The Blue Like Jazz movie didn’t get made like a typical movie. And it isn’t being released like a typical movie either. The cast and crew traveled the country in a bus, stopping at various cities for events and free screenings.
And they stopped in OKC!
As one of the contributors to the film (I donated money months and months ago through the BLJ Kickstarter campaign) I received some emails regarding the Blue Like Jazz street team. And somehow, I found myself greeting the truck outside Quail Springs Mall and helping them unload.
I helped Donald Miller (author/screenwriter), Steve Taylor (director/screenwriter) and Ben Pearson (cinematographer/screenwriter) find the theater and set up.
One of my volunteer jobs was to put together little packets for each member of the audience. They were still looking for feedback for the movie, so each person needed to have a little survey and pen. When we finished that, I had a chance to chat a bit more with Don Miller.
I tend to be a bit awkward around people I don’t know well, especially people who I consider a bit famous. I think I try so hard to appear normal that I just end up being more awkward. But Don was incredibly nice. He even gave me advice on things, from dealing with loved ones who walked away from faith to how to succeed in writing.
I also had the chance to meet Marshall Allman, the lead in the film. I didn’t really know who he was at the time . . . I just thought he looked familiar for some reason! Turns out he played Tommy (Sam Merlotte’s brother) in True Blood last year. But he was really kind, as was the rest of the cast and crew I met.
But the time finally came for the movie to begin. Steve and Don stood on the side of the theater before and after the film, watching everyone’s reactions.
I was surprised by how much I loved the movie. I really like the book, but I could not see how they were going to turn it into a film. Clearly, I had faith they could, or I wouldn’t have financially supported it. But I was skeptical.
I shouldn’t have been. This is a good movie, and I don’t just mean good for a Christian movie. (Let’s face it, most “Christian” movies tend to suck – they have good intentions, but are usually super cheesy). Blue Like Jazz tells a more realistic version of faith. Because a lot of us have struggled to figure out what we really believe. We’ve asked questions and made mistakes. Some of us have been where these characters have been. There are stereotypical super-religious Christians, outspoken Christian-hating atheists, Christians full of grace and forgiveness, and everything in between.
I found Blue Like Jazz the movie to be incredibly relevant and moving. I think it reminds Christians that it is ok to ask questions. And I think it shows non-Christians that everyone struggles with their faith, no matter who or what they believe in. And to be perfectly honest, I was blown away by the simple fact that the movie was actually made and that I played a (very) small role in that. (If you don’t know the story of the BLJ movie, you should find out!)
After the film, members of the cast and crew led a question and answer session. One of the more interesting questions asked how Reed College felt about their portrayal in the film. Donald Miller, who actually did spend time at Reed, laughed. Apparently Reed College had a problem with how they were portrayed. They didn’t feel like the film really showed how crazy and godless their campus was. But much of the response from test audiences showed that people didn’t believe Reed College could really be that crazy. The audience thought it was unrealistic, and Reed thought it wasn’t realistic enough!
Also, you should probably know that this film is rated PG13 for mature thematic material, sexuality, drug and alcohol content, and some language. These instances are essential to the plot of the film and are not gratuitous in nature, so please don’t let that stop you from seeing it. But I’d probably get a babysitter if you were thinking of bringing kids under the age of 13.
Jennifer Bryant is a single Christian twenty-something. She is a freelance writer/editor and blogs at http://jbryantwrites.com.