MatthewWilson

How waiting inspired me to write a movie.

5 posts in this topic

I wrote and directed a comedy called "The Virgins" that will come out on iTunes July 18.  Here's a repost of the blog I wrote about my journey to writing the film:

 

"Is this one of those stupid Christian movies?"

 

I was a film student at Biola University when "The Omega Code" came out.  Since it was a Christian school we were able to arrange a special screening of the film and some of the producers came for Q&A after.  I was excited going in.  I had grown up on movies, and now, for the first time ever, I could talk to people who had actually made one.  So I watched it.  And I was appalled.  What a terrible movie!  The only question I had afterwards was, "What were you thinking?!"

To be fair, the producers were honest and self-deprecating and admitted it hadn't quite turned out like they hoped.  But my feeling of disappointment remained.  And when the film was released the feeling was shared by young believers across the nation (and reinforced with many other equally-bad Christian films).  What an embarrassment!  This makes us look so uncool!  And just like that, a generation of young Christians were inspired to have nothing to do with Christian films.

So I went off to Hollywood with a desire to make real movies.  Movies that would entertain people, just like the movies I loved growing up had entertained me (none of which were Christian movies).  And oh, how surprised the world would be when they learned a Christian had made them!  All I had to do was make big Hollywood movies that achieved overwhelming commercial and critical success and then my shame would be left behind.

And I wasn't alone.  I met many fellow believers in the industry, and none of them had any interest in making Christian films.

Years went by.  I wrote script after script, worked day jobs in the industry, and did everything I could to achieve success.  I got some great gigs like writing for cartoons and the Warner Brothers Comedy Writers Workshop, and I was even "discovered" by the same producer who "discovered" Diablo Cody and got Juno made.  But something was still missing.  While everyone said my screenplays were well-written, no one was buying them.  I wasn't making movies like I hoped.

I always had in the back of my mind that one day, when I was cool enough to do whatever I wanted, I would put Christian characters in my movies.  And they wouldn't be portrayed the way Christians in film had been portrayed before, where in the mainstream films they're idiots and in the Christian films they're saints.  They would just be real Christians like people I actually knew.

But that had to wait.  I had to prove I was cool first.

So I went back to writing screenplays that did not sell.  After each failure I would do a post-mortem and try to figure out what I could do better next time.  The advice I got was consistent - Find your voice.  Write what you know.  Write what you're passionate about.  Well, the more I went through life, the more passionate I was about Jesus.  If it were not for my faith in Christ, I would have been completely overwhelmed and broken by all the rejection I was experiencing.  And that got me back to thinking about writing Christian characters.

But I couldn't do that because that's not cool!  Christian movies are not cool!

It became clear after awhile that I had to admit I was not cool.  And I never would be.  I can't bash Kirk Cameron movies in good conscience without admitting I have much in common with Kirk Cameron.  I believe the Bible.  I follow Jesus.  I believe we all need Him.  The only subject I can think of where I would strongly disagree with Kirk Cameron is, "Is it a good choice to cast Kirk Cameron?"

So there I was, a man coming to terms with his uncoolness and accepting it for what it was.  But now I could finally write like me.  I didn't have to wait to be cool anymore.  I could write a story that was consistent with how I viewed the world, and not have to worry about whether it was consistent with the way others viewed the world.  In the same way that Woody Allen writes authentically from his atheism, I could write authentically from my Christianity.  And I wasn't inspired to do this because I hated Woody Allen films, I was inspired to do this because I loved them.

I had been sitting on a story idea for a long time about a Christian couple who wait for marriage to have sex and then circumstances on their wedding night keep them waiting.  It always seemed like one of my better movie ideas, but I had resisted writing it in part because I was still single and didn't think I should write about a wedding night until I had one of my own.  If I was having amazing sex with my hot wife then I would be cool enough to write a story about what it's like to wait.  Because that story has a happy ending.  But that wasn't my experience.  At this point I was now in my 30's.  I was still waiting, and it was no fun.  I was doing all the right things (as far as I could see), but everything was going wrong.

And then I realized that is what this story should be about - chasing a dream that dangles in front of you but is always just out of reach.  Because that experience is real.  What is it like when God doesn't give you what you want, even when you are trying to honor Him?  That would resonate with people.  And not only would it be real, it would be funny.  As the old Mel Brooks saying goes, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger.  Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."  I knew if I could properly channel the pain I had experienced, others would find it funny.

So that is exactly what I did.  And it is now with great pride that I present to the world my movie "The Virgins."  It is without a doubt the most uncool thing I've ever done, and I hope to do many more uncool things just like it.

Is it a Christian movie?  I don't know.  But it's definitely a comedy.  Was it made by a company that makes Christian movies?  No.  But it was made by a Christian.  An uncool, unmarried Christian who has had many terrible experiences that, by God's grace, have been great inspiration for comedy.

- Matt

 

http://www.thevirginsmovie.com/blog/is-this-one-of-those-stupid-christian-movies

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Matthew that is so cool. As a fellow christian I can agree that a lot of christian movies just seem to fall short. Yours sounds like a movie I would love to watch! I believe that a lot of people would be able to relate to this movie whether they are christian or non christian. Congratulations on your dream finally coming true. I think it is amazing that you stuck with it and worked at it even when it got hard and now you are able to see the finished product.Biola University was one of the schools I looked at for colleges but I never attended it.

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It sounds like a neat movie! Congratulations on making it happen!

 

P.S. Oh my goodness, you're a Seahawks fan!?! :D Okay, we're friends now!

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