“As In The Days of Noah” won Best Short Film and Best Gospel Presentation at CWVFF 2018. Recently, Director John Grooters took some time to share with us reflections from his journey in creating this film.
How long have you been making films and what were some of your signature film projects prior to making this short film?
I’ve been making films since the early 2000’s – The Frontier Boys is a feature that I wrote and directed that was released in 2011 and is a film that I really love. I’ve also directed the Ray Vander Laan series That the World May Know since 2003. And other projects for Answers in Genesis included a film called Men in White that played for ten years in the 4D Theater at the Creation Museum.
This past year I co-wrote and directed a feature film called Tortured for Christ that was produced for The Voice of the Martyrs. That film was released theatrically and will be available on DVD in January of 2019.
In what ways did this project stretch or grow you as a director?
The assignment was clear – clearly share the gospel in a way appropriate for the Ark Encounter. The Ark Encounter is a theme park experience, a place you go or take your family in order to be both entertained and informed. To that end I just couldn’t see filming a sermon – no matter how great the sermon – that explained the gospel. So we ultimately took a two-film strategy to this challenge. The first film is called The Noah Interview, and it plays on the second deck of the Ark. It is set in the time when Noah is still building the Ark, and the premise is that a local tabloid sends a journalism team out to do a hatchet job on that nut who has spent 100 years building an unnecessary and poorly engineered boat.
The second film, As in the Days of Noah, then builds on this foundation. We brought back the same set of actors, but this time dropped them into the modern world. So now, a film crew from New York is sent to do a hatchet job on the Ark Encounter itself.
The heartbeat of the film is that the character who plays the director of the Ark – Noah Zomarsh – isn’t only interested in what he and the Ark team has done, he is truly interested in the person of Adah, the skeptical journalist. His sincerity in caring about and for her is what makes the film work, in my opinion.
As a director it was important to me that the film be entertaining, always move forward, still cover all of the “not-optional” material, and then ultimately touch the heart and emotion of every viewer. What is very exciting to me is how often this film plays. It doesn’t just show up for a week or two in some theaters, it shows more than 10 times a day all year round at the Ark. It will be seen by millions.
How did you work to honor God in the process of making this film?
Do everything as unto the Lord. We honor God first and foremost by being good at our jobs. By just doing a good job. Buy in addition to that, I’m a convinced believer in prayer as well, having tried too many times to do good things while forgetting to pray. I like to start filming days with a loud word of prayer on the set and did that in these projects. It’s not to act holy – it’s because it helps.
As a “veteran” filmmaker, what encouragement would you give to younger filmmakers who want to make films for the glory of God?
If you’re really walking with Jesus – and by that I mean, you are in the Word somehow on a regular basis, you are involved in a worshipping community, you have friends or small groups who pray with and for you, and you are trying your best to be led by the Spirit of God – then you are the kind of person who I hope acquires great skills in the craft of filmmaking. You will have something to say and will be born out of your daily walk with and in Christ.
If that level of commitment to the Lord is not your reality – then I would ask you not to pretend it is in your films. Be patient. Grow in Christ first – let the film studies be an opportunity to express that life. Or, any art for that matter – doesn’t have to be film.
Why are you passionate about the message of As in the Days of Noah?
It comes down to this one moment in the film where Zomarsh has the courage and conviction to lay it on the line for Adah. He says:
“Adah, If I knew the truth and I didn’t tell you, well that would be really harsh. And just…sad. I know it’s not popular to say this – but there is going to be a judgment one day. And — this is why we’re doing all this — we want people to know. You don’t have to be condemned. Jesus said, ‘I am the door – if anyone enters by Me, they will be saved.’ Sounds like an amazing deal to me. What do you say?”
That is clearly an invitation to every viewer who spends the 25 minutes it takes to watch this film – and the choice is very personal: “What do you say?” I’m passionate because that is the heart of the gospel, and it has saved and changed me.
How can people view and help support As in the Days of Noah?
You can view As in the Days of Noah on the third deck of the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. They sell DVD copies of it in their bookstores and online as well.
What impact has Answers in Genesis had on you personally?
I’ll say this: The ministry of Answers in Genesis has changed my faith. If you haven’t looked at the writings and the teachings that they have put out over the past ten or fifteen years, then you are missing out on what I think is perhaps the most important teaching of the church in our lifetime.
Before I was exposed to the collection of teachings from AIG, I was unsure of how reliable my Bible was. My high school and college teachers, even my religion teachers, had me convinced there was no alternative to Darwinian Evolution. And to my thinking, if Darwin was right – then there is no God. We’re just chemical accidents that take place for a micro-second on a cosmic stage, void of any meaning or love.
But AIG has given me so many tools that undermine that presupposition, and I’m so grateful. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing dozens of renowned scientists for them, and I am fully and utterly persuaded now that the Bible can be fully trusted from verse one forward. It’s a great discovery. If what the Bible says about the past is verifiable, then the promises it makes about the future are sure as well.
What’s up ahead for you as a filmmaker?
What I’m working on next is a prequel to my most recent film – Tortured for Christ. The new film is called Richard & Sabina – Tortured for Christ, the Nazi Years. We are hoping and praying to be filming this in 2019. We’re also launching a ministry called Angelhouse Media that will be wholly dedicated to creating better entertainment for a better world, and launching many God-honoring projects that carry similar DNA to As in the Days of Noah.
We are grateful for veteran Christian filmmakers like John Grooters who are dedicated to quality film production but have a driving passion for Christ. What an inspiration to us as filmmakers!