#But God

 

 

Jeremy and Emily Freeman had lived through one tragic loss after another. His wife’s mother had passed along with Emily’s brother. Then Emily’s sister had Toby, who would pass away as tinyinfant.  Now, within weeks, their youngest son Trey, had gone through the autoimmune disease that took the lives of their family members all in what seemed to be just a few months. Just when you thought nothing else could happen to #jeremyfreeman, #emilyfreeman, then their two sons, Caleb and Clayton were in a horrible automobile death defying accident.

Have you ever wondered or asked yourself the question, “When does all the bad stuff stop in my life?”  Have you ever questioned your Creator by saying, “Isn’t it enough?”  Jeremy and Emily were flying to the scene of this horrible accident as they were called and told their sons in the rain had spun out of control on I-35 in Norman, Oklahoma and an eighteen wheeler drove them thousands of feet into the pylons.  Nobody could live this kind of impact as their car stood helplessly in a dark night in the rain when the truck did not see them parked at 55 miles per hour.

 

Because of the #butGod, they did not die, but what would take place after this was horrific for any family.  The oldest son Caleb had stopped breathing, and his head was found resting on the front grid of that huge truck at sixteen years of age.  Caleb was thrown into the back seat with lacerations and had blacked out.  
Remarkably, an MMA fighter Brad Frakes, had just driven past the collision slowly on this rainy December night and something said to his heart, “Stop, you need to go back.”.  Reluctantly, he pulled over, parked, and ran from his car on to the scene of the horrible accident.  #bradfrakes looked into the truck and saw Caleb was slumped over and not moving and this event began what would be a life-altering sequence of events for the family, for friends and even Brad.  

#pastorJeremyFreeman, #FBCNewcastle and Newcastle High school was going to show up at the OU Medical Center just to see if Caleb was going to make it out alive.  #NEWS4, #ABCNEWS5 in Oklahoma City and #CBSNEWS9 began covering the story.  #AliMeyer the anchor at NEWS4 showed a keen interest in the story.

As a result, a feature documentary movie #butGod was made of this miraculous story, and you will not want to miss a minute of what happened.  It began a #butGodmovement that has continued since 2017.  I was called to direct a picture that would impact my life like #BeyondTheGatesOfSplendor did with END OF THE SPEAR.  

This is an emotionally packed miracle story and without God, you cannot survive any crash like this one.  Laying lifeless, with tubes in Caleb, the journey was about to begin and this is where Caleb first came into my life.

As a film director, it is always fascinating how stories find us.  Many years ago I kept trying to find stories that went beyond imagination, but in recent years there has been a turn in how we find treasures to move from the Holy Spirit.  I’ve never really been much of a fan of Christian films due to the lack of quality and because of spiritual immaturity.

When I received a call late one night from Pastor John Dickey, Hillcrest Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, I was introduced to Pastor Jeremy Freeman of First Baptist Newcastle and his family was on the call.  Caleb had gone from Oklahoma City, transferred to rehab to the famous clinic in Denver and was now in Omaha.  

They had watched a film where in 2015 Larry Jones had interviewed me about my stroke and how I was miraculously healed.  The film had gone viral to over 300,000 and I believe they were indeed led to watch what happened.

They wanted me to pray for Caleb.

From this moment on, I was swept into a story that we didn’t have any idea how the movie would even end.  Defying all odds, there was one miracle after another that took place and you have to watch this compelling story to actually see the miracles in real time. 

News stations came and interviewed me about how I got involved as a filmmaker and I simply said, “It’s all about the two words Pastor Jeremy used when asked about his family’s condition and how Caleb as doing. He simply shared, BUT GOD, and these wo words had already began a movement of prayer like I had never seen before among teens.”

What happens next went so viral, but even more importantly began changing the lives of young people.  In other faiths from around the world, there is no activity for healing through the precious blood of Jesus.  In fact, while we respect every faith, for those who believe in Jesus, your story, your life can truly change.

