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.