Key Relationship Questions to Ask

12Questions

There’s a great post at Crosswalk about the most important (and oftentimes the most difficult) questions you should ask if you are seriously considering marriage. Based on the book 12 Questions to Ask Before You Marry by Clayton and Charie King, the questions are worth asking. Among them:

  • Are you willing to grow up?
  • Have you talked about money?
  • Are you compatible?
  • Are you ready to marry an entire family?
  • Are you ready to love?

Take the time to read through the post and then start asking the right questions. And no matter where you’re at in your relationship—just beginning to date or married for 40 years—the right question to ask this Valentine’s Day is:

Do you want to go see OLD FASHIONED this weekend?

The Old Fashioned Team

The love shoebox

In Old Fashioned, one of the most charming and creative ways that Amber brings a spark of spontaneity into Clay’s life is through an ordinary shoebox decorated by her hand.

It is carefully crafted.  It bears his name.  It calls him to choose.

Inside the box are little scraps of paper with inventive and unexpected date ideas for the two of them the experience with one another.  He’s only allowed to pick on at a time; and, no peeking is allowed.

I don’t want to give away much more because what would be the fun in that?

But with Valentine’s Day right around the corner… some of you might be looking for romantic ideas to share with the object of your affection.

Maybe you just met someone new and are looking for ways to make your time together intentional and create opportunities to really get to know one another at a deeper level…

Maybe you’ve been married for a while and are looking to spice things up…

Maybe you’re still single and dreaming of the future…

In whatever state you find yourself this Valentine’s Day, it might be fun to take some time and think outside the box… think of experiences and adventures you would really like to share with someone you love and write them down… and then maybe put those ideas inside a box!  A shoebox, no less!  And decorate that shoebox with words and images that have significant and personal meaning…

And who knows, one of the ideas inside could be… see Old Fashioned in the theatre on opening weekend!

Couldn’t resist :)…

Lots of love…

– Rik

 

Real life is messy

To be clear, the characters of Clay and Amber in Old Fashioned are not perfect.  They are flawed, broken people who are doing the best they can in stumbling toward a better way of loving each other… and a better understanding of God’s love for them.

Just like most of us.

It’s a tricky thing whenever you explore religious or spiritual themes in a film and especially so when you get anywhere near the label of being “faith-based” or something along those lines.

Suddenly, there is this odd expectation that the characters in your film are no longer allowed to be human or imperfect; but rather, they must be… examples.

That’s a lot of pressure.

And it’s also one of the reasons that so much criticism is often leveled at faith-based films for not being realistic or dealing with real-world issues in ways that are familiar to the audience.

Honestly, given some of the parameters of this niche… I’m not sure how you could accurately and truthfully make a “faith-based” film about the life of King David… or Abraham and Sarah… or countless other Biblical characters that were deeply, profoundly flawed.  I think there would be a great deal of pressure to tidy things up a bit… or leave certain elements out so as to not rock the boat too much… or, possibly, to craft a superior and more appropriate example.

And that would be a shame.  Because it is often through brokenness that God does some of His very best work.

Now, just so there is no confusion over what I’m saying here… I’m not saying you would have to be explicit in a film depicting the darker corners of the lives of those Biblical characters… or any characters in any film.  In the case of Clay and Amber in Old Fashioned, we’re able to explore some real, grown-up issues in a way that never gets explicit or crosses any lines.

Old Fashioned is rated PG-13 for “thematic material” which translates… real life is messy.  And probably a little boring for little kids!

Our film has no coarse language (at all), no explicit sex or violence, and nothing that exploits or degrades the actors.  But, it does deal honestly and openly with some relational mistakes and regrets and situations that are very much set in reality and are just as messy and complicated as those found in our own lives.

And still, God’s grace abounds.

Bottom line is, when it comes to film ratings, if you filmed someone at a table who just opened a Bible and starting reading out loud from the Old Testament… that would almost certainly be rated PG-13 for “thematic material.”  As it should.

