Heaven Bound

 

“Heaven Bound” took about 2 years to make, but for Gabe, it was the thing he’s been trying to do for most of his life. From the years of 1997 to 2015, Gabe had been producing everything from wedding videos to music videos, commercials to short films and all the while developing and refining his craft. He finally reached that point where he realized the only thing standing in the way of making a feature film, was making a feature film. Filled with purpose and laser like focus, he went about specifically seeking that opportunity.

Enter Torry Martin, one of the writers, actors and producers of “Heaven Bound.” Gabe met Torry through a friend working on a different project and they instantly had a connection. Torry had a script that was ready to go, all he needed was to find the right director.

It was a match bound in….ahem….Heaven

This opportunity wouldn’t have happened without some kind and talented people: Producers Adam Drake and Torry Martin, Writers Marshal Younger, Torry Martin and Rene Gutteridge, and the Executive Producers who let all the men from the crew stay in their house. Alan and Sheree Drake are two generous, brave souls for welcoming a bunch of dudes into their home to bunk and shoot a film in their living room. In fact, the whole community of Sparta and Cookeville, TN banded together to help make this happen. Local groups took turns donating crew lunches everyday…an even bigger deal if you’ve seen our crew eat.

Of course, all the lilDRAGONs and then some, joined the party.
Jeremy Gonzales, Gabe’s long time friend since their truck loading days at UPS in 1999, came on board as as Director of Photography. Joel edited the film and managed post production, and Nick worked on set with Gabe as Jib operator and grip. Gabe’s wife, MixMasterMandy, even added her own flavor by writing and composing some of the music for the film. Of course, countless other wonderful folks made this film what it is.

The best part for Gabe was working with the actors. As a theater kid himself, this is where the real fun starts. Michael Joiner, Nancy Stafford, Danny Vinson, Torry Martin, Will Ford, Victoria Jackson and Jamie Costa were exceptional. Of course they are generous actors, the movie speaks for itself in that arena. More than that, they are all wonderful, heartfelt folks that one would gladly have over for dinner any day of the week.

The movie itself is a story of faith, filled with laughs. Behind the scenes, a personal faith story can be found. Gabe saw a divine hand in it the moment he decided to stop making excuses and just do it. Torry Martin and Adam Drake not only were in the right place at the right time, but the friendships that were solidified between those two exceptional human beings is gold.

So what is “Heaven Bound”? Come join us on Sunday night, May 21st. and find out. The film will be screening at the Little Brick Theater at the Factory in Franklin, TN.
Come join your friends for this momentous occasion. Free Tickets can be reserved here.

 

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Tennessee Uncharted

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Uncharted

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Uncharted

A show we helped manage post production for won an Emmy! Tennessee Uncharted is “the television show that highlights unique locations across the great state of Tennessee.” On January 21, 2017, the show was awarded a regional Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. You can watch the show, described as “a love letter to the great state of Tennessee,” on local public television stations, the Tennessee Channel, YouTube, and TWRA.tv.

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Chasing Down Madison Brown

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We’ve enjoyed collaborating on the show Chasing Down Madison Brown….and we chased her from rodeos in Texas to airboat rides in Florida where we shot The Bellamy Brothers and got to be zookeeper for a day. Look for scenes of the most famous Mexican restaurant, Joe T. Garcia’s, America’s biggest purse-prize rodeo-The American-and a visit to baseball legend John Kruk’s new restaurant, Kruk’s Philly Steaks. You  never know where she’ll end up next…..

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Signing Time Live!

During one of the many procedures Gabe and Mandy’s daughter,  Scout had in her first year of life, Mandy sat in the hospital waiting room thinking about the uncertain future for their child.  How the doctors had explained that Scout’s ears may not be hearing very clearly, but they really wouldn’t know how much until she could communicate that better during the hearing tests. The assumption was that Scout had mild to moderate hearing loss.   Mandy thought that sign language would probably be a good tool to add to their arsenal for Scout to have the most abundant life they wished for her. Through some searching using the waiting room’s wifi, Mandy stumbled upon ‘Signing Time’ and was inspired by Rachel’s story of why she created the show. For their daughter to have the most abundant life they wished for her, Gabe, Mandy, and Scout started learning sign language together…from watching this kid’s show. On Scout’s first birthday she had signed her first word, “thank you”.

Soon, one year old Scout was communicating using signs she and her parents learned from Rachel, and even her lions learned a lesson or two.

A few years down the road, Scout was still a big ‘Signing Time’ fan, and she shared her favorite show with her favorite friend, Indy. Rory, Indy’s dad and a pro at capturing moments through his blog, wrote about Indiana watching Signing Time in thislifeilive.com. Meanwhile, ‘Signing time’  followers started sending Rachel links to Rory’s blog. Rachel, overwhelmed by Joey and Rory’s story,  spent hours one night reading Rory’s posts and reached out to him with an idea:

A LIVE Signing Time concert for Indy, Scout, and their friends.

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Left and Center- Scout, fingers taped and ready for the show Right-Rachel gave Scout her jacket from the show!

 

And with the gift of her concert, she continued to give. She allowed us to live stream the event as a fundraiser for the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation.

