Good News: Chivalry is NOT Dead!


When OLD FASHIONED opens in theaters on Valentine’s Day, we believe it will be a time when Chivalry Makes a Comeback. And, according to a 20-something female blogger, it can’t happen a moment too soon.

As Jen Ruiz blogged this week, “Despite popular opinion, chivalry is not dead. …” She also says:

“It’s a welcome relief, then, when we stumble upon those few true gentlemen. They exude chivalry with even their smallest actions, and remind us that there are still good ones out there.

“It doesn’t take a grand gesture or costly display of affection to win a girl over. Often, it just takes a little sincerity and display of genuine romantic interest.”

Take a look at her list of everyday ways guys can be chivalrous. And be sure to share your thoughts and ideas on our Facebook page!

The Old Fashioned Team


Why opposites still attract

There’s no getting around it, the story of Old Fashioned involves a couple of characters (Clay and Amber) that couldn’t be more different, especially when they first meet.

Amber is a free-spirit who possesses an amazing spark of life within her that is winsome, full of the promise of joy and adventure, and pretty much irresistible.  The screenplay for Old Fashioned describes her like this:

… mesmerizing.  She is a genuine woman-child.  Sensual.  Spiritual.  Somehow more alive than the rest of us.

And all these things are true and… yet.  Amber also has a knack for hitting the road when life gets too messy and has spent most of her adult life bouncing all over the country.  Out of some serious wounds and fears, she defiantly refuses to put down roots or believe in a “home” that can be safe and lasting.

Clay, on the other hand, is the polar opposite.

He’s nothing but roots.  In fact, he is so rigid and locked into his theories, his ideas, and the familiar safety and comfort of his antique shop that he is nearly absent of joy and adventure.

In a strange way, Clay is someone that has become so good at “righteousness” that he’s actually on the verge of drifting away from God, the very one that inspired him to reach for virtue and integrity to begin with.

And… yet.

Misguided and peculiar as many of his theories are, there’s something about a person that isn’t afraid to stand against the Godless trends of the day… even if, on the surface, they are somewhat emotionally distant and—let’s just say it—boring.

So there they are, Clay and Amber, two souls clearly on opposite ends of the spectrum that still manage to be drawn to each other against all logic and odds.  Why?

There’s no simple answer to that question or even to why the cliché “opposites attract” play out over and over again in movies and life both.

But, I think, in the case of our characters in Old Fashioned, it’s about need—and not on a physical level, but at a deep and genuinely spiritual one.  And they recognize that need and longing in each other, even if they have a hard time communicating and making sense of it all.

Both Clay and Amber have a measure of emptiness and need something found in the other to help pull them away from the extremes of their lives toward a balanced, middle path of living that is closer to what God created them for.

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.  (Ecclesiastes 7:18)

To be clear, by balanced, middle path I don’t mean lukewarm or passionless.  And I certainly don’t mean to imply a Jerry Maguire “you complete me” kind of thing as a substitute for the reality that only in God do we find full love and acceptance.  No human relationship, even the very best one, can meet 100% of our needs or come close to measuring up to what God offers.

Even so, we need and can help each other as well.  That’s why God put us all in this… together.

And honestly, it applies far beyond romantic relationships.  In families, friendships, churches, teams, businesses… we need each other.

Just like law and grace need each other.

Just like Clay and Amber.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.  (1 Corinthians  12:12-14)

– Rik


Much to be thankful for…


And now, a word from our producer…

Thanksgiving is here.  It can—and should be—a wonderful holiday that provides a time to pause and reflect on the amazing blessings we enjoy and so often take for granted.

Whether you’re single or married, it can also quickly turn into a very stressful time filled with a cornucopia of pressures and anxiety… if you let it.

I’m reminded of a time not so long ago, when I was dating the woman of my dreams and was invited to Thanksgiving dinner with her family.

While the smile grew across my face at the prospect of drawing closer in our relationship, there was, of course, the sudden flash of terror that many experience during this season when they stop to calculate the formula for intense personal scrutiny:

Potential Spouse + Thanksgiving Dinner = Inspection + Interrogation

Was this a recipe for disaster?

