I will freely admit that I am terrified by my new film, Holy Ghost. Everything about it is designed to push me out of my comfort zone, both spiritually and creatively. Not only is it dealing with the one member of the Trinity that I still don’t feel I have a good understanding of, but I’ve made a conscious decision to depart as much as possible from the aesthetics of my previous 3 films while putting this one together. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it kind of means I’m going to try to make this film look and feel as different as possible from the other three. Some people may (and indeed, already have) told me this is a mistake, since I’ve built up a great fan base with my “aw shucks” approach to my subject matter. It’s my honesty, they say, that makes these films so endearing to people. My response? That’s exactly WHY they have to change! Let me explain.
For my first three films, I was on a journey of discovery from a place of complete ignorance. The telling of that journey, therefore, carried with it a kind of naive, wide-eyed wonder at what I was seeing all around me. The world was becoming a different place—a place where miracles happened, where a war was raging, and where the love of a Father was the answer to everything. But when those journeys came to an end, I was a different man. A different son. I have been given new eyes to see the world, and if I’m going to begin a new journey, I need to acknowledge that fact. Actually, I would be dishonest if I took the same approach, since it would imply that I have no knowledge of what I’m heading into.
So what will it look like, then? Honestly, I have no idea. I have a few ideas. I want it to be firmly grounded in reality, “earthy” is how I describe it to people. It’s tempting to take the Holy Spirit to places of mysticism and experiential theatrics, but I want to ground Him firmly in reality, because ultimately, this is where He works everyday. In the dirty, guttural levels of our existence. I want to meet him there, then, and hang out for a bit. You’re going to see real people in real places experiencing a very real God. We’re going to push the creative limits whenever possible. My goal is best explained this way. When you start the movie, if you’re a previous fan, your first thought will be, “Wow, this is different.” Hopefully that will be followed quickly by, “But it’s really cool!”
One other reason I feel the need to change things up a bit is due to expectation. There is a natural tendency, with “sequels”, to feel the pressure to fill them with bigger, better, and more outlandish things—to push the envelope. While this is fine in a narrative film where CG budgets can be tweaked, in a film like this, where a film only exists if God Himself actually shows up, that whole idea is abhorrent to me. I don’t want the pressure of feeling as if I’ve got to get God to outdo Himself somehow, and I don’t want to turn these films into a panting hype-fest either. When God shows up, it’s raw and powerful. I think God showing up in real, unique, and unexpected ways will never get old. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to do our best to position ourselves in locations where Him showing up will be…shall we say…impressive. But that’s the nature of the movie business. My job is to walk that fine line between entertainment and holiness. Which is why partnering with the Holy Spirit and getting His perspective on things is crucial—and something that makes this leap of faith the greatest risk I’ve ever taken.
So what about this Holy Spirit? Well, from the sheer amount of opinions I’ve received in just the few weeks of our Kickstarter campaign for the film, it appears that I am heading into treacherous waters. Everyone, it seems, has a set position on the Holy Spirit and his role in the world and our lives. Some people are yelling at me to focus on tongues. Others are mad that I am focusing on the word “experience”. Some are accusing me of turning the Holy Sprit into some kind of show. I have friends who view the Holy Spirit as a personal friend, and others who believe He is more of a providential force. The whole debate is enough to give me a headache.
All I know for sure is this: The Holy Spirit is a Person, which means He must have a personality. The Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus to be our helper and comforter, and to ultimately point all of us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit operates very much in power. The Holy Spirit is the most abused, misunderstood, ignored and maligned Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit needs to show up in a very real, tangible way for me to be able to make this movie.
Beyond that, let the journey begin.
Darren Wilson is the Founder and Director at WP Films, a media company with a very clear mission: ask questions about God that no one else will. He has traveled the world since 2006 creating various feature-length documentaries, including Finger of God, Furious Love, Father of Lights, Holy Ghost, and Holy Ghost Reborn. Darren is also the author of the books Filming God and Finding God in the Bible.