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!

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.


Refuge from the Storm: Behind the Scenes Look

Men with Lights

Every year at the Oscars, the film industry celebrates the artistry of its cinematographers and directors of photography. They should. A good cinematographer can take a decent story and make it breathtaking.

Thanks to director Elias Acosta, the Refuge from the Storm production had an outstanding cinematographer—Bruce Logan ASC.

They’re friends.

We talked about Bruce in an earlier article.

What people outside the actual filmmaking industry might not know is that no cinematographer is an island. He or she needs his gaffer and an no nonsense team light their visual confections.

We’ll never look at an inside daylight scene the same again.…he-scenes-look/

Photo Courtesy The Decider

Enter Mr. Kevin Funaki, Mr. Trevor Elliot, and Mr. Tommy Gallagher (and company).

They are to lighting, what Heimdall is to Thor–keeping out the forces of darkness.

They have the ability to make the lighting effects happen. And we mean that in a very super hero, man-of-steel sort of way, despite the fact that Kevin is a Raiders fan. 🙂

As a reminder, Vista Films International is based in San Diego.

On Location Butt Saving

Case in point, Linda is at a yogurt shop one night when she runs into Steve. If you look behind her to the left, you see a shop with sit-by-the-fire warmth beaming through its window. It undeniably adds to the gorgeousness of the shot. Thanks to Bruce, Kevin and the guys.

Here’s what happened. The locations manager was supposed to arrange to have that shop stay open long enough to keep their windows lit. Never happened.

Bruce Logan: I need that window lit.

Locations Manager: Ugh!?  OMG. What now? How am I going to light this effin shop window?

Yogurt Shop Owner: Here’s their number.

Owner of Shop with Dark Window: Ain’t no way I’m coming back to light you up, babe.

Locations Manager: S#?@!! Now what?

Nothing necessary. Kevin and the guys already lit the place by shooting a few angled spots from under the awning. Here’s what the screen looked like:…he-scenes-look/


In the end, it worked out better than the shop’s cold, in-house flourescents.

That’s what we mean by superheros. Front light, side light, backlight—and uncooperative store light—all lit to perfection.

San Diego Film Equipment

Trevor Elliot has been shooting films since middle school. He’s currently a partner and director of photography for San Diego Film Equipment. He recently finished a gig as director of photography for a film short called Homestead. It’s in coloration with Bruce Logan at the moment, and will be part of a festival release.

Logan communicated light setups to Kevin Funaki, the gaffer. The grips helped set lights as well as facilitate camera movements.

Elliott shared what it was like to work with Logan. Bruce Logan is highly respected. He was the director of photography for TRON. It was amazing to with so closely with the cinematographer. That doesn’t happen on a big picture. Refuge was a small film, so there was time to really pick his brain. It was a tremendous learning experience.


Film Terminology

A Gaffer is the chief electrician. He coordinates how the lights will be placed | powered.

The Grips support camera crew with positioning: dolly, crane, or ladder shots achieve optimal storytelling angles.

See the visuals in the DVD.





A Behind the Scenes Look at One of Our Top Stars: Michael Madsen

We continue with week three of our DVD release milestone celebration.

When Elias Acosta, the director for Refuge from the Storm, was thinking about who to cast in the movie, his first and only thought for the role of Steve was film veteran and big screen, tough-guy Michael Madsen.

Mr. Madsen was in Europe on a shoot when things finally came together. The production team breathed a sigh relief, because they all knew he was perfect for the role.

And if that wasn’t already cause to celebrate Madsen’s son, Christian Madsen, also agreed to appear in the film.

Michael Madsen has a career that spans over 25 years and more than 170 films. You can watch some of his best work in movies like Kill Bill, Die Another Day, Donnie Brasco, Thelma & Louise, Free Willy and for some, his most memorable character—Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

Mr. Madsen is also an accomplished poet. His first book Burning in Paradise won the Independent Firecracker Award.

Here are some behind the scenes moments with the great Michael Madsen:

You can purchase the DVD here to see him in Refuge from the Storm.

A Message From Jim Ellis


I’m happy to announce VFI has reached a milestone in our journey. February 10th we release the DVD of Refuge from the Storm.

I wanted to take this time to humbly thank you for all of your support for Refuge over the last five years.

You’ve had a powerful impact on the making and distribution of this movie!

In response to your kindness, my business partner Elias Acosta and I wanted to show you a little more about who we are.

So, over the next four weeks, we’re going to post some cool stuff on the blog—inspiration, insights, and behind-the-scenes looks. Pay special attention to Thursdays. That’s when we’ll discuss issues from the film, but from a biblical perspective.

You don’t need to do anything special. Just check back in on the blog.

We believe what we’ve got will inspire and encourage you in your journey. It’s an honor to stand together with men and women who love God and stand for His Word.


Jim Ellis

P.S. Here’s the first!