To make things even more interesting, our respective families couldn’t be more different. I was from a relatively small, quiet family with relatives peppered across the Northeast.  Hers?  Well, I say this with great fondness, was a large, loud and ahem, passionate Italian neighborhood clan (rolling over fifty deep) that weren’t shy about expressing opinion. Think Everybody Loves Raymond meets The Brady Bunch.

Even if things went south, I thought, at least there was going to be Italian food—which just happens to be my favorite.  And there was going to be lots of it.  Perhaps I could make a covert exit with a 35 gallon size doggie bag.

I decided to mentally prepare.  A checklist might be good for focus.

What to wear?  What to say?

Employment?  Career goals?  How many kids do I want?

Memorize lyrics to the most popular Frank Sinatra songs.  Brilliant.

Political affiliation?  Religious views?  Hmm, potentially divisive.

What if it gets worse?  Giants or Jets?  Mets or Yankees?

How do I politely decline the 3rd serving of eggplant parmesan without insulting an eager Italian mother who seems bent on making sure that the only way for me to leave is for me to be turned on my rotund side and rolled out the garage door?

Doomsday scenario:  Rumor has it that potential mother-in-law and highly influential aunts have an annual pumpkin pie contest.  Compulsory event.  Must choose a winner.  Controversial outcome guaranteed.

What if no matter what I do, they just don’t like me?  It could happen.

Letting your thoughts run away with those pesky, pessimistic “What ifs” can easily take our focus off the amazing “What is.”

One of my favorite verses in the Good Book is Psalm 118:24.  It says “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

It’s a great reminder that whatever the circumstances, challenges or dark days we face, there is so much to be truly thankful for.  Now.  Thankful for what we have.  Thankful for who we are, warts and all.  Thankful for all the imperfect people—just like us—that God gives us the privilege of knowing and loving.

I’ve got so much to be thankful for, both large and small.  We live in a country, while far from utopia, where I’m free to express my opinion, practice my faith and make decisions I believe will be in the best interest of my family.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share Old Fashioned with audiences across the country who are already responding to the film’s hopeful depiction of what true love can be.

I’m truly grateful for a nation founded on free speech where we can agree to disagree.  A land where Fifty Shades of Grey and Old Fashioned—two movies offering drastically different perspectives on love, romance and respect—can play side by side at the same cinema, leaving audiences the opportunity to make a choice.

In any event, back to my story… so, just how did that Italian Thanksgiving turn out?

You’ll have to ask that beautiful woman of my dreams who’s been my wife for over twenty years.

Truly, the more we focus on our blessings and the many things we have to be thankful for, the less room we have for the fear and anxiety that often cripple us.  Instead of being bound by negativity, we discover the beauty and potential in the situations and people placed in our lives.

An “old fashioned” Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

– Nathan Nazario


Hollywood: May We Have Your Attention?


Looks like OLD FASHIONED is catching the eye of people who think that Valentine’s Day weekend belongs to Fifty Shades of Grey. In response to the newest trailer for the movie about sex and abuse, OLD FASHIONED director Rik Swartzwelder created a video that talks about the importance of a movie that looks at relationships from a Godly perspective.

You can watch the video (followed by the OLD FASHIONED trailer) here:

In an article about the video, industry standard The Hollywood Reporters quotes OLD FASHIONED producer Nathan Nazario:

“Fifty Shades is short-term titillation and Old Fashioned offers a long-term alternative,” says producer Nathan Nazario. “Audiences want to hear that the best of the past is still possible—that a relationship can be the safe room.”

The Old Fashioned Team


The Two Ingredients in Every Successful Relationship


TwoThingsScientists like to study things. Lots of things. Including relationships. In a great article in The Atlantic magazine, we learn that science has uncovered a lot of really interesting and important aspects about relationships.

But at the end of the day, you can boil healthy relationships down to two key ingredients. Get ready … here they are:

  • Kindness
  • Generosity

(of course, we’d suggest that every successful relationship needs a third ingredient, God, but kindness and generosity are a good start)

So, everything your mom taught you when you were a toddler still applies today to dating, marriage, and every other important relationship in your life. And remember, this is science talking!

