Cultural Revolution

Image By:  Howard Thurman

Image By:  |  Quote by: Howard Thurman

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

We stand on the brink of a cultural revolution. Things are shifting, and now is the time to act.

Every 24 hours, we have a profound opportunity to move the positive truths about life into our culture. For those with talent–writers, musicians, artists of all kinds–NOW is the time to produce.

The positive truths about life are gaining traction.The younger generation is hungry. They look for something that makes sense, they want to understand. Now is NOT the time to back down or be passive.

And, those who have developed the greatest understanding have the greatest responsibility to act. Develop your artistic skills in order to capture the imagination of people today.

A battle rages for the minds of men. The systems of this world devour mankind mentally and spiritually.

Those who love God MUST come together to produce music, films, books and all forms of art. It’s that art which will inspire individuals to want to serve and love our Creator to a greater degree.

The bold, loving and accurate teaching of scripture is what inspires artists, writers and musicians to come alive and produce work, which can motivate and elevate any human being to their greatest potential. This is our calling. This is how we transform the culture in which we live.

The entertainment industry spends millions to promote just one movie, one song, or one book. Many times the only motive is just profit with no regard for how detrimental the material is to society.

 Until now.

We may not have access to millions right now but we CAN MOVE with great impact. Because God’s at work and STILL opens doors for those who believe.

Even if you’re not an artist or have millions to promote projects, you can still affect this revolution. When something profoundly impacts you … tell someone.

Get the word out!

For those who desire to see change, get rid of what’s holding you back and get busy. We’re willing to put in the work.

Vista Films is committed to this Cultural Revolution.

Get your copy of the Movie Refuge From the Storm today!  |   Watch the movie trailer   |   See what Vista Films is doing next!

“Refuge from the Storm” did this REALLY happen?

Behind the Scenes of the Movie "Refuge From the Storm" Actress Kristen Quintrall Preparing for the upcoming scene. Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

Behind the Scenes of the Movie “Refuge From the Storm” Actress Kristen Quintrall preparing for Marah’s deliverance scene. Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

The producers of Refuge From the Storm met for the first time in November of 2009, in a Vista sushi bar to discuss making films. They wanted to produce stories about God’s power working in the lives of ordinary people. It was possible to produce inspiring, faith-based movies that tell the real stories of people’s lives, not sterilized versions. They saw the need for movies that show how dark and broken a life can become, and how God can then restore that individual to complete wholeness.

It was also clear which story to tell first. So, right away they interviewed the woman, and began to write the script. They finished Refuge from the Storm in June of 2010.

And a new generation of faith-based films was born.

Almost everything in the movie is based on actual events. Marah received complete deliverance in the hospital that day. We don’t know if the real Steve ever wrote the book.

Sam did try to attack Linda that night in the parking lot behind Katrine’s bar. But we’re not clear exactly what he saw. Whatever it was, it scared him off. When Linda turned around to see, the place was deserted. We believe Sam saw angels. We portrayed them as gang members.

Behind the Scenes of the Movie "Refuge From the Storm" Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

Behind the Scenes of the Movie “Refuge From the Storm” Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

Stories of God’s deliverance happen in the lives of people all the time, everywhere.  Most go undocumented.

The real Linda never wanted the focus to be on her or any one person. Rather, she wanted to share the principles, which cause God’s power to kick in, so God would receive the glory. For this reason, we’ve never publicly released the identity of the characters portrayed in the film.

Why did the main character agree to have her story told?

She thought her story would benefit and inspire others. People looking for answers can know it’s available to see God’s power operate in their lives to a greater degree. The real Linda is quick to say she actually knew very little of the Word of God at this time in her life. But she’d been taught she had “Christ in her,” and that it was available to do the works that Jesus Christ did and greater.

Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

She believed it and acted, and God moved with might.

Kristin Quintrall talks about playing Linda

Behind the Scenes of the Movie "Refuge From the Storm" Actresses Kristen Quintrall and Angie Jerez with Director Elias Acosta and Producer James Ellis. Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

Behind the Scenes of the Movie “Refuge From the Storm” Actresses Kristen Quintrall and Angie Jerez with Director Elias Acosta and Producer James Ellis. Photo taken by Debbie Hertzfeldt.