In any event…

It’s more than a little important when making (or watching) a film that includes religious or spiritual themes that we remember and remain open to the indisputable fact that all of us—ALL of us—are still works in progress.

As Aunt Zella says in Old Fashioned

“None of us fully arrive this side of Heaven.”

There is a deep longing for authenticity and genuine innocence growing in our culture.  And the common ground for connecting and sharing the love of Christ with those that are searching is our brokenness… not our perfection (or rather, our imagined perfection).

I mention this because…

With all of the Fifty Shades of Grey hype and comparison with Old Fashioned (which has raised our profile beyond measure and for which I’m sincerely grateful), some might start thinking that we’re positioning ourselves as some kind of Pollyanna or perfect “example” of flawless, unblemished love.

We are not.

The truth is, both stories deal with very broken, wounded protagonists… two men that are isolated, damaged, and emotionally detached.

The difference is in how the protagonists pursue their healing.

It’s not about passing judgment on anyone or anything… it’s about a sincere desire to find paths toward healing and wholeness in a world that often outright ignores the sacred aspect and purpose for which love and romance was created.

And finding those paths, in life and movies (and marketing) can be and often is… messy.

Thank God for His mercy… and for providing us all with the one and only perfect “example” this world has ever seen…

– Rik

 

3 unlikely first date questions

As discussed here before, Clay Walsh—the peculiar character that runs the small, college-town antique shop from which Old Fashioned derives its title—has a lot of theories.

Here’s another:

“You know more after a job interview for delivering pizzas than you do after most dates.”

It’s one of the many, many reasons Clay has for isolating himself, not dating much at all in a long time, and not really even giving anyone a chance.  Not even the radiant Amber, who comes into town like a breeze and now rents the apartment above his shop.  And believe me, Amber is the kind of woman who deserves a chance!

Clay is a man of extremes, there’s no denying.  He is in love with his own ideas to a fault—to the point of almost missing what might be his last chance at true love.

BUT.

He has at least the makings of a point here.

When you think of the general level of conversation that happens early on in the dating process, it can be a little shallow and not reveal all that much about who someone is or what’s important to him or her.

On the other hand, job interviews do indeed often go deeper than… “What kind of music do you like?” or “Did you get that new iPhone app yet?”

For example (from actual job applications):

1. What irritates you about other people and how do you deal with it?

2. What kind of situations do you find stressful?

3. What are the steps you follow to study a problem before making a decision?

Admittedly, not very romantic.

Even so, it’s hard to not agree that the answers to even just those three questions alone might reveal quite a bit about someone.  Possibly even more than staring into a brand new love interest’s eyes over a candlelit dinner might.

Physical chemistry (what most of early modern dating begins with) is great and exhilarating and fun, but ask anyone who’s been together for any time at all and they will tell you that “the magic” ebbs and flows.  Nothing wrong with it per se, but it’s not everything.

Look, I know that dating (or courting or… whatever) isn’t a job interview; and, being a couple should never feel like an employee/employer relationship…

That said, the idea of being a little more intentional early on in a relationship is probably not a bad one… even if Clay might take it a little too far.

Just for fun, you can get a whole list of job interview questions here.

Or, for a more balanced approach to getting to know someone, you can check out some of the questions and experiences shared by Ginger Kolbaba in the official companion book to our film/novel, The Old Fashioned Way.

One final thing from the job interview process that also isn’t a bad idea to add to the dating mix as well…

References.  Always get references :)…

– Rik

 

Unusual Ratings Behavior

UnusualBehavior

We are a month away from Valentine’s Day and the February 13 release of both OLD FASHIONED and Fifty Shades of Grey in theaters across the country. OLD FASHIONED received a PG-13 rating for “some thematic material.” It’s a fair rating for this faith-based film; the themes in OLD FASHIONED deal with romance and relationships, topics that aren’t designed for kids and pre-teens.

Fifty Shades earned an R-rating. Some of the book’s fans were disappointed it didn’t get an NC-17 rating (the equivalent of the old X-rating). They felt anything less than that would mean the filmmakers had diminished the book’s graphic nature.

