In conjunction with the official release of the Nikki & Babs: Dos and Doubts DVD, Cloud Ten Pictures has asked me to write an entry for their blog about the making of the first season of the series. Below is the entry I wrote a few months ago. Not sure when it will be available on their blog, but with the release of the pre-order, now seemed as good as any.
What could possibly inspire me to sit outside for two hours at my son’s evening baseball practice, in 33 degree weather, clumsily tapping away at my laptop keyboard with numb fingers covered in thin gloves, trying to complete writing the first episode for the second season of Nikki & Babs?
The Holy Spirit, that’s who.
I have learned over the years that inspiration cannot be wasted and if the Holy Spirit has inspired me to take action, I take it without question. So, as the fog of each exhale hovered around my face and my skin lost all sensation of feeling, I continued to write as quickly as I could. For me, moments of creative inspiration cannot be recreated and if I don’t take advantage of it, I’ll lose it forever.
Pecking Away at the Ball Field
The evolution of Nikki & Babs from its inception to now shows me that God’s plans are far greater than any we could figure out on our own. So, if he says write in the freezing cold, I write. If he says shoot a web series for teens on a small budget with a smaller crew, I gather my equipment and get going.
It hasn’t always been that way. My faith journey has had its fair share of challenges and obstacles. However, my approach was altered when I saw an interview with major league baseball player Mike Sweeney. On his bible he has a sticker of a tandem two-seater bicycle. The back seat has a person pedaling furiously and the front seat is empty. He uses this to remind himself that his job is to work as hard as he can and its Jesus job to steer the bike.
That has been our approach with Sonlight Pictures from the very beginning. We pray and look for guidance on what we feel the Lord wants us to work on next. Once we’ve committed to a project, we work as hard as we can and let God sweat the details.
The path that Jesus has taken us on in the creation of Nikki & Babs has been a bumpy one, to be sure. Often times the “crew” was just me and the two actors, Tiffany and Dorothea. I’d set up the lights, microphone, camera and the rest of the equipment as they’d run their lines. We’d block out the scene and the camera locations and then start shooting. Having worked in film and television before, I knew all of the roles that are normally filled by a large crew that were, out of necessity, filled only by me.
I can’t tell you how many times I was so burdened by the tasks at hand that I just wanted to give up and stop making the series. I can count at least six times where I said to my wife “it’s not worth it.” Then I’d remember the idea of the tandem bike. If I’m allowing Jesus to steer the bike, then I have to trust him when the road gets a little bumpy or when the path seems to be heading toward a cliff, beset with thorny bushes and jagged rocks.
To my surprise, I have learned that whether the road we take is either bumpy or smooth is entirely up to us. If we have traveled a road of faith numerous times, then the journey will be smooth. If we are negotiating new faith territory, the road will be bumpy and difficult. However, the more we travel that new faith path, the more the bumps will soften and the road will flatten over time.
God doesn’t make our faith journey difficult, we do. We can take comfort in the fact that God knows all the short cuts and all of the paths that will lead us back toward Heaven.
The funny thing is that, because of all of those challenges, the first season of Nikki & Babs has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. What used to be an obstacle, working often without a crew, has turned into a cherished memory as I look back with fondness at those quiet, intimate moments on the set with the just the actors and myself.
If the Lord wants another season of Nikki & Babs, there are new challenges that await his resolution. Both of the actors are now in college, one of which over 400 miles away. Scheduling time with the actors will be difficult and the cost of making a second season will be much more expensive than the previous year.
However, I do know this… God is a better scheduler than I am, a better fund-raiser than I am, a better writer, director, actor and film maker than I am. So, if he wants season two to be made, then we’ll make it.
My job is to pedal as fast as I can, even if that means typing a new script in 33 degree weather.
I’m letting Jesus steer the bike.