What’s all the Hoopla about Gideon?

by Kay Mortimer

  As a charter attendee of the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, I have a personal affinity about Gideon.  Perhaps you don’t.  Perhaps you wonder what is so special about Gideon?  Well, let’s see.

            The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival provides the East Coast with professional, Christian media-arts instruction and networking.  People at all levels of involvement in the arena of media arts’ ministry come together, from the skilled professional to the awe-inspired wannabe.  All are welcome and encouraged to move forward and progress.

            Gideon enables “common folk” with a desire to use their God-given talents in visual arts, filmmaking, scriptwriting, acting, singing, songwriting, sound engineering, producing, and similar ministries a venue to talk one-on-one with professionals, editors, and producers who can guide them toward their goals.

            Everyone at Gideon is excited about using their talents for God’s glory.  Everyone is helpful and friendly to everyone else.

            If you long to fulfill your God-given calling in a visual arts or media arts area of ministry, Gideon is the place for you.  Topnotch faculty.  Friendly volunteers. Fellowship with like-minded Christian brothers and sisters.  This is the “hoopla” about Gideon!

Come and experience the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival for yourself.  You might find yourself coming back year after year after year – like so many of us have!  See you in Orlando in July.

Direction From God

by Deb Raney
I’m sure it wasn’t really all about us, but when Ken and I look back on the Gideon it seems like God must have orchestrated it to become a part of our lives just when we needed it most! Ken had just been laid off from his job of 25 years, and we were in deep disagreement about what to do next. Ken felt strongly that the Lord was asking him to step out in faith and use his gifts of illustration and graphic design to start his own business. I wanted the security of a “real” job.

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What I discovered at the Gideon changed my mind and changed my heart. There, I got to know a whole bunch of people just like Ken. Fellow creatives brave enough to step out in faith, to walk in obedience to a calling, and dedicated to using the gifts and talents God gave them to tell the world about Jesus. And to tell it in a quality way.

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It’s hard to adequately describe how God used the Gideon to direct our paths, but today, four years later, we look back at the journey God took us on (still has us on!) and we see that at each critical juncture, God allowed us time at the conference. And every year it was a time of encouragement, spiritual growth, growth in our marriage, and of evaluating where we were headed––and whether it was the direction God wanted us headed.

We heard so many wonderful testimonies of how God had provided for others in our shoes. We heard such inspirational and motivational talks that helped us make important decisions. We watched films that encouraged us. We made friends who will always have a precious place in our hearts. And we formed prayer partnerships (thank you, Rusty and Rebecca!) that I have no doubt made all the difference.

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It was clear to us from the minute we stepped onto the grounds of Ridgecrest that God had paved the way for us to be there, and we will always look back on the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival as a gift from His hand.

Be Bold – The Musical

By Denny Brownlee

As we all seek to creatively express God in our stories, He just might be creatively writing us into His….

Recently a local playwright/producer/musical type guy called.  A mutual acquaintance had told him I could act and sing, and do a wide range of characters.  This was apparently just what he needed for a play he had written and scored.  And when he asked about my vocal range, and I answered, “I’m a tenor,” his response was, “Oh praise Jesus!” … I’m guessing he needed a tenor.

He immediately emailed me the script and arranged to meet with us.  Well, I was about to take Sandy to the doctor, so the meeting would have to wait a couple hours.  That was fine.  “By the way,” I ask, “What’s this musical about?”

“The life of Jesus,” he answered, “Especially the part we don’t hear much about – from ages 12 to 29.”  “Hmm,” I think, “…interesting.”  As he told me a little about himself, I thought, “Wow – this guy is impressive – what if I’m not nearly as good as he thinks I am… Lord, what if I’m not good enough for this major role in a musical – in a town like Nashville?”

In my spirit I hear, “Go ahead, be bold.”  Okay, fine.  I arrange to call him after Sandy’s appointment.  But when I called him back and asked, “Ready to meet?”  He responded:

“Funny thing…a lot has transpired since we last talked.  I spoke with my director, and she sort of had a meltdown.  She was overwhelmed and decided she couldn’t direct.  No director – no musical.  The show’s cancelled.”

“Whoa…”

“But if you’d like we can still meet,” he says, “I’d love to get to know you.”

“Sure – we’ll see you in a few at Panera’s…”  Moments later, we converge on coffee, sweet rolls and pleasant conversation.

We met a fascinating, gregarious guy – about 70, but with energy that belied his birth certificate.  He’d been in Show Bizz since he was little.  Had been in movies with Elvis, been on stage with John Denver and others – impressive.  Then he asked about us – we told him of our stage, radio and TV exploits from days gone by, and he seemed genuinely interested.  I admit, it felt good to feel significant.

