It’s a Wrap—168 Hour Film Project

April 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Dianne E. Butts –

Well, the film production week I talked about in my last two articles came and went in a whirlwind. We put our film in the overnight mail fifteen minutes before the deadline on February 24th, had a wrap party that evening, and the last of the film crew left the next day. It was an exhausting, exhilarating experience.

The Bible verses we were assigned that we were to illuminate in our movie were Genesis 9:8-10, which talk about God making a covenant with Noah never to destroy the earth by flood again. Following verses speak of the sign of the covenant—the rainbow. It seemed a very challenging verse to portray in a story about motorcyclists and Colorado mountains, but then I’d bet every 168 Team thought their verse was challenging too.

We got some awesome locations, including a ranch with Colorado’s beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountain range in the background. We gave God credit for that set design.

Unfortunately, for all our planning and praying, things did not go off without a hitch. The wind blew for most of our outdoor scenes which made for big challenges with the sound. I learned they can do a lot of magic in post production, but they can’t fix everything.

We had a team of writers which became a challenge. I learned not all writers have the same priorities! My focus was creating a story that illuminated our Bible verse. I felt the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) mountains were our rainbow rising in the sky. But others were concerned about my overt Christianity coming off cheesy. Still others were concerned with story tension and character motivation. With the pressure of the time constraints of 168 hours, I never felt we had a great script, but others felt we had a strong story.

We also had different perspectives on filming, with different things being important to different people. The director focused on how the movie would look—the use of color and light. In the opening shot, our character walks from darkness into light—very symbolic. No bright colors showed in the film until the final scene to depict life.

I imagine challenges aren’t unique to our film experience, and even learning that is profitable.

With the problems we experienced I doubt we’ll be in the running for any awards, but was that really the point? Of course you always want to come out with an awesome finished product, but when that doesn’t happen, what then?

Well, I learned a ton doing this project: about the production side of film making, about working with other people, and about how I need to stand strong for what is important to me. (I had to fight to keep the scenes and dialog lines about the Sangre de Cristos and the flood.)

At least one crew member wondered why things weren’t going well. After all, she said, we’re doing this for God. Well, don’t we tend to think just because we set out to do something great for God that we’re not going to run into difficulties? Jesus set out to do something great for God. He did everything right. And He ended up nailed to a cross.

In the end, it was a good experience. We touched many lives as we set out to make this Christian film based on God’s Word. Many people got opportunities they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and I met people I otherwise never would have met. I hope we made a good impression that glorified God. For me, that’s what it was all about in the first place.

Dianne’s 168 Hour Film Project, titled “Steel City,” premiered at the 168 Film Festival in Los Angeles March 31 – April 2. Dianne is the author of the newly released book, Deliver Me: Hope, Help, & Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy ( When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her motorcycle with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, P.C. in Colorado.

About Dianne Butts

Dianne has written for over 50 Christian print magazines and contributed to nineteen books. She is the author of Deliver Me: Hope, Help, & Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy. Her work has been published in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, and Korea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her motorcycle with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, P.C. in Colorado.

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