RAGAMUFFIN MOVIE UPDATE #1
To my dear Ragamuffin friends, and supporters of the movie about Rich Mullins-
I not only wanted to give you an update, but felt like it was owed. Thank you for the support, prayers, and encouragement. Some of you reading this have been apart of this journey for about a year, for some of you- you are just now discovering that we are making a movie about Rich Mullins…either way we are in your debt for your support. Some of you have gone above and beyond and donated funds towards the making of this project, even though we aren’t able to do “incentives” like we were hoping with Kickstarter. There are many of you, but a special thank you to Bobby Shaw, who is one of the donators and supporters who believed in us- and a part of why we are still trucking along and making this movie. But there have been many who not only have offered financial gifts, but also have been dedicated to prayer and seeing this movie happen- even offering your talents to work for free to see this movie come to fruition.
I’d like to take some time to tell you a little bit about the journey of how we got here, and where we are going. For me it started when my cousin picked me up from Summer Camp many years ago and put in a tape of Rich Mullins. I was hooked. I even labeled a comedy-acting troupe, by the title of one of his songs “The Color Green.” And even now my production company is called “Color Green Films.”
My freshman year of college I was handed a copy of “The Ragamuffin Gospel.” I read it cover to cover in a few days time, and I will forever be grateful, not just because of Brennan Mannings eloquent way of riffing on the love of God, but because in the years to come I would be riddled with sin, guilt, and failure that I never would have known how much I would come to need to hear the simple gospel truth of Jesus’ love that lives in breathes so much in the pages of that book.
Through the ups and downs of my own rag tag journey that has taken me from traveling around the country in a green van with 4 other ragamuffins preaching the gospel, to living the struggling actors life with intentions of being a missionary in Hollywood- and at times failing miserably. Riddled with my own sin, selfishness, and drowning in the depressive poverty of my own soul- Jesus still small voice would breathe life into me often using the words, lyrics, poetry, and lives of both Brennan Manning and Rich Mullins to awake my broken heart.
Even now, both through the care and love of my wife, my local church, elders, friends, ragamuffins, and making the movie about Rich Mullins Jesus is drawing my heart more and more to Him. It’s a process. I’m grateful that Jesus loves ragamuffins and grace perverts like myself, and doesn’t give up on those whose “cheese is falling off their cracker.”
Over a year and half ago, I sat in a mexican restaurant with David Mullins, explaining my heart about why I wanted to make a movie about his brother. He asked me why I wanted to and I said, “I didn’t know Rich. I have only been an audience member to his life and Jesus has changed me through his story, I just want to give other people the same opportunity.” That’s it. No big secret. A simple conversation, that led way to where we are today. Side note- my life has now been greatly affected by two Mullins’. Rich and Dave. Dave Mullins has a wisdom that is beyond me. Truly having an older godly man in my life has been a treasure that I didn’t know I needed as much as I realize it now.
Anyway. A year and a few weeks ago, a select few of us began to meet with Rich’s family, friends, and fellow artists. I can’t even describe how great its been. We spent two days with Rich’s family, and it was so amazing. For me it echoed back to the importance Rich would always talk about in “roots.” And seeing the love and loyalty among them challenged my own sensibilities of family. I loved it. Next we drove from Indiana to New Jersey to spend time with Brennan Manning. As many of you know now, by his recent book “All is grace” and by our teaser trailer- his health has greatly declined. But still- when that old ragamuffin began talking about the ragamuffin gospel his spirit lit up and declared with authority the importance of taking to heart the basic principle of our faith: God’s love.
From New Jersey, we traveled to Nashville meeting many of the ragamuffins, and other friends with Rich. Then, our great DP Ryan Bodie, and I flew to Witchita (along with Dave Mullins meeting us there) and we met with Jim Dunning and James Bryan Smith, Eric Hauk, and other awesome artists that Rich used to play with . We walked around the campus of Friends University, and saw the Keeper of the Plains…. The next trip…I’m trying to remember…I believe we went to Cincinnati, meeting with some of Rich’s college friends, in particular Beth Lutz, Kathy Sprinkle, Sam Howard, and Gary Rowe. With every conversation I learned a little bit more of Rich, getting a better sense of him. It seems like a little bit of him lived in all of his friends, family, and fellow ragamuffins. The time was, is still, and will forever be treasured in my heart. They have personally guided me in understanding Rich, that became fundamental in the script writing process. Sadly, Gary Rowe, has recently passed away. He was a true saint. He was often the saint that Rich would turn to for prayer and guidance.
From there we traveled to Chicago meeting with Michael Aukofer who was such a great guy meeting with us at an absurd hour. He was extremely generous, kind, and helpful in our research.
In late December we traveled to the Window Rock, we saw the hogans Rich and Mitch built and met with the family who Rich stayed with, and interviewed a few who knew him. We got a microscopic look into what Rich saw and had a heart for. We traveled to Atlanta meeting with Mac Powell from Third Day, and Mitch Mcvicker…both who were so generous with their time and sharing their hearts. From there we traveled again to Nashville meeting with other artists, including a late night talk with Jimmy Abegg, who has been so very kind, helpful, and honest. Truly I don’t many would have even opened their hearts and ears if it wasn’t for Jimmy A. Rick Elias, a total saint, set us up at his school where he teaches to let us record interviews for free. From the beginning we not only realized that this movie doesn’t belong to us, but that we are not alone in making this either.
In California we met with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, both of whom were extremely humble and kind in their words about Rich. There have been countless others both known, and unknown that had lives whether it was big or small that had an interaction with Rich, and left that interaction never to be the same.
