of
budget for your marketing as for making
the film so if our budget was 1.5 to 2
million to make it
i mean at least a million and and
and to my knowledge we didn’t i don’t
know what our marketing budget is to be
honest but i’m pretty sure it wasn’t a
million dollars yeah um i could be wrong
i but the point is it’s
egregiously low compared to
hollywood-sized marketing budgets that’s
right who are you know all over their
their marketing on imdb and their
marketing on twitter and they’re
marketing on you know
you know they’re buying like banner ads
and stuff like when you first go to i
mean we don’t have that kind of budget
for marketing so word of mouth word of
mouth word of mouth yeah share on social
media tell your family and friends and
i mean just share
share the crap out of it you know you
need to do a video on that for the
general po christian market
this is how you can support christian
filmmakers yeah this is how you do it
because i think a lot of them just don’t
understand you know like you said take a
selfie at the theater or by the poster
while you’re watching it yeah what a
great idea you know yeah that would
certainly drive up it helps keep it top
of mind it helps get it out there and
you know like
and in this today’s society and whatnot
like there’s so many movies coming out
you know
practically on a weekly basis it’s like
it can also get buried you know so i
mean everything
this is still relatively new it’s this
year you know so
let’s let’s
do it up really nice this year and like
just keep it top of mind
there has always been a huge disparity
between the amount of movies being made
in general and the percentage that are
christian or faith-based you know and
it’s getting worse now i think we’re
just with um the amount of content
coming out of all these other studios
now and it’s it’s just that still we’re
not really and they’re late all that
much yes and they’re laced with
cultural narratives yep late
yeah oh yeah
uh it’s it it’s really bad i mean it’s
like there’s a quote it’s like there’s
check well i mean the oscars announced
like you have to meet these certain
criteria before you can even be eligible
for an oscar you’re going to have this
representation and that representation
and this and that
even in your children’s content
oh oh
yeah don’t get me started
don’t even get me started yeah
uh so so yeah so the bottom line is
if you like it i mean i’m gonna tell you
to share something you don’t like
obviously i mean if you don’t like
church people don’t share it you know
if you like it
buy it
share it share it share it um the
trailer and and and the reviews and
hopefully the good reasons
this is something i’ve been thinking
about a lot because when i first got
into christian filmmaking because i came
out of the secular
um you know work market
and i would think you know i i think
it’s bad for us to be people christians
to be badgered by christian filmmakers
to share their stuff when it’s bad
and it’s right so good correct and
i’m sort of changing my view on that
because now i’m looking at the bigger
picture now that i’m in it and i’m
seeing we have an environment we’re
trying to build a christian
and we can’t do that in a vacuum
and if you look at any filmmaker even in
hollywood ridley scott george lucas
steven spielberg any of them they have
flops oh my golly in some of their
earlier stuff
and you have to commit like steven
spielberg it was sid scheinberg who said
you know i’m going to commit seven seven
years to you or seven films
they could all be bad
but i’m going to stick with you and
through that and see where you are at
the end because he knew that stephen
even though he was a genius he needed
that opportunity to fail and i don’t i
think that’s something that we do not
give christian filmmakers is the
opportunity to fail if you fail you’re
just you’re toasted you’re roasting man
that’s a whole nother podcast brother
but i think we need we need to be
interested in thinking about how can we
encourage christian filmmakers and make
this a viable effort because let’s let’s
be honest i mean it is very hard to make
a living doing what we’re doing
oh yeah it’s very hard
even to get a film out you’re not you’re
not making much no in fact the studio is
making more and more he’s going into
marketing yeah okay newsflash everybody
i made this film in 2016.
yeah so i got paid to do the film in
2016. that’s right it’s 20 21.
yeah connect the dots
what does that tell you
and and and brother todd here isn’t
paying me to be on this interview so
you know
come on
that’s right no offense to you at all of
course not
but that’s the reality it’s it’s hard
everybody thinks all their movie makers
they’re making films they’re making i
used to think that i used to see thor
ramsey on dvds and be like oh he’s a
millionaire he’s got dvds out
no no
that’s not how it works yeah you’re
still trying to pay your bills you know
and and you don’t know how long it is
between i mean like
i haven’t done a feature since 2016.