While most observers expected the R-rating, the explanation given by the MPAA was unique: “strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.” The most interesting phrase? “Unusual behavior.”

In a story about the rating in USA Today, quotes industry executives, including Ethan Noble:

“He believes the MPAA used the term to describe the film’s sexual theme of dominance and submission, which is spelled out explicitly in the novel.

“‘Basically, it’s a way of letting parents know that it’s not your everyday sexual content,’ said Noble. ‘But you don’t put “submission and dominance” in the ratings description. (The MPAA is) rarely that specific, and parents that don’t know what it is might be scared off by the term.’”

Maybe it’s just us, but don’t you think “scaring off” parents in this instance might just be the best thing that could be done?

The Old Fashioned Team

Choosing Wisely

ChoosingWisely

So this whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing is not that big of a deal, is it? After all, it’s just a movie for adults (based, of course, on the multi-million selling book). No harm, no foul, right?

Well, while the movie just earned itself an R-rating from the MPAA, some retailers seem to think the book belongs in the Teen and Young Readers section. Think about that.

As author Nancy French blogged:

“In my hometown of Columbia, Tennessee … customers started noticing that ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was being sold as a book for ‘teens and young readers.’ In fact, it was right next to Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends.’ Thankfully, when a mom expressed her concerns to the store manager, he promptly moved the kinky, erotic adult best seller from the kids’ shelves. …

“We need to all work together to protect unsuspecting kids from picking up a book that could potentially damage their sexual development at a young age.”

OLD FASHIONED opens in theaters on Valentine’s Day weekend, just like Fifty Shades. In addition to a heartwarming love story, OLD FASHIONED will help you talk about God-honoring relationships with your tween or teen.

The choice this Valentine’s Day at the movie theater is yours … and your teen’s.

The Old Fashioned Team

 

The countdown to Valentine’s Day has begun…

“How did you do it?”

I’ve been getting asked that question a lot ever since the press broke wide open when we announced we were releasing Old Fashioned the same day as Fifty Shades of Grey.

How did a little indie movie like ours—with no stars or exploitative elements—get major news outlets like Time, Variety, and MTV (among many others) to pay attention at all?

In reality, the only big thing we did was realize an opportunity and choose to be patient enough to not rush our film into its theatrical distribution (not an easy thing to do once a film is completed).  And then, we just let folks know about it…

We could have never predicted the immediate and explosive response that followed.

More than anything though, what that avalanche of press did for us was boldly confirm what is actually the answer to the much bigger question I’ve been getting asked:

“Why did you do it?”

Why did we pick a fight and choose to go toe-to-toe with a massive cultural phenomenon that is almost certain to completely crush us?

And that answer boils down to this… we suspected that the release of Fifty Shades was a unique moment in time and we also (correctly, thankfully) had the hunch that maybe we weren’t alone in our thinking that—deep down—a lot of folks out there hadn’t filled up on the Fifty Shades Kool-Aid and were indeed looking for something of a different flavor in both their romantic lives as well as their entertainment.

In short, we had confidence that the longing for innocence that is captured so uniquely in Old Fashioned might appeal far beyond church walls and the faith-based niche alone.

We’re not naïve enough to believe that means absolutely everyone will dig our love story or agree with us or be happy that we are challenging something as popular as Fifty Shades.

And that’s okay.

Folks are free to choose as they may; but, if there’s anyone out there that has read or sees the film version of Fifty Shades… or anyone out there that has even lived it… and found the experience lacking or their own hearts still looking for something else… Old Fashioned is there as an option.  That is all…

As to whether or not we’ll get beaten down (pun intended) in public by Fifty Shades on Valentine’s Day weekend.  Well, the odds aren’t in our favor… they weren’t in David’s favor either, when he went up against Goliath.

At the end of the day, if even one single soul is moved toward greater healing and wholeness rather than greater physical objectification or emotional damage—by our film or by the cultural discussion that is already happening because of our refusal to bow our knee to Fifty Shades—we win.