If you would like to know more about how this transformation can happen in your life, you can go to several websites. First you can check out our non-profit ministry, give to help support Caleb at veritasmissionfilms.com.
Jeremy Freeman and Caleb Freeman share a dynamic ministry of evangelism where they speak everywhere sharing this amazing #butGod story to thousands and thousands of people from hundreds of churches.  They are seeing thousands come to know Jesus as their Savior and there is nothing like this happening in youth to this size.

Our entire film team was inspired by this story and how it can impact other people today.  Our faith will be on the line, but as Caleb’s grandfather shares, “A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted”.  Ken Freeman truly has been another anchor in this family’s beliefs for years.  

FINAL WORDS OF WWII

Lorretta Segars was an incredible elementary teacher who grew up in the wake of Sand Mountain, Alabama.  Her father, Fred Camp was a purple-heart veteran during World War II and he met her mother in Tuscany while on leave in Tuscany Italy.  

Inspired by their amazing love, she wrote a book entitled, Sand in Tuscany chronicling history, their unique love, and much more. #sandintuscany is embraced by the United States Military and veteran families as a “boots on the ground” story of love and war.  

FINAL WORDS OF WWII set out on a mission with Jimmy Segars, Lorretta’s husband and their son, Michael Kirk Segars. This group of Executive Producers took a great risk, to fund a feature documentary and sent our film team to Italy, where the young couple fell in love in the middle of a horrible war.

A screenplay has been written entitled, WAR BRIDE completely inspired by this amazing family and their dedication to God, country, and lifelong service.  Jimmy Segars was a purple-heart veteran who served in Viet Nam for his country.  Their bravery, commitment to those who serve in the military is highly admired.

Heroes began to emerge in furthering journalistically investigating the 88th, Blue Devils with the 313th Combat Division during the military theater in Italy through everything.  What was most amazing was finding the last two military veterans alive, who wanted to share the story they lived. Leading the interviews was purple heart veteran Fred Camp in his mid-nineties, just like the final men still alive.

Sam Studstill was the second purple-heart veteran from Georgia who served in the same divisionshared his dramatic journey of being drafted at the age of eighteen into the first “all draftee division” in World War II.  Sam was another hero from the war whose humility is a symbol of the “greatest generation”. The special draftee division was never expected to do well, but this group rose to the call to duty in a way heroes do. #Bluedevils command are now the 88thReadiness Division and contribute invaluable foundation from their historian.

Tom Story was the third purple-heart veteran from Virginia the last hero the film team located.  He and his wife provided an invaluable story of the perils of war and what it was like to not only live through one horrible fire fight after another.  Tom would arrive home from battle and never discuss anything.  CNN and many other leading groups tried to do an interview, but he refused to share anything, until two of his comrades in arms came forward. He so respected his band of brothers; he was honored to share his story too.

These became the final words for all three men whose memorial services were filled by churches who loved them.  These were men who did not want to talk about what they did, but rather talk about their fallen soldiers who stood alongside of them.  In an emotional re-telling of the front lines, these brave men were moved to tears.

Loretta Segars had reached out to Chuck Norris to consider if he would consider their story in film. #ChuckNorris referred them to our team knowing we had completed documentaries over the past many years.  We spoke and discussed how Mr. Norris had placed his brand on #LastOunceOfCourage and we placed her book, Sand In Tuscany into adjudication.  This was one of the highest rated books in over 300 submissions to our film company.

She was such a powerful woman and her thousands of hours researching her father and mother’s life began the journey for the feature documentary.  As a grammar specialist, she had a way with words.  Her family was completely emersed in a local Baptist church in Alabama, where Fred, her father had served as a deacon.

St Francis of Assisi always said, “Preach, and if you have to, use words.”  This was the Camp family’s legacy.  His wife could not even speak a word of English, but she married this soldier and the journey in this documentary will span almost seventy years.  When their mother passed, Lorretta decided to write and tell their story.

After we premiered the film, Fred passed away and he was so happy how everything was completed telling the story of their love from his daughter’s heart.  Later, Lorretta too would pass away as #OceaniaStudios began meetings in Los Angeles to place WAR BRIDE.  The great part was that Loretta and Jimmy got to attend film festivals where they were honored and won.  

