I love following the film festivals, checking out all the official selection trailers, and trying to guess which films will win. When I watched the trailer for The War Within on the Christian Worldview Film Festival site, I was blown away. What a brilliant idea and how beautifully created! Now, reading the story behind the movie, I’m even more excited about it. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this movie.
The War Within is a rather unique movie. Where did you get the idea for the movie?
Back in 2008, my Dad (Gary Varvel) came to me with an idea he adapted from a sermon he heard on the radio. The idea was to illustrate the soul as a Board of Directors. We created the film The Board as a result of this idea. After we completed that film I approached my Dad with the desire to go further with the idea. I felt that there was so much more potential to explore the realm of the soul. We wanted to stay with the same six characters (Mind, Memory, Emotion, Will, Conscience, and Heart) but we wanted to go further into God’s word and find what else goes on in the soul of everyone. God lead us to Romans 7 and we really used that passage as the fuel for the idea.
How does The War Within compare with the prequel, The Board?
The War Within, in many ways, is a recreation of The Board. I see them as two completely different films. However, I do realize that people will link them together as a series. The only comparison is the basic illustration of depicting the soul as these 6 individual personalities. In The War Within we go so much further into the characters and how they interact with one another.
How long did it take from initial idea to finished movie?
My Dad and I began dreaming up The War Within in 2009 and we just completed the film in Spring of 2014. It was a labor of love for sure! My Dad and I felt we had a vision from God and it was incredible to see how He brought the right people at the right time to help us make that vision a reality.
How did you create your set?
My Dad makes his living as a cartoonist, and so I explained to him the way I saw the sets looking in my head. He tried to draw it, but it wasn’t quite looking the way we wanted. He resorted to creating a miniature model of the set using cardboard and plaster wrap. We showed the model to our set architect and builders. They then created blueprints and digital 3D models of the set. The framing was the first stage of the process. We used parts of the old set from The Board and filled in the rest of the set with the necessary materials. Then we sprayed the entire set with spray foam insulation to give it a rock/cave look. Then it was up to my Dad and our Key Set Decorator, Jeff Schultz, to paint the sets. We cut holes in the walls to create openings for light to pour in. This gave the set a more organic look and also helped dramatically with lighting.
What was the greatest challenge with filming?
We faced many challenges while filming this movie. It seemed we were always facing uncertainty in regards to the budget. However, the biggest challenge in creating the film was probably the use of fog and haze in the soul sequences. We wanted to have a thick layer of fog throughout the soul to help sell the idea. This was both tricky and expensive. Just when we would be ready to call action the fog machine would die and we would have to switch tanks, or add more dry ice. It was a constant challenge.
Tell us about your experience at Christian Worldview Film Festival.
I heard about the Christian Worldview Film Festival a couple months before the deadline. I was extremely excited about the possibility of getting into the festival and being able to network with other christian filmmakers. When I heard that The War Within was an official selection I was ecstatic! My wife and I made plans to make the trip from Indianapolis to San Antonio for the festival. I had no expectations to win anything, but rather was just excited to network and build new relationships. As the week progressed at the festival, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response by the audiences after the screenings of the film. It’s one thing to think your film is good, but then to have people react so positively to it gave me a lot of comfort and assurance. I saw the film deeply impact people and was so privileged to talk and pray with so many after the showings. Still going into the award ceremony I had no expectations. First, we won Best Film Trailer. I was excited and blessed and thought to myself, “Well that was fun. Now I get to just sit and not worry for the rest of the ceremony.” The other awards that The War Within was eligible for just happened to be the final three awards presented. One after the other The War Within was called. It’s hard to put into words what was going through my mind at that moment. I never created this film for any accolades. My Dad and I were simply moved to preach the gospel in a new and exciting way. However, to receive recognition at this festival was so overwhelming and humbling. I was most excited to receive Best Gospel Presentation Award. This solidified to me that the message comes through and was done with excellence. I am so grateful for Media Talk 101 for deciding to put on this event. I know I speak for all the filmmakers there when I say, “It truly impacted my life to have been there.”
What are your future plans for the movie?
We recently signed a sales agent agreement with Rich Christiano. He is in the process of helping us set up deals both domestically and internationally to get the film out there. We plan to release the film nationwide August 19, 2014. We are also launching what we are calling “The War On Tour.” This campaign is centered around getting the film into as many Churches, Colleges, and Cities as possible. This will make it possible for people to license the film for a 1-time screening in their city.
In 2008 I felt God calling me into full-time Film Ministry. I know that He has given me these abilities for a reason and I don’t want to waste them. Though this idea was given to me and my Dad, it wouldn’t have been possible if God didn’t bring the incredible cast/crew to the team. We were so blessed to have the best volunteers on the planet. I was also fortunate to work with some of the most talented people in the country. The film looks and sounds as good as it does because of the incredible talent that surrounded me on this project.
The War Within
Starring: Brett Varvel, Rebecca Reid, Gary Varvel, Daron Day, Drew Varvel, Terry Varvel, Bruce Crum, Ellen Henry, Reggie McGuire
Written By: Gary Varvel, Brett Varvel
Executive Producer: Tim Boling
Co-Producers: Angela Graham, Mindy Buck, Christina Varvel
Music By: Van Lawson
Director of Photography: Steve Brenneman
Directed By: Brett Varvel
Visit the film’s website www.thewarwithinmovie.com