The Old Fashioned Team



For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and will be joined to his wife. And they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

A recent ABC News piece highlighted a married couple that held a ceremony on a California beach to officially “uncouple.” What exactly is “uncoupling?” Brought into the cultural lexicon by actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin, “uncoupling” is a seemingly acceptable new way of ending a marriage relationship.

The new story reports:

“Clark and Valerie took the wedding rings they exchanged 14 years ago and gave them back to each other. ‘These rings do not symbolize who we are to each other anymore,’ Clark said. ‘So we’re releasing them,’ Valerie added.

“The Tates, who went with their own version of ‘uncoupling,’ believed this was a way to break up their marriage without animosity.”

After decades of rising divorce statistics, could “uncoupling” be the new standard? Or might there be a better option than either divorce or “uncoupling?”

Could it be there’s something to be said about old-fashioned commitment to one’s vows … and to one’s spouse?

The Old Fashioned Team

Three Rules for Ducking Out of Dating Danger


Sadie Robertson, the teenaged daughter of Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, has been making a name for herself on television’s Dancing With The Stars. Not only is she gaining fans with her dancing, but at the same time, she’s inspiring us with her faith.

A fun-loving teenager who uses her faith to guide her relationships, Sadie has publicly committed to staying pure until marriage. She recently shared her dating guidelines to help teens duck out trouble with Fox 411:

1) Don’t be home alone together
2) Stay outside of each other’s bedrooms
3) Pray together before dates

What do you think? What other rules would you add for teens? Are there different rules for single adults? How do those differ? At OLD FASHIONED, we’d love to hear your thoughts (and rules).

The Old Fashioned Team

The Artist as Missionary

Do you have a story from your life that you share often?  One of those personal life experience kind of stories that eventually becomes so much a part of you it seems it’s no longer merely a story you tell others… it’s something far more mystical and magical; it’s a story that is actually telling you, shaping you, guiding you

This is one of my stories; one that has a hold on me like that.  I tell it a lot, but I’ve never written it down.  The events are true, I was there… and I haven’t been the same since.

After the screening of one of my films at a Christian college in the Midwest, a young student with tears in her eyes approached me.  She told me how she believed God was calling her to be an actress.  I’m sometimes skeptical at statements like this… but she was convincing. I listened.  She shared with great detail and passion her desire to honor God through the craft of acting and then her voice faltered, disappearing into a whisper.

“But,” she said.

“Stop,” I interrupted.  “Let me guess… your parents…”  She nodded.  “They told you not to go into acting because there’s no money it.”  Her eyes widened as she nodded again.  “They also told you that Hollywood is a dark and evil place and if you go there something bad might happen to you.”  She nodded one last time and lowered her head.

I wasn’t being prophetic; it’s just that I’d already heard all the arguments against the entertainment industry.  A hundred times.  But this moment was different.  With her hopeful eyes looking to me for some kind of answer and my own words still echoing all around me… it happened.  Epiphany.  Clarity.  God opened my eyes to the obvious.

The artist as missionary.

What if, hundreds of years ago, the church had told potential missionaries, “Don’t do it.  There’s no money in it.  Besides, you might have to go to far away places where bad things might happen to you.”  What a tragic loss that would have been.  Yes, many died penniless.  Yes, some even died tragic deaths in far away places.  And the world was changed because of them.  Is the cause of Christ no longer worth the risk?  What is His story telling… how is His story shaping… where is His story guiding?

We are all missionaries, in a sense.  And the truth remains, the only safe place to be is where Christ calls; it doesn’t matter if you’re a nurse, preacher, tentmaker, writer, or even… an actor.

– Rik

* An edited version of this blog post originally appeared in The Columbia Union Visitor in December 2007.


Love into Greatness

Did you ever wonder why so many of the world’s most talented and famous singers—in all kinds of genres—grew up singing in churches?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence… and I don’t think those singers can take all the credit for their success.

