If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. Toni Morrison.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the link for Refuge from the Storm the DVD.