I began to toy with the idea of telling the same story from three different cultural, socio-economic and ethnic prospective…and Samuel II was born.
Having spend two years living and working in Mexico in the late 70’s as a missionary with my church I was able to assimilate the Spanish language and come to a love and understanding to the Mexican people, there unique and humble view of life and God’s place therein. So I wrote Samuel II from the prospective of a young latino boy and his encounter with God, I also tried to include elements of the latino culture including the lack of a father figure in the home…while many latinos in the US have strong father figures and I certainly don’t wish to stereotype any culture or ethnicity, it was my observation that especially in the late 70s in Mexico many fathers were absent and the matriarch of the home was its backbone…I also wanted to communicate the idea that there are strong families of many different formations.
Samuel II also brought many more variations from the biblical account, Samuel in this story is a young Catholic boy, though Catholicism is not specifically mentioned in the course of the film. His family is torn by gang influence on his older brother and his mother’s disillusionment with religion. While telling essentially the same story I wanted enough variety to make a trilogy work.
Samuel III was an attempt to round out the Journey of Samuel with even more cultural ethnic and religious diversity. Samuel III is older than his two young counterparts but is very much still a child in his approach to religion and in his relationship to his father, who in a very traditional culture is greatly distanced from his sons emotional needs. Samuel III is Islamic…and while I do not in any way wish to discount the validity of Islam in the lives of its followers I felt that as a whole it present a picture of a mass of people who practice religion from a more rout sense of duty than an enlightened commitment. The same can be said for the majority of Christians or almost any other group… most people follow tradition at least initially. It was my desire to communicate a change of heart that must occur in order to make any practice a reality for the practitioner.
Samuel III also contains more symbolism than the other two films…there are symbolism of dying to old, baptism, rebirth and a return to an Edenistic state of enlightened innocence.
The three Samuel’s also represent 3 different economic classes. This is seen in the settings but also communicated (partically by choice and partically by the economic realities of production) through the quality of the image itself. Samuel I was filmed in a 16:9 formate on a high end prosumer camera. Samuel II was filmed in 4:3 on a older prosumer camera (Sony VX-1000) and with less than ideal lighting conditions for much of the film. Samuel III was filmed with a Canon GL-2. We also shot 3 in an extremely upscale home with am abundance of lighting equipment.
Another opportunity that came my way during my down-time was the opportunity to get to know several Native Americans and some of there ways. Frankly I find in the Native American way of life many practices that parallel Christianity and which bring me new understanding of my own practice…I actually find that my own understanding of what I believe and practice deepens each time I am given the opportunity to learn more of what others believe and practice. Hence in an effort to include even more culture diversity and without throwing off the perfect balance of the tri-l-angle. I tag the beginning and end of the film with a quote from Ogala Sioux Holy Man Black Elk. However, if we are unable to get permission to use the quotes I wrote parallel quotes of my own.
The Making of Samuel – A Journey of Discovery
In 2007 I found myself incapacitated for a time and was unable to roam freely as is my usually state. During that time however my writing flourished. One evening I was watching TV… at this time Steven Spielberg had a series called The Next Great Producer or something like that… A reality-based TV show where budding film producers entered to win a production partnership with Dreamworks Films. Well of course it is the fantasy of many a budding producer to have the opportunity to work with the likes of Steven Spielburg… I am no exception. I fantasized about what it would be like to be on the show and ultimately to win the prize of working with the Master.
As I researched the entry requirements of the show I found that one of them was a sample film of 7 minutes in length…so I thought about what would make a good 7 minutes film that actually said something… Some time before that I had been doing some family research and had been to a farm near my home that had once belonged to my gggrandfather. I have a picture of the barn-raising with many of my ancestors depicted there in. The couple who now own the farm Terrill and Cindy Miller were quite generous and allowed me to tour the barn and the home that my ancestors built. In touring the home I noticed a sign neatly hung near the entrance to the boys bedroom “Chad is a mighty warrior.”
Later when I was contemplating a storyline for a sample film that sign and young Chad came into my mind and I thought it would be great to write a story of a strong young man set on that property and using that barn as part of the set.
Later as part of my daily scripture study I re-read the story of young Samuel the Prophet in the Old Testament and his calling by God… I thought this might be an interesting story to tell in modern times. So I re-write 1 Samuel 3 with a few exceptions pretty much like the Bible tells it only set on a farm with a white American farm boy as Samuel. I was happy with the result and looked forward to making the film, but my inability to move freely kept me from entering at that time.
As far as I know the series did not continue past its first season and my script got shelved until I began to consider making a film festival piece. Then Samuel came back to me…but a I wanted something more than 7 minutes (actually, in its present rough cut state the film runs – including credits – a bit more that 10 minutes). I also began to see that the film in its modern setting is very similar to the history of the modern-day Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. As a Mormon myself, I really didn’t have a problem with that but I wanted my story to have more of a universal appeal and not be pegged as a Mormon film. In the process of thought it occurred to me that if I was going to make more of a universal message I would also need to appeal to more than a white middle-class audience.