I first found out about Adrenaline at the NRB convention and had opportunity to talk with actor/musician John Schlitt about it. Then I interviewed Joth Riggs, the assistant director for the film. Now Joseph Simpkins gives us a behind the scenes glimpse into the work involved in writing and preparing for the filming.
Joseph, what is your filmmaking background?
I have been in the film industry for 24 years IMDB . I trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while working in my friend’s race car fabrication shop. It was during that time in my life that I really found God. I was raised a Catholic but I became a Christian in 1991. After doing several Christian theater productions that’s when I shifted gears towards wanting to produce Christian films. God took me on a journey that would take another 15 years to come to fruition. Funny enough, my experience building race cars was a “shoe in” for the special effects world of filmmaking. It was there where I learned the mechanics of filmmaking. During a slowdown period of films coming to Wilmington, I went to Hollywood, CA for a while and worked out there for a couple years. I then returned home to work for a large corporation, Corning, Inc. where I got a lot of corporate experience and training which would later come into play with production and distribution. After Corning I had the opportunity to go to school and acquired an A.A.S. degree in Computer Engineering which led me into digital filmmaking and finally founding my own film production company “Living Water Films” in 2006. This was always the direction I was headed for and digital technology helped get me there.
What was your inspiration for Adrenaline?
Adrenaline stemmed from an idea I had 20 years ago about a modern day (late 80’s at that time) American Graffiti which I had written into a screenplay. I struggled with how to have a Christian themed message in a story about racing. The challenge was how to make it less about cars and more about a purpose that secular car enthusiasts might relate to. I got together with a couple friends and we took elements from the original script and worked on an outline for several months before writing a first draft. After that it was rewrite after rewrite.
What was the greatest challenge with filming the movie?
The budget was the biggest challenge. Trying to do an action based racing movie with so many locations was much more difficult than I ever imagined. I can say this, God made it possible because what we pulled off was truly a miracle. I really don’t know if many people could ever realize what we went through to do this. Our faith, endurance, relationships were tested and challenged beyond anything we ever experienced.
How have you seen God at work with the movie?
Absolutely!! Without God we NEVER would have been able to do this. So many, many times we thought we were finished, and I mean finished, but God always stepped in. I’ve heard many testimonies of how God would come in at the last minute to save the day but it seemed like we were way past the last minute almost every time. I would be lying if I didn’t say I lost faith a few times and prayed for a way out. God always came through, though, but it was never on my timing. On the positive side, we really developed some strong relationships with so many people. We were privileged to see some people influenced by what God was doing and how He used us to fulfill a greater purpose than what we thought we might be doing.
Tell us about the music.
Well you can’t have cars and racing without music. In my time we cruised and raced and cranked our radios. The original screenplay was more period 80’s rock driven so I was looking for a modern day version of that. That’s how I met the group “Love Like Gravity”. I heard the song “Adrenaline” on the radio and not only did I love it, but it defined the missing, driving element I was searching for in the story. We racers (and many others) seek an adrenaline rush. The problem is we never get enough and we are never satisfied. There is an empty place inside us that we try to fill with this adrenaline. What we don’t realize is that place is for Jesus Christ, He is our adrenaline that will always satisfy. That answered a lifelong question for me as a racing car enthusiast. I contacted LLG and we collaborated and made a nice little music video with the intent of cross promoting the message. Through LLG I met Jeff McLaughlin of McLaughlin Music Group who introduced me to John Schlitt from “Petra”. We collaborated with him on a music video “Take Me Home”. Both songs are in the film.
When do you expect to have the movie complete?
We are trying for a fall release. We are deep into post production and getting very close.
What is your vision for Adrenaline?
That it will reach people beyond the walls of the church. That God would be pleased.
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.” Luke 5:27-32
I really want to thank Del Baron and everyone who helped make this possible. I did not do this on my own and without everyone involved this never would have happened. I also want to thank my wife Rachelle and my three girls who have had to put up with me during the making of this film. I’m thankful they are still with me.