And if we have to take a hit or two for that, so be it.

It’s a fight worth having…

It’s a cause worth fighting for…

It’s a risk worth taking…

– Rik

 

God, Relationships, and First Dates

FirstDates

Starting a Relationship on the Right Path

What do bowling, having a picnic, a trip to the aquarium, and going to church have in common? According to The Praying Woman website, these each make for a good first date. And why are first dates important? As their story says:

 “Experts in dating and relationships say that the first date will tell you a lot about a person. … A good first date allows for conversation but at the same time takes some of the focus off you so that neither of you are feeling under pressure and tense.”

Take a look at their list of 10 suggestions and let us know if one of them is your idea of a great first date. Or let us know if you have an even better suggestion. Whatever your idea of a great first date, this is great first-date advice to remember: “Don’t rush things. Take your time and get to know (your date) a little better.”

And remember: no matter how long you’ve been married, dating (or not dating), this Valentine’s Day weekend you have a great date opportunity: go see OLD FASHIONED when it opens in theaters!

The Old Fashioned Team

Curious?

50ShadesVsOF1200Timing is everything.

To repeat, just for the record, it has been over a 10-year journey getting Old Fashioned to the silver screen.  Not an uncommon story in the making of many films, but still…

From the initial idea to eventually writing the script and raising the money… all the way up to learning that Fifty Shades of Grey was releasing their film as a mainstream, romantic date-night movie… and deciding to wait and release our film on the same weekend—Valentine’s Day 2015.

More than ten years.

I mention the time frame—again—because it’s important to reiterate that Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t even on our radar during the years we were developing and financing Old Fashioned.

We didn’t set out to make Old Fashioned as a response to any other book or movie… we were simply trying to craft a love story that was God-honoring and took a counter-cultural approach to many of the sexual mores of contemporary American society.

Even so, when the opportunity arose to release our film at the same time… well, that was and is a deliberate choice for which we make no apology.  We think it’s a great chance to engage culture in a discussion about that world we are creating, for ourselves and those that follow.

And this opportunity only became available to us because of… timing.  And, more specifically, I would say… God’s timing.

All the delays, struggles, “almosts” and the wide variety of hurdles we had to overcome to get our film made and ultimately released in theatres nationally—the very kinds of things that can easily make one question God—I now honestly believe were all placed there by God.

“For such a time as this” as the Scripture goes.

This really hit me hard recently as I was walking through some airports and movie houses…

Curious?

The big, seductive, cinematic ad entices.  And it’s everywhere.  Fifty Shades calling out to all those who walk by… including families with little children, young girls on the brink of womanhood, high school boys looking for role models, married couples getting bored with each other…

Curious about what?

Things that will lead to wholeness and a greater sense of self-worth?  Things that will create more healing in our hearts and less emotional damage?  Things that will inspire us to live up to our best natures?

Or… ?

We live in a sex-obsessed culture.  It is undeniable.  Hooking up has virtually become a national pastime.  We worship physical beauty and pleasure and amusement and anyone who denies that just isn’t paying attention or is being willfully blind.  I’m not saying that it’s worse than any other time in human history, but it is increasingly becoming more obvious and with the unending advance of technology, increasingly relentless and hard to avoid.

All that said, throwing stones at the obvious doesn’t really help anyone.

And the truth is that we also live in a time when any kid with access to a computer and no parental supervision can see—in about three seconds—far worse than whatever the film version of Fifty Shades will offer.

So what’s the big deal?

As I’ve commented before, it’s precisely the coy, cultural grin and collective “no big deal” attitude and embrace of Fifty Shades that is what sets it apart—especially once they made the decision to release the film on Valentine’s Day and mass market it as an aspirational romantic option.

Still, when an erotic novel trilogy sells over 100 million copies worldwide, it’s clear that it is offering something that people want.  Why shouldn’t filmmakers try and get a piece of that action?

We live in a free society, and I’m grateful for that.  No one is calling for censorship or a boycott or anything like that at all.  We are merely exercising our right to challenge the status quo and offer up a choice that—we believe—considers a more beautiful and noble way of approaching love and romance.

