Power to Change Films is an arm of Power to Change Ministries that serves the needs of all the different ministries under the Power to Change umbrella, filming promotional videos, testimonies, interviews, and teaching tools. “Fishers of Men” is their first dramatic film, a 5-minute short aimed at encouraging and challenging Christians to evangelism.
The film is below (I recommend viewing it full screen!), followed by an interview with writer and director Jake Bergen about the making of the film.
Daniel Wagner: What was the motivation for doing this film? Where did the idea come from?
Jake Bergen: My dad (Rod Bergen, current Interim President of Power to Change) brought it to me years ago, before we were both working at Power to Change. He heard it as a sermon illustration. I was living in Edmonton at the time and so they were going to church down here and he said, “Hey, the pastor told a great story today!”
He just said, “This is a cool story and it would make a cool short film at some point in time.” And I downloaded the sermon, cut the story out, and kept it for a rainy day.
DW: Then you partnered with The Life Project once you were working here?
JB: Leonard Buhler (former President of Power to Change) had such a passion for The Life Project. He told stories and he’d use different illustrations and he’d say, “Most Christians don’t share their faith.”
Once I took over the studio, we reignited the idea to do some short films. So I thought back to this story and thought The Life Project was a really good fit.
DW: Where did you go and shoot? Where were the river scenes?
JB: The river scenes were an hour south of Hope, right on the US border. One scene might have accidentally been in the US! The sign is just a wooden sign nailed to a tree that says “International Boundary” and the access to the lake was right past that.
It’s a lake that’s about 2/3rds in the US and 1/3rd in Canada, I think it’s Ross Lake. The Skagit River flows into it. I think we filmed in the Canadian side.
DW: Where else did you shoot? Did you face any obstaclesÂ with your locations?
JB: When we went out along the Skagit River near Hope, it was a pretty stormy day. So storms moved in and out and we had a ton of gear. We had a van and some other people who came out, so our gear was scattered across the van and a couple cars. We had to wait for a break in the clouds, then run out and set up as fast as possible.
We shot at Hatzic Lake in Mission one evening, some really wonderful people let us use their property there. Mike Feenstra, who’s one of our fund raisers at Power to Change, found it for us. He talked to these people and we went out, scouted it out and it ended up in the film.
DW: How did the casting go?
JB: We sent out a casting call: emails, a Facebook ad — the Facebook ad was actually really good. We got some good feedback.
Michael Jantzen, who is a writer in The Life Project, is a die-hard fly fisherman, so he was our consultant and he did the whole opening sequence, he was the fisherman. We had him cast right out of the gate. He was the only one of us who actually knew how to fly fish!
Then the actress who plays the wife answered the casting call. She nailed her audition, she was so good. I didn’t really have anybody that I was confident could play opposite her for the male protagonist, the lead.
So we were talking and she mentioned that her husband fished. I said, “Well, does he act?” And she said, “Well, a little bit!” So I said, “Would he consider auditioning?”
It just worked out. They both have a natural chemistry as husband and wife in real life, so it was a really nice fit. I just felt like God really put the pieces in place.
DW: There were some other performances that stood out, like the old coot…
JB: The Crusty Fisherman! We called him the Crusty Fisherman. He’s a guy from Abbotsford, Andrew Abrahams. He’s quite an accomplished actor, he’s done a lot of stuff with Gallery 7 out there. I actually saw him before I moved here. We went to an Easter play in Abbotsford that he had written, but also starred in. My wife and I were completely moved. It was incredible. He’s such a strong actor.
He’s the sweetest guy in real life, he doesn’t have that demeanour, but he did in the play, and I thought, if I ever need this hard-edged 50-something guy, he’s the guy. So I had this bit part and he was my first call.
Even though it was just a bit part, it was fun and we’re talking about other projects. Actually, we’re going to be shooting another project with him, one of his projects. He has a play and we’re shooting a video insert of a dream sequence for him. It’s an ongoing relationship that I think will be very valuable.
DW: What other difficulties did you face putting this together?
JB: Richard Szmutko and I, we’re the two guys in the studio. There’s only two of us, so we hoofed a lot of equipment over a lot of terrain. We were dead tired by the end of it. It’s so short and it moves along quickly, but it took a lot of late nights. I think the final scene, we shot it at my house in the kitchen and I think we finished around 1 o’clock in the morning.
They were long days, after work for everybody else because it was all volunteer, and then the two of us moving a lot of gear. I mean, Hollywood, they have whole crews to do what me and Richard did. And then we had to switch gears and get our minds set on shooting. It was a lot of work and it was challenging, but it was also a lot of fun and rewarding.
DW: What are your hopes for this film? Where do you see it going?
JB: I just hope it’s an encouragement to people to evangelize, to get people to share their faith. We didn’t want to come across really heavy-handed with it, so that’s what we hope, that people will be encouraged by it and that particularly churches and small groups can use it as a tool.
Don’t know where to start with evangelism? Download our Resource Guide to Effective Evangelism.
Churches are encouraged to show the film, which can be streamed or downloaded from Vimeo.
If you would like to support Power to Change Films in their ministry, donate here.