Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wrapping things up with Pastor Joe

Since I spent so much time with Burt Humburg earlier this month, I thought it was only right that I get together with Pastor Joe Wright one last time before "Out Here In Kansas" is finished. We visited for an hour and a half yesterday afternoon.
I shared my stories about people close to me who are gay, and he did the same. My only real agenda with Pastor Joe was to again thank him for being such a big part of the documentary ... and to again be crystal clear about what it is about.
Pastor Joe isn't afraid of any backlash the movie might bring him. This is a man, after all, who has received death threats for his outspoken views against homosexuality. Even though Pastor Joe and I don't agree on some things (like whether or not someone is born gay), there's never been any question that he loves me. I love him, too. Not only was he Burt's pastor, he was mine too. I don't believe Pastor Joe wants gay people to hate him. He simply wants people to go to heaven by accepting Jesus and obeying God's word, which he strongly believes condemns the gay lifestyle.
We talked about Matthew Vines. We talked about Central Christian Academy, where his daughter was a teacher and my kids were students. Then I mentioned a text exchange the other night that was started by my friend, who voiced his concerns that my movie will be biased against conservative Christians. Pastor Joe just laughed, and reminded me that Bible warns against trying to please everyone.
"Anybody with strong feelings going into this is going to think your movie is biased," he said.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is this movie biased?

A couple days after the trailer for "Out Here In Kansas" debuted, a conservative Christian friend of mine sent me a lengthy text message expressing his concerns about my motives for making it.
He also reminded me that when I told him my plans for making it, that I was going to make it non-biased.
I don't remember putting it like that, exactly. But I have earned a pretty good reputation as a non-biased journalist the last 20 years or so. My motives are ...
1. To tell Burt Humburg's story.
2. To tell his former pastor's view of the story.
3. To tell how the story affected my life, since I've known both men since the late 1990s.
4. For the movie to be viewed by millions - including gay people, Christians, people who might be both or people who might be neither. The church's and state's relationship with the LGBT community is such a hot-button in Kansas.
As I've said all along, I'm been a Christian my whole life, and I strongly believe God is telling me to make this film. I don't know if it's going to look biased; I'm just going to make the best movie I possibly can. And who could argue with that?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Trailer on the big screen

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I'm fan of the Tallgrass Film Festival, which is why it was such a thrill to be a small part of it this year.
Our trailer for "Out Here In Kansas" was shown at Tallgrass three times yesterday. I meant to catch the first one, which was shown at the Wichita Historical Museum, but I misunderstood what time it started and arrived too late. (Nonetheless, I enjoyed "Out To Win," the documentary about gay athletes that followed it.)
It didn't show again until 9:15 p.m., and I knew I wasn't going to make that one because of a previous commitment.
Because of that commitment, my date and I had to high-tail it from Andover to the Orpheum in time for the 11:30 p.m. movie. My editor Kenny did a wonderful job on the trailer. Not only was it gratifying to see it on the big screen in a theater I love, it was an honor to have it shown previous to the fascinating independent feature "Tangerine." (Warning: Strong language in that trailer.)
We'll unveil the entire trailer for Out Here In Kansas" on this website tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Good suggestion, sis

I've shown our trailer to just a handful of people so far, and I have to admit I was a little shy about showing it to my own family.
But a few weeks ago, for some reason, I decided to show it to my sister and my sister-in-law. They weren't exactly cheering afterwards. Most of my family is firmly on the conservative Christian side when it comes to gay issues. (All issues, for that matter.)
When the trailer was over, my sister broke a couple seconds of awkward silence.
"Who is Burt talking to at the end?" she said. "Is that Pastor Joe?"
Of course it's Pastor Joe, I replied. Wasn't it obvious?
Well, maybe it wasn't obvious enough. Andrea's question nagged at me so much that I raised the issue to my editor Kenny. He agreed it might be worthwhile to show a glimpse of Pastor Joe's face while Burt was making a point during their debate. And that's just what we did. It was easy enough, since there was a camera for each side when we filmed it at KPTS studios.
I'm extremely proud of the trailer, which will be shown three times during the Tallgrass Film Festival on Saturday: 12:15 p.m. at the Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum, and 9:15 and 11:30 p.m. at the Orpheum.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Our trailer premieres next weekend

As I mentioned a few days ago, the trailer for Out Here In Kansas will premiere at the Tallgrass Film Festival, which is Oct. 14-18 in Wichita.
According to the production manager, it will be shown before the movies Out To Win, Summer of Sangaile and Tangerine. If you've done any reading up on those films, you've probably realized on some level, they all have LGBT themes.
While I'm a little disappointed to be categorized, mostly I'm appreciative of Tallgrass - which after all, didn't have to show our trailer at all. And hey, you've got to start somewhere.
A complete guide to this year's festival can be found here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Arrivederci, Burt

Burt Humburg isn't exactly the warm and fuzzy type, but I couldn't resist giving him a rare hug before leaving Iowa this afternoon. This was the last shoot we had planned with him, which means I have probably interviewed Burt for the last time.
Then again, when I first wrote about him in 1997, I never thought I'd be making a movie about Burt 18 years later. So who knows? I do know he's changed my life, and I know I'll forever be grateful for the access he gave us to make "Out Here In Kansas" possible.
I'm also thankful for marketing/PR specialist Jodi Ball and the entire staff at Mercy Medical Center. Shooting video in a hospital is no small task these days. Instead of simply telling us no, they recognized the value of the project. We didn't have unlimited access, of course, but I was impressed by how they accommodated what we went up there for.
In other words, it's awesome to work with professionals.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Full day, full evening

 I learned at least two things about Burt Humburg after spending the day with him on his current turf ...
1. Apparently he is considered a "hunk."
2. There were a lot of disappointed women in Mason City, Iowa, when they discovered their town's new single doctor was gay.
Kenny and I didn't travel more than 500 miles just to learn that, of course. We pretty much set up camp all day at Mercy Medical Center, where Burt works as a hospitalist. Got a couple of great interviews, lots of B roll and a heck of a meal from this place Burt insisted on taking us to. (That's him on the right, Kenny in the middle and me on the left.)
It was a full day, for sure. But we're not done yet.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Made it to Mason City

Greeting from Mason City, Iowa, current home of the subject of "Out Here In Kansas," Burt Humburg. Kenny and I just rolled into town and tomorrow we're looking at our longest day of shooting yet.
By the way, I had no idea Mason City was so close (nine miles) to Clear Lake, Iowa, home of the Surf Ballroom, which I've visited before. That's where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played their last concert the day the music died.