You’re a filmmaker, but you’re from Texas and didn’t have a tradition way of coming into this craft. Did you find growing up in Texas helpful for your career?
Growing up in Arlington gave me a unique opportunity to hone my craft. The majority of my film education happened in DFW. I attended film classes at SMU, made short films with my friends, and worked inside the commercial market there. I gained experience in pretty much every film department and worked my way up from production assistant all the way up to gripping on union jobs. I was also shooting turnkey commercial projects for my own clients as well. It was an incredible time of learning, experimentation and growth. I was also writing, producing, directing, editing, scoring, and entering my own films into festivals. My first ‘best of show’ win was actually from a festival in Texas.
How did you become involved with the Erwin Brothers? What has been the best part about being a part of their filmmaking team?
The Erwins and I knew of each other as our first features come out in the same year. Andy reached out to me with some very kind feedback and it really meant a lot to me. We stayed in touch over the years. On the film Woodlawn, he knew the editorial task would be monumental with all of the multicam/football sequences, so he asked me to come help him co-edit. It was a really good collaborative experience for both of us I think. They offered me a more substantial role on Imagine and I then had the opportunity for forge a similar collaborative relationship with Jon as we wrote Imagine together. I also worked on some of the score for Woodlawn, and for this film, they ended up asking me to do the entire score for Imagine, for which I am eternally grateful. I’m a musician at heart, so getting to score is generally the favorite part of my process.
The best part of working with Jon and Andy is two things: First of all, Jon’s drive to succeed is unparalleled. He’s the hardest working guy I have ever known. As a filmmaker, I hate to admit this, but making the film is only about 30% of the entire process (while all the producers reading this stand up and cheer!) The other 70% of this process is hustling, connecting, networking, getting deals done. Jon understands this and is one the most tenacious, driven-by-sheer-will business guys I have ever been around. He does what everybody else just isn’t willing to do. Second- Jon and Andy’s dedication to excellence and quality in their storytelling is a very high value target for them. High quality is a largely missing ingredient in the faith space, and I applaud these guys for their dedication to learning the tradecraft well, which is a massively steep learning curve if you want to do it right. It’s been good to be on this path together with the boys.
What was the process of writing I Can Only Imagine?
When I sat with Bart Millard and heard his story, I knew that it had the potential to touch a lot of people’s lives. We all will deal with deep loss of our loved ones, and unfortunately, many of us will also deal with all sorts of abuse from the most unlikely of places. These two themes merge in a such a beautiful way in Bart’s story. This is a faith-friendly film, but it’s also a very-well-made drama that will resonate with mass audiences on a deep level, irrespective of religious affiliation.
What was the process of composing the score for the movie?
‘I Can Only Imagine’ is a movie about a song. And not just any song, but a triple-platinum piece of music that is sacred and beloved by millions. Everyone I speak with about the song has a story of how it has personally impacted their lives. It’s more than just another piece of music to them. I did not take that lightly going into this score. I was tasked with creating the rest of the musical score experience.
I think the greatest joy for me was getting to work on this movie as a lead creative from script to screen, as writer, editor, 2nd unit director and composer. The composer has the monumental task of putting the final emotional touches on the scenes that require music. As a musician-at-heart, who happens to work on films for a living, this was an honor.