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Welcome to my last Movie Review Monday for quite a while. On Wednesday of this week my family and I are flying out to Uganda, Africa for a 14 day missions trip. During that time I will be posting updates to both our family website blog and my own personal blog about the trip. Thus, all other series will be put on hold. However, before I left, I wanted to get in one last episode of MRM and who better to feature than Fred and Sharon Wilharm: a husband and wife duo that is redefining excellence in Christian film!
I was able to speak with them both and learned some very interesting facts. Sharon is the director and writer of a new Christian film called “Providence”, her husband Fred was an executive producer for the film which starred many prominent names in Christian film. However, just to get a general idea of when and where filmmaking became a part of their lives, I began asking some questions.

Me: How long have you been making films?

Sharon: We made our first film in 1999. It started out as a local history documentary that Fred was working on and turned into a faith-based feature film with me writing the script,directing it, and playing the lead role.

Me: You and your husband work as a duo in film then, it’s not just something you do that he tags along with?
Sharon: Actually, he’s the one who went to college and majored in broadcast communications. He always wanted to make movies. I had no interest whatsoever. I resisted it for the first three or four movies before I finally accepted that this was what God had called us to do.
 
It’s amazing to me, as Sharon is such a definite part of the films this couple makes in a major way, and yet she was not the one with a passion for the ministry. So, to get a little more information on how Fred got started on this path to begin with, I asked him directly about his early participation and interest in film production. This is what he had to say:


Fred: I had an interest in film starting as a teen. One of the first things I ever shot on Super 8 film was in 1975 and is on YouTube here:

In college I shot a 16mm short called “Dorm Stalker” and a comedy TV show. The only things I did for the next 25 years were TV commercials for my businesses, a coin laundry chain and an antique mall. We made the first feature in 2000 in FL with local actors in the small town we lived in.

I was impressed deeply by the awesome testimony of these two lives being molded to serve God His way, not theirs. I understood that the Wilharms made movies of a different style than most; especially for their recent film efforts. So I asked Sharon what were some distinctive and special elements about projects like the film “Providence”?
Sharon: Our prayer is always that God will give us the stories to tell that only we can tell in a way that only we can tell it. Our biggest weakness with our early movies was cheesy dialogue. So when we were working on The Good Book we wanted to get away from that. Years ago I had directed a church drama ministry where we had done a lot of interpretive drama to tell stories. It had worked for us, so we wondered if the same could be done for a movie. I started writing and discovered it could be done. When we were filming, no one had a clue what to expect. We were all in the dark since no one to our knowledge had ever done anything like what we were attempting.
Me: Being that this representation of a dramatic silent film project is a relatively new frontier for the mass market of viewers, how have these films been received by your audiences?
Sharon: At first no one knew what to think of The Good Book, but as we entered it in film festivals and it got awards, people warmed to the idea. We didn’t think it could be done again, but when I began writing the next script, I realized I was naturally writing it without dialogue. This time we had a better idea of what we were doing and decided that we would embrace its uniqueness and make it just as artsy as we could make it. And it seems to have worked. We’ve been very blessed by the response to Providence.
 Me: So, Providence was only the second film that you made without any dialogue. How many films have you made in total?

Sharon: We’ve made six total. The first was done for our local community. The second was with a church youth drama team that we did so the kids could get experience making a movie. 
These films, though incredibly artsy, are not art for the sake of it. There is a message in the making of the movies; a story that Fred and Sharon are telling. Unlike speaking films, this style does not influence your mind, but rather touches your heart directly. The employing of senses to counteract and compensate for the lack of expected dialogue is an effort that helps you understand the message of the film.
Me:Does the lack of dialogue in film increase or decrease the production time? Where does the most work come into the production process, and what are a few different dynamics of “silent” filmmaking as opposed to films with speaking parts?

Sharon: Not having dialogue makes filming go much quicker since we don’t have to worry about lawn mowers, airplanes, or motorcycles interrupting a shot. It also makes it more fun for the actors because they don’t have to always be silent on the sidelines. The hardest thing about silent filmmaking is getting people to take a chance on it. Because most people haven’t seen a silent film before, they assume they won’t like it. Once they actually watch it, they usually like it. The most common reaction we get is that they didn’t think they’d like it, that they had to really concentrate on it to keep up with what was going, but that it spoke to them in a way that dialogue couldn’t. I wish we were better able to explain the concept so that more people would see it.

All of that is just a taste of who these people are and what they do to bring wholsome, quality entertainment into your home to the ultimate glory of God. To learn more about the Wilharms and future film projects from them visit their production website: faithflix.com

As always, thanks for reading.

the anonymous novelist

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