Hey — Our Town Made A Movie — Let’s Do It Again!

Stream A Walk With Grace This Holiday To Support Community Filmmaking

The film crew of A Walk With Grace working hard on Market Street in Lima, Ohio outside Trinity United Methodist Church. The sun was so bright this day that some crew members were dedicated solely to shielding cast, cameras, and operators from its harsh rays. Photo by John Fike.

In the summer of 2017, the Lima, Ohio area experienced something new. Writer and director Nick Kellis, known for his work as a producer on L.A. Ink and other hit television series, brought production of a Hollywood-style film to his hometown of Lima.

The film, A Walk With Grace, wasn’t just filmed in Lima. It was made possible by Lima.

Numerous members of the community came together to make it happen, from local investors contributing financing, to area businesses and residents volunteering locations and resources, to the dozens of people who contributed their time and energy in numerous ways. Not to mention the many, many people who volunteered their time as extras in several scenes.

Where to Stream or Download:

Not only did Nick, his team of producers, crew, talent and the Lima community succeed in producing a fine piece of cinematic drama, but they also succeeded in distributing it — one of the most difficult parts of seeing a film through to success. In November, the film was released for streaming and digital download on several popular platforms.

That’s right, just in time for the holidays, you can stream this faith-based story of love, homecoming and challenges of loyalty in the comfort of your own home or on your mobile device. (See the graphic above for links where you can access the film.) One of the unique aspects of the story in this film is that it really delivers the flavor of Lima, Ohio. It’s not just any old small town in Middle America, it is specifically Lima, Ohio, with its particular quirks nuances. The town becomes one of the characters. Check it out.

Shooting Behind The Scenes – A Chance To Learn

When the production of A Walk With Grace occurred, Nick generously gave me the opportunity to shoot the behind-the-scenes footage for the film. Having only worked on short films and commercial projects with much smaller production crews before, it was a great chance to see how a larger production worked – everything from managing cast and crew, to handling more extensive lighting needs and logistics for large teams and tons of equipment.

For four weeks, when I wasn’t pointing a camera a someone myself, I was observing these more experienced film professionals at work, soaking up every bit of knowledge I could. As often as possible, I focused my attention on Cinematographer Adam Lee Ferguson and Steadicam Operator Chris Carson and their support crew. But I also learned a great deal from the time I spent talking to Sound Mixer Brian Galyean and Editor Pete Lutz. The knowledge I gained from working with and talking to these folks I continue to employ in my work today.

Director Nick Kellis and Cinematographer Adam Lee Ferguson discuss an upcoming camera angle in the halls of Shawnee High School. Photo by John Fike.

Shooting behind-the-scenes footage on set also gave me the chance to film every day for four weeks. Shooting all day long, if I caught on to something Adam or Chris was doing that I thought was applicable to what I was doing, I could practice the technique that same day. It was an ideal environment for learning new techniques and approaches – at least for camera work. Lighting, gaff tricks, sound and editing I’d have to wait till later. But it was all very useful.

Let’s Do It Again!

I wasn’t the only one learning how to make a big feature film when A Walk With Grace came through town. A large portion of Lima did. As I noted above, the movie happened because the community came together. But in many ways, A Walk With Grace was an experiment – a learning experience. No one had ever made an entire motion picture in Lima before – not on this scale. No one was 100% sure it could be done. Lots of people had a lot of faith. For a good reason, though. Lima has a lot of talented and dedicated people. Everyone involved wanted to see this venture succeed.

The success of A Walk With Grace means several things for the Lima community. First and foremost, it means we can do it again if we want to. And next time we can do it better. We know what it takes, and we know what to expect. We also know that we have some learning to do. For A Walk With Grace, Nick brought in some specialized talent that had the experience and skill to get the quality product needed in the allotted time. He had to; we aren’t a filmmaking community yet. We have people who are headed in that direction, and we have the groundwork, in terms of talent and resources, to become one if we choose to, but we aren’t one yet.

