My younger brother Daniel will occasionally slip out of the country and travel to far reaching places. He usually brings a camera. His latest film brought him to 5 continents and after a few years of work, travel, and mind-boggling experience, he’s put together a surprising film. I’d venture to say A Filmmaker’s Search For Revival is a film unlike any other you’ve seen.
It’s a privilege to watch Dan walk his creative journey and to share in it as well; it’s instructive and challenging for me to witness and participate in his spiritual pilgrimage too.
In the tradition of interviewing bold artists, activists and thinkers, I decided to ask Dan 10 Qs about his latest film.
Andrew Kooman: How did you grow as a filmmaker in the process of shooting and producing the film?
Daniel Kooman: The filmmaking process on this project stretched me in a number of ways. One of the biggest ones was going to completely new locations and experiencing brand new cultures sometimes daily on the production and capturing the stories of people totally on the fly. I had the shots or stories in mind that I wanted to capture, and the nature of the filming was that I had one shot at getting these stories and generally one camera angle to get them with. It was an exciting challenge. Secondly, the production was broken up into 3 main segments over the course of two years. So I had to get back into the same frame of mind creatively for each shoot.
AK: Who are some of the filmmakers who inspire you and whose work you’d like to emulate?
DK: I really appreciate filmmakers that transport you to a new location. The first filmmaker that comes to mind is Danny Boyle. In Slumdog Millionaire he communicated the location of India in such a way that it became another character in the story. This film is a journey to 5 continents, so there wasn’t as much time available to focus on any single location, but I tried to show as much imagery from a country or location as time allowed so the viewer has a sense of the culture and setting and feels transported in some way to that place.
AK: Where do you consider yourself to be in the creative journey and what motivates you to continue to walk it out?
DK: I definitely feel the growth and development from every project that I work on. It is motivating because each project shapes and stretches me. The people I meet from the places that I’ve been around the world inspire me. It is also motivating to tell a story and be able to share it with an audience and watch them experience it for the first time.
AK: What was the trigger that set you off on your trip around the world in search of revival?
DK: It’s funny because I just remembered this yesterday. In 2006 I was working on a construction project in Red Deer. I had returned from my first feature-length project with the Unveil Studios gang and was dreaming about new projects. It came into my head, this idea of filming people as they experienced physical miracles and whether or not miracles were real and if they could be captured on camera. That was just an idea locked away in my brain, and then I met David Youngren in the Fall and he was traveling around the world and telling all kinds of stories about miracles taking place as he shared this message of hope with people. I wanted to find out if the stories were true, and it was the perfect partnership to put my idea to the test. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
AK: Revival is a word that I assume people won’t have a lukewarm response to, they’ll either be hot or cold toward it. How do you define it?
When I looked up the definition near the beginning of the project it talks about an awakening in a person, and restoration of life, consciousness and strength. Those became keywords and images I searched for on my journey. When it came to miracles, there were situations unfolding right in front of me where life, consciousness and strength were physically being awakened in people in a shining moment. So I define Revival as an awakening in a single person that changes their life.
AK: What would you say to people who question whether or not revival is or can be real, who come across your film?
DK: I think the natural response of many people is to question anything they haven’t personally experienced or maybe even at some point had a negative personal experience with. Personally I went on this journey testing whether revival or miracles were real as well, so I think it’s a good journey to go on. Possibly the most important part of that journey is being willing to put our own hesitations or conclusions on the shelf occasionally and ponder something new again. If the miracles and revival are real and there is evidence of it, we get to make the choice whether or not to believe it. It’s a personal decision and I hope that some people with those questions will give this film a chance.
AK: What countries did you visit in the process of producing the film? Why these countries?
DK: Tanzania, South Africa, Greece, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, India, USA, Canada, Mexico and Colombia. The longest stops were Tanzania and South Africa, Colombia, Sweden and Croatia. The reason for these countries was to establish unique people groups and areas of the world, as well as focus on both developed and developing nations. David Youngren also had connections in many of the countries which was a great help in transportation, accommodation and translating, which were important everywhere we went.
AK: Did you notice ways, among all the countries you visited, in which revival looked the same? How did revival look different in the countries you visited?
DK: Revival looked the same in that people from completely different cultures and who spoke different languages responded in very similar ways when they experienced that personal transformation and awakening. At the same time it was also unique or different in some ways, for example in Africa and South America, where the response was especially passionate and the people responded at times with reckless abandon.
AK: What surprised you throughout the process – were there assumptions you had that proved false or true?
DK: I was surprised to find the unity, so to speak, in how people from the unique nations I visited proved in many ways very similar. I thought there would be more differences than I found. But as you’ll see in the film, the biggest surprise for me was that on my search for corporate revival I ultimately found personal revelation.
AK: How has your understanding of the word revival or experience of it changed through the process of making this film?
DK: I now understand the word revival, in it’s most personal context: of the heart of a single person being transformed or awakened. Despite the many miracles I saw on the journey, that personal transformation remains the greatest miracle of all. And revival in the corporate sense isn’t necessarily the goal. Revival as many perceive it, as seen in some cities and even nations is the response or result of all those individual transformations added together. So I get really excited to see that awakening in one person, because it’s the passion of the one that creates the momentum for the family, the city, the nation and the world.
Pre-order and download A Filmmaker’s Search for Revival here.
Read more interviews between AK and other bold artists, activists and thinkers here.