Renegade Gospel: Rebel Jesus, Behind the Scenes
Written by Dan Bracken, Pastor and Videographer
I kinda knew it was an ambitious idea. I’ve filmed in scary places before, but filming in West Dayton at 3:30am might have gotten me killed. But sometimes, the story is worth the risk. The Ginghamsburg worship design team had just created a summer series on discipleship called The Renegade Gospel. Our lead pastor had long been teaching on the radical ways of the Kingdom and the rebellious nature of our Messiah. To state it lightly, we were all buzzing with excitement. For me, it started with a logo. A simple R with the horizontal line extended slightly to the left, and a circle to signify our Christian unity. Inspired by a Levi Jeans commercial, I quickly mocked up a flag in Photoshop for our newly branded movement of the gospel. I then put out a call for actors and began scouting the perfect location. Somewhere dark. I quickly had a full enlistment of actors (normal, everyday people from our congregation) and a bunch of materials to construct our own flags. One of my actors, Gary, was a property manager, who offered an abandoned warehouse on the far side of town. It had no electricity. It was perfect. Then Gary took me by surprise. He organized his own employees to wield flashlights and bright colored vests to stand on the street corners, so everyone participating would know exactly where to go. He used his police connections to coordinate extra security. He brought a generator. He brought his wife, who brought donuts and coffee to share. He even let us “tag” the side of his building. My direction to the cast was simple, “come dressed in black and ready to make a flag or two.” I wanted to run the streets with our flags at dawn (symbolizing a new day of Christianity). Sunrise was at 6:37am. I opted to bypass the generator, using only the headlights from our cars. I shoot with a Panasonic HVX200. Primarily 23.976fps, 720p and recorded on P2 cards. Upon logging my footage that morning, I was pleased. But I was not done. I recorded Josh, who performed the narration, in front of a black sheet in my studio at Ginghamsburg. We have a teleprompter to make studio reads easier. I also assigned a teen in our student ministry to score the original music. Once I had all the pieces, it was time to edit (Adobe Premiere). Working closely with my teen “composer” I let the footage match the flow of the music. A little color correction (slight desaturation, added blue undertones and increased blacks) gave the final product a nice cinematic feel. This video is one of my favorite creations. Mostly because of the team it took to put it all together. As the series progressed, the brand took on a life of its own. Some put the R on their car, and others as tattoos on their arm. But most gratifying was seeing our church taking the revolutionary call of Jesus more seriously than before.
By Dan Bracken