Beyond Acceptance: Brothers Produce Feature Length Christian Film4 min read

A solid Christian home, a love for Legos™, and the gift of a webcam eventually led two young brothers from Millington, Mich. to write, film, edit, produce, premiere, and work to distribute their first feature film,“Beyond Acceptance.” Philip and Andrew Bolzman’s love of filmmaking—a wonderful art form that can give glory to God—has led them on a journey filled with hope and inspiration.

Philip fell in love with filmmaking when he realized that he could tell a story through many snippets of film strung together to tell one cohesive story. Film includes the aspect of live performance with the ability to edit and enhance. It is a collaborative effort—a community of people working together to create something bigger than any one person could accomplish. It is also humbling to work on a production because everyone is working toward one vision of reality.

This journey became a vocation when in 2007, Philip (19) and Andrew (17) volunteered to work on a film in Virginia entitled, “Come What May.” On the film set, they learned to work hard and long hours which made it a very rewarding experience. Advent Film Group became their community and their source of future connections. When the brothers came back to Michigan, there was no doubt what they wanted to do—filmmaking.

In 2008, after Andrew graduated from homeschool, the two attended Compass Film Academy in Grand Rapids, Mich, a school for aspiring Christian filmmakers. Compass had an emphasis on developing writers, directors, and producers. The brothers made a series of small scale films and were drilled with the necessity of good preproduction and planning. Immediately after Compass, they worked on “Hero,” a baseball film by Advent that is due out spring 2012.

In 2009, they joined forces with Luke DeBoer (then 16 years old) and his company, Golden Vision Films. They added a few more members and started working on a feature length film as an experiment. Writing was a joint effort between Philip and Leslie Naugle, an adoption and foster care worker. A story was pieced together with Leslie providing character development, and Philip the sequence and assembly of events.

The story was built upon the account of Solomon in I Kings; Solomon had to decide the fate of an infant that two women had claimed. He had the crisis of deciding the true mother. “Beyond Acceptance” is about a foster child who has been in 12 different foster homes. You could say he was very experienced. A family takes him into their home; they were very inexperienced. This put the child in a position of power and manipulation. Aaron, the father, needs to learn the meaning of true love and true sacrifice to hold his family together. The conclusion calls for the “wisdom” of Solomon.

Filming a feature like this, on a very limited budget, required many volunteers to feed and house the crew and provide equipment, locations, transportation, and time. A three-week shooting window was chosen in August 2010 to respect the time of the actors and crew. Shooting days were 12-14 hours long for 17 days.

Postproduction then began by taking the hours of footage and turning them back into one cohesive story. After five months of editing on computers, the rough cut was shown to test audiences. A few scenes needed to be modified, and some pick-up shooting was done to flesh out a few places. Final editing, color correction, and sound design took another five months.

On August 4, 2011, the final film had its premiere at the Rave Theater in Kalamazoo before a sellout crowd of 450 people. Golden Vision Films received a very positive response. Since that time, working with a distribution company, Philip and Andrew are hoping for a nationwide DVD release in Christian bookstores soon. The film was reviewed by the Dove Foundation and received five doves for family friendliness.

Philip and Andrew’s desire to spread the Gospel through film comes from a love of art and good literature. When that is combined with a desire to touch the hearts of the churched and unchurched with the Truth of God’s Word, the medium of film becomes a wonderful opportunity to tell a story. “Beyond Acceptance” gives hope to a broken world with broken relationships and broken people. Without the love of Christ, we are all beyond acceptance. But since Christ laid down His life for us, we can freely lay down our lives for others—even when they seem beyond our reach.

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About the Author

Jeff Bolzman is Philip and Andrew’s father and an art teacher at Lapeer West High School. He and his wife, Sondra, have nine children. The name of their homeschool is Arrowhead Academy, inspired by Psalm 127. They attend St. Timothy, Otisville.

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