In part, they were loved into greatness.

It’s true, God-given talent can be spotted from a very young age; but, my guess is that not all of those singers were drop-dead amazing and 100% pitch perfect the very first time they sang a solo at church.  The raw talent may have been there… but it needed to be nurtured.

And it was.  By congregations that applauded them and showered them with praise and encouragement not only for the performance… but also because of the potential that was there.  Those congregations didn’t sit back, fold their arms, and say, “Impress us, kid.”  They did the exact opposite… they took an active role in helping that kid blossom into a greater talent than ever could have been possible without that kind of love and support.

It reminds me of a story I heard once about a church congregation looking for a new pastor.  They kept getting all these top-notch resumes from rock star preachers, but passed on them all.  Finally, they extended an audition/invite to a younger, beginning preacher that was rough around the edges but had genuine potential.  The church gave him the job.  Someone asked one of the elders why the church passed on so many great preachers and offered the job to someone with so little experience…

The elder replied, “Those other preachers are already great.  We’d rather have the kid that could go either way and help ensure that he becomes great.  That’s our job.”

They saw it as their mission to love into greatness.  Beautiful.

So… what’s any of this got to do with Old Fashioned or filmmaking?

I’ve been pretty blessed and lucky in my filmmaking journey.  Many of my earlier films have done rather well on the festival circuit, received distribution deals, and earned some decent reviews.  And, even though I’ve also dealt with my fair share of criticism (like all filmmakers)… by and large, I’ve been on the receiving end of above average encouragement, kudos, and support.

That’s not true for everybody.  Especially for a lot of young filmmakers just now starting out…

We are in the midst of a mini-explosion of “faith-based” films (I’m on a mission to dream up another genre description for this)… and a lot of these young filmmakers just beginning their journeys are taking an absolute beating.  To say they are not being loved into greatness would be a gross understatement.

Now, again, I would never defend any hack charlatans that are making quickie films to cash in on a niche… or those that really don’t love cinema and aren’t genuinely working as hard as they can to make the best films they possibly can.  But the truth is, I really don’t know many filmmakers like that, personally.  Most of the folks I know want to make solid, entertaining films… and are committed to finding ways to make the exploration of spiritual themes more organic and authentic in their work.

But alas, many of the most talented filmmakers I’ve met along the way are no longer making films.  They were crushed, mercilessly, over and over for not making Citizen Kane right out of the gate and simply decided it just wasn’t worth it any more.

I can hear it already: “Well, they didn’t want it bad enough.  Too bad.  Toughen up.”  But, until you’ve been on the receiving end of unbridled, gleeful (often anonymous) criticism… no disrespect, but, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Maybe it’s because we live in such a media saturated age and we love talking about movies so much as a culture.  But, the chatter (even amongst “religious” or “spiritual” people) can be just plain brutal, especially in the Internet era.  And I wonder, what’s the point or goal of that?

As hard as it is to sing a solo in church… directing a film is infinitely more complicated, has way more moving parts, and many more things that can go wrong along the way.  And yet, I rarely see the concept of “love into greatness” applied to young filmmakers just starting out to the degree it is in other mediums.

And that’s a shame.  Like that church elder said, it is up to us to ensure that the kid that has the talent—but could go either way—becomes great, lives up to his or her potential.  Not beat them down because the effects in their first sci-fi short or indie feature don’t live up to the latest Star Wars film or superhero movie.

On that note, if you haven’t seen the very first films (shorts or features) of your favorite director, that might be worth doing.  With few exceptions, most of those films are far from perfect even though they do admittedly possess the spark and possibility of something better further down the road.  And many of the world’s greatest filmmakers owe their very careers to insightful critics who saw that potential and helped nurture it so it might survive and blossom (rather than kill it for not being fully formed right out of the gate).

To be clear, I’m in no way saying that there shouldn’t be film criticism… there definitely should be.  And I’m not saying we should settle for less than the pursuit of artistic excellence in “faith-based” filmmaking (or any other kind).  We shouldn’t.  But, what’s our end game?  The purpose of our critique?