The stories to which we give our time and money and lift up for adulation… those stories will eventually shape who we are and what we become.  That’s a sobering thought.

When it comes to racism and bigotry in film and literature… the importance and power of this is (thankfully) realized universally.

But what do we really want for ourselves, romantically?  What do we truly hope for those that are closest to us, that we care most about?  What kind of legacy do we want to leave for those that follow?

We’re not saying that Old Fashioned is perfect or that everyone has to agree with every choice made by Clay and Amber (the very human and flawed lead characters in our film), but our story is one that is honestly searching for more than exploitation or objectification… and that matters.

This Valentine’s Day weekend is a chance to make a statement.

We hope and pray you will join us in our David v. Goliath stand-off against a cultural juggernaut that has way more in terms of money and media access than we can even imagine.  We sure can’t do it alone…

You can find our current list of theatrical markets here.

Chivalry can indeed make a comeback… if enough people genuinely want it to.

– Rik

 

Favorite Things

Brown paper packages tied up with string are still okay with me, but one of my current “favorite things” that trumps them all by far is the joy I get when someone sees Old Fashioned and makes a connection I never dreamed of…

I especially love it when the person connecting the dots is a part of the rapidly expanding creative and marketing team for our “little indie movie that could.”  It’s remarkably encouraging to know that the film genuinely resonates with those that are out there on the front lines for us.  That makes a big, big difference.

Enter Laura.

Now, I’ve never met Laura… we’ve swapped some messages back and forth, but that’s about it.  She is part of our outreach team and has been very kind in letting me know just how much she personally believes in Old Fashioned and wants to see it have a big impact.  She can hardly wait for Valentine’s Day weekend to get here…

Neither can the rest of us!  Who likes to wait?  For anything, ever.

Conspicuously right now, at Christmastime.  In line.  At the store.

Truth is, it seems like the Christmas season strains our patience and makes the waiting for anything seem worse than at almost any other time of the year… and it got Laura thinking about the irony found in that reality.

About how much the Christmas story actually is about… waiting.  And how that, in a way, connects with the themes of Old Fashioned.

She shared her thoughts on this with our team and it was so profound and beautiful, we just felt compelled to pass it along…

Some of the best parts of the Christmas story are about waiting:

… for the birth of Christ.  Israel had waited 400 years to hear from God.

… Mary waited to see how God would provide.

… Joseph was patient and didn’t make a hasty decision to divorce Mary.

… the shepherds were watching and waiting.

… the wise men were patient enough to make a very long journey to meet the Christ child.

What if any or all of the above simply got tired of waiting?  What if they had demanded immediate gratification?

Christmas is indeed (ironically) a great time to consider the idea of waiting (just think about that when you can’t find a parking spot at the mall).

And here is where Laura makes the connection…

Waiting is Old Fashioned.  But waiting is GOOD.  My humble opinion is that Christmas is a unique time to spread the message of focusing on what is best vs. what seems immediate—an Old Fashioned idea in our consumer culture that has exacerbated the problem of using people instead of nurturing them and nurturing relationships.

There’s no question, the theme of waiting is pretty strong in our love story.  On the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels… taking your time, being thoughtful, and considering the cost are all qualities that are affirmed in Old Fashioned.  Although there are no guarantees in life, it is undeniable that waiting and being patient can lead to real blessing.

So, in the rush of the presents and parties and family and friends (all good things)… if you feel yourself losing patience, feeling rushed… slow down a bit… remember how waiting played into the very first Christmas…

Most of all, remember how patient God has been with you.  With all of us.  O, if only we could be that way with each other… especially in this season of honoring the birth of the babe in a manger.

And, if by chance, you find yourself alone this year… waiting.  May there be at least some comfort in knowing that you have some good historical company; and, may God grant you the patience and courage you need to endure…

Thank you so much for the perspective, Laura.  For my new favorite thing.

And with that…

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good-night!”

– Rik