By Gabriella Martay

I recently got to sit down and chat on the phone with Kary Hagen, one of a few audio engineers who has done a tremendous amount of work on the movie “The JESUS Film”. With over 20 years working with this film, it was apparent to me after our initial greeting that Kary and his team are not newbies to the film industry. With the vision of a man named Bill Bright coming to life via production in 1979, this movie has provoked over 6 billion unexpected viewings, roughly 200 million decisions to follow Christ, and more than 1 million church plants.

There is no doubt that these guys understand what it takes to make it in the media world. They know influence and even more important, they have mastered the question every creative has to wrestle with at some point along their journey– how do I grow in order to maintain longevity? After talking with Kary I was fortunate to glean a few pieces of advice. Therefore, enjoy these 3 tips from the team that created “The Jesus Film” that will help you not only grow, but maintain longevity in the media world:

Make Authentic Creations. They Transcend Barriers.

With a society that seems to have trouble focusing on one piece of media at a time, the temptation to mold a creation into something that might go viral is undeniable. “The JESUS Film”, as Kari puts it, had a never-before-done vision to put “the word of God in heart language in audio visual format” and to use the Bible book of Luke as its script. Therefore, every word spoken throughout the movie was straight from the Bible and not embellished upon.

Could you imagine the temptation that must have come with a vision like that? With successful films portraying Jesus having proceeded “The Jesus Film” and those films’ success having much to do with the Bible be paraphrased,  there’s no doubt that it had to be there.

Not forsaking excellence, “The JESUS Film” found that their faithfulness to their vision, better termed as authenticity, was a big factor in them being able to transcend beyond cultures and influence more people than they ever thought possible. Their vision stands alone and allows the film to be special in the eyes of a vast array of viewers all around the globe. 

If You Want to Grow, Listen Up!

Nobody likes a “backseat driver”, but if you want to grow you’ve got to listen to somebody… right?  “The JESUS Film” is proof that if we have a desire to reach more people, we must listen to… people. Yes, that’s right.

Almost 10 years after they produced their film, they started receiving complaints from people about the film’s picture quality. They didn’t get bitter about it and send hate mail back to those people. Instead, they took it as an opportunity to grow. They fully restored “The JESUS Film” and rereleased it on its recent 35th anniversary.

It was more than an appeasing of complaints to them. Kary says they went above their expectations and “… rebuilt the entire sound from scratch, rerecorded the Jesus actor, captured the actor’s voice dubbing over, rebuilt sound effects (40-50 tracks), all from scratch… 173,000 frames removing film grain and spots.” Nobody has ever seen or heard this before and their decision to grow had kept them in the media game.

Acknowledge the Facts. They Make You Better.

In the process of being creative and original don’t be afraid to glance upon the facts. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what already works (in terms of functionality, not vision) and what doesn’t. In fact, acknowledging the facts gives you a little bit more fuel to execute your intended goals. For example, Kary noted that “The JESUS Film” was intentionally made to reach people and knew that in today’s culture many people have a really short attention span. They used this fact as information to better their film, not compromise their vision.

They shortened their film to 61 pieces and have a short film option for ministries who may want to use it for teaching, which ultimately enables them to reach more people.  Would they have applied this knowledge if it compromised their original vision? Probably not.  It’s important for media creators to do the same and acknowledge facts, but only apply them when they benefit the art’s purpose at hand.

The key to staying a major influencer in the realm of media is being willing to grow. Hopefully the above tips will help you in your quest to do so. Feel free to ask questions and leave comments below. Also, please connect and check out “The Jesus Film” by going to www.jesusfilm.org. Interested in hosting an event or bringing the movie to your local theaters? Contact www.jesusfilmhd.com.

Many blessings along your media journey and may your future be filled with growth!

Gabriella Martay

Author: Gabriella Martay

 “It’s always been in my heart to do this…” says Martay while referencing her passion to create and perform music. “I can’t explain it. It’s as if God planted this seed in my heart before I was fully created. I’ve always been drawn to create music and I figure- why not change the world while I do it?” Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, Martay grew up using music as an escape route from family turmoil and unrest. “I grew up in a family that loved me, supported me, but still had many issues that we just couldn’t seem to get past. I was never raised to understand how to cope with hurt or pain, so music was all I knew at times… the only thing I could turn to,” reveals the songstress.  Realizing as a teenager that music was not enough to get past many of the aches and pains she was experiencing from family drug issues and her parent’s divorce, Martay became a Christian in 2005. She made it her life’s agenda to passionately pursue God and to rearrange elements of her life that seemed to be out of place. This rearranging is what led Martay to Boston, Massachusetts to pursue a college degree in 2007. “People always ask me how I ended up in Boston. In my ambitious attempt to run away from home, I strategically chose to live in an East Coast city. I figured, a big city is where music happens. Boston here I come. Clearly, I wasn’t focused on school. I just used it as an excuse to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” states the charismatic singer. As soon as Martay arrived in Boston, she recorded her first song, “You in Me”. It was evident that Martay was placed exactly where she needed to be. Through her music one can tell that she wants nothing more but to point people towards the "Most High". Operating on the principle that music is an influential avenue to reach others with the Great news of Jesus Christ, she says "There's no need to just be speaking and letting my mouth run. The Gospel is bigger than that. It's absolutely necessary to also walk it out.. demonstrate it.. perhaps even depict it through music". With this mentality, Martay, birthed- Gabriella Martay Williams, has been fortunate enough to collaborate and hit the stage with the likes of Christian Hip-Hop pioneers such as the Gospel Gangstaz, the Much Luvv Family and many others. At the age of 21 this underdog has established a well-known presence within the music industry and has gone on to recently release her debut album entitled “Game Over”, an album that many listeners claim to be a new sound to the Gospel genre. Martay continues to be invited to minister in various locations throughout the nation and is currently in the studio working on her follow-up music project. With eyes focused beyond all the bright lights, she sees it necessary to bring music to the table that glorifies Jesus and empowers spiritual maturity. The music that this young innovator is putting out is something that's never been produced before: Catchy, soulful melodies laid perfectly over edgy, modern instrumentation.  It's terribly hard to put this young woman in a box and say she's going to be the next "so-and-so". The passion for Christ she demonstrates, the edgy sound she's equipped with and her determination to make good music are qualities that give her a genre of her own. To say where this witty, fun-filled musician is going to be in the near future is like predicting what God will do next. We must all stay in tune for this one