So let’s make some more films. Let’s get some practice in. They don’t have to be as big as A Walk With Grace – and shouldn’t be, to begin with. We can make some short films, or lower-cost features, and things like that. Along the way, we build up the skills of local talent and support teams, organize access to resources, build up our equipment supply (Nick had to go to Cincinnati to get all his C-stands, rigging and lights).

It won’t happen overnight, but step by step I think we can build at least a small film industry in the area. Eventually, this will support not only those in the arts, but also folks in the skilled trades, like carpenters and electricians – cuz, yeah, I want to run a camera, not figure out how to string up a series of 5000 -watt lights without making the city go dark.

But all that starts with helping ensure A Walk With Grace is a financial success as well as a cinematic success. A lot of folks with a lot faith fronted a lot of cash to make this wonderful experiment happen. We need people across America to see what we did, enjoy it and participate in its cost by downloading it, streaming it, and/or buying it on DVD (coming out this spring, I believe). So, head on over to Amazon, iTunes, YouTube or wherever and get your copy.

Bumper Video — A Creative Mini Film

‘Lies We Believe’ Offered Chance to Portray the Supernatural

So, recently, I had the opportunity to put together a bumper video for a sermon series titled, ‘Lies We Believe,’ for Shawnee Alliance Church in Lima, Ohio. The series addressed the various lies that Satan whispers into our thoughts in his efforts to steer us away from the good things God has in store for us.

I love doing these sermon bumper videos because they really give me a chance to let loose with my creativity, special effects, and pension for moody or dramatic scenes. The opportunity to visually represent the most powerful supernatural forces in the universe totally geeks out the filmmaker in me — we are talking about the power of God after all — or, in this case, the wiles of the devil. Sermon topics also touch heavily on the human psyche and the way we react to spiritual influence and situations in life. That’s always the stuff of good story and, subsequently, good film.

The Story

For the Lies bumper, we wanted to represent the various forms that the lies come in. The series was to focus on four primary lies – one each week – but we wanted to represent that each of those has variations. For instance, the lie “I’m not good enough,” is essentially the same as, “they’re better than me.” I chose to use audio of Satan’s voice whispering different versions of the lies into people’s minds while even more versions of the lies floated eerily in and out on the screen with a custom motion graphics template. Finally, a voice, representing each of the character’s own thoughts spoke the main lie that the others were were versions of. I thought this best represented how Satan whispers in our ear repeatedly until the whisper becomes our own thought.

Behind The Scenes

To get the audio, we recorded staff members acting out the lies. They all did a great job, though one gal in particular, who is so filled with the joy of the Lord all the time, had tremendous difficulty “feeling” the lie and required many takes. It was quite entertaining. I knew right from the beginning who I wanted to voice Satan — Assistant Pastor Kris. He did not disappoint. Kris is never afraid to stir the pot once in a while and required very little coaching to get the perfect devil’s whisper. Thanks, Kris! 🙂

Visually, I used stock footage of individuals in various forms of worry or emotional stress to suggest a mood of self-dissatisfaction. And while the voice of Satan spoke his whispers, a dark, smoky cloud writhed near the person’s head, representing his dark influence. At the end of each scene, except for the last, when the character finally accepts the lie as their own, the smoky cloud goes away as Satan has won and no longer needs to exert his influence. In the last scene, when the lie is accepted, the cloud grows, becomes darker and envelops the character. The blackness of the smoke also transforms into inky blue and red swirls, which then becomes the closing title graphic — the sermon background graphic as chosen by the staff. The graphic was given to me at the start of the project and played a large roll in my decision to use the smoky cloud to represent Satan.

The third scene made a break from the standard stock footage — which all began to look the same to me after picking three for the other scenes. Instead, I turned to my own footage collection and grabbed a clip from one of my short films, putting my friend and star of two of my films Alex Parker center stage once again. Alex, you’re so versatile!