And Sandy, true to being a long-time Gideon attendee, and never one to shy away from a soapbox, boldly proclaimed her desire that we, the church, take back what is rightfully ours – that is – rightfully God’s: The Arts.  To which our new friend proclaimed we were “definitely on the same team.”

As we got acquainted with him, and his musical, he said a few curious things about the life of Jesus, that didn’t quite match what I remembered from the gospels.  I tried not to dwell on it.  But, he mentioned a book about Jesus that had really influenced his writing: “The Seven Faces of Christ.” Hmm, how come I’ve never heard of this book…?

Then, toward the end of our chat, he referred to God as, “That spark inside all of us…”

[Insert sound FX:   squealing brakes]

Whoa!  God’s a Person – not a “spark.”  Not wanting to ruin the conversation – but not being able to let that slide, I knew I had to say something.  As we adjourned, he said he’d love to chat again, and let us meet his wife.  I said, “Sounds good – though I must say – I’m not sure I agree with all you’ve said today.”  He nodded, we exchanged closing pleasantries, and went our separate ways.

Sandy looked up his favorite Jesus reference book… uh-huh… not the Jesus I’ve ever heard of.  As she read the description of the book, it became obvious – it was steeped in New Age philosophy.  Big time.  Quickly, I knew I wanted no part in his play.  Arriving home I flew to my inbox, and began reading his script.  I didn’t finish it… didn’t need to.  What I read, I’d label as “fantastical blasphemy.”

So why did God tell me to “be bold” about being in such a play?  Here’s what I think happened.  This gent thought he had the guy he needed.  He excitedly called his director – who became overwhelmed by a monumental task she wasn’t really up to, so she had a meltdown… and the play was scrapped….  God wanted that damnable heresy shut down before it started.  And He allowed me to be a small part of His grand plan to defend the Name of Jesus, His only begotten.

The lesson for me – was, if God tells you to be bold, you can trust that He not only has it under control – but you might just get to play a part in …the real story!

Gideon friends, we’ve a story to tell to the nations… let’s be bold.

God…did I hear you right?

by Rodney Marett

In our spiritual walks with God, we have constant conversations with Him. We pray. We worship. We sing. It’s something that He wants and asks us to do…communicate with Him. In this communication, we know what WE are saying but are we always 100% sure what the Almighty is saying to US?

Let me share with you a situation last year where I desperately needed to hear God’s voice clearly. Last August was the fifth year of Gideon, but because of my job as a contractor in Iraq, I was unable to get home to help Lori with the conference. For those not too familiar with the conference, Lori is my wife and co-director. So, Lori ran the conference by herself with lots of help from friends and faculty and she did a great job. After the conference, Lori told me, without hesitation, she said she would never do another Gideon without me. Which at the time gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, thinking that the conference can’t run without me? So, I promised that I would not leave her again.

Then, in the fall, LifeWay decided that they were backing out as our primary sponsor. Because LifeWay had been our major sponsor for five years, this was a big deal.

So, when LifeWay said no more, Lori was relieved. I think she actually danced a jig, it was quite amusing. She was happy. I’m not sure if you realize how much work goes into putting on a conference like Gideon. Yes, it’s only 5 days but the preparation is the other 360 days. It’s a constant motion kind of thing. Always looking for free advertising… Looking for cheap this and low cost that… Trying to find the right faculty member…Getting the best quality films. And we do this with a very limited budget, especially, since LifeWay is no longer involved. Oh, did I mention that we work on Gideon year around and we don’t get paid. Over the past five years, I think the most that we have ever received was a couple hundred dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, when Lori and I started Gideon, we didn’t start it to make money. We started it to honor God and bring this type of conference to the east coast. So, you get the point that Gideon is a lot of hard work. And it becomes frustrating trying to direct the conference, many different things play into this frustration. I think Lori or I QUIT Gideon about 100 times a year.

With me in Iraq Lori is a single parent for 2/3 of the year. I’m only home 4 months which adds to the stress level of directing Gideon. As for me, I’m split in half, Gideon is like another child. Lots of love and hard work go into it but seeing the seeds that were planted starting to grow is amazing and you sit back with your mouth wide open and just stare at what God is doing in Christian media. So, I did what any good Christian man would do when he is at a crossroads. I got down on my knees and prayed asking God for a sign to either continue with Gideon or move on to something else. At the time, I believed I heard God wanting me to continue running Gideon and I told Lori this. And as she always has, she supported my decision since God told me.

Fast forward to today…I’m really questioning whether I heard God right. We have little to no sponsors. The sponsors that we have talked to seem very interested but in the end, fall short of making the commitment. We’ve signed a contract that we can’t cancel and if we did, we would be out of tens of thousands of dollars. The reason I started working overseas was to help get us out of debt. Unless we bring in 200 students, we’ll be back in debt.

