The Initiative is an apt name for the independent film company birthed from YWAM Brisbane’s School of Digital Filmmaking in Australia. After winning a parade of awards for one of its many short films, the young film company has decided to step out into something bigger: the challenge of a feature film. Their first full-length project, The Umbrella, aims to promote a message of reconciliation, redemption and restoration.
The Umbrella was originally the brainchild of director, producer and founder of The Initiative, Jason Solari. After years of development, writer and producer Josh Potthoff was brought alongside the project to breathe life into the writing and give flesh to the story. Both are passionate about their production, aiming to engage hearts and minds. “Film is the most influential medium of our day,” says Solari. “And it’s our goal to tell good stories.”
The group of Christian filmmakers propose to the audience: “What if an umbrella could do more than just protect its user from mere sun or rain? What if it could protect its user from pain?” The viewers are then emerged into the world of a young man named Jared Evans, who attempts to avoid difficult situations by disconnecting and taking refuge underneath his imaginary umbrella. That is until unconventional therapist Henry Green challenges him in an unorthodox way. Jared is then forced to replace his make-believe umbrella with an actual one. Realizing his umbrella holds him back, Jared is left with the the dichotomy of living in the disengaged comfort of his umbrella, or letting it go to experience true freedom and finally live.
The question hanging in the air is, “How will this story go from vision to reality?” With no financial backing and only a handful of staff, The Initiative is left to their own wits and trust for a miracle. “Luckily, we got five more interns recently,” laughs Potthoff. “So, there’s still hope.”
However, the unresolved issue of funds still lingers. It is a problem many independent filmmakers face. There has been a recent shift in the filmmaking climate, however; one which recognizes the value of independent films. With more opportunities than ever before for small production houses, the occasional picture hits big.
Despite the enormous obstacles, The Initiative is living up to its name and stepping out in faith. “Our intention is to make a quality film,” says Solari, who refuses to sacrifice creative excellence or hope due to lack of resources. Principle photography is slated to begin this February. YWAM is excited to see former trainees embrace their artistic talents and begin pursuing their dreams.
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