i i did something smells funny uh which
is a comedy tv show uh
comedy in the kitchen
in 2019
but still that was two years ago
yeah you know i mean and then the
pandemic and like yeah it’s not
i mean
i can only speculate you know i don’t
know for sure but i could i could name
some prominent christian filmmakers who
are probably doing okay in the
but but that’s just like everybody i
mean how many how many secular
filmmakers are really making a lot of
money well they’re they’re not the
person a lot of them are getting screwed
on the distribution deal actually yep
it’s only like this
indie filmmakers and and distribution
so so yeah just because you’re a
filmmaker and just because you got to
just because you got a movie in the
theater that doesn’t mean you’re wealthy
no it doesn’t you’re still paying i mean
it means you’re probably in debt
or you might have a wife who’s a nurse
yes that might be too yep
um but yeah it’s it’s you know i think
we talk a lot about
the importance of christians being
people who are influencers in hollywood
in this media who are owning this yet
there there isn’t the commensurate
effort to make that happen you know
yeah we we we do want to we say one
thing but we don’t really follow through
and i think it’s a lot of it is it’s not
intentional it’s just the way
the way we are in the history of
christian filmmaking right now yeah i
think we have to do something to change
yeah i have a few thoughts on that but
um i i think that’s probably another
interview honestly because
because it’s so nuanced i mean it is
it’s just like it’s it’s
i mean there’s an element of that that
and i’m not saying you in particular but
there’s an element of the idea of like
why can’t we all just work on something
together and it’s very naive because
not everybody has the same sensibility
and honestly that’s right some of the
stuff that gets praised is not good
filmmaking it is not good writing
it’s not good
if you’re if if you take filmmakers that
you really like and say well why can’t
you just work with everybody like and
then filmmakers there has to be some
kind of a shepherding or something
because otherwise i mean like we had we
had a number of professing christians on
i mean most of our cast and crew were
not christian on church people
but behind the scenes uh the the main
people behind it were professing
shocker we didn’t all get along
i mean we had different ideas and
everybody wants i mean everybody wants
to make the movie
everybody wants to make the best movie
but we did have different ideas as to
how to do that and we did have different
ideas as to what was funny and what
and it was
a calamity at times it wasn’t pretty
yeah i mean um
yeah that’s why you’re the director
what what and that’s the other thing i’d
like to share with people too
if you really love a movie or you really
hate a movie who usually gets the praise
or the blame yeah the director or the
actor yeah
if it’s a prominent producer maybe the
producer like maybe jerry bruckheimer
will get the
praise or the shaft for something that
you know whatever yeah but typically
it’s the actor
or actors or the director
there are so much more involved than
that there were so many decisions i did
not have control over
so many
that’s the thing it’s a war zone making
a film is a war and it’s a runaway train
that you’re constantly trying to catch
up on
so i mean but but but i will say
ultimately i am very glad to be attached
to this movie
i’m it was a major honor and a huge
blessing and privilege
to be associated with this especially as
my first
comedy narrative feature
what an honor i i mean i i truly
genuinely mean that i’m i’m proud of
this movie that’s great that’s fantastic
well you got a lot to be proud of i
can’t wait to see your next one
well thank you now have you you’ve seen
church people or no yes no i have okay
okay stephen was fantastic yeah he’s a
really good actor yeah and i’ve never
seen him before i’m like who’s this he
looks like alec baldwin who’s this guy
my wife’s like you don’t know stephen
he’s only been in christian films now
for 20 years let me
i don’t know how i missed him but i i
must have missed him somehow i don’t
know how
but yeah that’s funny uh but yeah no he
he’s a really good actor um
and kudos to him for uh championing the
project when i mean like
so many wouldn’t you know so i mean like
he was our connection to mike lindell
big kudos to him for you know it was a
great first film effort for you as well
but you know you have all that
background of all those short films that
you worked on that it does help and and
i will say this and i really hope this
doesn’t offend anybody i could see i
guess how it might
but i i genuinely mean this i was
literally on set
walking around and just thinking
wow this is
this is just like doing a 168 film
more shoot days
and more money
even somebody like jj abrams will tell
that you still face the same challenges
no matter what the budget is time and
oh and it was it was the same kind of
thing yes okay now our actors had
trailers and now
you know now we have a catering truck
and stuff like i didn’t have that on any
of the shorts okay
but that’s a money thing but as far as
the the nuts and bolts of what my
responsibility as my job is as a
it was like
i mean thor thor likings it to like go
on the filmmaking summer camp i mean
that’s kind of like what it’s like yeah
yes it can be stressful yes you don’t
always get along with everybody yes
there’s challenges
but you’re also making a movie
yeah you know i mean think about that
how many people get to say i made a
movie yeah
it’s so many people’s dreams to be in or
make a movie yeah and most of them will
never experience it yeah so no matter
what the challenges are or anything i’m
off on another topic now the point is
the nuts and bolts of what my
responsibility is
it was the same
i have to communicate with the actors i
have to direct the actors i have to
communicate with my dp
i have to you know i have to
cast the vision for the day or the pro
you know
the task at hand
it was like doing a really long 168
phone project i’m being totally honest
the only the only major difference is
now we have name talent
now we have money and now we have 20
days yeah that’s the reason why things
are a little bit bigger but
yeah i agree i think i think uh it’s
absolutely right i mean
you can only read so much watch so many
behind the scenes take so many courses
until you actually make a film
there is this a
window or ceiling that you reach
in your growth that you’re never going