A Rainbow of Bumpers

The ‘Lies We Believe’ bumper video is a sort of narrative bumper, a bumper that introduces a topic through imagery, It kind of tells a story of its own to prepare the viewer for the topic that is coming next. But there are many other types of bumper videos, also called “introduction videos” or intro videos, or just “intros”.

One of the most common types of bumper or intro videos is the branded intro. This kind of bumper is the short bit of video you often see at the beginning of YouTube videos that are released on a regular schedule. They identify the YouTube channel or video series that the video is a part of. You will also see them at the beginning of training videos or motivational videos and the like. They serve a similar purpose as a title sequence to a TV show. Sometimes a branded bumper is used in the middle or end of a video to re-identify the channel or to identify a sponsor. A branded intro is usually fast-paced and either features or ends with the channel or series logo. And, of course, it’s accompanied by music designed to get the viewer’s attention so they sit up and take notice of the video.

Noble Warrior Studios can help you with both Branded Intro and Narrative Bumper videos, or whatever sort of bumper video you have need of. We can film and record custom footage and audio, or edit your intro from stock. Get your intro customized for use on the web, DVD/Blu-ray distribution, live projection or other media format. Please give us a call and get a free quote on your project: 419-905-0324.

Winter Walk 2019 – Custom Shots Create A Local Winter Wonderland Ahead Of Schedule

Promotional video for Winter Walk 2019, filmed and produced by John E. Fike.

One of the things I love most about making films is creating a world that doesn’t exist and making it believable on camera. The act of transforming one thing into another through the tools of illusion satisfies a deep creative need for me. I recently had the opportunity to engage in this sort of creative endeavor on a promotional video for an upcoming local event, the Winter Walk 2019 in downtown Lima, Ohio.

Winter Walk 2019 is a fantastic event combining unique Christmas shopping opportunities with the chance to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of Christmas the way they were meant to be. Event organizer Jodie Robinson has arranged for a host of activities, from gingerbread decorating and prizes for finding hidden ornaments to luminary-lined sidewalks and horse-drawn carriage rides.

The challenge for this promotional video was that, although it was building off an event of previous years, most of the event was new – so there was no existing footage to use. Also, the event took place in December, and we were putting the video together in October. So we needed winter holiday footage before there were any Christmas decorations up or snow on the ground. The budget didn’t allow for any grand productions, so we had to get creative.

Of course, we could have stuck to stock footage — and we did use some to cover some elements that we didn’t have enough budget to film. However, it was important to show this is a local event, and potential ticket-buyers would be better motivated by images of locations and people they could identify as local.

Here’s How Christmas Came Early

We focused on one primary filming event at The Meeting Place on Market, a local coffee shop that is one of the event sponsors/participants. As part of their year-round ambience, The Meeting Place hangs white Christmas lights from their storefront awnings — how fortuitous! A wreath and garland on the windows and it was a perfect background for local vocal talent Ambyr Rose. Ambyr’s gorgeous red hair, red evening gown and fur shawl completed the look.

Ambyr Rose sings in front of The Meeting Place on Market for the Winter Walk 2019 promo.
Ambyr Rose sings in front of The Meeting Place on Market for the Winter Walk 2019 promo.

And look! Snow started falling just in time! Ok, actually, we added the snow digitally in post – but you probably guessed that already. 🙂

And those lights hanging in the garlands — reflections of traffic taillights! Unplanned, but perfect. Awesome.

If that weren’t enough, for the shot that became the opening shot of the video, we added a Christmas tree to the foreground.

A 2-foot tall Christmas tree is mounted on a C-stand while the NWS crew prepares to film the Winter Walk 2019 promo video.

With the shallow depth of field used, you can’t tell that tree is only two feet tall, mounted on a C-stand, with fiber optic lights powered by a USB charge box!

Heading Inside For CoCoa

Once we had our outdoor winter-scene shots, we moved indoors to warm up with some hot cocoa!

