Tony Lankford is director and an executive producer of REVELATION BLUE. The tv series follows ex-preacher Devon Blue now Philadelphia homicide detective.
How did you get the idea for Revelation Blue?
One day I was sitting in front of my computer thinking about my next film project after completing ONYX, which was the story of a rogue police detective searching for his soul salvation. I wanted to bring more to the forefront the Word of God and present a stronger spiritual presence to the next film.
Being that Revelation is my favorite scripture in the Holy Bible, and obviously being a fan of TV police and detective shows, thus was born REVELATION BLUE, the journey of ex-pastor Devon Blue who struggles with the choice of living by man’s laws or living by God’s law.
Drawing from many scriptures in the Holy Bible, REVELATION BLUE reflects the Word of God and the spiritual inspiration it provides for us and the struggles many of us have accepting and understanding it. Having also affection for police crime dramas on TV, I thought what better way to present the Word of God in the exciting genre of a police detective TV show/film. Keeping the spiritual aspect intact, REVELATION BLUE allows the Message to be clear along with an entertaining storyline.
I called my wife Nanette at her office and told her that I had come up with a concept called REVELATION BLUE, and she totally ‘got it’ and she became my executive producer. We worked together to develop the details, plotlines, stories, scripts, and characters that received accolades nationally and internationally and an extraordinary concept that represents God in a positive way.
When did you begin work on it?
The winter of 2011. With the first installment of REVELATION BLUE, I sought to enlist a writer to develop the pilot story based on my character design, originally setting out to make it a movie length feature. But later on I thought to have it be a TV series or web series that called for the original feature length version to be broken up into half hour segments. After obtaining the script from a very talented gentleman who answered an ad on our local film office website, I then proceeded to add my own feelings and thoughts to the work.
I felt as though if this was going to reflect the characters I created then I must interject my feelings as well. So after doing that, I shared the corrections with the writer and my wife and we all came to amiable agreement on the characters and story developments.
How did you select your cast and crew?
Next came finding a DP and camera person to justly do the job of shooting and guiding me thru the way of creating a look based on my vision of what REVELATION BLUE should be. We had many meetings and discussions on the feel and mood of this film and achieved a spectacular looking and strong spiritually motivated film. I choose two DP’s, Jeffrey Kubach for part one and Andre Johnson for part two, in addition to Hakim Woods for sound/boom operator. Many filmmakers will attest to the fact that a story without meaning is meaningless. I agree with that. I wanted REVELATION BLUE not only to look great, but share a word to as many people as it could possibly reach without being pigeonholed into being a ‘Christian Film’. all at the same time keeping the spiritual aspect intact. REVELATION BLUE allows the Message to be clear along with an entertaining storyline. I studied many movies and TV shows for style and picked the ones that I liked and developed a style of my own. I love close-ups, long lenses, sunflares, glares, and tracking shots. I don’t care too much for over the shoulder shots or that annoying circling camera move when there is more than one person talking in a circle. Makes me dizzy. But my wife likes it. I guess I make her dizzy!
So, shooting REVELATION BLUE the first time took forever. It took us almost a year to film and another 6 months to edit and another year to get our distribution deal. We only worked on Saturday mornings in respect for the cast and crew working regular jobs during the week. Not bad really if you think about it, but I was getting impatient and my wife would always say ‘be patient’. And I listened.
The budget rounded out to a mere $5,000.00 for props, craft services on shoots, transportation costs, stock music cameraman fee, some set rentals and etc.
After completing the pilot, we were very well received in many film festivals both nationally and internationally.
Then It was time to take a rest…because it is a toll to make an independent film/TV show with your own pocket money…getting up 6am on a Saturday morning to go to the set, work with strangers, buy the doughnuts, type the scripts, be the boss, be the grip, and all the other hats you have to wear…BUT NOT FOR LONG!
A year later I said to my wife, “let’s do it again!” She looked at me and sort of shrugged a bit and wanted to think about it. I wasn’t going to do it unless she wanted to do it with me. It took her a few weeks to think on it and she came around and said yes! This time, however, the output cost factor was considerably lower because all the props and costumes were already purchased and were saved from the last time we shot! So all we had to do was re-cast and develop scripts.
We approached REVELATION BLUE: THE LIVING WATERS in a manner whereas a feature would be written and shot in its entirety and later broken up into four separate half hour episodes allowing versatility in marketing and distribution. The first time with REVELATION BLUE around we used a Canon 5D and an Apple editing system. Simple and clean. On the Mac we used imovie editing because we only used simple cuts and no fancy transitions. The Canon is a clean camera that achieved a film quality that I was looking for. We had a bit of audio problems at first but managed to clean up SOME audio in post….a lesson I will always remember with audio…the cleaner it is in the beginning, the cleaner it will be at the end.
For REVELATION BLUE: THE LIVING WATERS we shot with a Canon 60D and used the same Apple imovie editing system. Simple and clean once again.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced with the project?
Many, many times our production was blessed with beautiful weather that allowed us to shoot exterior scenes that in inclement weather would have caused us to shut down and upset our shooting schedule. God made it so that we had lovely summer days for shooting and we thanked Him for that!
Our production ran so smoothly with cast and crew that it was only God’s favor that allowed it to be. God’s grace allowed us to find sets to shoot on for no charge, kindhearted people that allowed us to enter their establishments to shoot at no charge and no time limit, free parking facilitated by The Philadelphia Police Department and The Greater Philadelphia Film Office, finding actors that believed in REVELATION BLUE and God’s Word and were truly talented AND dedicated, the ability to adjust and adapt to the shooting environment on set without seeing the set prior to shooting! God gave us this talent and ability to do this! God has given us favor to work together in harmony and enjoyment using creativity and experience to keep the workflow flowing! It was a fun project to work on!
What has been the response to Revelation Blue?
The response has been very, very positive in a way that it has influenced many lives, including those in our cast and crew.
Tell us about some of your awards the project has received.
“Winner 2nd Place Best Narrative Film” – Holywood International Christian Film Festival, 2012 Brooklyn, NY
“Diploma of Excellence” – DetectiveFest International Film Festival, Detective Films and TV Programs, 2012 Moscow Russia,
“Official Selection” – Next TV Pilot Competition, Semi-Finalist 2012
“Winner – Silver Award Best Narrative” – PhilaFilm Philadelphia International Film Festival 2012
What are your future plans for Revelation Blue?
We have been picked up nationally by a distribution company that is in the works of distributing REVELATION BLUE in multi-platforms that include over the air broadcasting, Internet and Roku Cable digital boxes. We are currently in production for future shows and in pre-production for the next episode!
Do this for God, not yourself. Do it for Him and things will work! A lot of times we as filmmakers will say to ourselves, ‘I’m going to make a great film’ or ‘I’m going to win a lot of awards’ or ‘I’m going to make a lot of money’. These are selfish reasons…Selfishness is wrong.
Psalm 37: 4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire”. Stay focused on that! Stay true to your message and vision. Keep the respect for the scriptures. Pray about everything – crew, script, camera, film, everything. Be strong, confident, clear, thankful, professional and punctual. Do not let ego into your production, always be open to suggestions, this is a collaboration. Listen to God and be current as far as presentation and technical aspects are concerned, you’re representing God! Finally, not everyone is going to ‘get’ what you’re doing, especially the secular world. Your mission is to stand your ground and spread the Word in a medium you love and a medium that can reach a lot of people who need to hear the Word.