Sing Over Me is a feature documentary about modern day psalmist Dennis Jernigan and his struggle with homosexuality. This past weekend it was awarded Third Place Documentary at the International Christian Film Festival in Orlando. It will also be screening at the Gideon Film Festival, Crossroads Film Festival, and Churches Making Movies Film Festival.
What is your filmmaking background?
I’ve been making films since I was 8 years old. I grew up in Apple Valley, MN, a suburb outside of Minneapolis. I studied film production, with a minor in biblical studies, at Biola University in La Mirada, CA, and graduated in 2008. In 2010, I directed my first feature, Channel News. The micro-budget film played at several festivals around the country and won Best Minnesota Feature at the 2010 Underground Exposure Film Festival. I am also a film editor and member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild. I have worked on several national commercials, music videos and branded shorts. My feature credits include documentaries, Tapia and Personal Gold, indie drama Our Boys, and Marvel Animation’s Iron Man and Hulk: Heroes United.
How did you get the idea for this film?
My wife’s sister goes to Oral Roberts University and met Dennis Jernigan’s daughter Galen there. She told us about meeting Dennis, and how he had written all of these famous songs. I looked him up and realized he had written one of my all time favorite songs, “You Are My All in All”. I remember hearing that song for the first time when I was 8 years old, and it has been a favorite ever since. I realized he had written many of the songs I grew up with and I started looking for more info about him. After reading his amazing testimony I knew I had to make a film about his life.
What was the greatest challenge that you faced with filming/producing Sing Over Me?
The greatest challenge was making sure the film was raw and honest. Dennis tells his story to people hundreds of times a year, and although it never gets stale, I felt there was a danger it could come across as rehearsed. I wanted it to feel like it was the first time he ever shared his story. I didn’t want to make a puff piece for Dennis, something that would just talk about how great he is and how great his songs are. I wanted to make a movie about how great God is and I think Dennis’s story represents that so well. I wanted to make sure it dug deep into the despair of his struggle and faithfully communicated the truth of God’s transformative power.
What has been the response so far?
So far it has been very well received. It’s always nice to hear sniffling throughout the room as the lights come up after the credits. That’s when you know you have something with emotional impact. I think Dennis’s story is special and I hope that many people can see it.
What are your goals for the movie?
We don’t currently have distribution, but I’m sure the film will find a home and get released in a big way. Our goal is to see it released world-wide on DVD and VOD. We also want to screen the film at any church that is interested. This is a film for the church and I think it could have a great impact on many lives for years to come. That’s my prayer.