To date, FINAL WORDS OF WWII is the most highly acclaimed film Oceania Studios and Veritas Mission Film Association has ever produced.  There is footage from journalists embedded from the government where some film footage has never been seen or experienced. The cooperation of the United States Military and the 88th Readiness Division helped make this film possible.

When you leave a legacy, you want to have an exclamation point and the FINAL WORDS of WWII is only beginning.  With the families whose relatives served in WWII, Oceania is creating a series in the major military theaters. This award-winning film has birthed its own legcy to be an in-depth look at the “boots on the ground”, the “at sea”, and “In the air” men and women whose lives will never be forgotten.  

If you have a family member that has ever served on a foreign front, this film is for you. It’s content connects to the heart of those who are called by “Distant Drums”.  Women served alongside of the men and what happened to the United States Armed Services displays the remarkable sacrifice of some of our last great heroes.

JOY IN THE MORNING

When you stop to consider how many hours all of us have left, it’s not many.  We all consider how precious time is, but Jenni Kufahl understood the importance of the minutes.  She was diagnosed with cancer as a young mother with a hard-working husband, coach and seven amazing children.

During this time, she is going to face the victories and the defeats of this horrible disease. She will be engaged with per children and husband, minister to her siblings and parents and beat cancer, then have it come back in a way that would change everything.

Thanks to a special commitment made by her mother as one of her last wishes, Deani chose to carry the banner for Jenni’s story.  She and her husband, John Merrell executive produced the inspiring film documentary JOY IN THE MORNING.  But this would only be the beginning leading into a book of a family touched by the Heavenly Father. Deani would not rest until all of this was completed in His time.

Jenni’s loving parent narrate her story in an amazing journey covering the last two years of her life.  Her brothers and sister’s inspiring words of hope bring a family to their knees filled with hope as their relationship to the Christ helps them cope during the worst of times.

Most impressive are the heartfelt words of Heath and their children as they reflect on a selfless wife and loyal mother who changed all their lives.  What makes this story different from all the families who go to war against any form of cancer?  Everyone copes differently, works to create hope, and focuses on bringing comfort where it is needed most.

Jenni’s story is different because of a deep-seated resolve toward life and eternity.  She decided to move into a world, where moments mattered. Literally, when she was close to her life being over, a sense of urgency prompted her to even share with the medical team, the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. Her relentless passion toward sharing the gospel filled with courage and gallantry in the face of life being over.

Taking a leap off a diving board takes faith, but Jenni took a bungee jump off the bridge of eternity and embraced the fears, spread her arms into her lasting destiny. She did this with such beauty, elegance and grace, the world around her stopped.  We have not been the same since her life and like Paul, she broke the chains of life into a loving God’s arms.

As the filmmaking team led by Heather Olive, my lifelong friend and first-time directorial debut, she was able to capture the essence of this story. Heather understood the family, was a co-teacher with Heath at Christian Heritage Academy and had become a close friend with Jenni.  She knew the pain, her family’s closeness and drove all of us closer to the heart of God in the process.

An exciting book is being written that further extends to tell the story and Deani is responsible for this deeper dive into JOY IN THE MORNING.  When Deani asked me to step in as a writer, we needed a larger team.  Award winning musician and producer, Stephanie Musser spent four months with her providing the footprint for the book. Then, as I began writing the book, my own father passed away unexpectedly from leukemia.

Dealing with grief is hard enough, but when you see the authenticity of this family, the power of losing someone, shut me down.  For several months, I had trouble even writing about loss.  This is when I personally began to uncover the reality this entire family had dealt with for so long.

Considering the children, their age at the time when their mother transitioned and how young they were, only God could have provided for Heath and his family in this way. No matter how young or how old you are, Johnny Merrell a pastor in Tulsa and one of Jenni’s brothers said, “Hope hurts” and these words bury into our soul.

Jeff Moore worked alongside of Heather and I on the editing as we carefully placed these hours of interviews into the award-winning documentary film. What an amazing team of experts, an amazing family and experience is now available to purchase.