At the end of March we launched a Kickstarter campaign. It failed in a way, and in a way it didn’t. Where it failed is obvious, but where its not is that it connected us with so many of you out there that began to spread the word both in support and prayer.
Yes, originally we wanted to shoot the movie this past summer. That didn’t happen. A month previous to this we hired a screen writer who is terrific. We have a great team behind us. Both with the writers, producers, DP, and many others who’s help has been invaluable.
Truly, the fact that it didn’t work out was and is a blessing. It has allowed us to not rush the script. Which had we made the movie this past summer, would’ve been premature.
We are finally in a place where our team loves the script.
So where to from here?
Well, a couple of things. One, there’s a lot of hub bub about “Christian Movies.” One, I am convinced that Jesus doesn’t need this movie. We sure hope He uses it, but He sure doesn’t need it. Two, I tend to believe that there are no such things as “Christian Movies.” Products can’t be Christian. They can’t follow Jesus. They can’t take communion. They can’t pray. They can’t be baptized…That being said, I believe Rich’s story is one that can communicate the message …that I think the broken, the poor in spirit, the lonely, the hurting, the sinners who know failure more than success, the struggling, those whose “cheese is falling off their cracker” need…”God loves you for who you are, not for who you’re not, because none of us are what we should be.” Rich’s story reflects brokenness, sin, reckless abandonment for God, and God’s “reckless love” for people. We are so excited about this movie. We are so excited about this story. I am nervous. I am nervous that are movie won’t fit in. I wonder if our movie will be too honest for both Christian and Secular communities. But, were honestly not trying to fit in, were just trying to be honest. Also on that note, after being one of the most rampant fans (I know a few of you could give me a run for that title), after doing research for over a year…I will say that there are a million movies you could make about Rich Mullins. Like with many of our lives, there are many stories, but this is the one we are telling. What is that story? Well, I guess you’ll have to wait till the movie comes out:-)
Here’s where we are at, where you can pray, and where you can help….
Bad news and Good News. As you know Kickstarter didn’t work. Also, more bad news…we have been thinking for a while a certain financing might come through. It didn’t. BUT some good news…through a totally unexpected way SOME financing did come in…it’s not as much as we need, but we are well on our way now…NOW there is light at the end of the tunnel. In faith, and we need your prayers here…in faith we are hoping to shoot JUNE 1st! So please, if you want to, pray in faith with me that God would provide all that is needed by this time, in particular financing. Many of you have asked if we would do another Kickstarter…at this time we aren’t going to. Honestly, when Kickstarter didn’t work…it caused some confusion…like this movie won’t happen. And we don’t want to confuse people again…but you never know…we might. But for now, we are just praying for the right folks or company to come along and make this a reality. A few people are interested, even as I type, so we have great faith that it will happen. We in faith are going ahead as if this will happen. We are beginning to look at different artists and actors to play: Rich Mullins. I’m still at a loss who can pull this off. So please pray. All of your suggestions have been wonderful. What we are thinking is holding a few rounds of auditions in Los Angeles and Nashville. The first round will hopefully be in a month to cast some of the principle actors, including Rich Mullins. The second round will be for all the other parts in the film. This will be your chance for the many that asked to be considered for a part! No matter who we cast, they will more than likely need to audition to make sure they are right for the part!
We have a feeling we will need a lot of help. Three major things. One, locations- churches, and many others types. Two, we will need EXTRAS. Extras, sounds very easy…but it’s honestly not. It never is. Being an extra is a long day’s work, and getting a commitment from someone to do extra work is hard. Three-crew members…same idea as extras….There are many other things, positions, talents that people have emailed me about. Which because we want the film to be the best that it can be we need to hire the best of the best…and this COULD be you…when the time comes for us to “crew up” as it’s called…than we will be in touch and if your the right person for the job and you are passionate about the project because of Rich Mullins…than that’s a win win…For you and us! I can think of an endless stuff that we will need. This is a pretty massive project we are trying to accomplish for a lower budget film-namely it’s a period piece. Set all the way from the 50′s-90′s…so we will need your help with finding specialized props that are impossible to find…you name it…on an indie film…we will need it…
That being said, the best way, because we are understaffed…is better than emailing your special talent or volunteering position…wait till we ask for it on twitter and facebook…so please follow us at: @richmullinsfilm or on face book: Rich Mullins Film. Just keep a good eye on those pages…and you’ll know when we are casting, looking for extras, props, locations…and you may very well be the person that we call on for help!
Many of you have written, and we have tried our very best to get back with all of you. To those we haven’t…we hope you understand we are trying our very best to make this movie happen and that’s taking our full attention.
So anyway, please pray. Hopefully you can see the heart behind what we are trying to do. Pray for financing, that we can meet our goal of June 1st, that all of the little odds and ends will come together when needed, that Jesus hand would be on us as we do this, that people would come to know Jesus through this film, that Jesus would continue to change us through this film and apart from this film, that we can find the right person to Play Rich Mullins and all the other roles in the film, and that Jesus would guide us in making the right decisions a long the way.
I’ll end this very long post with this. This isn’t a maybe project for me. I will go down swinging on this one. I’m not quiting, and by the grace of Jesus I will never quit trying to make this film. While I don’t believe Jesus needs this film, I am more passionate about making this than I have ever been just about anything. I do think that should Jesus choose, that this film could be a tool that is used to open up the hearts of people who don’t know Jesus, the hearts of sleepy Christians, the hearts who have been shipwrecked by religion, and the hearts who think they too have screwed up too much and find it completely impossible that God would , “more than love them…that he would like them.”
A sincere thanks ragamuffins,