As many Christian films are created with a low budget and for and with God, the new film, Standing Firm, is a powerful story of faith, prayer, and forgiveness. This is an inspiring film in so many ways from the storyline to the filmmaking. The filmmaker, Kyle Prohaska, is a young Christian filmmaker who co-wrote, filmed, and produced this film from nothing and it was through the power of God that the film is even available through DVD for viewing. Prohaska sat down with us for an exclusive interview to discuss his first feature-length film and low-budget Christian filmmaking. As the tagline suggests, this film is about one family, one tragedy, and God’s purpose.
Daniel: Introduce yourself to our readers–your faith background, where you grew up, job, career, family.
Kyle Prohaska: My name is Kyle Prohaska and I’m a 22 year-old filmmaker from Ransomville, NY. It’s a really small town of less than 1200 north of the Buffalo/Niagara area. I grew up in a small non-denominational Bible church just a short drive away from my home. When it comes to my faith, I had always subscribed to the Christian side of things, but it wasn’t a reality in my life until God transformed my heart at an event in 2005. Before that it was just lip service or a show, but after that it became something real. I’m Blessed in this day and age to have grown up with both my parents in the home. Both of my parents have had a strong work ethic for as long as I remember and I can see how God used them to implant some qualities of theirs into me early. When I look back at where I grew up, who I was around, the kind of parents I had, etc. all I see is the hand of God and grace.
Daniel: How did you get started with the film Standing Firm?
Kyle Prohaska: I had been working on staff at my church for a little over a year as Director of Media Production. This was a great opportunity to have for me as I was only 18 at the time and thrilled to be involved in a ministry full-time. I had dropped out of college (was going for engineering) because I just didn’t feel I had made the proper decision. Filmmaking was always on the radar but because of a lack of opportunities where I live in that area or funds to give it a shot, I had put it on the back burner and decided to use my gifts and talents in the film arena at my church instead. God was Blessing that on a weekly basis but one day an elder of my church walked into my office with Flywheel and Facing The Giants, and everything changed from that moment on. I had always thought I could maybe do a film on a small scale with limited budget, but after watching those films, God really gave me a kick up the backside to show me just how possible this was. There in my hand were two practical examples, and right then I knew it would be possible. The rest is history.
Daniel: What was the process for creating the film, Standing Firm, from idea to distribution?
Kyle Prohaska: Well from the get go I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of things some filmmakers might have. I had also never made a film before and although I was confident with a camera, editing footage, color-correction, graphics, web, etc. I knew it wasn’t going to mean a hill of beans when it came to making something feature-length. This project was going to stretch me in more ways than one, but I knew trusting God was going to be key. Kevin and I wrote the script over about a years time and immediately I began researching the equipment and things we would need to make it happen. Scraping the money together was a challenge but not too long after the idea struck did we really dive in to get things moving.
Daniel: How did Praise Pictures begin?
Kyle Prohaska: When the reality of making a movie came into being, a company needed to be started. I wanted something catchy and something easy to remember. I can’t remember how the name was chosen, but I think we just made a list of different names with “pictures” or “studios” next to it that had a Christian flavor, and this one just seem to fit. From the very start I had always hoped that the company would branch out and do other things as well (which has now happened) and become a driving force in the Christian filmmaking arena if possible. God knew what he was doing, and I’m thankful everyday for his hand on this company and what it sets out to accomplish.
Daniel: What are some of the challenges of producing and distributing a movie with Christian themes?
Kyle Prohaska: I would say one of the major challenges is distribution. It’s a hard market out there, and finding a way to get your movie on the shelf is a challenge. Almost everyone in town turned down the film, and only at the very last minute did we finally find someone who was willing to take the film to stores, but again God knew what he was doing and that deal ended up being very good for us. Unfortunately there’s been a boom in Christian filmmaking since Facing The Giants came along. Countless people have dove into this arena and have tried their hand at it. This is a good thing don’t get me wrong, but the market is beginning to crowd quickly, and the competition more stiff. Also, buyers in the Christian market are very touchy on what they support (and rightfully so!), but it can make it tough for some people who aren’t aware of these things to make a film and try and get support. Luckily I had studied these things as much as possible beforehand and really tried to make something that would be family friendly and universally supportive. Christian themes or not, making a film is never easy and selling it is even harder.
Daniel: What are some of the joys and successes of producing and distributing a movie with Christian themes?
Kyle Prohaska: The greatest joy is seeing God use the film in the lives of people. Getting emails or messages from folks who are impacted by the movie trumps any recognition or pats on the back I might receive. I also need to remember to cheer on my team and those who without giving of themselves freely (most of this film was volunteers don’t forget) then the movie wouldn’t exist. God is using the film for His Glory and for that I’m thankful.
Daniel: What messages did you want to send with this film, Standing Firm?