On November 12, Joey and Rory’s barn came alive the way only Joey and Rory’s barn can. Children who were happened to be born with some extra special needs, filed in with their families and friends, filling the wall to wall seats surrounding the stage. They giggled with excitement, parents chatted with families sitting next to them, and everyone who walked in the door found a friend.

Rachel hopped on stage with her daughter, Leah, and Hopkins, the  ‘Signing Time’ frog.  The kids went nuts.

Watching it unfold from the back of the room, the view of the crowd in awe of Rachel on stage was nothing short of incredible. The excitement, happiness, and love in Joey and Rory’s barn that night is a feeling Scout and Indy and their friends won’t soon forget.

And neither will we.

We won’t forget the friends that filled that room, and Rachel who was moved to bring us a concert that night because she read about Indy and Scout, her biggest fans.

We invited the world to a multi-camera live streaming of the concert via their laptops and living rooms, and everyone who watched Signing Time with us that night also helped The Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation and kids just like Scout. Rachel blessed us once again by posting a digital download of the concert on her website, and she is donating proceeds for a limited time to The Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation.

If you want your own copy of Signing Time Live! you can download it here.

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To Joey, With Love

Two mules and a bright sunrise carried Joey Feek, wrapped in love and simple pine to that patch of grass under the tree, her favorite cowboys by her side.
It was by the same tree where Joey sang to Rory,

“You’ll wonder how the earth still moves
You’ll wonder how you’ll carry on
You’ll be okay,
on that first day
when I’m gone.”

We stood there in the field with family and friends, silently celebrating a life cut short. The sun darted across our backs, creating shadows from the trees that wrapped family headstones as it has for hundreds of years; for a moment time stood still. I glimpsed a memory of myself with Rory three years earlier on the day of the “When I’m Gone” video shoot,

“We have an idea….the way the song was written….it should be Joey singing to you.”

We didn’t know what it would mean to watch our best friends’ lives unfold from behind the silver screen. My eyes followed those mules walking toward a clump of trees and gravestones in the middle of their pasture where just a few years earlier we filmed Rory, head bowed for “When I’m Gone”;

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Still of Rory from the music video for the Joey+Rory “When I’m Gone” music video

Watching him standing there, waiting in the shade that day, my memory played snapshots of their lives together.

…Joey, singing to Rory who shed tears years before they were his to own….Joey up before the camera crew stirring a pot of chili big enough to feed the entire cast and crew of “Josephine” the music video….Joey+Rory opening their door wide and putting their life on hold for an hour or two because they had company.

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It was Joey+Rory that asked my family to be neighbors to their farmhouse in Tennessee. Here Rory talks about their reasoning for using the “plus” sign: Joey+Rory, and that it means them + everyone and everything God brings into their lives.

But to us it means that God blessed us by bringing their lives into ours.

I first met Rory at a Bible study 15 years ago. About 4 years later, after “Can You Duet”, which happened to be my daughter’s first concert, Rory started talking with us about developing a TV show, and the Joey+Rory show was born.

Scout’s first concert: Joey+Rory on “Can You Duet”

We owe much of our current work to Joey+Rory. Together, we’ve helped to create 52 TV episodes, 1 reality TV sitcom pilot, 3 TV specials, 4 music videos, and 2 feature films, and this special tribute to Joey.

But we owe them even more than that. The time we spent together was never just work. We passed countless hours in conversation, collecting priceless memories. Joey cooked us dozens of homegrown meals, including pickled okra, freshly harvested sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, oven baked chicken, and Nick’s favorite carrot cake (but don’t tell his mom).

Rory’s mindset is “Dream big, show up and expect magic to happen.” I’ve spent years working with him and learning to dream as he dreams -BIG. He can speak things into existence, just because he says, “I’m gonna do it.”

And he does.

We’ve traveled 8 states and a decade from Key West to California capturing our dear friends and watching their lives play out from the camera lens to the television screen.

But it was always more than that.

We were learning- learning how to live, learning how to love, and watching.

Our cameras panned the stage where they sang together along with 300 fans for The Joey+Rory show- the stage that we helped build. We peered into their living room where we witnessed a mother’s joy as she gazed into the eyes of her newborn baby, heard Joey’s laughter as she chased after her baby chicks, and watched Joey, Rory, Heidi, Hopie and Indy love each other and every friend and stranger they welcomed into their family.

Through watching and filming their lives, we learned how to live authentically. We learned that sometimes life hurts, and we felt the pain with them as they allowed the world into their living room to share their hurt and the joy that came through tears.

And we were inspired-

by Rory, who loves Joey with a fierceness and a flame that shines her light for the world to see; he clings tightly to his friends, family,  daughters, and God, who assures him for everything there is a season.

“I have to choose everyday to live this life as if it is exactly the life I’m supposed to have,” he told me, as a testament to his faith and resolve to carry on.

And we’re inspired by Joey,

Whose hospitality puts us all to shame. Who was more of a mother in 2 years than most in a lifetime. Who always believed. Whose light still shines in that bright sunrise where the mules and her favorite cowboys reached her spot in the shade under the trees.

And she is so beautiful.

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If you would like to witness this portrait of a beautiful woman, To Joey, with Love premieres tonight. 

 

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