After watching our movie, Pastor Huang mentioned that he hopes ERS can also make a movie
about their stories as there were many amazing testimonies in the Prison Fellowship .
Throughout the history of the Prison Fellowship, many former gangsters and criminals have been rehabilitated and received salvation. The fellowship is well-known and there are many media professionals who would be more than happy to tell their story. However, six months later, we went to visit Pastor Huang again and he mentioned the same request to us. From this moment on, I kept his invitation in mind.
At the end of September 2017, we visited pastor Huang and discussed the potential stories for this film project. Pastor Huang then introduced us to brother Zhang Yuming and invited him to share his testimony with us. Growing up, Yuming had been in and out of the prison system several times. One time, after a long period of homelessness , he wanted to go back and visit home, only to discover that his family had already reported him to the police.
After being released from prison in 2013, Yuming chose to “not go back home temporarily” and resided in a transitional house owned by the Prison Fellowship. In the transitional house, he began serving there and growing his relationship with God by becoming deeply rooted in the word of God.
The following day, we attended the Prison Fellowship Awards Ceremony, recognizing their volunteers, encouraging former inmates showing progress in the fellowship, and comforting the families of victims who are willing to forgive.
We were deeply touched by these testimonies and got a copy of the autobiography “From Death to Life” written by Zhang RuoMing, YuMing’s brother. After returning to America, we decided to adapt the book into a script for our next film.
Taiwan ERS decided to be fully in charge of fundraising for this project and pledged to support the transitional house. God has a better plan and thanks to this new plan, we were able to experience a production process that has been full of surprises.
1. Camera Equipment Provided
The first surprise was how God supplied all camera equipment for the film. We did all the pre-production research in California while we conducted our casting search through emails without any audition. The first thing we did after we arriving in Taipei was visit a director friend who gladly lent us a full set of camera, lens, recorder, tripods and microphones without having to sign any agreement or pay anything for using them.
Although it seems insignificant, but it was truly a remarkable miracle. These equipment would’ve cost more than $30,000 USD. We started to see God’s blessings on this project from that point on.
2. A Sound Mixer from Hollywood
3. Prison, Police, and Inmate
After filming “One More Game” last year, we spent an entire month working on audio and removing background noise. For this project, we paid special attention to audio quality, and wanted to hire a professional. Before returning to Taiwan, we were brought into contact with Rebecca Chan, a professional production sound mixer currently working in Hollywood, who specialized in film and television recordings. She happened to schedule this same period of time to visit Taiwan for vacation. She declined any compensation and decided to work with us as an act of service. She brought various advanced audio recording equipment with her to Taiwan from the United States. As a result, the sound quality of the project was suddenly launched into a high level of professionalism.
Finding actors with no acting experience to play the role of an inmate or a policeman brought along its own set of challenges. We needed to find people capable of portraying a desperate father and mother, a brother locked away in prison, people addicted to drugs, and people who could embody police officers, as well as a prison which would be able to let us film inside a cell. None of these challenges could be handled by our own experience. However, we put all of our faith in God and prayed that he would prepare the path before us.
4. God Prepared the Path for Us
1. Most of the actors were found through the Prison Fellowship, Angel Tree Ministry, and Adullam Drug Rehabilitation Center.
2. We used a church to do the audition, and waited for people to confirm whether they can take a day off from work to film or not.
3. A non-believing director of a regional prison said “yes”, to cooperate with our entire filming effort and someone even helped us with the entire application process.
4. A volunteer retired police officer provided his valuable knowledge of uniform, props & some of the scenes for our filming.
5. Our borrowed camera failed to operate but thank God that the camera crew provided a spare-one so we can finish the task and some of the last-minute actor changes, resulting in a filming process full of thrills and obstacles.
6. In Taiwan’s prisons, there is always a volunteer chaplain who looks after the prisoners inside. On the second day of our filming, the original author of “From Death to Life”, Zhang RuoMing, contacted his former chaplain and sent news about this film project. Two months after returning to California, Taiwan ERS suddenly received a donation from the daughter of the former volunteer chaplain.
5. Former Gangster becomes Minister
Gu, who played the role of leader in jail cell, took us to the prison in his Mecedes. He used to be kept in an isolated jail cell because he was constantly in danger of harming others. When we entered his car, he was playing a TV interview show which he said he has watched several times and consistently brought him to tears. The TV was about an interview of a homeless person who has become a very successful person and said, ”I can not change my past but I can for sure influence my own future.”
We met former gang leader Lin RongCi the day prior to shooting. He made his own lines up on the spot without any direction. Right now, sharing his testimony has become his utmost concern after filming.
6. Thank You for Coming to See Me
Many of the former inmates join the Changchun Chapel in Taipei and formed the Jephthah Fellowship in 2012. When we visited the Jephthah Fellowship in 2017, we heard the worship song, “Thanks for Coming to See Me.” It was very touching for us to watch this group of people that formerly held criminal records and several with tattoos all over their bodies worshiping loudly and passionately, humbly lowering themselves before God. Their devotion really stirred our emotions.
This song, written by a teacher called Zheng Mingtang, became the theme song for our movie “Homesick.” When we found Zheng Mingtang on Facebook and asked him for the copyrights to the song, he told us that the song is very old and that he would be interested in re-recording the song in a recording studio for us. God really worked behind the scenes during our entire project! God not only prepared the behind the-scenes personnel before and after filming and provided us with all the background equipment and scenes, but also provided us with our theme song during our meeting with Prison Fellowship and Jephthah Fellowship. God even prepared a professional music director and computer experts to prepare the animation and subtitles for us!
We are sincerely grateful to God for the opportunity to serve Him, and for the chance for Him to use us. In 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 it says, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us,” we pray that God will fulfill these words in us.