Count the hours and you will see there is not much time left.  What are you doing with the moments?  How are you making time for your whole family?  Have you allowed any conflict or separation to invade and destroy your family dynamics?  Do you have unresolved situations or are you serving God in unity.

Treasure your time, make it matter and learn from the author and perfecter of our faith through the eyes of an ordinary woman, who lives extraordinary in the face against death.  If Jenni could speak to you today, this story will reflect her convictions which are worth following because they teach us about how we can have joy, inside of our own mournings.

FILMMAKERS ROUNDTABLE

After the patriotic film release of LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE opened in 1400 screens with the endorsement of film legend Chuck Norris placing his “brand” on our film, the film company was inundated with requests from all over the world.   Writers Guild of America (WGA) screenwriters prepared their stories for the production company. 

The influence of the film starring Marshall Teague brought in content and having Mr. Norris and his brand placed in the movie worked.  These new creative submissions inspired the leadership to develop the “Filmmakers Roundtable”, which was needed providing an important filter for greenlighting the picture.  There would be many strategic advantages into a formidable process of review, analysis, adjudication, and a list of positive critique providing a basis to improve every story.

Content creators needed feedback to enhance their own creative journeys.  So collecting the skills from veteran filmmakers, a proprietary diagnostic platform and review team was assembled.  Next, the “table” would have refined creative boundaries and parameters upon a judging filter custom made for Oceania.  Engaging professionals in women, men, minorities and educated veterans, the organization was recruited and assembled.

Dr. McAfee serves as Chairman of the Board for Maisha and he works with Beatrice Williams from Kenya where they currently feed over 2500 children today from the slums around her childhood village.
Kevin and Lynn McAfee are working closely to create the MAISHA BEA story of how a refugee from Kenya survived and fled the nation of Kenya only to return with a purpose in helping others that has fed over two and one half million children. This new documentary film came through the Filmmakers Roundtable.
Wendy, Joe and their daughter India Holden all three share in the SUPERNATURAL STORY OF FREDRICK FULLER down in Shreveport, Louisiana. This award winning documentary was birthed from the Filmmakers Roundtable and is in film festivals in 2024-2025.

Being on the founding board of starting the film school for graduate students at Lipscomb University which has grown rapidly, was synchronizing higher education with credentials and training.  Gifted writers, directors, producers along with actors were looking for tangible evaluations of their intellectual properties and it helped to launch the “table”.

Hundreds of cinematic reviews have since followed this content course from professional adjudication via directors, film festival coordinators and union executives.

Today, the “table” serves as the “green light” filter for Oceania Studios. Plus there are several mini-major studios regarding this analysis.  With the combination of data analytics and proprietary models of review, the “table” has worked for not only content creators, but distribution studios in Hollywood, New York and beyond

Additionally, training is the key to help each and every artist grow. Partnerships with the “table” include excellent schools for actors/artists in the field of cinema with the Nashville Studio of Acting led by Tina Gallo. Organizations like these are part of the “table” and assets to enhance the entity.  

Oceania Studios continues to be a growing virtual company located in Columbia, Tennessee with meetings held at Worldwide Stages in Springhill, Tennessee. 

Pastor Johnny Merrell, John and Deani Merrell with the movie poster from JOY IN THE MORNING were honored at the Will Rogers Film Festival in Claremore, Oklahoma.

If there is an interest in having this method of services performed by the “table”, please contact lynn@oceaniastudios.com. As a direct result of this organization’s excellent work, there are six award winning films now currently being sold today online in the new ecommerce site for the OCEAN.CLUB.  www.filmmakersroundtable.com

MARSHALL TEAGUE – LONE SHARK IN THE WATER

When our team of writers began on the new action script TACTICAL BADGER, we faced many challenges.  Marshall Teague had a vision for where this film and Terri Campbell Bell had put an outline together for the team that was unique.  With Chuck “Carlos” Norris and Marshall in lead roles for the first time as black operative partners everything was set.  A suspense-based  screenplay needed to be a crowning film that would honor the legend and include two powerful sequels.

