The Director’s Story Behind CCM Stories
People care about people.
I learned this valuable lesson in the early days of my career from some incredibly wise mentors. It is a nugget, as a storyteller, that I have never forgotten.
It doesn’t matter that Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore Show) is a producer in the newsroom. It doesn’t matter that Anthony Dinozzo (NCIS) is a very special agent. It doesn’t matter that Cooper (INSTELLAR) goes blasting off through the core of a black hole and winds up in another galaxy. It doesn’t matter that Monica and Rachel (FRIENDS) met at Central Perk.
What matters most is they are PEOPLE with stories. What viewers care about is that Mary is hilariously battling becoming an old maid, while struggling to find legitimacy in being a woman, in a position normally held by a man during the 70’s. We know there is much more to DiNozzo than just being a guy who solves crimes. What moves us much more is Cooper’s journey to reunite with Murph, rather than his death defying survival of monster waves.
And that’s not just true about movies and television programs.
The best documentaries help us experience the lives of the people they are portraying more than they bring us the information about people. Sports — a great example — is even more about the people than it is the game.
The NFL sells drama over football. The NBA sells struggle over hoops. The NHL sells battles royale over highly skilled skating. The Olympics is always more about the stories then it is about each event. (By the way — this is one of the major issues with Major League Baseball — the game is played at such a slow pace that the moments of human encounter and conflict come few and far between.)
This basic fundamental, people care about people, is so critical in storytelling that often the success of the story being told is less about execution, and more about how deeply we are impacted by what we have seen.
I have been deeply involved in a personal way with many of the stories that I have told.
I remember standing with a fireman, who was well over six ft. tall, with giant hands — calloused hands of a working man, who was crying with heaving sobs, as he waited to hear the fate of his daughter-in-law who had been in the Murrah building in the Oklahoma City bombing.
I’ll never forget the crippling face of poverty and rage that I saw during the Rodney King riots in south-central L.A.
When I finally met Sara Allen, Daryl Hall’s muse for the hit 70’s song “Sara Smile,” and I experienced her talking about her multi-decade long relationship with the pop star I felt her story. She was so compelling that I was committed to bringing that portion of the Hall & Oates Behind the Music story to the screen with as much dimension as possible.
While Interviewing Muhammad Ali, he revealed something I wouldn’t otherwise have known — behind the veil of Parkinson’s disease, which makes the former champion seem so much less than what he was in his prime, all of his intelligence, all of his wit, every ounce of his being a champion, is still there. It’s just struggling to get out.
I have always felt a great amount of responsibility to compellingly convey who each of the people or characters truly are while illustrating their story. The biggest crime would be taking up screen time with frames that no one cared about.
The fact is, though, I have spent far more time with people in my life than the number of stories I’ve told. The people that I live life with — my family, my friends, and my community. I spend a great deal of my time, these days, with the next generation of filmmakers at the Center for Creative Media. A lot has changed over the last six months. CCM has become it’s own stand-alone ministry, we’ve moved to a new location, our participants live in different housing, and we have expanded our capabilities into different genres of projects. We have exchanged the Garden Valley legacy of Keith, Buck and Annie for the city, and all of its conveniences.
What God is doing with our studio and ministry is a story within itself. The new chapters of the CCM Story is one that we have felt driven to share and tell.
So, as we contemplated exactly how we were going to tell that story, it became obvious that we needed to pay attention to our own advice: people care about people.
Knowing this, we embarked on putting together a series of videos called the CCM Stories. Each one of these stories bring to life what drives each one of the CCM storytellers. On social media over the last few weeks, we have introduced you to an individual filmmaker whose creative engine is fueled by different visions, life circumstances, and convictions. Make no mistake about it — everyone of these amazing people loves the Lord. But, the way they express that love is completely different from artist to artist.
As you watch the stories, I have some questions for you.
What motivates you?
Are you the military kid who’s struggling to break out of conformity to become a master storyteller?
Are you the struggling student, but is greatly gifted in creativity? Then, you find out you, in fact, had a learning disability, which made you uniquely wired?
Are you the person who’s more comfortable releasing their emotions in performance then you are in real life?
Are you struggling to discover what you want to do with your life, and the only thing that makes sense is reaching people with stories that matter and change lives?
Are you so moved by movies and television programs that somehow you just want to harness what those experiences are, but you desire to create them yourself?
Are you the techie or video person at your church and are wondering what you can do with those skills to make an impact on the kingdom for the rest of your life?
Here is my challenge to you: get to know the people in the CCM Stories. Find out what each of these people are doing to realize their dreams, and what moves and motivates them. THEN, answer this last question.
What are you going to do about it?
Please leave your thoughts, dreams, and comments below. I would really like to know Who you are and what motivates you.