Filmmaker Walks Line Between Faith Based and General Audiences Entertainment
Filmmaker and TogetherLA contributing writer Spencer T Folmar isn’t shy about telling stories that highlight society’s sins and ills — and redemption.
BY ALEX MURASHKO
As a Christian man living in Hollywood, navigating the movie industry can sometimes be difficult. Walking the line between Faith Based and General Audiences entertainment can be a vulnerable balancing act.
After his film company, Hard Faith, released “Generational Sins” last year, a story that touched on alcoholism, suicide and redemption, Folmar began the early production stages of “The Beast in Me,” but recently shifted schedule to begin the movie, “Shooting Heroin.”
He told The Hollywood Reporter that the switch in priorities occurred because “the opioid problem is so apparent and is so sad.”
Folmar also told THR that “Shooting Heroin” will be the company’s first movie aimed also at a secular audience, given that the opioid crisis involves every demographic at every socioeconomic level.
“We’re taking it into the heartland of America and exploring what this might look like in a fictional story,” he said.
Folmar was asked by TLA to talk about his early journey of faith. Below is what he shared with us.
“I didn’t attend church until my 20s.’ So, in my early 20s,’ right after college, I took a gap year and I went to a Bible school overseas in New Zealand called Capernwray. I went to this informal Bible school in New Zealand because I was at this crossroads in my life where I had just graduated college, and I was gonna move to Hollywood, to Los Angeles, from where I was living at that time, which was in Pennsylvania. I wanted to start a career in filmmaking professionally and within the Hollywood industry.
“I was at this intersection of my life and I wanted to sort of figure things out. I had gone to church a couple of times, liked a couple of people who identified as Christian and was inspired by some of the stories I had heard. But up until this point I had never read the Bible on my own and I wanted to decide once and for all whether or not I’d believed this to be my ultimate truth.
“During the time I was at Capernwray I was on a solo retreat where you go out into the wilderness, into the bush of New Zealand and you just took your Bible, and a notepad and nothing else. It was a time of contemplation and meditation while reading the Word. And so I went out into the wilderness and was by myself for 40 hours.
“At first, I would read new sections… for the very first time I was reading the Bible. And I was reading Acts, and I was reading Paul’s Epistles, and the Gospels, and then into Old Testament. But the verse that really stuck out to me because of my peace was Galatians 2:20, when the person says that “I’ve been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives through me.”
“The thing that I really wrestled with, and I couldn’t quite understand, is that up until that point in my life most of my universe and my actions and everyone around me kinda revolved around me and my ego and pride and what I could get out of this world and what I could accomplish. Whenever I looked at that verse and within the scope of some of these new letters and books I’d been reading in the Bible, it started to become clear to me that my life wasn’t about me, but it was actually about this guy named Jesus. And that my purpose of living and all my actions are actually connected to this grand tapestry of God’s work and creation, and his plan of redemption for humanity.
“I was humbled in a good way to realize that the universe didn’t revolve around me, and it revolved around Jesus. It was better to be a thread in that tapestry than on the threshing floor. It was a huge 180-degree turn for me. My life flipped upside down and now these words of scripture became illuminated and they mattered in this unique new way. I had a special revelation. I had now found the Bible. Whenever I’ve read the Bible after my conversion experience, the words would be like a personal counseling, therapy session. It would cut me down to the core of my being in a way that years worth of counseling never could.”
Editor’s Note: The above is part one of a two-part interview with Folmar.
Director Spencer T. Folmar’s theatrical debut, “Generational Sins,” has spurred a national debate surrounding the interplay of faith and film. Folmar coined the term “Hard Faith” to describe this new genre of film, written for audiences who are hungry for hope in the midst of gritty real-life stories. Folmar’s films are now released under his Los Angeles production company Hard Faith Films, which is currently developing several projects that will reflect today’s multifaceted culture and audience.