As actors, Marshall and I both knew the acting assets we would have in our creative arsenal, the legendary approach with Chuck Norris and building on the strengths of the pre-cast in our writing.  Fortunately, directing Marshall in Colorado for LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE, I had seen the breadth and scope of his acting and action abilities and knew the chemistry and line construction would morph into a new creative style.

Pacing in the dialogue was created with a Teague McAfee creative approach to filmmaking.  Speed, depth, character arcs and turns were integrated into the mix.  In using the visual language, we did not want to “say it” as much as “show the story as we both agreed regarding a new international structure and since Mr. Norris was a six-time world karate champion, the film would begin in Tokyo. 

Often screenwriters overwrite and there is no opportunity for spontaneity and improvisational excellence.  Therefore, the dialogue needed to diminish, to be more authentic.  When you have actors who have worked at the highest level, it opens windows or precision writing to their strengths.

When I became involved with the script, was at Marshall’s invitation. Our experiences together would herald a different approach and the assets we had from Terri gave us a footprint upon which the painting on our canvas could take more shape.  My first creative thoughts were to make the screenplay global. More layers of the villain coming from another world would enhance the suspense.  Since the martial arts in Karate came from the East, we chose Japan and China for our villains backgrounds using the Mafia for the darkness.

Never in history has the “Dark Web” and technology, artificial intelligence and corruption been more in the forefront. In war, crime and the invasion of privacy ruled the modern age in a clear darkness.  TACTICAL BADGER, BADGER II and BADGERS III, will take this elite group of operatives into what eventually will be a world crisis.  Foreshadowing the thermos-nuclear wars that will eventually be part of attacks on democracy.

For this reason, Marshall chose the badger from his experience in hunting, describing this small rodent as one of the most ferocious animals in the wild kingdom.  For such a small creature to literally have the sheer strength and power they possess to eat through a moose or a bear, places them as a deadly threat to the largest predators.

Special thanks to lessons Mr. Norris had learned when working with acting legend Steve McQueen, who told him, “Save your dialogue for the hero lines.”  This character profile maintains a pivotal role for any commander of special forces and Norris is in an elite group of action stars.  Marshall as the co-captain truly brings a brevity to the duo and is equally deadly in martial arts, weaponry and all areas with ballistics.   

The BADGER trilogy has taken years to develop and it’s exciting to finally bring the talents of Dakota Norris, Aaron Norris, with Dad and brother Chuck Norris and a team of action professionals inside the special ingredients for success.  This mixture promises to be an exciting popcorn set of movies for generations to come.  We didn’t want to telegraph the scripts with too much foreshadowing, but Terri laid a basis.  After bringing AI into plotlines including the “dark web” we have brought to technology to keep audiences in theaters on their seats.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Norris sent us a great endorsement of his enthusiasm and excitement for this picture.  He and his wife were coming from their home in Hawaii and our team at Oceania was thrilled.  Co-Executive Producer Lindy Teague also has weighed in on her creative thoughts throughout the final writing phase of the BADGERS which is a refreshing perspective from the female hunter’s view.

Since Marshall and I met, we’d talked about a project just like this trilogy of films.  When the Teague family contacted me for help, Lindy was encouraging our families to come together and join in on this target. From this, we birthed our new management team of Teague McAfee Productions overseeing the film slate of OCEANIA STUDIOS based in Columbia, just South of Nashville, Tennessee.

Principal Photography will take our team and film stars into Worldwide Stages near Columbia to Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, the Southwest and ending up in Los Angeles.  Our final step is securing our capital partner and Keith Hatanaka is working on this arena along with the wealth manager for Oceania and award-winning Executive Producer, Jag Gholson.  We will be working with our aviation partner coordinating with our actors who will all be treated in the spirit of the golden rule.

When we have the production financing completed, we will begin the critical path scheduling. In the meantime, we are busy working on our strategic partners, product placement, co-production entities and we completed our direct marketing partnership with Innovative Marketing Solutions and longtime friend, Carl Townsend.  One of the technology assets we are finally employing will be the integration of WEB3.  Stay tuned for more updates.