What about the signs from God that led me into this decision? People were calling and emailing saying they wanted to be involved. I felt like God opened the door wide open after our visit to the hotel in Orlando. So, you can see why I’m questioning whether I heard God correctly. Maybe, I’m just inpatient. I know it’s all in God’s timing but He is really cutting it close this time.

The point of this blog is not for your pity or your money. The point is do we really hear what God is saying or are we using what we want in lieu of what God is saying? In this case, I’m not sure.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Men of God

by Francine Locke

“He was the Heartbeat of our family..We enjoyed choir practice and prayer meeting together on this earth for the last time last night..but today He is enjoying Heavens Jubilee…He was the greatest husband. dad. friend my world has ever known.”        Jackie Carpenter

What a legacy for a father to leave behind, having touched his daughter so deeply. My friend, Jackie Carpenter, lost her father last night, and when I learned that, I cried. I cried not so much for her loss, but for the realization that I, and so many others, would never experience the wonderful memories, closeness and feelings she shared with her father.  Men, this one’s for you!

I grew up with out my dad being around much, he had a territory he traveled, and frankly, we were not unhappy when he was away. Life was much more peaceful in his absence, no late nights, no drinking, no arguments. I eventually married a man so similar to my own father, that when I look back I’m amazed. I learned from what I was surrounded by in my childhood, and many of those lessons were far from positive.

I became fiercely independent after my divorce when my son was 1 year old. I knew I could raise him better alone than with the influence his father would provide. After all, I also had the past experiences of my own father. For 12 years I was a single parent, but the friends I naturally gravitated towards were those who had healthy, secure marriages. Even in my singleness I knew I wanted better for my son. And eventually, I realized God wanted better for both of us.

A father’s impact has been so downplayed by our society, dads and men in general, are regularly dumbed down on tv and in film or made into pretty undesirable characters. Is it any wonder men who may not have had the gift themselves of a loving, supportive male role model, have no idea how to be the father they should be?

How does this tie in to the Gideon? At the Gideon I have found relationships; true, authentic relationships with all sorts of real people. Not the cookie cutter perfect Christians who may be portrayed in the media, or even hyped in church. But people with  joy, pain, difficulties, divorce, abuse. People like you and me, who have lived through life & survived to tell about it.

There are some people here that will remind me of Jackies father, Jack. Strong, gentle, laughing, loving family men of God. There are also men here who may not realize the impact they can have on the lives of others. There are men to mentor, and men who need mentoring.  I’m guessing you are one or the other, or maybe one who can just benefit from the exposure to right relationships. I’m thinking of Denny, Rodney, Torry, Kyle, and so many others who will share their experiences with you. Not all positive, but all with the potential to help you see another perspective, to learn how to be more the man God created you to be. And yes, more the woman too!

Any way you look at it, going to the Gideon is a win win situation. I treasure the relationships I have made here with both men and women. It’s a safe environment, you will be brought in to the fold & held as close as you need to be. I truly hope to see you there, amazing long term relationships can happen in a week! And how incredible that it’s all tied in to a visual, dramatic, artistic, musical arts conference! See you there!

Small Town Girl Going To New York City

by Donna Lynn Davis

That was how I felt when I booked my first Gideon Media Arts Conference. After all, what do I know about making movies? Sure, I’ve written a few church dramas, directed them, and have written some stories—both short and long. But, movies? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

                I read the Gideon website information front to back, and realized I’d missed the contests deadlines. Whew! I had nothing to submit anyway; no screenplays, no comic artwork, and I didn’t think they’d need my singing on any stage. But, researching the site began to open my eyes to possibilities; possibilities of how God could use this small town girl—well, old girl, to His glory.

I packed my bags and headed to the conference—prayers in heart, proverbial hat in hand—asking God to open the doors He wanted me to walk through.  I thought I might have to knock a lot before any door would actually crack open a sliver, however, I was truly amazed when I got there to see there were no doors! Let me clarify: Every door was wide open, as the people at Gideon are different than any other venue for creative outlet. They are listening, willing, friendly, excited, accepting, helpful, encouraging people—a shock in today’s world.

The first person I met was Dr. Jayce O’Neal. I didn’t know who he was then, but he most graciously sat with me in the lobby and I was amazed when he asked what I was working on. He cared? Wow!  He explained a few things and helped settle the butterflies. I was ready to move forward.

