Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rebel Pilgrim Productions Sets Up Shop

By Harold Hay

When you think of Cincinnati, there are a lot of things that come to mind—the Reds, Skyline Chili, Graeter’s Ice cream, Pete Rose, conservative values and Fountain Square. But, perhaps, one thing that may not be on your list is filmmaking. However, that’s all about to change.

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the offices of Rebel Pilgrim Productions, a new start-up film company located in the historic Gwynne Building at 602 Main Street in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. This isn’t your typical film company to say the least. Its founder and President, Joe Boyd, was the fulltime teaching pastor at the Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

It’s not every day that a pastor decides to get into the movie-making business. Joe’s background is certainly unconventional. He started out performing stand-up comedy and improv in Las Vegas, Nevada. Later, he pastured a church in Las Vegas and then headed to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actor in the TV and movie business.

His efforts landed him a spot on the daytime soap opera, General Hospital. It’s in Los Angeles where Joe caught the bug to become a film producer. Those were the early origins of what would become Rebel Pilgrim Productions. However, it would take several years for his dreams to come true.

After moving back to Cincinnati and taking the job as pastor at the Vineyard Community Church. Joe would eventually form a partnership with fellow film enthusiast, Brad Wise (the creative director at the Vineyard) and Isaac Stambaugh, Vineyard’s video coordinator.

A few months ago the trio decided to branch out from the Vineyard and form their own production company. So what makes their company stand out ?

Rebel Pilgrim Productions states that they desire to tell stories that spark hope and action. That may mean a lot of things to different people. But to those at Rebel Pilgrim Productions, the hope is solidly based in the hope we find in Christ Jesus. Although they don’t bill themselves as a Christian film company, they are nevertheless committed to producing television and film projects that reinforce the principles and values that are contained within the scriptures.

Recently, to reinforce their vision, Joe, Isaac and Brad traveled to Los Angeles to attend the Family Entertainment and Faith-based Summit hosted by Variety Magazine. They had an opportunity to meet with industry insiders who are looking for quality entertainment. Amazingly, in a short period of time they have quickly established a reputation as an up-and-coming production company.

Isaac Stambaugh told me they have made several inroads with a number of major distributors. To say that Rebel Pilgrim Productions is a start-up is somewhat misleading. At the Vineyard, the trio produced five full-length features, including The Road to Emmaus, Hitting the Nuts, Fenced Off, Smells Like Community Spirit, and Strange Brand of Happy.

The Los Angeles trip provided them the opportunity to showcase all of their features. It is expected that within the next few months distribution deals will be signed for all of their current projects. That’s great news.

Now, back to my tour. I couldn’t help but think how amazing this entire story is. Three staff members from a local church start a major film company right here in Cincinnati. That’s a big story folks. Not only are their offices impressive but also their body of work in such a short time makes you sit up and take notice.

Starting any business today is unquestionably a challenge much less starting a film business. The entertainment business is extremely fluid. Companies come and go; however, based on what I saw at Rebel Pilgrim productions, I’m convinced that this one is here to stay. They have a unique vision and business plan. It’s not about the money, fame, or fortune. Their sights are set a little higher. Their movies aim for something more than just the ordinary. So when you think of Cincinnati in the future maybe the first thing that comes to mind is filmmaking with integrity, purpose, and truth.

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