“The Messengers,” won Best Animated Film at CWVFF 2018. Recently, Director Robert Fernandez took some time to share with us reflections from his journey in creating this film.
What was your background in filmmaking before directing this film? How did this project challenge you as a director?
I co-own Herald Entertainment and also manage Cat in the Mill Studios so I do a lot of animation. This particular film is also one of a trilogy.
I think making Biblical films is always a challenge particularly when our own culture gets in the way and we tried to make this relevant internationally but that doesn’t mean we changed scripture or the story. The point is we stuck to it as much as we could in an animated film – but kept putting ourselves in the Apostle’s place and speaking with people who work with the persecuted church to help us keep that idea of “what it takes to follow Jesus” in the film.
We’ve had some great reactions from people that work with teens in that regard. They are looking for something challenging to their lives and faith – so we didn’t want to make this film too soft. I also wrote the script which helped me in helming the project.
Why did you choose the format of animated film for this project?
Animation is expensive of course but it also allowed us to show a Biblical setting in a cost-effective way.
How did you work to honor God in the process of making this film?
By trying to keep out of the way. I learned the blessings of guidance through prayer early on in my life and I know God is much bigger than my little thoughts and opinions.
I met Mother Teresa in the nineties – she had a prayer about becoming invisible in her work and it’s something the members of her group pray often. I’ve learned it’s a good prayer to pray – to ask that God use me and the particular gifts and personality and experiences He has given me – but God is not my buddy – He is God. So I try my best to stay close to Him and use my gifts for His purposes.
I also try to hone my skills yearly – I hear a lot of people that depend on “leading of the Holy Spirit” – that’s important but we don’t learn to read without studying and we don’t learn to become better storytellers and creators without studying either.
As a “veteran” filmmaker, what encouragement would you give to younger filmmakers who want to make films for the glory of God?
I have been in animation for 18 years and live action about 12 years before that. My advice is first, know that this is what you should do – and you may not know it unless you try it. Second, be humble – ask, let others share their experiences with you and don’t make the mistake of thinking that being the director or writer is the end-all. Learn from the bottom and if God of the talents He gave you propels you to the top then even there be even more humble- it’s easy to slip. Then take your gifts to God and ask Him to sanctify them. Lastly, it depends on what you feel is your calling but I never produce solely for the West – I always keep the cultures of the world in mind. I’ve lived and worked all over the world- and have grown up among all kinds of cultures and people – not everyone is Western.
Why are you passionate about the message of The Messengers?
That it takes guts to be a disciple of Jesus and the apostles were the first followers to show it.
How can people view and help support The Messengers?
Any additional comments you would like to make?
I think there are a lot of Christian filmmakers that are aspiring to the movie theater- I don’t personally find that a goal. That’s not the end-all – God may be calling you to do series or short format for a reason.
It’s neat to hear these thoughts from a Christian animator! Check out The Messengers and the rest of the Trilogy at visionvideo.com.