“I’ve actually had the pleasure to meet the woman that this movie is about, and there’d be certain scenes where I’d think, how did you do this? I don’t mean in an acting way, but what really happened. Then, I’d find out the motivation for all of it.”

“It’s been really cool to pick her brain, but it also had its challenges, too. That’s because she was right behind the monitor. Sometimes I’d wonder, am I doing this right? Is this how I’m supposed to do this? But the fact that this IS a true story makes it that much more epic.”

Where’s the real Linda these days?

Since her dramatic deliverance in the 1970’s, she has enjoyed a life free from bondage.  She’s married and has raised three wonderful daughters. Two are married and having children of their own. She’s enjoyed seeing God work in her life for over 30 years, and continues to tell her story to those who desire to understand more about God’s Power and His goodness.

Get your copy of the Movie today!  |   Watch the movie trailer   |   See what Vista Films is doing next!


Ghana Adventure: Ana Maria Acosta’s Story…-acostas-story/
In 2013, Ana Maria Acosta, a freshman in Early Childhood Education at Palomar College, decided it was time to realize a dream. She wanted to travel to Africa to teach kids.

After lots of research and a little help from her parents, Elias and Mary Acosta, Ana decided to volunteer to teach kids English in the country of Ghana in the village of Kwaekese [pronounced kwah kay see].

Many countries won’t let you in without an invitation. Ghana is one of these countries. But that wasn’t a problem. Ana’s mom, Mary, had a friend in the Catholic Church who knew the Bishop in Ghana—Gabriel Kumordji. Ana got her letter. The visit would last roughly three months from mid November 2013 to the end of January 2014.…-acostas-story/Bishop Kumordji’s diocese had a convent with a school that was in Kwaekese. The nuns here are teachers. It was ideal. Ana could teach in the school by day and a live in the convent by night.

But Kwaekese is pretty remote, and the culture, a break from what most westerners are used to, even for Ana who has lived in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

To get to Kwaekese you have to fly into the closest big city, Tamale, then drive for two hours until you reach Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world. Then you travel by boat the rest of the way. It’s about six hours.

Ghana is jungle. It’s summer all year round. The time that Ana Maria was there it was the dry season. The average temperature during hamatan or dry season reaches 110 degrees. When you’re this hot all day, your appetite wanes. She dropped 25 pounds while she was there. Some would consider that a good thing. She certainly does.…-acostas-story/Reasons

But why travel to Africa to teach? Simple.

She’s always had a desire to help people. She gets it from her parents and her grandparents. Her grandmother is a teacher. At eighty-five, her grandmother continues helping kids get educated.

Born in Tampa FL, Ana moved to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It’s here that she grew up. Her English is perfect. That’s because she attended an English school. If anyone understands the importance of an English school, it’s Ana.


20131212_095153When Ana got there, the nuns showed her the school right away. She was excited that it was only a short path through the Jungle. The children at the school came running up to say hello, except the preschoolers. That’s because they were scared.

People from Kwaekese don’t see many foreigners. They’re leery. This took some getting used to.

English is a national language, here, but most of the people in the village speak tribal languages.

The language in Kwaekese is Twi [pronounced chwee]. Ana is good at languages. She went to an English school. But Twi was difficult to pick up because the villagers actually speak combination of both Twi and another language Ewe [pronounced ayway]. The effect is similar to Spanglish.…-acostas-story/Language was a barrier at first. The older kids, those in 7th grade and older, speak English. But the younger kids don’t.

Ana taught primary school: K-1 [pre kindergarten], Kindergarten, and grades 1-6. So how was she able to communicate? When asked, Ana revealed that she didn’t have any translation support in the classroom. So, she just had to wing it.

To be fair, two of the nuns were teachers in other elementary school classes. Though they were more sympathetic than the other teachers, they didn’t know English.

How did she wing it? Gestures.

She’d ask the other teachers the other teachers for a list of vocabulary words, and they’d bring out a workbook. And she chose action words because they’d be easier to teach. She’d take the kids outside and give the corresponding actions. For example, running. She’d say the word and mime the action. By the end of the day, kids learned 5-6 new words.

She’d say a word and have the children repeat it and act out the gesture. The students made fantastic headway despite the apparent lack of English from other teachers.

