Left Behind in Louisiana is a project that has often seemed to have been kept afloat on pure oxygen. But the hard reality is that we are now at a point where a fresh influx of funding is needed to finish the film and introduce it to the world. 2012 is a key year for Left Behind in Louisiana. Please join us. We need your support now more than ever!
Think back to November 2004. Still claiming to be a born-again Christian, George Bush has just been re-elected, and the news media is talking about the Evangelical Christian demographic that put him over the top. Who were Evangelicals and why had they rallied behind him in such huge numbers? Were religion and politics overlapping in ways that threatened separation of church and state? If Evangelical voters insisted on voting for a Christian candidate, why did that preclude them from voting for Kerry, a Catholic, and before him Gore, a Baptist Protestant? Weren’t they Christian, too? Boy, did I have a lot to learn…
I started researching Evangelical Christian belief and happened upon blogs, websites and books devoted to the belief in the Rapture. I had never heard of it. As I delved deeper, I grew utterly fascinated. Imagine: You believe in Jesus as your personal savior; you believe he’s coming back any day now, and when he does, you are going to be raised up into the sky and find a big mansion waiting for you there. Who believes this, you might ask? Well, millions of people do. Millions – at every level of society. Somehow I had to make a documentary about this. Somehow I would find a way into this world. As luck would have it, a believer saw a book I was reading about the Rapture and said that he would be willing to share his story and beliefs on camera.
Emmy-winning DP Sam Henriques agreed to venture to NJ for a simple shoot to get the film off the ground in late August 2005. We interviewed the aforementioned fellow, a former Shiite Muslim turned Evangelical. He was ready for the Rapture whenever it might come. It was great stuff. In the meantime, Katrina was heading toward the Gulf Coast as we filmed in suburban NJ that day. In the days and weeks that followed, we watched as the people along the Gulf Coast suffered devastation and injustices that were beyond comprehension from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
On an impulse, I organized a relief effort in my community and partnered with a Christian agency that promised to send an 18-wheeler truck to our community that would take desperately-needed items to the New Orleans area as soon as we could fill the truck’s trailer. My town and at least six neighboring communities gave heart and soul to the effort. It was amazing. Individuals, schools, churches, local businesses, organizations of all kinds…they gave and gave, and within 3 weeks we had gathered enough to fill up the promised truck. That particular faith-based agency tried to back out for unknown reasons. I didn’t question why; I just knew that we had to get this stuff down to Katrina victims, as promised. I held them to their word and we got the job done. The thing is, the whole experience gave me the opportunity to speak with victims of Katrina and then, as fate would have it, with victims of Hurricane Rita in southwestern Louisiana. As I had already been venturing down the Rapture research path, I found myself asking people if they’d be willing to share their religious beliefs with me. Our Evangelicals in NJ were not feeling the immediacy of the Rapture that their brethren in Louisiana were. Over and over again, Evangelical victims of Katrina and Rita told me that they were convinced the lead-up to the Rapture was happening now. The hurricanes were proof positive that the End Times were here, and they were smack-dab in the middle of the apocalyptic action.
We headed down to New Orleans and Cameron Parish as soon as we could put together some funding and a crackerjack crew. It wasn’t religion that guided us; it was our faith in the power and importance of documentary film. The journey we took over the next five years introduced us to people and took us to places I never imagined I’d encounter. After five years with an award-winning camera team (including three who have won Emmys for their work on the Amazing Race – Petr Cikhart, Scott Shelley, Allen Weeks), we achieved what many told us would be impossible – an authentic and riveting portrayal of the Evangelical world from an outsider’s POV. The film's main subjects are a compelling array of born-again believers: an itinerant cross-carrier, a fervent choir leader, backwoods preachers, urban mega-church pastors, and their faithful flocks. As we observe them practicing their faith and living their daily lives, we are met with complicated challenges that pose key questions about the effects of belief in Bible literalism, particularly as it relates to tolerance for gay rights, women’s rights, and the denial of much scientific fact and proven theory. Evolution? Nah! The world was made in six days – literally. And, according the film’ subjects. the ferocity of the hurricanes bore no connection to climate change or man-made coastal destruction. They were a means for God to chastise and punish a sinful nation for moral weakness. To Evangelicals, it’s as simple as that.
