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What We’ve Learned After 100 Mini Movies

by Jeff Parker on January 16, 2012

This is a post written by Jeff Parker for  Did it make sense to reprint it here? You bet it did.

I’m writing this the same day we (Igniter Media) released our 100th mini movie. It’s been a journey of more than eight years that started with Rob Thomas creatingAre You Amazed?” under the name Vertical Sky Productions and has currently culminated with Igniter Media being a 10-person company that is as dedicated as ever to creating media that declares God’s truths.

As you can imagine, over the years we’ve learned so much about God, ourselves, media, and the Church. These lessons have pushed us in what we create, why we create, and how we create. So without further ado, here are those lessons (give or take a few missing ones) in no particular order:

  • Visual media is powerful.
  • God is creative. And we are made in his image.
  • Excellence should be the minimum standard.
  • You can’t please everyone.
  • The best videos are the ones you can’t help but make.
  • Encouragement from our audience is a powerful motivator.
  • Sometimes the best ideas come while you’re showering.
  • Making a great video requires a great team with a great variety of gifts.
  • Cody McCasland is a special kid.
  • Our visuals must serve the message … not the other way around.
  • Mediums keep changing …
  • … but the Message never changes.
  • We have some of the best jobs in the world.
  • God is THE Storyteller …
  • … and He writes some amazing stories.
  • Sometimes Chachi forgets to wear the right wig.
  • Sometimes Chachi forgets to wear his teeth (skip ahead to 1:10).
  • Kids are cute. (Okay, maybe we already knew that.)
  • Gary Smalley does a ‘killer’ Robot (skip ahead to 3:32).
  • God uses everyone’s offerings in ways we could never imagine.
  • Churches aren’t comfortable showing potty humor in their services.
  • The ideal length of a mini movie keeps getting shorter and shorter.
  • Story moves people in a way sermons can’t …
  • … and, yes, sermons challenge people in a way story can’t.
  • Not everything needs to finish with a nice, beautiful bow.
  • It is possible to create a mini movie from scratch in one long night (just ask Rob).
  • We can make Oprah cry
  • … and Celine Dion too. (She was Oprah’s guest the day they showed “99 Balloons.”)
  • Some of our best work occurs just past midnight.
  • Mini movies can paint a fresh picture of a timeless story.
  • Cameras overheat.
  • Robert McKee’s STORY seminar is amazing and exhausting.
  • Try as we might, we can’t help but have a few tpyos.
  • Animal print tights aren’t flattering for anyone, including Rob.
  • Physical DVDs are on the decline — so says our storage closet.
  • Apparently nothing we do will ever top one of our first videos.
  • The Panasonic HVX-200 is the best video camera. Whoops, I meant the RED. No, I really mean the Canon 7D.
  • Working extremely hard on a video and then seeing a great response is an incredibly satisfying feeling.
  • Ideas are cheap. Execution is not.
  • It’s a beautiful thing when the visuals complement the music which complements the message.
  • Details are, at times, excruciating.
  • Always keep both your message and your audience in mind.
  • Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect — just get the clay on the table.
  • The best mini movies come from a place of personal struggle or conviction.
  • Carefully consider each creative decision so you won’t doubt yourself when someone says, “It’s too _____” or “Why did you _____?”
  • There can be a fine line between something cheap and something great.
  • Secretly, we feel somewhat forced to create so much seasonal media
  • …but it’s what churches like to use, so we want to provide the content.
  • Sometimes we have to make a video just so the idea will leave us alone.
  • We’re pretty sure we have another 100 videos in us.
One Comment
  1. Trent Armstrong permalink

    Thanks, Jeff!! Such great memories and truth in that list. It’s good to have them all there to keep things in perspective!

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