September 28, 2012

Chit Chat With Mike Norris

So, remember I told you about I Am Gabriel?  The great new faith based movie filmed in Justin, Texas.  I do hope you've taken some time to check it out.  But if you haven't maybe you will after you read this post.

After my review, a contact at Lovell-Fairchild asked if I would be interested in interviewing someone involved with the movie.  Which I wasn't.  But my girls are all into this challenging yourself to do hard things business.  I can not imagine where they get that stuff from.  And, as you know, they are big time into making movies these days.  Those three nuts were really intrigued by the idea.  They pushed and prodded and before I knew what was happening, I hit the send button agreeing to talk with Mike Norris by phone.

I hate the phone.  Did you know that?  I do.  I HATE talking on the phone.  I avoid it. One of my daughters asked me the other day what I was going to do when they were all gone and there was no one to take my phone calls anymore.  I told them I'd listen to the voice mail.  But probably not.

So for the last few days every time the topic came up, I got butterflies in my stomach.  Face to face, I can talk to anyone so it seems kind of stupid that a bit of wire would be such a problem doesn't it?

And to make matters worse... I've had a bit on my mind lately.  And we are getting ready for vacation and all this other STUFF, we call life.  So I had it in my mind, and on my calendar, this interview was happening tomorrow.  And I had a really rough day, you know?  The one that starts with a pounding headache and was followed by cleaning, canning, laundry and packing.  Baby went down for her nap and I grabbed my computer to head outside to get some work done.  It is awesome here this time of year.  A few minutes later Allen came home from a meeting and said, "Honey, what time is your interview?"  And I said, "Thursday at 3:00."  And he said, "Well, can you check because Mike Norris just left a voice mail."  Yeah, I was dying as I tried to decide what to do.  And then the phone rang again.  Thank God Mr. Norris is not just a great writer, director and actor but also a very persistent person.

I felt really bad.  I apologized.  He laughed.  Then I admitted how uncomfortable I felt and this gracious man put me totally at ease.  In no time at all our 15 minute interview had stretched to 45 minutes.

Since this was my first experience I can't say whether it would always be such a great and easy going time but I felt so foolish for worrying about it so much.  Because in the end it was one of the best conversations I have had all week.  I could spend all day talking about the Lord and Mr. Norris very candidly indulged me by sharing his testimony, telling me about his family life, talking about what the Lord has been showing him through the Word, sharing about the trials he is walking through with his ailing friend and Pastor and even giving me a little peek into his next project.

Just in case I got tongue tied, I had a list of questions I wanted to ask.  I pray I do justice to the Lord, Mike and this film in sharing a little bit of our talk.  I took pages of notes and still feel like I missed so many key things.  Sit back for a minute and absorb some of the great insight I gained into this humble servant of our Lord.
Kathleen:  What was it you hoped to gain from I Am Gabriel?

Mike:  I have nothing to gain.  At 2nd Fiddle our goal is to make films that glorify God.  The films I make mirror what's going on in my life.  At the time I wrote I Am Gabriel I was crying out to God and He answered.

Kathleen:  And did making this movie help you grow in that area of you life?

Mike:  This has been a time of chaos for my family.  Not earth shattering or tragic, but learning to rely on God instead of doing first.  I call on God throughout the day.  In my quiet time I spend a lot of time thanking Him for being God.  But as I was coming through this film I was learning to call on Him first when the trials come.

Kathleen:  So what was the time in your life when you found it hardest to call on God?

Mike:  I was not raised in a Christian home but my grandmother led me to the Lord at a young age.  As a teen I put some distance between me and the Lord.   When I met my wife and we were getting married I started asking myself what kind of leader did I want to be and how did I want my children to grow up.  That's when I rededicated myself to the Lord.  There is no greater joy than to see your child trust Jesus.  And even though it is not necessary, to see them follow in Baptism is a huge encouragement.  Once you know they have a solid foundation and we will all be in Heaven together.  The rest is going to be okay.  Not that they won't face trials, those will come, but that they will know who to go to when they do.

