Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 1 (August 2010)

videocam Video Article

Filmmaking in God’s Direction

Patrick Cone

I remember sitting in church one Sunday evening. It was “Missions Sunday,” which is usually code for “Preacher Vacation.” Missions Sunday at my church was when a visiting missionary came in (usually in the summer) and was basically given 15 minutes to share the story of his ministry. Typically, this was accompanied by a (boring) photo slideshow. Sitting there, even as a kid, I thought, “This guy spends all year in some amazing corner of the world, meeting amazing people, and he’s supposed to share all of his stories in 15 minutes or less?”

In January 2004, my dad and I were on a flight from Little Rock to Orlando, on our way to check out a film school there. It was my last semester at Harding University, and I was looking at pursuing a post-graduate degree in my newfound love: documentary filmmaking. On the flight, an idea crossed my mind that probably changed my life forever: “What if I used film to help missionaries ditch the slideshows on “Missions Sunday”? What if a missionary could show a relevant, ten-minute film, highlighting the sights, sounds, highs, and lows of their ministries, while still having five minutes to direct an inspired audience to their booth in the foyer?”

Over the next year, with that idea in mind, I eagerly studied the art of filmmaking at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. There I learned the craft and got to have as much hands-on time as I desired with any piece of equipment you could ever hope to find on a Hollywood set. Shortly after graduation, my wife Lauren and I moved to Los Angeles, where I spent the next two years working (mostly pro bono, the L.A. norm) in a variety of positions in the film industry.

The longest tenured job was at The Documentary Channel, a satellite TV network on the Dish Network that airs entirely independent documentaries. I loved my job there, which included assisting their editors and, the best part, screening hundreds of documentaries. It was almost like a second film school. I started hanging out around doc filmmakers and I soaked up how they operated.

In January 2007, Taylor Smith, a friend of mine from Chattanooga, called me up and said, “You should come down to Perth, Australia, where I’m working as a church-planter, and film what we’re doing.” This sounded like a great idea. Finally I would get to put my passion and energy behind a real life “Missionary Documentary.” The only problem: I’d have to quit my job.

In June 2007, I finished that documentary and began trying to get it in the hands of people I had been sharing my dreams with for the last three years. I was very proud of the way it turned out and others began to take notice. That film got me work on another promo film and so on and so on. Before I knew it, it was late 2008 and I had already traveled to four foreign countries on three continents, making high-quality, informational films about missionaries and Christian non-profits.

That’s still what I’m doing today. My company, C1 Entertainment, was created to bring high-quality, affordable HD video content to clients that might not otherwise be able to get their stories out there. I love my job and the opportunities it brings. I’m now doing all kinds of work, including weddings, corporate gigs, and even developing my own feature length documentaries that focus on social and global awareness issues.

I take great pride in my work, being my own toughest critic. I am constantly looking for new, cutting edge ways to help tell great stories. It’s my passion; it’s what I love.

From my perspective as a filmmaker, the mission of God is helping tell His story in a relevant way. As a society, we are connecting more and more with people who put themselves in the line of fire for a cause. We admire their zeal, we connect with the people they reach out to, and we begin to project our own worldview into what we see or hear, that is, “Could I do that?” or “If they can do that, why can’t I do this?” “This” being a cause or concern near to our own heart. Whether these stories are told in the name of Christ or not, we are responding to them in a big way. Why not channel this power and use it to help those whose stories might otherwise be left out?

I am blessed with the gift of telling stories through the medium of film. Because I’ve been given this gift, it’s my part in the missio Dei to use it for his glory.

Patrick lives in Dallas, TX with his wife, Lauren, and dog, Sebastian. Check out his website at: http://C1entertainment.com or follow him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/C1-Entertainment/147350212323) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/c1entertainment).