From the Filmmaker’s Roundtable,

 

HONORING THE LEGEND OF CHUCK NORRIS FILMS

When our team of writers began on the new action script TACTICAL BADGER, we faced many challenges.  Marshall Teague had a vision for where this film and Terri Campbell Bell had put an outline together for the team that was unique.  With Chuck “Carlos” Norris and Marshall in lead roles for the first time as black operative partners everything was set.  A suspense-based  screenplay needed to be a crowning film that would honor the legend and include two powerful sequels.

As actors, Marshall and I both knew the acting assets we would have in our creative arsenal, the legendary approach with Chuck Norris and building on the strengths of the pre-cast in our writing.  Fortunately, directing Marshall in Colorado for LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE, I had seen the breadth and scope of his acting and action abilities and knew the chemistry and line construction would morph into a new creative style.

Pacing in the dialogue was created with a Teague McAfee creative approach to filmmaking.  Speed, depth, character arcs and turns were integrated into the mix.  In using the visual language, we did not want to “say it” as much as “show the story as we both agreed regarding a new international structure and since Mr. Norris was a six-time world karate champion, the film would begin in Tokyo. 

Often screenwriters overwrite and there is no opportunity for spontaneity and improvisational excellence.  Therefore, the dialogue needed to diminish, to be more authentic.  When you have actors who have worked at the highest level, it opens windows or precision writing to their strengths.

When I became involved with the script, was at Marshall’s invitation. Our experiences together would herald a different approach and the assets we had from Terri gave us a footprint upon which the painting on our canvas could take more shape.  My first creative thoughts were to make the screenplay global. More layers of the villain coming from another world would enhance the suspense.  Since the martial arts in Karate came from the East, we chose Japan and China for our villains backgrounds using the Mafia for the darkness.

Never in history has the “Dark Web” and technology, artificial intelligence and corruption been more in the forefront. In war, crime and the invasion of privacy ruled the modern age in a clear darkness.  TACTICAL BADGER, BADGER II and BADGERS III, will take this elite group of operatives into what eventually will be a world crisis.  Foreshadowing the thermos-nuclear wars that will eventually be part of attacks on democracy.

For this reason, Marshall chose the badger from his experience in hunting, describing this small rodent as one of the most ferocious animals in the wild kingdom.  For such a small creature to literally have the sheer strength and power they possess to eat through a moose or a bear, places them as a deadly threat to the largest predators.

Special thanks to lessons Mr. Norris had learned when working with acting legend Steve McQueen, who told him, “Save your dialogue for the hero lines.”  This character profile maintains a pivotal role for any commander of special forces and Norris is in an elite group of action stars.  Marshall as the co-captain truly brings a brevity to the duo and is equally deadly in martial arts, weaponry and all areas with ballistics.   

The BADGER trilogy has taken years to develop and it’s exciting to finally bring the talents of Dakota Norris, Aaron Norris, with Dad and brother Chuck Norris and a team of action professionals inside the special ingredients for success.  This mixture promises to be an exciting popcorn set of movies for generations to come.  We didn’t want to telegraph the scripts with too much foreshadowing, but Terri laid a basis.  After bringing AI into plotlines including the “dark web” we have brought to technology to keep audiences in theaters on their seats.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Norris sent us a great endorsement of his enthusiasm and excitement for this picture.  He and his wife were coming from their home in Hawaii and our team at Oceania was thrilled.  Co-Executive Producer Lindy Teague also has weighed in on her creative thoughts throughout the final writing phase of the BADGERS which is a refreshing perspective from the female hunter’s view.

Since Marshall and I met, we’d talked about a project just like this trilogy of films.  When the Teague family contacted me for help, Lindy was encouraging our families to come together and join in on this target. From this, we birthed our new management team of Teague McAfee Productions overseeing the film slate of OCEANIA STUDIOS based in Columbia, just South of Nashville, Tennessee.

Principal Photography will take our team and film stars into Worldwide Stages near Columbia to Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, the Southwest and ending up in Los Angeles.  Our final step is securing our capital partner and Keith Hatanaka is working on this arena along with the wealth manager for Oceania and award-winning Executive Producer, Jag Gholson.  We will be working with our aviation partner coordinating with our actors who will all be treated in the spirit of the golden rule.

When we have the production financing completed, we will begin the critical path scheduling. In the meantime, we are busy working on our strategic partners, product placement, co-production entities and we completed our direct marketing partnership with Innovative Marketing Solutions and longtime friend, Carl Townsend.  One of the technology assets we are finally employing will be the integration of WEB3.  Stay tuned for more updates.

From the Filmmaker’s Roundtable,

 

Kevin McAfee

MARK JOHNSON – COMPOSER

From the filmmaker’s chair, one of the first decisions I make when a story is found relates to my first love, music. I became a music theory and composition major completing my under graduate degree. There was no doubt in mind, music would play a huge role in a tapestry of creative journeys, where each main character would carry a thematic approach, just like we did in BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR (FOX).

In college, I met many amazing musicians at the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma City University and beyond.  These men and women would shape musically who I was, in addition to Tim Miner when we created the Miner McAfee band earlier. Being around great artists like Sherman Andrus, David Gates, Roger Miller and powerful songwriters shaped so many of us.

One of the leading musicians, conductors and personal friends from Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City was composer, musician and performer Mark Johnson.  Mark came up through Putnam City Baptist church as a specialist in everything “music”.  His arrangements, expertise in symphony and grand master of many musical instruments is why he was always at the top of his rung.  He served across the Southwest and worked personally with me on music for Falls Creek Baptist Assembly on the theme song, “Sing The Glory Of Your Name” and was later recruited by Miley Cyrus as he directed the symphony on the Hannah Montana movie.

When we premiered the movie a few years earlier with BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR, he was living in Tennessee, and I invited him to the Franklin Theater where Steven Curtis Chapman and I were debuting our film. Mark expressed a real desire to do more in film with his music and I was hoping the film would inspire him too.  At the time, Mark was head of Symphonic Music for the Southern Baptist Convention. At the premiere, we had many musical artists and friends in the music industry from recording labels with Warner Brothers and EMI, plus the unions sent people from ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and EMI.

These moments reignited a lifelong friendship with Mark.  We stayed in touch because of a film I was asked to direct, LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE where I immediately asked for his assistance, along with Grammy award winning musician, artist and songwriter, Michael Omartian.  Michael produced Christopher Cross’s RIDE LIKE THE WIND and SAILING. He was Amy Grant’s pianists and conducter for the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards for many years. He and Mark worked hand in glove to ensure the soundtrack was amazing.

Then, we connected again when I was in Dallas and I had just begun discussing sharing the story of THE SAMARITAN.  At this point, I asked Mark if he would study everything he could about the nation of Romania since he had personally met Mr. Roush.  From cadence, chordal structures, motifs, popular anthems, and orchestrations in that part of the world.

 

Mark Johnson and Dr. McAfee worked on music beginning at Falls Creek, as both musicians, they co-wrote the theme song after an inspirational experience where they connected both with the story and the theme for THE SAMARITAN.

He immediately began meticulously studying Romania’s music. He wanted to know about their unique style, creative approach to structure, chordal framework in folk music and musical signatures from the gypsies.  Mark invested time, finances, resources for travel and pursued this opportunity and we both believed there was a reason for him being there.

Studying the music from the national anthem in the communist controlled government and more time would be spent was the sign for our team, the Maestro of music listening, study of structure, chordal and contrapuntal elements, which were specific and germane to the success for all the musical objectives would birth original compositions laced in Romanian nuances.

His analysis from the turn of the century up until the late nineteen eighties when the story ended was spectacular where he knew Romanian local and national artists, bought hundreds of songs, dozens of music CD’s in preparing for this monumental task.  He became proficient in areas of understanding all music from that part of the world, but he had a bigger challenge.  As the film’s director, we needed original compositions for the film and stems would be required to have custom designs by the minutes, seconds and even frames.  However, we had not even began the filming yet.

Personally, I have not been writing a lot of music, like I did during my collegiate and artist career. This time was going to be different in creating a new original piece of music. The inspiration came from being really moved by the power of the story, the sacrifice of this lawyer and the faith surrounding it’s ethos.

One evening around midnight when I was living in Texas, a musical idea began to form based on what I knew about the story.  There was no doubt the inspiration of this miraculous story soon would become manifested in this small motif as the theme song entitled, “The Samaritan”.  The melody was sad and forlorn, but it was also hopeful and leaned toward an inspirational feel.

 

When Mark was back in town in Texas, I could not wait to perform this musical idea in the first sixteen bars for a potential theme song.  However, my original idea needed the expertise of a co-writer in Mark who would work to fine tune a beautiful composition for orchestra he had arranged.

What I have learned about music, is that you must create music that people can remember and even sing back to you.  John Williams, the award-winning composer for motion pictures proved this musical position over and over in scoring for his films. From Indiana Jones to Superman, his gift always enchanted me. The dynamic of a memorable melody would have to be mandated for this amazing story.  Mark was the perfect combination who’d take this piece to the nest level.

Maestro Johnson connected with the melody I performed for him on a small electric piano.  He heard its cadence and felt this piece connected to the story.  Because it began as a simple creative journey, I asked him to join me in the journey and as always, he never disappointed. He heard additional elements that accented the simple structure and heard the symphonic approach beautifully. Strings and piano would be the foundation. 

I felt so blessed to be working with such a great composer, musician and friend again on the project.  Everything in our lives had come full circle as classmates in college, to when we wrote music for the choir and orchestra for the kids at Falls Creek Baptist Convention Center in Oklahoma near the Arbuckle Mountains.

What was even more impressive was the precision of Mark defined in originally writing the entire score for THE SAMARITAN. His attention to detail working with the film team was spotless.  He found wonderful orchestral musicians in Oklahoma City for the soundtrack and the hauntingly beautiful original compositions are woven together like a tapestry.

Today, Mark owns Bricktown Films LLC, a film studio in Oklahoma City where he continues to be involved in music, film, composing, arranging, and writing.  His instincts even in his own girls are extended in their talents and skills.  You will also see Mark Johnson continuing to teach on all levels as he has been a professor at OBU, at a private charter school and in public education at every level.

 

THE SAMARITAN

In the early nineties in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Bill Anderson, the leader of the CBA with Matt Seward and I first heard the story of the famous defection of Paul Firica.  The lawyer from Texas who risked his life to help him reunite with his family and defect was writing a book about one of the most dramatic stories taking place during the Romanian revolution.

Almost two decades later, our film team traveled to Texas meeting with Edward Roush, in one of the most dramatic retellings of the story that went around the world. Soon, this film would take our film team around the world.

The cinematic journey followed the travelers of Mr. Roush to find Paul Firica’s family who still lived in Romania. Espionage and trickery through the dangers were encountered by the Dallas lawyer.  Having worked some of the largest cases in history, Mr. Roush would risk his life to connect with Paul’s family after he defected.

In the Good Book, there is a story written about a Samaritan and what he did to help a person who was in need.  This was  to all the mythical question asks all of us, “How far would you go to help a stranger?”

Feeling prompted to delve further into the story, the film team traveled to the nation’s capital where we would meet with two United States Congressman, Christopher Smith from New Jersey, formerly serving in Virginia, Frank Wolfe and Mike Hall from Ohio. 

In Congress, these three brave political leaders from the Democrat and Republican party were the bi-partisan delegates who dared to stand up against the communist government for the evil dictator’s persecution to Christians.

This story would lead us to the House of Lords in England filming into the chambers of the Jubilee Room meeting Lord David Alton from Liverpool.  Mr. Roush had identified Lord Alton as a champion for persecuted rights from the British Parliament and flew with him to Nepal visiting persecuted Christians as a prelude for his dangerous mission to Bucharest.   Traveling into a communist nation was a prelude of peril following his controversial life.

Carrying this story of Paul’s defection from the Houston harbor when Paul jumped ship, ended up on the desk of President Ronald Reagan when it was then passed down to Lt. Colonel Oliver North.  This patriot contributed to this amazing story that rivals the BRIDGE OF SPIES. One of the most awarded film festival wins globally, this film now is a mere prelude to what is going on in the Ukraine. 

Director
Kevin McAfee