Shooting “Real Conversations”

Posted on: 08/26/11 3:30 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Wednesday I flew to Grand Rapids to film my new DVD sharing-your-faith curriculum with Zondervan, the one that I’ve been telling you about now titled, “Real Conversations.” We shot all day yesterday and all day today… just finished. I’m wiped out!

To be honest… it was a blast! The crew that shot it was made up with some of the same guys that have shot some of Rob Bell’s videos and Max Lucado’s material. They really knew their stuff and had a “collaborative” attitude. If you read behind the lines there, that means that they put up with my constant, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we tried this!!!”

Let me paint you a picture. For this one shot we were in this amazing old warehouse near downtown Grand Rapids. This place was so cool looking… it had all these broken windows and the paint was peeling off the columns. We shot on the 4th floor up these precarious stairs. It had this open abandoned feel. Well… I saw a wheelchair and thought, “What if shoot a shot that comes in through the broken window from the outside (first floor), then cheat a dissolve to a jimmy-rig dolly shot (the wheelchair) of the camera approaching me when I deliver my first line?” The guys just looked at me like, “Are you kidding me?”

10 minutes later one guy is pushing another guy in the wheelchair towards me! These guys were real troopers!

Another fun moment was filming a little scene I wrote between two girls where one girl was attempting to verbalize her faith to her friend. The young actresses we got were amazing. As you can imagine, it was a interesting challenge trying to accurately represent what two girls actually talk like. First, I had to use realistic language, but not bad language. That itself was a challenge. Then I had to balance what we wanted to teach, with what a teenager would really be able to articulate. We gave the girls some freedom to say the lines they way they would say them, tweaking a word or two at times. We shot it from three different angles with a bunch of cutaways… I was really pleased with what we got “in the can.” These girls had their lines memorized and were ready, so it gave us freedom to say, “try this” or “say it like this.” They were awesome. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

All that to say, I think I’m going to try to fall into a coma now until the alarm goes off and I have to fly to my next location tomorrow (Mississippi where I’m teaching a parenting workshop on Sunday.)

I can’t wait until this curriculum is released. (Still don’t know the date. Probably quite a while.)

2 Replies to “Shooting “Real Conversations””

  1. I sure wish I knew you were going to be in GR–my hometown! Would have loved to take you to lunch or dinner or something!!! And I understand that you will not be in Atlanta this year for YS either?

    Sigh. Maybe someday I will get a chance to shake your hand and thank you in person for all that you do for those of us in the trenches.


    1. Sorry I missed you in GR. But as for Atlanta YS Convention… I am there teaching two workshop on Friday this year (then I fly out that night to go speak at a YFC convention on the East coast). Come to one of my workshop and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet ya!

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