I chose my classes; a tough job, as there was so many great offerings.  I can’t begin to tell how much I learned and grew in that few days. The lectures I attended, the movies I saw, the people I met were a rich experience. I’d like to share a few of my take-away moments with you:  I saw Torry Martin tear up while teaching, sharing how grateful he was to God for blessing him in so many ways. I was encouraged by Todd Starnes in my private battle with weight; a subject he speaks to in one of his books. I viewed Not Today, a movie on sex trafficking in India; it made me weep. I was moved by Carol and Jim Anderson’s stage portrayal of Cory Ten Boom and the German soldier who had abused her, I witnessed conferees being encouraged and schooled as actors read their work and professionals critiqued them, and I saw a teen run to her dad, wrap her arms around his neck, and say, “Thanks for bringing me here Dad, I love you.”

I connected with first-timers just like me, and seasoned veterans, all answering the call of the Savior to their lives. As I sat in solitude one evening, I asked God what He wanted to do with my talent. I didn’t know before I came, but I was sure after I left that an old girl from a small town had something God could use. And with my life-long yearning for learning, I could step out and sing, well, maybe just shout my new song:

 Start spreadin’ the news.  Believin’ today.

I want to be a part of it, His Work, His Work…

I’m returning to Gideon this year. I’d like to be the encourager now; Come to Gideon. Whether you’ve got it all together, or it’s your first visit to the ‘big city’, thank God, you’ll never ever leave the same.

You Are Not Alone!

by Katrina Cook

Have you ever felt like you were the only Christian working in the entertainment field?

Have you ever been on a film set, surrounded by atheists & agnostics and asking God “Why am I here? This just doesn’t seem right.”

Then you sit down for crew lunch and the person sitting across from you, that you just met, pours their heart out to you, right there, in the midst of the crowd. THEN God shows you … “This is why you are here.” The pain that God has brought you through in your life is now something that causes you to relate with the person you only just met. You are able to share your story, in an unconventional setting; to someone who may never step foot inside a church.  THIS is your Mission Field.

I began my company, KatzKasting, in 2001. My entire career as a Casting Director has been built upon personal relationships and referrals. Up until a few years ago, all of my work had been on mainstream productions.  I was knocking, but God had not opened the door to Christian films yet.

While visiting with Erica Lane & Kyle Saylors, the topic of Gideon came up.  I was very interested and they connected me with Lori Marett, who invited me to come facilitate a few workshops for Actors.

What an eye-opening experience for me! I had always felt so alone in the movie business, when it comes to my faith. I would do my job, and share my story with those God put in my path and prompted me to talk to. But other than that, I did not know any other Christians who were actively working in the movie biz.

That first week literally changed my life. Over the 3 years that I have been a part of Gideon, I have met so many new friends. People who are sincere and genuine in their Christian walk. One of the most unique things I have found with this festival is the community meals. Three times a day you all come together to dine in a central location at large round tables perfect for socializing and developing relationships. Sitting with different people each meal allows you to meet Actors, Writers, Filmmakers, Musicians, Singers as well as film students and those who are just starting down the path.  After the film showings, many times the Filmmakers and actors are there to do Q&A’s. In between films you have time for networking and socializing while grabbing popcorn or brownies. Late night talks lead to not much sleep, but no regrets.

In all the Film Festivals that I have attended, the friendships gained from the Gideon far exceed any other.  With face book & social media, you are able to maintain those friendships quite easily and many times see each other again at various other events throughout the year. After all, once you attend Gideon, you become a part of the Gideon Family and no matter where you cross paths, the memories of Gideon create a bond.

As I mentioned previously, I had always felt alone as a Christian in the movie biz, until I came to Gideon. Then my eyes were opened to see that there were many others out there, just like me, following God’s calling with a passion in the Entertainment Industry.  This is when things begin shifting in my life and my career. God began opening doors to work on Christian films, and a year ago in January God laid it upon my heart to start a Prayer & Support Group for those who are Christians working in the Industry within Texas. I was unsure if this would be “popular” in Dallas, as I only knew maybe a handful of believers, but I decided to publicize it through my business, and the response was overwhelming.  We now have an active local chapter of Christian Believers who are working in the Industry who come together to pray, share, support and mentor in Dallas, TX. It’s been a most rewarding thing for me and it fuels our passion as individuals and as a group.

I have had several projects come out of Gideon, whether directly or indirectly.  I have been able to cast  2 features “Season of Miracles” out of Nashville with Dave Moody and “Adrenaline” out of NC with Del Baron, along with a handful of music videos, short films, and invitations to host actor workshops.  Thank you to all who have hired me, referred me, connected me, and prayed for me.

Many Christians are called to work on mainstream projects, so that we can be the light in the darkness. Coming to Gideon helps keep your focus and refuel your passion and purpose.  Regardless of where God calls you to go, we are Missionaries and the movie business is our mission field. Be encouraged and know that you are not alone.