Christian Film Cinematographer, Leesley Films Founder, Actor, Devon Leesley as Pastor Jim Villetti
Story telling has probably been the most utilized form of lesson-conveying known to man. Not to delve into the ancients (whom I am no expert), I will point you to Jesus Christ, who used this method for a very unusual purpose: to hide truths from the folks. I realize that most of us have been taught that the parables of Christ were catalysts for truth so the common man may understand, but on the contrary. They were to hide his gospel of the new covenant within the framework of analogy, metaphor, and innuendo. Why did he do this? Didn’t he want every person to come to repentance? Yes, although he first demanded that every man be an honest seeker with a broken and contrite spirit; even this is a preparation work that only he can do. If you remember, he revealed his parables in plain language to his Apostles after the masses tired of him and dispersed; he walked them through them step by step. You may think I am being too hard on the folks, but where in the world were they when the rubber finally met with concrete – the torture and crucifixion of Jesus?
Why am I babbling away on all this you ask? To help you see why those that are on board with me are being compelled to enter the “unknown” and unpredictable realm of film making. Unpredictable in the sense that no one on such an endeavor can truly foresee the outcome of such a venture…adventure!
We are enjoined not to worry about outcomes. The visual arts are one of many tools of storytelling, and film is one of many of the visual arts that have enjoyed a very, very short existence. Yet rather successful inroads into the way people take in a story. In fact, it has become the major story telling venue for most; who really reads a book these days?
So, even as Jesus used parables and stories to reveal Gospel truths to those that were truly seeking or hungering for some spiritual reality of the gospel, he can and does use films/movies to do the same. Seeds can be planted as well in the hearts of those on the run. The parables did the same.
I will not spend time berating the film industry for its freefall into the dark realm of the baser nature and appetites of fallen man – glorifying the ugly – offensive and obscene, I’d only be “preaching to the choir,” as it were. It’s suffice to say that our secondary intention is to make films that are on the other end of the spectrum for palatableness. That is to say, the content may be of an adult nature, but without the in-your-face graphics. Much is left to the imagination. We do not feel it’s necessary to shoot a scene where a person is injured or killed, and then have an high definition close up of the wound being inflicted in slow, bloodletting motion. This is gratuitous and only appeals to the twisted and warped fallen nature of unredeemed men. It serves no purpose but to desensitize and harden an audience which we have witnessed for the last 35 years of movie-making. But, it does draw the crowds and causes great expense for the theater owner. That being said, we however shy not away from the realities of a fallen world around us. We intend to take on topics that are common to fallen man and give the audience the redeeming message of the Son of God: Jesus Christ – the only real solution to the ills of fallen man.
So with all that in mind, this is what we are NOT about: having delusional dreams of grander or looking to make a name for ourselves, but rather to exalt and present the only name under Heaven whereby we must be saved. Nor are we looking for a cushy corner in Beverly Hills, to live out our remaining days on this planet. We are not looking to advance a self-absorbed agenda complete with perks and notoriety or to fatten our bank accounts and increase our hat sizes. We’re not looking to gain esteem or noticeability from Christendom or the church in general. And finally, we’re not looking to just do something for God, no matter how noble or spiritual we may feel or appear.
The primary reasons are these: pressing forward to fulfill what God has conceived in us by his Spirit, and do what he intended us to do. In our case, produce Christian movies. And finally, press forward to pleasing him, and him alone; winning folks to Jesus is simply just a by-product.
Our initial motivation is to walk where he calls us, doing his will. We’re pressing forward to do the things he is telling us to do in our hearts. We are so intent on following his direction that for years (about 30), I have prayed, “God, if this is not you, we don’t want it. If you are not in it, we don’t want it.” That’s a very difficult prayer, especially when you want something so badly.
That should be every Saint’s prayer for a season, before undertaking any form of conceived ministry. Sad to say though, the bulk of all that we call “ministry” today doesn’t want the rigors of time delay and proper proving. Most ministries prove it all too candidly; the word “shallow” comes to mind – perhaps, even “dead.”
I ’ll make a solid point I referred to at the beginning of this writing: what the future holds on this enterprise is none of my business. All of us onboard at Leesley Films are only concerned about what God would have us undertake. If God gives me a vision or dream disclosing to me what is coming, great. If not, great. He is not obligated to give me the whole low-down, the whole picture (no pun intended), from beginning to end. But, he does promise me and those that dare surrender all; day-by-day guidance and assurance. I know that our movies will not be for everyone. However, I do believe that the humble, searching, and hungry heart will mesh with the heart that so graciously directs every scene and moment in our films, rewarding that individual with his blessing.
I will close with this challenge and request: pray for us. Pray that we seek not those things of this world, but those things above. Pray that if any of the enemy’s so-called lime-light spills on us, we may shake it off with fury and disgust, even as Samson shook himself awake when the Philistines were upon him.
Finally, pray that pure intent be the goal. That true purpose be the order of the day, and his presence always be welcomed.
~Devon E. Leesley