Being at a local coffee shop with its hot cocoa and logo-bearing mugs, made hot cocoa scenes a no-brainer as a way to customize the video to the local area. We filmed a collections of shots featuring just a mug of cocoa and a series featuring a pretty girl sipping the cocoa. My daughter, Naomi, did a wonderful job demonstrating just how warm and delicious that cocoa was. Unfortunately, due to a mishap, Naomi never actually got to drink the cocoa!

One of our challenges with the cocoa shots was that, due to filming after hours at The Meeting Place with the staff already gone home, we only had one cup of cocoa to work with. That meant we had to get the whip cream on there right the first time or there would be NO whip cream shots. Thankfully, my trusty right-hand man for the evening, Scotty Kollars, is a master with a can of whip cream and got it perfect on one try! His whip cream twirl — and fingertip — made it into the video.

Working with one cup of cocoa also meant we had a limited time to get our shots before the whip cream slumped. We worked quick to get as many good shots as possible of both the cocoa alone (many with our mini Christmas tree in the background for mood) and of Naomi sipping the cocoa before our time was up. We took lock-down shots, pans, zooms and jib shots. It gave us a lot of footage to work with, some of which may end up in future videos – perhaps even next year’s Winter Walk promo.

Naomi Fike smiles heartily to show how warm and delicious hot cocoa from The Meeting Place on Market is on a cold winter night.

But the second shot chosen for this year’s video was one taken after the whip cream slumped and we emptied the cup to take more shots. Without the pressure of beating the whip cream slump, I think Naomi relaxed a little more, and we had a little different angle that worked a little better for the video.

Downtown At Christmas – Tying It All Together

The final shot that I feel tied it all together into a complete “Downtown At Christmas” theme, was the shot of Main Street with Christmas lights and snow. As with the shots of Ambyr, the snow was added digitally. But the Christmas lights are genuine and they were filmed in October. Turns out – and some of you may know this – some of Lima’s downtown street lamps have Christmas lights on them either all year round, or folks put them up very early in the season.

A winter holiday scene in downtown LIma, Ohio was easy to recreate as some lampposts and businesses keep Christmas lights up all years round. A little digital snow finished off the effect.

In either case, a fortuitous drive down Main Street one early morning resulted in this discovery for me, and I quickly returned to the scene with camera and tripod to film the shot I thought was critical and, thus far, missing from the video.

I grabbed a few other clips while out and about doing other things, to further round out the video’s local feel. These included shots of ArtSpace/Lima, Shop For Good and Alter Ego Comics.

So that about wraps it up for this project. A big thanks to Jodie Robinson, The PR Queen, for the opportunity to work on this. If you live in the Lima area, please do check out the event here: Winter Walk 2019, buy tickets and come on down to share in the fun. It’s going to be spectacular!

If you’d like to see more promo videos by Noble Warrior Studios, please check out our promo video playlist on YouTube: NWS Promo Videos

Promote Your Event, Business or Organization

If you have something you’d like to promote with a video, Noble Warrior Studios can create a video to fit your needs — and your budget! Call today to find out how we can put our creativity and talent to work building custom shots that make you look great:

419-905-0324

A New Filmmaker Is Born

Hey everyone! I am proud to announce that this fall my youngest son, Peter, will be following me into the ranks of filmmakers as he enters film school at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Peter Fike operates a RED camera at SIAFB filmmakers bootcamp in 2018.

Peter first picked up a video camera back in the fourth or fifth grade and its been difficult to pry it out of his hands since. For the last four years, consistently, Peter has participated in the Filmmakers Bootcamp program offered by the Heartland Image Foundation and run by director/producer Nick Kellis. Through this program and the relationship Peter and Nick have forged, Peter has had some incredible filmmaking opportunities and chances to learn skills that most aspiring filmmakers his age would envy.

Peter has also assisted me with my own projects on numerous occasions, providing not only his skills as a camera operator or grip, but also assisting with valuable input on lighting and composition. This boy has a real talent for his craft and I look forward to working with him more as he finishes his studies and makes his way into the professional world. Maybe he’ll even let me work with him when he makes it to Hollywood. 🙂