Letter to a Priest is a short film inspired by Lettre à un Religieux, a book by French philosopher Simone Weil.
A university student who takes Simone Weil as the model for her life comes into conflict with her former boyfriend when she finds out that he is planning to marry his new fiancee in the Catholic Church.
A university student who, in refusing to be baptized, takes Simone Weil as the model for her life, comes into conflict with her former boyfriend when she finds out that he, a formerly lapsed Catholic, is now planning to get married in the Catholic Church with his new fiancee, an Evangelical now converting to Catholicism.
The Director and Producer, Clayton Richard Long, answers questions about his new film, “Letter to a Priest”:
1. How would you describe the tone of your film?
Setting the tone is one of the most important aspects of making any film. Although we have elements of humor, we held a dramatic tone with inner tension throughout. Our cinematographer, Mitch Fraser, did a perfect job of capturing the tone visually.
2. What kind of feeling are you trying to evoke from your audience?
I wanted to get the audience to think, “How would God see me and my life? Am I living up to my potential?” Deep inside each one of us, God is constantly working. Sometimes we don’t recognize it; but that’s what I wanted to show.
3. How did you come up with the idea of intertwining Simone Weil’s book with the plot line?
Simone Weil’s book represents the way many non-practicing Catholics see the Church. They see it as just an organization with rules.
4. What were your favourite parts of being involved in this project?
The whole creative process was amazing. But watching the characters in the story develop over seven months of filmmaking was the most exciting.
5. Is there anything that you wish you could have added?
There is no perfect film. Filmmakers will always think in hindsight that they could have done something differently. Our crew was only three people. And we had zero budget. I am very proud of what the crew was able to do with the resources we had available.
6. The writer mentioned that you had some “creative ideas” about where to film the story. Could you provide a favourite example? Of course, with discretion, so as to avoid spoilers.
Father Ashley of Saints Joachim and Ann Parish in Aldergrove offered the use of his Church, which features heavily in the film. I was at the parish last year when His Grace Archbishop Miller gave a sermon on the Ghent Altarpiece. I knew right away that this was the perfect location.
7. Why should Catholics be encouraged to watch this movie?
I think all Catholics can relate to the characters in this film. We are all sinners; and yet, God never gives up on us. The door to His heart is always open.
8. Do you think that you’ve produced a movie that possesses the ability to “save” people?
As Catholics, we know that being saved is not a one-time event. It is a process. That being said, I believe the film has the power to make an impact. It encourages each and every one of its viewers to ask themselves, “Am I living out the faith to the best of my abilities? Can people see Christ working through me?”
The writer, C.S. Morrissey, answers questions about “Letter to a Priest”:
1. What other creative works have you been involved in other than “Letter to a Priest”?
My book of poetry, Hesiod: Theogony / Works and Days, was published last year by Talonbooks. I also work as a script consultant for the local film and television industry.
2. According to the Facebook page, the film was screened at World Youth Day 2013. What are your personal thoughts on this?
It’s the perfect venue, because the film invites people to think about the Catholic faith. Its story is about the meaning of Church teaching on marriage, baptism, and adoration.
4. In the press release, it was mentioned there were challenges in making an “engaging, thought-provoking” film given the short running time. What were some of the challenges for you in the writing process?
The director had creative ideas about where to film the story. So I had to write the script to fit the interesting locations that he had in mind. Our collaboration was a lot of fun.
5. Does the film reflect scenarios you’ve witnessed in your own life?
The film is about scenarios that affect everybody’s life. That’s what’s so great about it. It focuses on the meaning of marriage, baptism, and Eucharistic adoration.
6. How did you build your characters?
I purposely made them uncomfortably familiar. I wanted the story to hit close to home.
7. What kind of audience is this film targeted at?
This is the perfect film for people who like to talk about movies after they watch them. Because the film is packed full of ideas, it will open up the floodgates of conversation.
8. What hopes do you have for the impact of the film?
People will be able to show the film as a social event. To encourage this, we have a study guide and group discussion questions. I want people to get together with friends and to talk in a candid way about the meaning of life.
9. I understand that many of the locations where the film was captured were quite local. Where were some of these locations?
It was shot all over the place at Trinity Western University. Also, the most important scenes in the script were shot at Saints Joachim and Ann Catholic Church in Aldergrove.
- The trailer for the film is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqPCXbcnQJI
- Follow “Letter to a Priest” on Facebook: https://facebook.com/LetterToAPriest
- Film Study Guide and Group Discussion Questions: http://morec.com/simone