Having premiered around the world via a free digital stream on 6th September, Wanderlust Production's latest documentary film Holy Ghost was made with no plan or script but simply by following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. US-based director Darren Wilson speaks about the film...


What, in a nutshell, is the film about?

"The film is, essentially, about the Holy Spirit. More specifically, I wanted to try to make a movie that was, as much as possible, led by the Holy Spirit. So I went into it with no plan, no script, and no real idea of what to do, and I just prayed a lot and tried to go and film wherever I felt God was leading me to."

What prompted its making and how did you come to be involved?

"I thought I was finished with these 'God adventure' films, until I had a pretty powerful encounter in New York where I felt the Lord making it really clear that this was supposed to be my next project. So I started moving forward with it immediately."

SCENES FROM HOLY GHOST

"I wanted to try to make a movie that was, as much as possible, led by the Holy Spirit. So I went into it with no plan, no script, and no real idea of what to do, and I just prayed a lot and tried to go and film wherever I felt God was leading me to."

With "no plan, no script", how did you decide what to put in and what not to? And how did you keep it on time and on budget?

"Well, I just tried to go places where I felt the Lord telling me to go. I have this strange thing that happens when I feel the Holy Spirit is on something, where I get butterflies in my stomach. So every time I heard about something, or researched something, or whatever, if I got the butterflies, we were going. Other times I had dreams, or others had dreams. It was all one big crazy adventure. I knew what my budget was based on past films I had done, and I also knew roughly how many places I’d need to go to get enough footage. Unbeknownst to me, I actually got nearly three times as much footage as I actually needed, which means there will be a part two next year."

Given the way the film was made, what was the greatest challenge for you as a director?

"Definitely having no specific plan going into a place. Usually my crew has some idea of what we’re trying to accomplish, but with this film we were nearly always in the dark. So we’d land, then look at each other and literally say, 'Now what?' It was about as stressful of a way to make a movie I can possibly imagine."

The film features everyone from singer Michael W Smith to author William P Young (The Shack) and clergy like Bill Johnson, of Bethel Church in California. How was the cast decided?

"I always film my friends for the most part, and as these films get more popular, I guess I get 'more popular' friends. Everything with me is relational, so typically the people in my films are either friends of mine or their fans of my work. I realise it’s a major hodge-podge of people, but I kind of like it like that."

How was your own faith affected by the making of the film?

"These films are really for me - they’re very personal. My faith is always affected in a huge way. With this film, I learned much more about the personality of the Holy Spirit and this process really took a lot of the mystery around Him away. Don’t get me wrong, He’s still a gigantic mystery, but He doesn’t freak me out like He used to!"

The film was funded by $US360,000 raised from 2,500 people via Kickstarter in just 45 days. Why did you choose to raise funding that way?

"Kind of on a lark, we tried using Kickstarter to help fund our tour for my last film, Father of Lights. We originally set a goal for $US15,000, and wound up raising something like $US150,000! So that’s when we realised that 1) this is really a viable option; and, 2) we have a ton of fans who are passionate for these films. So it was a natural place to go with this one."

The film is premiering at the same time around the world on 6th September (11am PDT) with a free digital stream (which will also include a concert). Any idea how many you expect to be watching? (and is it free all around the world or just in the US?)

"It’s free around the world. Our crazy, God-sized goal is to get over one million people watching, but who knows if we’ll get there. Definitely hundreds of thousands will be tuning in, between the broadcast itself and the 700-plus churches and theatres that will be showing it as well."

What happens after that? And is this a one-off or do you expect this model of making and distribution to catch on?

"The honest truth is that we have no idea what we’re doing, which is why we’re willing to take crazy risks like this. When you’re only goal is to make God known throughout the earth, He seems to like that, and He really breathes on what we’re doing quite often. I don’t know if this will become the norm, or if we’ll even do it again! It seems like we release our films differently every time. We’ll just need to seek Him and ask Him what He thinks!"

It's called Holy Ghost and not Holy Spirit. Any particular reason for that?

"I think people want me to give a really deep answer to that question, but the truth is pretty pedestrian. For one, it’s fairly provocative, and I knew I’d be making a provocative movie. But two, it kind of conjures visions of old time religion and tent revivals, and I wanted to take something with this old school, some might even say negative connotations, and put a new spin on it, bring something fresh out of it."

Is the film aimed at Christians or those who don't yet know Christ - or both? What do you hope the audience's reaction will be?

"If you had to force me to answer, I guess I’d say it’s a little more geared towards waking believers up, but honestly I make my films for myself. What movie would I want to see? I’m not a huge fan of Christian films, and I hate documentaries, so I always approach my films by asking what I’d want to see if I was forced to sit down and watch it. My first goal is to entertain you, because I know the message will be there. A lot of Christian artists get it wrong because they think the message comes before entertainment. Not if you’re making a story, it doesn’t."

What's next for you as a director?

"Well, Holy Ghost: Reborn will come out in about a year, and it’s the second part of this film. Kind of two sides of the same coin, is how I describe the two films. It’ll be more intimate, yet way more epic in scope, and will be probably the most emotional film I’ve ever made. I’ve cried pretty much constantly while editing it! "

The film premiered on 6th September in a digital stream at hgpremiere.bethel.tv. Check the website for further screening locations and times - holyghost.wpfilm.com.

 

Having premiered around the world via a free digital stream on 6th September, Wanderlust Production's latest documentary film Holy Ghost was made with no plan or script but simply by following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. DAVID ADAMS spoke with US-based director Darren Wilson via email prior to the global premiere...