UPDATE See: twelvefilm.org.
An outline by Charlie Shepherd
Background to the Project
In light of the varied social and cultural makeup of the Diocese of Monmouth (as well as that of Llandaff and Swansea and Brecon), a discipleship provision is required to engage varied models of reflection. Whilst there may be inherent problems with the now commonplace language of ‘non-book culture’, many parts of our diocese (along with those of others) reflect a culture that is drawn to reflect upon social narratives through media other than books. For this reason, a discussion was initiated to explore the possibility of a film-based discipleship course. The goal was/is to engage the viewer at a socially accessible level, through an aesthetic medium. Further, the goal was/is to produce the same level of critical thought and reflection, the same fostering of community, and the same deepening commitment to Christ and his Church that other book-based discipleship courses have sought to engender.
The Structure of the Project
After consultation with our filmmakers, it was determined that a longer series of shorter films would meet the needs of our target audiences (see below). Given a number of factors, relating to funding, timelines, and the artistic abilities of the filmmakers, we arrived at twelve short films, each three minutes in length. As noted below, the films follow characters around their corner of the world, and focus upon certain questions they have.
It is envisaged that something material be produced to accompany the films to facilitate discussion, though this should not be so much that is becomes the focus of the course. The films do not accompany a course (like many DVDs produced at present) – the films are the course.
The Content of the Project
This project was originally a structured and thematic one: we identified the themes, and subsequently sought out characters who embodied those themes. We quickly realized that this was somewhat artificial, and so opted to let the themes of the films arise from the stories of those we invited to be part.
We also felt that the project should reflect Rilke’s little maxim: that, with regard to the big questions of life, we should ‘learn to love the questions themselves’. These films are not teaching, or providing talking heads. They are identifying the questions of the characters – which, in turn, may be the questions of the viewers.
Each film will follow a character around their life: at home, work, or wherever they normally spend their time. The footage is creative and top-notch in quality and production, and will be overlayed with audio from an interview with each character. This interview has three basic components: where are you now, how did you get here, and what enduring, and unanswered questions do you feel persist through your journey? The emphasis on open-ended questions seeks to engage those viewing the films to discuss amongst themselves what their thoughts and experiences are on the topic.
Both of our filmmakers come highly recommended from the University of South Wales Documentary Film School, and both come personally recommended by three-time BAFTA winner, BBC documentarian, and Professor of Film, Christopher Morris(http://christophermorrisfilms.co.uk/).
Daniel Ridgeon: Daniel is a recent graduate of the University of South Wales, and a gifted filmmaker and cameraman. A sampling of his work can be found at http://vimeo.com/user10531074
Natasha Horton: Tash is also a recent graduate of the University of South Wales, with a number of her works being screened at festivals around the country (including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival). A sampling of her work can be found at http://vimeo.com/tashhorton.
Both Tash and Dan are enthusiastic and energetic for the project to take off, and have already been in discussion about its shape, its contents (both subject matter and aesthetic content), and its costs (below).
Much discussion has taken place over the post-industrial emergence of the ‘non-book culture’. The phrase is not without difficulty to define, but doubtless there exists a vast demographic in which the medium for reflection and learning is not the standard model of books/articles/essays. It is this demographic which is targeted through the present initiative.
Though the project will undoubtedly reach beyond our initial targets, at this stage it has made sense to focus the direction of the production toward the Valleys, and certain urban/estate communities outside of the Valleys. There are many in these communities who are more than competent to approach theological formation and discipleship as it
always has been; the impetus behind this course is not to call into question the potential of any one or more demographics, but to supply an alternative avenue by which to realise this potential.
Characters to Date (9 of 12):
Lea – Lea has an (as of now) unidentifiable of heart condition, and (because of the heart condition) a miracle child – Reuben. Lea often wonders what it means for her to have this condition. Does it have a purpose? Was her long wait for a son to serve some greater end?
Ange – And is a former substance abuser, and rough sleeper. She became a Christian through the Salvation Army, and now runs a drop-in shelter in Abergavenny. She often wonders why she sees people come to faith at her centre, only to return to using again. She feels there is a disconnect between her experience and theirs.
Hywell – Hywell has been a Reader in the Church in Wales for years, despite being diagnosed with dyslexia. He shares about his experience of self-confidence related to this, and asks why more people in our communities haven’t taken a step forward to embrace what God has made them to be?
Amy – Waiting to hear back from filmmakers
Constance – Constance Nzeneu was a refugee in Cardiff, who now helps other women gain asylum. She has questions about why the church is so passionate about foreign tradgedies (pandemics, wars, ‘social justice’, etc.), while it neglects so many homeless people, refugees, etc., in its local context.
Doug – Doug is an ex-marine, and having seen more than his fair share of war, questions whether it is necessary, and why God allows it to happen?
Cheidza – Waiting to hear back from filmmakers
Sean – Waiting to hear back from filmmakers
A Member of Youth Orchestra in Ely – Waiting to hear back from filmmakers