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SPEAKING IN TONGUES
ALSO AVAILABLE ON VUDU, TUBI
A personal, microbudget film written and directed by Nathan about his experiences with a megachurch in college. Jake (Scott Hennelly), a lonely college student, gravitates towards a charismatic megachurch after the death of his mother. When Eli, a “hip” young pastor, invites him to Chicago for an “evangelism internship”, Jake finds his newfound faith put to the test. A complex, realistic “coming of atheism” story of a young person coming to grips with what they believe, that Barbara Morgan, AFF festival head called “one of the best features we have this year” (2018).
Starring Scott Hennelly and Tyler Esselman
Produced by Harry Cherniak, Nathan Deming
Written by Nathan Deming & Lawrie Doran
Directed by Nathan Deming
2018 Austin Film Festival
1a Accommodation Road
London, England NW11 8ED
4100 Alameda Ave, 2nd Floor
SPEAKING IN TONGUES at Austin:
2018, Nathan Deming & Lawrie Doran on "Speaking in Tongues"
THE STORY OF "SPEAKING IN TONGUES"
In 2014, I directed a term project at the London Film School called "Tongues", about my experiences in a megachurch in the midwest during college. The short film was a humorous and fun look at an obvious cultural punching bag (sexuality in a megachurch) and after graduating it was my dream to make a much subtler, more nuanced film about those same experiences made FOR Christians and non-Christians alike.
I've always believed in DIY filmmaking and putting your all into a film, and I decided to make the film on a shoestring budget after getting a job transfer to Chicago, where I wanted the film to be set and take place. I teamed up with my LFS classmate Lawrie Doran to write the script, DP Mark Khalife to shoot the film, and Astrid Carlen-Helmer to edit. Eventually we teamed up with producer Harry Cherniak for post-production, and for the next 3 years, I put my heart and soul into making this feature a reality.
A CHICAGO STORY & PORTRAIT OF CHRISTIANITY
We shot for four weeks all around Chicago, on the L, at the bean, in houses and apartments of friends and volunteers willing to let us make a movie with them. The cast was mostly locals and a couple of Wisconsinites who came down for the summer, including Scott Hennelly, who played Jake - a non-actor and a friend who was just graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and looking to "help out on a movie shoot." For having virtually zero acting experience, I thought he did an incredible job (and is now a producer of his own at PBS!).
Ultimately we shot a lot more footage than made it into the final cut, which was both a blessing and a curse when it came to the final edit. It turned out we had a lot of moments that went too far in the satirical direction (easy to do with things like "the porn pledge") and its still a reason that there's two different films available at the moment - a more tame, "G-rated" version released by MPX through Amazon and available in North America, South America, and Europe, and the original version we premiered at Austin (available at the YouTube link above). Ultimately I prefer our original version, but it was an interesting challenge to make something that would be both appealing to Christians and slightly critical of their more hateful stances (like the typical megachurch stance on homosexuality and LGBTQ issues, still frowned upon with most evangelical pastors.)
Ultimately I am very proud of this film from a production side (made by a dozen people with virtually no money) and what it tried to capture - not just the stranger side of being an evangelical Christian, like speaking in tongues and trying to convince random strangers to join your church, but the meaning and passion a religious practice can have to young people. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they were in the right or the wrong, but there are thousands of young people doing "evangelism internships" like the one depicted in the film right now, across America - maybe you'll bump into one next time you're at a hot tourist spot in a major city, or at a coffee shop. Who knows? If they're young, they might just be still figuring things out.