Or as complicated…Knowing the why’s and how’s of Evangelicalism allows us to better understand who we are as a nation during our difficult and disturbing times…and what we might want to do to about it! The film allows us to better understand the essence of American religious conservatism. It helps to explain why we are so polarized at the grassroots level, and offers valuable insight into this very American belief system that promotes a certain brand of Christian compassion, but holds to a strict doctrine of fear and intolerance at its core. This is essential knowledge, and knowledge is power, we are told. This I believe. I trust that you do too.
Documentary = Power!
Evangelicals are all over the news, especially in this election year. From Marcus Bachmann’s gay-cure clinic to Rick Perry's prayer rally organized with Pastor Mike Bickle, head of KC’s International House of Prayer (aka IHOP). And Catholic Rick Santorum is only too happy to espouse Evangelical doctrine to win the prized Evangelical voting bloc. As long as he’s a serious contender, we’ll be hearing his narrow vision of Christian morality and wisdom on a nightly news basis. Remember Pastor Harold Camping’s two-time Rapture error? That was really something, wasn’t it?
But what do we actually learn from these news items? Do we even begin to understand the reason and depth of anti-gay sentiment? Do we feel the fervor devoted to the destruction of a woman’s right to safety and privacy? Legions of home-schooled children are taught that a rib from Adam is sufficient explanation for the development of human civilization. And don’t forget only God makes the weather. The intensity of recent storms and the melting of polar ice caps have nothing to do with our human footprint.
Evangelicals: It’s not just a passing news story. It’s not just entertainment about a faraway world of people unlike you or me. Left Behind in Louisiana educates and informs as only a long-format documentary can. You will see regular Americans and not-so-ordinary Americans; they are your neighbors, people who mean well…or at least they think so. It is difficult to watch the film and not wonder how we got ourselves into this predicament. Why are we so divided? So polarized? Why don’t we know each other? And what we can we do about it?
There is something you can do right now. Please support Left Behind in Louisiana’s IndieGoGo campaign. Please don’t let the film die before it can reach a wide audience.
Do what you can. The world might not be ending tomorrow, but time is running short if we are to have the film ready for a 2012 release! Let’s work together to spread the word – the word of reason!
What We Need & What You GetI hope that you will find our perks enticing because we really need your help to finish Left Behind in Louisiana and prepare it for a successful release.
At this point we need only a few days to complete the long-format 98-minute version of the film. This cut (the Director’s Cut) will be useful in the educational market and for community screenings. But to really be competitive, to really be taken seriously by the industry, to be as successful as we know Left Behind in Louisiana can be, we need two additional versions of the film: a shorter 80-90 minute cut for theatrical release and a 54-minute cut for television broadcast. We have reason to believe that Left Behind in Louisiana could do well in both the theatrical and television broadcast markets (in U.S./Canada and in Europe). And we need to satisfy the needs of producer’s reps, sales agents, and distributors; they are the ones who make things happen beyond the world of self-distribution. They are the ones who still hold the cards on a documentary’s visibility and success in the world.
Our costs for the three edits are actually well over the $15,000 that we hope to raise through this campaign. We are counting on the impetus of this campaign to invite others to donate, too. All finishing costs have been factored in. The expenses budgeted include the picture edits, as well as other post-production processes: color correction, sound edit and mix, layback and deliverables.
It would be great if we could raise all the funds needed during this campaign period! Please take a look at our donation perks. And take a look at the Left Behind in Louisiana trailer if you haven’t already. Please have faith in us and the promise of the film. And don’t overlook the tax-deductible status of your donation*, as well as the parties, tickets, DVDs, posters…and the importance of giving to an extremely worthy documentary project.
Other Ways You Can HelpLike us on Facebook and share with your friends. The more people who know about the film and our campaign, the greater the chances of meeting our goal are!