Kyle Prohaska: Suffering is an issue gravely misunderstood in the church and by the world. It’s the justification for so many attacks against God and his existence or holiness. I think overall the message we wanted to communicate was God’s sovereignty in this world. God should be the one we turn to in our suffering, because only he will give the kind of comfort we need and look for. I don’t believe in chance or coincidence, and the more I read the Bible the less I see it present. God’s hand is over all things. There’s no “oops” with him and no surprises. We need to a be a Romans 8:28 church, a church that believes God is who he says he is, and does what he says he will do.
Daniel: How had the film, Standing Firm, been received by audiences?
Kyle Prohaska: I was nervous like anybody else would be. Just as a man I know I’m fallible, and the film no doubt had it’s issues. Even if most people don’t see some of them, I cringe at every one. But, again God calmed my nerves when it finally released because the response has been very positive. Viewers take hold of the story and characters and relate to it on a level I had hoped for. Almost everyone who sees it sees themselves in one character or another, which was a goal early on. I wanted this film to be real and relatable so it could impact many, not just one age group or gender. Praise God for his faithfulness!
Daniel: How can Catholic/Christian families support this film and others like it?
Kyle Prohaska: Buying it is the greatest way to support us. I hope that doesn’t sound too “televangelist” if you catch my drift! It’s a simple fact of life; we do need people to buy the film. If we want to see more Christian movies, we need to support the ones out there. We spend money on so many things that are useless and wasteful. I buy lots of Christian movies whenever I’m able, because I know there’s a ton of other guys out there like me who’re trying to do this for real, and need all the support they can get. Help us out if you feel led.
Daniel: Who inspired you to complete this film, Standing Firm?
Kyle Prohaska: As I had mentioned before Sherwood Pictures was the main inspiration, like they are for so many others. I just saw a handful of God-fearing and driven individuals who sought the face of the Lord in everything, and became useful for the Kingdom. That above all is our goal isn’t it? It doesn’t have to be with filmmaking it can be anything. I’m thankful for the inspiration God brought through that church and their endeavors.
Daniel: What advice can you give to others looking to produce films for the Lord with Christian themes?
Kyle Prohaska: Seek the Lord, not what you want. It’s easy to see others making Christian movies and go “Oh! That looks like a great thing to be doing!” Rest assured it’s fun, but that isn’t the goal here. Far too many in life see the work of others and think if they could just do things that way or go do what they’re doing, they’ll be useful for the Kingdom of God. Again, what are you going to do for God? Your very life is in his hands, so what is it you’re going to go out and do for him? Be sure that this is something God has called you to, because it’s easy to fool yourself. Seek to write the stories he wants you to produce, not what you think would be cool or effective from a marketing standpoint. Is the Gospel in your film? Is Christ present or hidden behind some sort of mask? Is the truth presented biblically? God is the greatest storyteller there ever was, trust Him not Hollywood to help make your filmmaking effective. Also, filmmaking is no picnic all the time, and will take it’s toll on you. Count the cost, and keep your walk with the Lord strong, or you’ll fail…miserably.
Daniel: What are your plans for the future?
Kyle Prohaska: Well I would like to do another film, but we’ll see what God has in store. 2011 seems like it’ll be a building year for the company as I seek out what God might have me do. One major lesson learned the past few years just in my own life is to seek the Lord on everything, and forget about what I want. I can’t take my next breath without his Grace, so how pompous is it of me to assume I’m going to “do something” for Him? What does God need from me? Absolutely nothing, I’m privileged just to take part in what he has set forth. I go at my future that way from now on, and God appears to be Blessing that effort.
Daniel: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers.
Kyle Prohaska: I just want to thank anybody who supports us or plans to after reading this. Also thanks to CatholicMom.com for this interview! We don’t have marketing money to throw around so to get these kinds of interviews and press is an incredible Blessing. Getting the film out to the masses has taken a lot of work and we’re barely even scratched the surface. I hope in 2011 that more and more find this little film from Western New York, and share it with their family and friends.
Also if you have a Facebook, please become a fan of the film at http://www.facebook.com/standingfirm. Be sure to visit the Share tab on the page as well), and if you have a church that might be willing to show the film, we have screening kits available on our website at http://www.praisepictures.com. You can get a license to show the film for a year, and even charge for admission if you wish to use it as a fundraiser! Many churches have taken advantage and many lives have been impacted for Christ!
Daniel Smrokowski is a December 2012 graduate from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. He is the Founder and Executive Director of SpecialChronicles.com, and the podcaster and blogger for the Special Chronicles and the RUInspired podcasts. He is a young journalist who was the recipient of the 2012 Matthew Freeman Award for Social Justice for his continuing efforts via media and reporting to give people with disabilities a voice. Through his work as a Podcaster, Blogger, Journalist, Public Speaker, Multimedia specialist, radio show host, and Award Winning Special Olympian, he enjoys spreading the message to respect others, like himself, who were diagnosed with the "disability" label.