In two months she was able to teach them:

  •             The letters of the ABCs both write and recite
  •             The numbers from 1-15 both write and recite

It wasn’t easy but she persevered.

“I’d come home at night frustrated. I questioned the practicality of some of the other teachers. How can English when you don’t know enough of it?…-acostas-story/“One day, none of the preschool teachers showed up. I had to teach 80 preschoolers without a full lesson plan. It was here that I saw some of the things that I’d learned from my grandmother.”

One Ana’s biggest challenges was trying to teach the younger kids, when both she and the younger kids were starting to make real headway, when the older kids, who were curious came into the classroom and were allowed to disrupt.

“It was so frustrating. And I didn’t know how to correct the older children. Thankfully, some of the mothers who were going to and from the well, happened upon these shenanigans and helped me get the older kids back in line.”

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about going abroad to teach?

  • Not to have too high expectations about the environment
  • Don’t expect brick houses
  • prepare yourself for the language barrier, and apparent unfriendliness
  • Keep and open mind
  • Have a big heart
  • Have lots of love
  • Have fun and expect to learn

Ana loved this experience. She’s grown and evolved her life goals as a direct result. Since returning, Ana thinks she’d like to teach English to children and adults here in the United States, who don’t know it.








Elias Acosta Vista Films International Director and Cinematographer…ative-director/

Elias Acosta writes. He’s a cinematographer. You probably know him as director of the feature length film, Refuge from the Storm. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to be a part of the shoot can tell you, he’s talented, pragmatic, and a helluva lot of fun to work with.

But his higher calling is to share the message of God’s Word by way of film.


Acosta was born and raised in the city of San Juan de la Maguana, in the Dominican Republic.

His dad, a Mennonite Minister, traveled from town to town teaching the Word of God. From an early age, Elias went with him. And what’s not surprising is, wherever they went they brought a movie projector to show films about the life of Jesus from the gospels.

Storytelling remains an important part of who he is today, and why Elias Acosta’s so committed to making films. He’s seen how film can change the way people live their lives.

While still a teen, Elias worked at a studio in San Juan de la Maguana putting together radio programs with the missionaries. They recorded Christian radio programs, which were distributed throughout Latin America.

He later learned the business side of the entertainment industry working as a production consultant at Universal Studio, Orlando, FL.…ative-director/

Elias has fun with the camera crew on day on of the shoot.


Elias later studied at Goshen, a Mennonite University based in Indiana. He graduated in the 1980s in two programs: Communications and Pastoral Ministry.

It was at Goshen that Acosta took classes in biblical archaeology. This experience came in handy down the road, when he produced a series for television on The Land of the Bible, shot on location in the Holy Land.

Upon graduating, Acosta assumed the role of Media Director for Latin America with the Mennonite Board of Missions.

He was a member of the committee to start the Hispanic branch of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRP), and the International Christian Media Commission in which he represented all of Africa and Ibero America.

In the meantime, he was getting his masters degree in filmmaking at CBN University.

All of these things have led to his passion today.…ative-director/

Bruce Logan cinematographer, Judy Sullivan set decorator, and Elias Acosta set up a shot.

Free Access to God’s Word

“My greatest passion is to grant access to anyone interested to God’s Word through film—especially the younger generation. They’ve got a big challenge ahead of them.

“There’s so much for them to do, and as a Christian culture, we’re back to basics.


As Christians, we have got to be fearless about the Truth.

Unfortunately, as a culture we’ve also become passive. But that’s not good enough. We need to show our passion as we promote the Word of God. There’s too much competing for young people’s attention. This is the time to act.

Faith-Based Film

VFI: Why do you think faith-based film is important right now?

Acosta: We need to be the clear voice. We need to promote the Word of God.

VFI: What did you think about Ridley Scott’s film Exodus: Gods and Generals?

Acosta: I think it was great because he did something. I feel it’s a shame that the Evangelical community did not rally around this film. They have no reason to complain since they’re not doing anything at that level.

If someone can learn about God watching a film like this, then the Word is being taught.

VFI: Why do you think Evangelicals have held back?