There is a context for everything.  And it takes time to get great at anything.  Legend has it that Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life) made more than 100 one-reelers (10-minute shorts) before his first full-length feature.  I’ve never seen his very first short, but… my guess is, it isn’t a home run.

As people of faith, we should be looking for ways to “love into greatness” whenever possible… that’s really all I’m trying to say here.  And that goes for all of life.  Not just for kids singing in church.  Not just for filmmakers.  For everyone…

My official two cents for the day…

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

– Rik


Finding Amber


Elizabeth Ann Roberts is a star.

There, I said it.  And I believe it.  She plays the role of Amber Hewson in Old Fashioned and delivers the kind of breakout, career-defining performance that we all love to discover in small, indie films like ours.

And that’s just not me talking.  From Northampton, Massachusetts, to Temecula, California, to a whole bunch of other “sneak peek” and festival screenings in between… audiences agree with my bold claim above.  She provides the life and spark of Old Fashioned and simply makes you fall in love.  It’s magical, really.

Elizabeth Ann Roberts is something special and the rest of the world is about to find out and I can hardly wait.  But, the crazy thing is…

I almost didn’t cast her.

She was actually one of the very first actors that auditioned for the role of Amber.  I was already in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, scouting locations when one of our co-producers sent me video link to her casting session out in Los Angeles.

Her take on the character was extraordinary—even on a laptop; that was obvious.  When she read the lines “respect her emotions as well as her body” I choked up; my eyes began to water.  She was that good.

But in my mind, I always saw “Amber” with very dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.  And Elizabeth, though incredibly beautiful, didn’t line up 100% with what I had imagined.

So, I kept looking.  For six months.  I saw countless actresses with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes; they all looked the part, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Elizabeth.  Elizabeth simply was the character of Amber in a way that went far beyond physical appearance, in a way that was almost spiritual.

She got the gig, obviously.  What choice did I have?

And indeed, Elizabeth actually felt a very clear, personal connection with the strong, bold, and spiritually searching role of Amber.  There is sometimes an authenticity in a performance that simply can’t be faked… it’s a rare thing and it’s what exists between Elizabeth and her character in Old Fashioned.

It’s all a little ironic given that much of the story of Old Fashioned is actually about looking beyond the physical when it comes to love and romance.  There’s nothing wrong with physical attraction and chemistry, of course; but, it isn’t everything… no matter what Hollywood says.

Just like in casting a movie.  Just like in life.

We live in a world today that places ludicrous value on physical appearance.  Do six-pack abs really make someone a good potential spouse?  The perfect nose?  Just the right skin tone?  Will great physical chemistry be enough to weather the tough times that face any relationship?

Think about what we are being sold via music, film, TV, social media… think about what ideas are being affirmed, over and over, in young people.

Right now, Renée Zellweger, is being attacked and critiqued from all sides because of her plastic surgery that has made her virtually unrecognizable.  In some cases, she’s being ripped into by the very same folks that badgered her into feeling so insecure about her physical appearance to begin with.

I love movies.  Always have.  But I hate with a passion the pressure and unrealistic expectation, on women especially, for physical perfection that is spun and stoked by the entire entertainment industry.  It’s absolute insanity and it’s a lie and it’s now spreading far beyond the silver screen and into real life.  And when we buy into the “he’s so hot” and “she’s so hot” and and and… well, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.

Whatever makes you happy, I guess.  But our physical bodies are fading… no matter what.  It’s the Kobayashi Maru (yeah, I’m an old school Star Trek nerd, deal)… a no-win scenario.

I wonder what I’ve missed out on in my own life because I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, look beneath the surface of things.  Did I miss out on something God was trying to show me… or a connection that God was trying to make?  Have you?

I learned a valuable lesson in casting the role of Amber in Old Fashioned.  If I had stuck to the preconceived image in my mind, I would have made a tragic mistake and missed out on witnessing something remarkable… something far beyond merely the physical.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Here’s to the things beneath the surface…

And, to Elizabeth Ann Roberts… thank you.


– Rik