We gained more than a trophy at the Omaha Film Festival.
Despite a total white-out blizzard, the turnout was pretty decent. Over 50 students, teachers, filmmakers, parents, grandparents, friends and family braved the snow to experience Becoming Fools in Omaha. We learned that there were at least another 100 people who planed to come, but couldn’t due to the snow. Ironically, Omaha enjoyed 60 degree weather every day prior to the Becoming Fools screening. That was an emotional hurdle, but we quickly accepted the fact that we don’t have any control over the weather.
I found myself at peace when the Becoming Fools title sequence began to play, despite knowing that the film was not yet entirely finished. There were still grammatical errors in the subtitles, audio in a few scenes needed to remixed, and none of the beautiful animation that our friend Beaux is working on, had been edited into the film. These things just couldn’t be finished in time for the screening. But in the scope of all the work already completed, these things were small – and hopefully, most people wouldn’t notice.
After the film ended I had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience. As a filmmaker, this is a golden opportunity to get feedback and gauge the impact. I was delighted to answer questions about the production and our motivation to produce the film. I even called attention to our son Micah as a visual aide, noting that children as young as him were living in the streets alone. I could sense the weight of this reality sinking in as members of the audience gasped and shook their heads in disbelief.
At one point, someone asked me if we had staged a specific scene in the film. I tried not to smile too much when I answered the question, because it was a legitimate thought. After all, the scene in question could seem “too good to be true”. I responded with something like,
“I know it could appear to good to be true, but in all honestly that is the way it happened. In fact, I wish I could have had some sort of control over the film, because I certainly would have done many things differently.”
But I didn’t have control … and I still don’t (obviously – I mean … a blizzard on our screening day!) … and really … I will never have control.
The story captured and presented in Becoming Fools is an authentic depiction of chaos made beautiful by a God who knows a lot more, cares a lot more, and ultimately LOVES a lot more than I do. The film presents beautiful grace, but ultimately doesn’t end with everything wrapped in a bow. That simply isn’t reality. These kids are still living in the streets. Some of them are now purposefully in jail. Others have been admitted to the hospital for knife wounds. Their status has changed several times since we began post production, because that is the nature of life in the streets.
We hope to finish the film this month and begin planning a fall screening tour, but we don’t really have control over that either. We dug deep into savings to finish the film and don’t have the resources needed for a screening tour. But we trust that resources will be provided. We hope that others will choose to join us in Becoming Fools.
This journey has been chaotic and it’s been beautiful in the midst of chaos. We didn’t set out to tell this story because we knew how it would end. We simply felt called to authentically amplify the voices of these youth who live in the streets in the hopes that audiences would want to join the effort to make a difference. We didn’t win any awards at the Omaha Film Festival, but the audience affirmed our hope. Several people shared how the film inspired them to do something and engage the issue of at-risk youth. To us, that’s worth more than a trophy.
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