Acosta: Evangelicals are political. Instead of supporting the Word in the arts, they’ve made it exclusive. I’m not political. It is essential for us to get past the politics, and champion things in our culture that will get the Word into people’s minds and hearts.

The Next Generation

Elias and his wife Mary have raised three beautiful children who are young adults. His daughter, Ana Maria, recently made a trip to Ghana in Africa and taught English to children in a school there.

VFI: That’s really wonderful about your daughter going to Africa and helping children.

Acosta: She thought of it on her own after hearing an Evangelist speak at our church. She worked as a volunteer. Volunteering is important. That’s something I grew up doing. It’s a family value. We care for those who are less fortunate.

My wife and I have taught our kids to think about what would Jesus do?

VFI: Was that with a program?

Acosta: No. We’re sort of wary of programs. Poverty is one of the most prosperous industries on the planet. We supported her independence. She kept costs down and was able to get money to where it was needed.

More on Ana Maria Acosta’s trip to Ghana in our next article.

Make the Movie You Want To See: Jim Ellis’ Story

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. Toni Morrison.…im-ellis-story/

Jim Ellis in Escondido for inside shooting week one of Refuge from the Storm.

For Jim Ellis, executive producer of Refuge From the Storm and president of Vista Films International (VFI), the phrase reads, “If there’s a movie you want to see, you must make it.”

For a long time, Jim’s had a desire. He’s wanted to make a movie based upon the Book of Acts. “There are a lot of great movies out there, and a lot of great moviemakers, but I’ve only found a very few that I felt were spot on when it comes to what the Bible says.”

If you know Jim, you realize this statement isn’t haughty. It comes from a place of long years of careful study of the scriptures. The Bible and a desire to have others understand its simplicity, has been his passion since he was nineteen.…im-ellis-story/

Jim and his daughter, Lauren Fehlhaber, the Production Manager on location in Escondido.

Jim and his wife Kathy both attended a biblical leadership program back in the 1980s. The Ellis’ have lived what they preach.

They have three wonderful daughters to prove it. Ryan and Lauren, their son-in-law and eldest daughter work for VFI, too.

Jim and his business partner Elias Acosta, cinematographer, run the production company from scenic hills of Vista, California.

Here are a few things Jim, Elias, and the team at VFI assert:

The Bible is Real.

It’s full of true stories of real people who had to make tough decisions. They faced life-and-death-struggles such as starvation, war, and the loss of family members. It’s not sugar coated.

It’s confronting, but with that honesty also comes healing.

When you make a film about a record or a principle from the Bible, you’ve got to be gut honest. Fierce. If you want people to take its message seriously, you have to present it unvarnished.

The Bible is Accurate.

The Bible has integrity. It isn’t a nebulous soft lens, amalgam of nice stories. The devil and the deliverance are in the detail. To the degree you follow the accuracy of the scripture, is the proportion you’ll realize its benefits.

Nowhere in the pages of the Bible do you find rock monsters.

The Egyptians were visited with 10 plagues. Each time both Moses and Aaron appeared, front and center, before Pharaoh to deliver a specific warning. Each time Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go. This thing wasn’t done in a corner. It was out in the open for everyone to see.

Aaron did not stalk his brother. Moses did not hang around the fringes, a bystander, watching the plagues unfold with his hands in the air.

The filmmakers I’m talking about here are master storytellers. I love their work. They’re giants. What they tried to do was develop the story by injecting fiction in order to make a better story.

Here’s the thing: if you just take the time to develop the story from what’s written—who Moses and who Noah were—how they felt, and thought—and trust THAT, you’re going to have a much better story.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m thankful such talented filmakers are making movies about the Bible. I just think they need to follow the actual records more closely.…im-ellis-story/

Wrap. Michael Madsen flanked by Kathy Ellis and Jim.

What’s Next

Our company is working on some ideas. You can check our website for more details. When you’re a small company, things take a little bit longer.

We believe our next movie is going to be “Zuhrah” based on actual events in Iraq.

We’re excited about the movie veterans who we’ve had the pleasure to work with on our projects, but we’ve definitely got our eyes open for young talent.

We invite anyone interested in working on faith-based films to reach out. Written inquiries work the best.

Stay tuned.

Here’s the link for Refuge from the Storm the DVD.