Kathleen:  We've talked about leaning on the Lord.  What verses do you find you count on to sustain you?

Mike:  You know recently I have been so busy with promoting this movie and writing the next I was really feeling the pressure.  And one day I glanced up and saw my Bible sitting on my desk where it had been for 2 days.  I went to the Lord and asked Him to take me where I needed to be to get back to Him.  After a while I ended up in Romans 5 reading about perseverance and faith.  Just what I needed.  I have been studying James since then and I really have found that encouraging.  I mean consider it joy in your trials because it strengthens your faith.  Listen first and then do.  And how he talks about letting little things creep into our mind to distract us from what's important.

Kathleen:  I was just studying the same topic in my time with the Lord today.  Satan is looking for opportunities to distract us from our goal.  People do not take seriously enough the power of the enemy.

Mike: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”

Kathleen:  I just heard that somewhere!  [Allen reminded me where it was I heard that.  Brother Yates quoted it in our FBI class on Monday night.]

Mike:  The Usual Suspects.  It's an old one.  So the thing is, the world is always evolving and changing.  I don't believe in evolution like we came from apes.  But that everything is always different.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Is it a revolution now?  No matter what you call it, the Word never does!  It is always the same.

Kathleen:  Going back to I Am Gabriel for another minute which character can you relate to most?

Mike:  Oh, Joe and Ellen, the couple who took him in.  At the time I was writing the movie, that was me.  I am a Christian.  I go to church.  I do good things.  But getting on your knees... This movie was about where I needed to be with God.  It felt so close to my life, I wrote the screen play in 12 days.  I've been working on my current project for four months.
the cast of I am Gabriel
Kathleen:  Well, since you brought it up, what is your current project?

Mike:  The Commitment.  It is based on a camp in Pine Cove, Texas.  My wife and I visit this family camp with our kids early every summer.  It is run by a lot of college students who are completely sold out for Jesus.  I started noticing there are many marriages coming out Pine Cove.  These couples are living the pure Christian life.  Not perfect, but pure.  This is what I want for my daughters.  That's where I got the idea for a film.  When a young man commits to God He commits it all.

Kathleen:  As a parent with three young ladies and five other children heading for the marriage altar, this is exciting for me to hear.  We don't see strong marriages in this world.

Mike:  Even among Christians.

Kathleen:  So when can we look for The Commitment?

Mike:  Probably around next fall.  

Kathleen:  On the topic of growing up with a famous father Mike shared some great insight.

Mike:  I learned so many things from my dad.  He really is a great guy.  I learned to work hard.  I learned how to run a company and I learned how to treat people with dignity.  Being the son of Chuck Norris opened doors I wouldn't have had otherwise.  So, I make movies for the Lord.

I mean, if my dad had been just a plumber [Instead of a famous actor], I hope I would be the best plumber for Jesus that I could be.

Kathleen:  And your mom?

Mike:  She is so wise!  But she didn't know the Lord.  I witnessed to her and told her about God so many times but she didn't buy it.  Then, after she viewed I Am Gabriel, she left a message on my answering machine.  I wasn't home but I will never delete that message.  She said she had just trusted Jesus as her Savior!

Kathleen:  Praise the Lord!  What an incredible blessing.  You give me so much hope.  I have had such a burden for my parents, both of whom are lost and getting older every day.  But it isn't too late for them, is it?

So before we go, can I ask you one more question?

Mike:  Sure.

Kathleen:  2nd Fiddle Entertainment.  Where did you get the name?
Mike:  Seven or Eight years ago I was sitting in a session at Pine Cove and one of the speakers was quoting Leonard Bernstein.  He said, "The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm, that's a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."  That's what we want to do.  Sit in the background and try to make films which point to the Lord in such a way no one sees us.

1 comment :

  1. Oh Kat! How exciting. You go girl!
    I have felt the same way when it came to reaching out and actually talking to someone about the movies/books.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful conversation!!!