We got a chance to talk with the one and only Will Bakke, director of the comedy film Believe Me released September 26, 2014. He also directed the documentaries Beware of Christians and One Nation Under God.
Q. My first question is, what was the inspiration for Believe Me? Tell us what the film means to you.
Will: The inspiration for Believe Me came from my experiences touring my second documentary “Beware of Christians.” I got the chance to meet Christians all over this country and study the funny things that we do differently from non-religious culture. Believe Me is an exploration of the power of platforms and the extent that some people are willing to go for their faith, or lack there of.
Q. It’s cool to see that your experiences transcend your movies. Do you feel you’ve learned anything through making Believe Me?
Will: I’ve learned so much from a storytelling standpoint. Believe Me is unlike any other film deemed “Christian.” It’s rough around the edges, but I learned that you have to put story first. It’s easy for a Christian filmmaker to want to try and preach some kind of message through their movie, but the second you put the message ahead of the story, is the moment you lose people. Christians need to tell more honest stories.
Q. Do you geek out about anything else besides film? Video games, Comics, anime, etc?
Will: I geek out over Super Smash Bros. I will crush anyone on N64 or Gamecube. I’m vulnerable on the Wii, but I could put up a scrappy fight. I play as Fox or Falco so start strategizing now, but it won’t help you.
Q. We’ll have to take you up on that sometime! We have some fairly avid Smashers on staff. You’ve made documentaries in the past and now a comedy/drama, what would you say is your favorite kind of movie to make?
Will: I love comedies. It really doesn’t matter what kind.
Q. Which is great, because we love watching them! As a storyteller how do you maintain a balance between sending a message and letting your script convey that message through its drama?
Will: Don’t focus on preaching a message. Focus on telling a good story. The films in my life that have had the biggest impact on my walk with Jesus are not considered “Christian movies.” They are just good stories. Because I’m a Christian, my worldview will naturally flow out of all of my work. So I focus on telling compelling stories.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Christian film industry? Where do you think it’s headed? Is there anything you would like to see changed?
Will: A lot of “Christian Films” are deemed “cheesy” and “heavy-handed” because the writer is trying to push an agenda rather than tell a good story. We need to tell better stories by putting the story ahead of the message.
We need to employ the best person for the job regardless of their beliefs. People have told us that the acting in our film is far superior to most “christian movies,” and it’s because we didn’t limit ourselves by only hiring Christians. We see the movie making process as just another chance to share our faith with people that are in a profession that rarely hears it.
Christians see “christian movies” in order to be encouraged, not challenged. This is a problem. For example, when I see The Expendables, I’m usually not going for storytelling reasons, I’m going for action, explosions, and mayhem. Similarly, when Christians see movies, it’s usually to reinforce their worldview. We like being patted on the back that we’re the heroes. We like to call these films “Christ-ploitation films” because they convince us that we are the good guys.
But, Christians are not the good guys. In a lot of “christian films” the story usually plays out where we just think that if the atheists could act more like the Christians, we all would be okay. My opinion is, we’re all broken, we’re all seeking, and no one has all the answers. So let’s not demonize people for not being Christians, and let’s not make them all out to be such horrible people on screen. By being willing to see ourselves as the bad guys, we allow Jesus to be the hero.
We need to allow characters to be authentic. A lot of people were up in arms that we would include swearing in our movie. Honestly, we could have reached more people had we taken the swearing out and some of the drinking. But, these things were true to the characters. We shouldn’t expect non-believers to act like believers and vice versa. We should stop letting that surprise us.
Q Some great thoughts there. We have to ask, are you working on any new projects?
Will: Yup! Some more good things are coming soon!
Q, It’s been pleasure talking with you Will. Thank you so much for talking with us and giving us your insight on the industry. Where can people pick up the movie?
Will: You can buy the movie at BelieveMeFilm.com. It’s also on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and in stores at Target and Walmart.
Geeks Under Grace would like to thank Ben Wolf for participating in this interview. To learn more about Will Bakke and keep up with his latest works check out the links below: