I was raised by parents, and in particular my father, to love Jesus and movies. As you can see in the photo I was a particularly ugly baby so it helped that a passion for both was instilled in me at a young age. ☺️
When I graduated from high school 28 years ago, yes that long ago, I was getting ready to go into film school. I began contemplating what kind of movies I wanted to make and in particular what kind of effect I wanted to have on the viewer. I first had the idea of the term "Red Braille" in response to the seemingly impossible task of explaining the color red to someone who could not see at all. I was always frustrated that, in my opinion, Christians would always just repeat the same phrases in the same way to those who could not possibly understand the vibrance of His amazing grace. Ultimately, I believed that we would need to get a lot more creative when it came to reaching new people for Jesus. We'd need to figure out how to communicate the word RED in BRAILLE.
So I started on my journey from film school to my first feature film named Reynard the Fox when I was 21 years old. I shot it on film and it was my first attempt at trying to explain a part of my faith through unconventional storytelling.
It ultimately went to multiple film festivals and led to some very important relationships that started my independent film career. But, was it successful in describing by beliefs in story form? Did I showcase His color to those who can not even fathom it? The short answer is no; I was too young to understand a bigger picture and how to effectively tell a story worth telling to those in need of what I believed was missing in their lives.
So my new wife Sarah and I moved up to the Pacific NW. These years in Portland were overwhelmingly difficult, in hindsight. She and I were not on the same page. Once I found my place in the film world of Portland, I was overtaken by the allure of being someone important. I drank too much and was quite honestly mean spirited to my peers at times. I made incredible life long friends, but at the cost of my underdeveloped relationship with the woman I fell in love with as a teenager. We were in the real world and I too lost my sense of color; I could no longer see, nor even fathom, the color RED. We were living in the way of the world and BRAILLE became our primary form of communication. It was the end of our path together; or so we thought.
When all was seemingly lost, and with our first child on the way, we were out of options moving forward together. As much as we both tried to force our own wills to bend the narrative of our story, it seemed as though God had led to that moment as a new starting point. All that we had built without Him was in rubbles around us and we had a choice to make. Start building a new life intertwined in the color of His love or go our separate ways and potentially embrace a story continuing being told in BRAILLE.
Our son, Fuller, was born in the rubble of what we had built. We were reformed and healed in the RED words of the bible; reconnecting with the faith that had been so important to us earlier in our lives. We walked away from all of the negativity that we'd surrounded ourselves with. We moved a couple hours out of the town we had self destructed in... and began rebuilding our lives. A couple years later, our daughter Faye was born into our new world; one that was focused by His love.
My wife, Sarah, was a third grade teacher and had a student in her class that would unknowingly form the next decade of our lives. I was still building my filmmaking career and making bigger budget movies as well as getting more attention for my work.
I was traveling the world with my movies, meeting my filmmaking heroes, and pitching new movie ideas to new partners. Things were moving forward at a fast pace and I was gearing up for some of the biggest projects of my life. I thought for sure that this was the pathway for my life and that it was all being enabled in His name.
At the same time, Sarah had an ex student who had his mother, grandmother, and aunt all die in unrelated events 10 days apart. He had been in and out of foster care throughout his whole life and was thrown back into the system with no hope of coming out of it. We had gotten word that he was in a bad foster care home and we went to the state to see how we could help. It was decided that we would be foster care parents for a year to help get him "family ready". During this time I was still working on developing film projects and getting closer to production on my biggest budget movie up until that point.
When the year was up, we were told by the state that He was considered unadoptable because of his disabilities and that we could continue to foster him until he turned 18. We talked with the kids and decided that we could not live with the word unadoptable - so we agreed to adopt him into our family. He had brothers in the area who were a considerable bad influence on him (in and out of prison) and we would run into them at grocery stores, etc. He would always regress when confronted with his past so we decided to move to a place where we could form our family and rely on each other for everything: Las Vegas Nevada.
While in Vegas, Sarah taught in the lowest rated school in the lowest rated district in the country. While it was difficult - she thrived as she began focusing more on Jesus' plan for our lives. I continued to develop film projects but focused on my health and took a moment to assess where we had been and where we were going. In 15 months: I learned how to meditate, how to properly have daily devotionals and prayer, jogged 4 miles a day, and ate only clean proteins and vegetables.
I learned how much pressure I'd put on myself to succeed making movies. I didn't put enough focus on my health and I weighed 275 lbs and was beginning to have health problems. The year in Vegas was a turning point in our lives. As we were gearing up to move to Arizona (Sarah had taken a teaching job at CG School) I had gotten to 190 lbs and was more focused than I'd ever been to follow what God wanted for my life: No matter what it was.
As we moved to Arizona I began to wonder whether God had other plans for my life. In the process of adoption, we came to the conclusion that I needed to be closer to home for longer stints. I couldn't just go shoot a movie for a couple months and be away as our family continued to get up to speed in new ways. I heard from Pastor Tim and CG that they might need to have some help in the audio department at the church. I started to help out at the church and began troubleshooting some different problems with technology at the church. One thing led to another as Jesus focused my heart on serving our community as well as developing new ways to communicate the love of Jesus through content development.
And while many things have happened in the 5 years that we've been here, both good and bad, I've never wondered for a moment whether or not we were living in the RED. Living completely for Him and not deviating. The struggles are on purpose and have led to greater understanding. Our successes are more meaningful because they are bigger than us... they are all meant for His glory.
So when I'm asked, "Why Red Braille?" It means more to me than I can ever truly express. It symbolizes a life led through hardships and back alleys. It led to a greater understanding of those who do not yet know of His amazing grace. I became fluent in BRAILLE and know the darkness in which people live. The great sadness that comes from not knowing the words Jesus said. The RED gives peace to those who read in BRAILLE. I know because I was them and they are me. I live amongst them and want them to find the peace the surpasses all understanding through Him alone.
Some of our content will be focused on you; with teaching and shareable short stories. Other content will reach out to those in need of what we as Christians already have. Everything is and always will be focused on Jesus. Creating teaching and shareable content for those who already know of His love and always creating new ways to communicate the color RED to those who only read in BRAILLE.
Senior Director of Development at Red Braille Studios