SAICFF: Destroying The Home Video Paradox
This festival is filled with seeming paradoxes. Most of them occur when you match apparent youth with obviously excellent, quality films. Yet I, along with nearly 2,000 other attendees of The League of Grateful Sons' World Premiere, witnessed another seeming paradox: a family film, a family project, that challenges the very standards of Hollywood and deeply touches the hearts of all who see it.
That's right. Vision Forum's "The League of Grateful Sons" is a "home video." But it's also one of the best examples of competent Christian filmmaking on the market today. The Geoffrey Botkin Family: Victoria (wife of 25 years), Isaac (24), David (22), Anna (20), Elizabeth (18), Benjamin (16), Lucas (12), and Noah (10), were nearly exclusively involved in the project; taking responsibility for everything from directing and editing to costumes and scoring.
Mrs. Botkin, who has homeschooled for nearly twenty years, clearly raised her children to enjoy a challenge, or at least, to persevere despite challenges. In today's session, "The Making of The League of Grateful Sons," Mr. Geoff Botkin testified that his wife of 25 years created the environment that prepared and equiped the entire family to take on such an enormous task.
Mr. Botkin shared that originally he told Doug Phillips that "we might not be able to be involved because of our responsibilities in New Zealand." Doug, Mr. Botkin recollected, trusted in the Lord and humbly communicated what his need was. Mr. Botkin went to his family and told them it would be a near impossible project to get done, but the family embraced the challenge and threw themselves into the work.
Isaac Botkin (24), who was taught by his father that he would be a man when he turned thirteen, used the knowledge and skills he has developed over the past decade to create all the visual effects and to assist his father in directing and shooting the film. This is a young man who has been asked by Weta Workshops (of "Lord of the Rings" fame) to work on their current project "King Kong." But Isaac Botkin has turned these offers down because he wanted to help his father and to communicate the message of this film.
David Botkin (22), managed all the IT aspects of the production. Keeping track of over 10,000 pictures, 60-80 hours of footage, and organizing them in such a way that they were easily accessible.
Anna (20) & Elizabeth (18), were faithful to serve their father in his huge project; composing, along with Benjamin, the beautiful score for the documentary and then arranging and producing it on their computer. They designed period costumes; including a beautiful apron made from a pillow sham. Anna played the part of Mrs. Butler in the scene where the airplane flies overhead and young "Johnny Boy" runs to her side to wave. They used a sewing machine to perforate the period stamps Isaac had designed using Adobe Photoshop.
Benjamin (16) played a major role in the composition of the score. Anna and Elizabeth have kindly remarked that their "little brother" has greater talent in the area of composition. Indeed, Benjamin was not only competent, but he was diligent. Every night at 2:00 A.M. he would get himself out of bed (Mr. Botkin says they never had to wake him up) and take a five-hour shift at the computer, arranging the score for the film and improving the sound quality of each note and instrument. At 7:00 A.M. he would be relieve by Anna or Elizabeth, who would take the day shifts in a long and hard cycle. Such sacrifice characterizes the Botkin's approach to this film.
Lucas (12), aided by his younger brother Noah (10), took over all the chores around the Botkin Family's ranch in New Zealand. He and Noah worked diligently to free the rest of the family up for "film work" and their contribution was just as significant. They were doing what they could do best to aid the production and to further the vision.
These brief summaries only brush the surface of the late nights, early mornings, long days, missed birthdays and anniversaries, and the hundreds and hundreds of small, but difficult, tasks that this family undertook to bring "The League of Grateful Sons" to the big screen.
In the world of paradoxes this family has shown that youth can be defied by responsibility, diligence, and faithfulness. And most clearly, they have proved that the paradox of the "family film" is really no pardox after all.
The DVD of "The League of Grateful Sons" is available on the Vision Forum website for $18.00.