WTFW: Audience Of One

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WTFW: Audience Of One

Ten years ago, a Pentecostal pastor from San Francisco was praying on a mountain top when he received a vision from God to spread the Gospel through filmmaking.  Using donations from his congregation, he slowly transformed his church into a fully functioning movie studio, and the production company Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks was born.  After experimenting on a number of small projects, Pastor Richard Gazowsky announced that he and his WYSIWYG crew were going to make a film entitled, “Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph”, a biblical science fiction movie that would redefine the Hollywood epic.  “Audience of One” is a documentary that chronicles the making of Gravity.

Audience of One (2007)

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Directed: Michael Jacobs
  • Produced:
    • Alec Farbman 
    • Gary Jacobs 
    • Randy Woods 
    • Michael Jacobs 
    • Zack Sanders 
    • Matthew Woods
  • Starring: Richard Gazowsky, Pietro Manigrasso
  • Music: Jeff Forrest
  • Cinematography:
    • Jim Granato 
    • Michael Jacobs
  • Editing: Kyle Henry
  • Studio: Revolve Productions
  • Distributed: Indiepix
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 9 March 2007
  • Running Time: 88 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Audience of One is an award-winning 2007 documentary directed by Michael Jacobs that was premiered on 9 March 2007 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The film follows the story of a San Francisco Pentecostal minister Richard Gazowsky on his quest to shoot a groundbreaking fantasy film called “Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph” (described by him as "Star Wars meets The Ten Commandments").  The film follows him and members of his church as they go through preproduction and fly to Alberobello, Italy, for initial shooting that turns out to be marred with difficulties.  After returning home, Gazowsky manages to arrange a lease of the Treasure Island film studio, but as their promised financing from German investors never materializes, they get evicted and eventually sued by the city of San Francisco for not paying their rent.  The final part of the film shows Gazowsky, still determined to make his film, presenting what appears to be a global domination plan to members of his church.

James Rocchi of Cinematical called the film "a fascinating documentary -- unblinking but not inhuman, sympathetic but never afraid to ask questions", and described Richard Gazowsky, the film's blustery yet relatable protagonist, as "a natural showman", stating that while "It's easy to see a sprinkling of Ed Wood-style mania in Gazowsky...he's also in service of a higher idea."  In the Austin American-Statesman, Chris Garcia agreed, describing Gazowsky as "a sanguine if irresponsible Quixote who enlists our goodwill" while also lauding director Michael Jacobs' treatment of his subject as "ceaselessly engaging, scrupulously nonjudgmental".  The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris likened Gazowsky's struggle to that of other infamous cinematic iconoclasts, stating that "as he [Gazowsky] seems to swell past Felliniesque portliness to Wellesian girth, he makes a comical and complex example of the conflict of religious devotion."

The film's humor has been compared to film-making-gone-awry classics such as Lost in La Mancha and American Movie, while others have cited comparisons with the searching investigations of obsession in the films of Werner Herzog as well as Errol Morris' idiosyncratic character studies.  V.A. Musetto of the New York Post summed the film up by simply stating that "Somewhere above us, God is Watching 'Audience of One' and chuckling.  Mere mortals will be doing likewise."

This is the press release that announced the forthcoming “Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph” from August 10th, 2005:

 

WYSIWYG Filmworks—Christian film company rides the wave of “The Passion…”

Since Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” entered into that rare list of the highest grossing films in history, it has opened a window of opportunity for other Christian film companies to pass through.

One such company is Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks which was launched 10 years ago and has produced quality Christian programming.  On April 9th, 2002 everything changed.  I felt a mandate from God that we must be the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath, as Moses commanded Israel in ancient times.  This meant that our company would have to seek excellence regardless of cost, said Richard Gazowsky, the president of WYSIWYG.

WYSIWYG is seeking a leadership role in their current production Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph.  This film has 5 technical innovations reportedly never before used on any feature film.  The filming will be done with a mixed format of 70mm film and 70mm digital camera equipment with a custom designed CMOS chip that will push the technology into new frontiers (This cameras specs are still under wraps.)  One of Hollywood’s leading 70mm 3-D film makers, Tim Thomas, who is also a born-again believer and President of Paradise FX said WYSIWYG is talking fantasy here, Tinkerbelle and fairy land, but the amazing thing is that its becoming real.  I was blown away!

Christian films have had the reputation of being B-quality productions and usually focusing on two main subjects, the end times and evangelistic testimony.  The element that has changed is that the craft of professional cinema storytelling has been applied to a biblical story by Mel Gibson.  Many believe that a new standard will be set in movie audience attendance when the storytelling techniques that have usually been reserved for standard blockbusters are used on Christian family-friendly stories.

We are also pushing our creative edge when it comes to story development by actually shooting our movie, Gravity-The Shadow of Joseph twice, Richard continued.  We are first shooting an animatic version of the complete three hour film, then testing this on focus groups before principal photography begins.

This is a new age in film making and the paradigm that has driven Hollywood for years has changed.  Years ago the major studios were run by movie makers who loved movies, but these days they are run by accountants who are primarily concerned about protecting their jobs and secondly, about the bottom line.  This is wonderful because they have taken their eyes off the ball and have allowed a huge window of opportunity to open for Christian film makers.  In the next two years I predict there will be a flood of new companies approaching this genre and in fifteen years it will shake down to being once again the big three except this time you will not see current industry leaders among them.

This action-adventure film billed as, Star Wars meets the Ten Commandments is planned for release in theaters in 2007.  Principal photography is to be done in Albarabello, Italy and San Francisco.


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