to get and that’s why and that’s why
that’s why i highly recommend doing a
speed filmmaking competition like do the
48 hour competition do the 168. the
168’s more realistic because you get
10 or 11 days to actually write the
short film and then you get a week to
shoot at it and turn it into a 48 hour
you got to do all that stuff within 48
hours that’s crazy i mean
i don’t know about you but i have to
sleep sometime you know
um i’m not in my 20s it’s a light weight
but seriously uh
the this season uh we’re ramping up to
the festival is online this year it’s in
uh november so we’ve already done we did
an alumni entry this year
um uh
i worked with a different writer uh
darren cogan we did a really fun
uh time travel comedy
short um but not it wasn’t a speed film
but when you first get but here’s the
cool thing about a speed film it forces
you to finish the project or or even if
it’s not a speed film if there’s a
deadline it forces you to finish for
for years my director
reel was clips from 168 film shorts i
that’s pretty cool
if it looks good people don’t care
that’s right that’s right you cut it up
into a director’s reel nobody knows
where it came if it looks good who cares
who cares if you made it up and shot it
on your iphone if it looks good yep
i think oh
i haven’t heard of that one yeah you’re
not going to because i made it up or or
you’re not going to because it was 40168
you know but
yeah but you know and if you get and if
you work with somebody who’s a brilliant
writer like thor or
if you if you team up with the right
you team up with people who know how to
do what they do that you don’t do yeah
or don’t know how to do as well as they
i mean basically you surround yourself
with people who do a better job than you
do i mean that’s kind of the secret you
know basically yeah yes director steven
spielberg is brilliant okay
have you seen his dp
giannis zach zinski or whatever his name
is i mean come on like
steven spielberg doesn’t make his movies
in a vacuum either
yeah that’s true
you love or hate a film because of the
team effort not because of one person
that’s right it’s as simple as
that yeah that’s a great point
so how can we follow you
um my my uh handle on facebook twitter
and instagram is at director css
my website is christopher
but even more so than that i want to
uh you can find out when the db i mean
they’ll announce there of course when
the dvds out
um the trailers there
um the trailers on my website too but um
so yeah and at director
css i’m also on linkedin
and um
i’m i’m pretty active on social media
so uh
you you you should be able to get a hold
of me if you just reach out so if you
can’t get a hold of thor reach out to
there you go
but go to the goldfish does not exist
anymore glitter goldfish is deceased so
i cannot get you any signed autographs
from golden globe sorry too bad um
if you get one
it’s a forgery
uh but but that one more thing real
quick yep
if you are out there and listening and
you love to laugh and you love christian
and you go hmm
i might want to put up some money for
if you like
what thor and i do
if you like church people or if you like
the shorts that we’ve done skip
listening the nose job wireless if you
like any of that stuff
and you want to see more
um and you want to put up some money
then reach
out absolutely reach out because let me
tell you something this year alone
i repeat this year alone
has six scripts this year alone two of
them are still in the writing process
but four of them are done
they’re all comedies
they’re hilarious
one of them’s more heartfelt
but um i mean right now we’re about
two-thirds in on a um
time travel comedy called the anti-time
an attempt to look at time travel
through a biblical lens and with humor
and there’s one this is a great title he
collaborated with brad stein on this
script called the revenge of adam and
one of the most unique
faith-based films i’ve ever read i mean
it that one’s a bigger budget that one’s
because there’s a lot of cgi in it
that’s probably gonna be closer to three
to five million to do that one
it is hilarious
and it tackles the the sacredness of
marriage oh
so there’s some really fun shout outs to
the kendrick brothers and kirk cameron
in that one
all in homage it’s all in good fun but
um but i mean it’s hilarious it is
hilarious um
yeah and we have a feature-length
version of skip listening which was our
very first short film that we did so we
have a feature link script for that
we can probably do that one for about a
million million five
so if
if you know somebody who has the money
to help out
the content’s there it’s it’s sitting on
pages waiting to be produced right
right and we’re still and we’re working
on more and like i said this year alone
there’s gonna be six scripts that thor’s
had a hand in are you planning on doing
a trailer
for any of them
well um that’s a little i don’t know i
mean i i don’t know ideally hopefully
hopefully now church people can be our
proof of concept for features
but hey i think you would think we did a
feature here it is if you like this and
want more of that
do we really need to spend the money
that we don’t really have
on another proof of concept
you know
i mean really honestly if you see the
shorts that thor and i have done that
he’s written
if you see the feature film that he had
a hand in a big hand in i mean it was it
was his brain child
if you see the feature film and you like
that kind of con that’s the kind of
stuff we do
i mean that’s that’s that’s what we do
if you like that then that’s there’s
there’s your proof of concept for what
we can do right there that’s right
well christopher i wish you the best and
then i thank you so much for being on
the podcast and thanks for having me
it’s been great talking to you man i
like you we
good i’m glad to hear that we’re looking
forward to what you do next well thank
you so much and then one more quick plug
something smells funny is on 2btv it’s
um it’s comedy in the kitchen with
comedian scott wood and the episodes
include victoria jackson jimmy brogan
mark christopher lawrence and bobby
collins and scott wood nails it as the
and so you can either download the 2b
app for free
and search something smells funny or
just go to that’s
and search something smells funny you
don’t have to sign up for anything
it’s all free um and so laugh and learn
how to cook a healthy dish
good deal
all right well thanks christopher thanks
man god bless you
you can find more about christopher sean
shaw church people and the 168 film
project in the show notes of this