Jeremy Davis is the founder and director at Wildfire Media Studios, the producer of The Hill and an contributor to the website Church Without Balls; here is a link to the churches website:
Q: What made you interested in filmmaking?
A: Stories. I’ve always loved stories. I think books played as important a role in my interest in filmmaking as films did. I can’t think of one specific moment when it hit me, but over a period of time I began to see that large impact stories had on cultural perspective. I always wanted to play a part in God’s plan for the world and I heard God telling me to make films. So in 7th grade I accepted God’s challenge to help make a difference in the world through making films.
Q: What is “The Hill” about?
A: I’ll answer each of these questions together. One of my ongoing clients is Chris Downing, founder of D24 Sports. https://www.youtube.com/user/D24Sports He trains top athletes including professional sports stars (NFL, NBA…). I film his intense workouts documentary-style. “The Hill” was one of his brutal workout sessions. It consisted of one football team, several stations, and one long, steep hill. I got my workout that day chasing those guys up and down, up and down. Q: What inspired you to make it?
A: The first part of my inspiration was being hired to film it. From there, inspiration must come from the experience itself. Each of Chris’ workouts is different. On every live shoot I get a sense of the rhythms and movement of the setting and I pace my filming to match. That’s where I draw inspiration. The venue and subject dictates what and how I approach the filming and that in turn shapes how it cuts together. Then I search for music that fits the mood and pacing. Q: What qualities do you think made it an award winner?
A:What sets my approach to these videos apart is that I always focus on telling a story. I don’t have a rigid formula. I don’t show up to live shoots trying to force it to be a certain style. I respond to it as it happens. In the edit I make sure that one element is always there – story. I had an excellent editor for “The Hill”– Jacob Keeton, who read the pacing of the event, helped formulate the story out of the footage and cut it to be one unified whole. That’s one thing that many ‘hype’ workout videos miss – the story. That’s why my videos on Chris’ channel have been growing exponentially in viewership. People get caught up in the story, rather than just the brutality of the workout.
Q: What is Church Without Balls?
A: Church Without Balls is a Youtube ministry that deals with the causes of why male participation in the church has been declining for the past 50 years. My Dad, Rev. Dr. Woody Davis (he goes by ‘Coach’ Davis) is the world’s leading researcher into the issue and has been studying the problem for over 25 years. Church Without Balls is designed to educate the Church on how it drives men away, and address what the Church needs to do to fix the issues.
Q: It says on the website that you plan to “help churches change their culture so that men and women fit and find their place equally well”: how do you plan to do this?
A: The first step is to raise awareness. Many church leaders don’t even realize that less than 40% of their congregation is men and that men’s numbers are shrinking. Others don’t realize that this was not always the case and that back in the 1950’s church participation was roughly 50%-50% between the genders. Our plan for raising awareness is simply to build our viewership of the Youtube videos. We have other elements in the works too – Dad is writing his research book on the subject, and we plan to expand, but for right now it’s the Youtube channel. The next step after building awareness is education. Each of our videos addresses a singular problem that is a small part of a large issue. You see, this is a case of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Any one issue seems minor, but put them all together and you have a culture that actively hinders men’s participation in church life. A crucial part of our approach, and one that is missed by many men’s ministries, is that changing church culture in the right way not only engages more men, but it engages more women too. If we were to reach men at the exclusion of women, the church would not be any better off. It isn’t enough just to add men’s programs. We need to change the culture of the Church as a whole so that both men and women can engage equally in all aspects of Church life. Q: What is your strangest on set story?
A: I don’t recall having any truly strange on-set experiences. There have been the typical awkward moments, funny moments, tense moments, all of which are exciting in the moment but loose any extraordinary-ness in the re-telling, at least for those who weren’t there. It’s those situations like getting the 1946 picture car on set and then it won’t start, or the multi-copter team having technical difficulties and crashing three RC aerial camera platforms (thankfully the cameras weren’t damaged), or being back in catacombs that you have to hunch to walk through and to which there was only one exit and smelling smoke (a plastic clip had been put on a light and melted). I have a hundred stories like that but so do most filmmakers. Q: You founded Wildfire Media. What made you want to start your own production company?
A: I never wanted to be a ‘video professional,’ though I have lots of respect for those who are. Video gigs were only a means for paying for my film habit. Since there are no movie-producing companies in my area, I started my own. Last year I met up with a couple of other like-minded fellas – Jacob Keeton and Ryan Galbraith. We decided that it would be in our best interests to pool our resources and start making films together. We founded ARC Film Initiative, launched our Youtube channel, and have been making films since. https://www.youtube.com/user/ARCfilmInitiative I can’t stress enough the importance of finding other people who share a vision to collaborate with. I worked alone making films and doing corporate video for over ten years. Now that I have a team, the productions have increased in size and value a hundred-fold.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Besides work for clients, my Church Without Balls channel, and filmmaker training videos on the ARC channel, I am Writing, Directing, and Producing a feature-length documentary and a short action film. The documentary is called The Legacies of Music and presents the power and importance of music education. Production began with the ARC team last summer and will continue through the next school year. You can check out our progress at www.thelegaciesofmusic.com The action film is called Contract: Redemption. We just started production. Contract: Redemption is a story about the World’s deadliest hit-man who is outmaneuvered by his younger clone. Our hit-man finds himself unable to protect the only two people he has ever cared for. The agency, deeming the hit-man as a threat, sends a never-ending barrage of assassins led by his younger, more agile, clone to eliminate him. Faced with this threat, the hit-man must undertake the most serious mission of his career: to rescue a young girl from the Agency and from a life as a hit-man. Contract: Redemption is a 25-minute short, full of action-packed fights, stunts, and Parkour, all centering around a gripping and emotional story. You can check out the project and get updates at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/contract-redemption or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ContractRedemption Q: If you could change one think about Hollywood, what would it be?
A: Everybody likes to bash on Hollywood. Any behemoth of an industry like that is going to be fraught with problems. I have my issues, but just like the issues driving men away from church, it is a situation of ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ I have not worked within Hollywood myself and have not yet earned the right or have the knowledge to wisely address its issues. I plan to get there one day. Once I do, I will continue to play my small part in God’s plan for Hollywood and the World and leave the rest to God.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)