Inspiration always comes from the supreme source — God. Although, like most phenomenons in life it is hard to pinpoint why or where specifically an idea comes from. I have written before about the calling of an artist to have omnivorous attentiveness and to always observe life with eager expectations.
However, sudden inspiration is something that should be bottled immediately.
BY SPENCER T. FOLMAR
As an example, when I first began writing my next feature film, “The Beast in Me,” the inspiration initially was easy to pinpoint. I was working outside in the rain (typical) in the backyard of my old farmhouse when I was living in Seattle a half a decade ago. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash. Cash on the radio, in car trips, and on the record player. But for all my love and knowledge of Cash’s discography, I was unfamiliar with the song “The Beast in Me” until that rainy day in Seattle.
As soon as I heard this new song on my shuffling-streaming playlist I immediately went inside and started to bottle (write) the emerging plot-line and moral premise that I wanted to wrestle with in my next movie. The lyrics are so moving, honest, and self-searching…
“The beast in me
Is caged by frail and fragile bars
Restless by day
And by night rants and rages at the stars
God help the beast in me” (first stanza of song lyrics)
Originally, I was struck by the idea of original sin in relation to many of the lyrics of the song. There is a Spurgeon quote that I often think of, “You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.” Personally, I do not have to look far, watch the news long, or let my mind wander to the dark corners of my own heart to realize just how true this quote is. We all fall short of the glory of God and even our best works are as filthy rags.
“The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me”
For my film’s setting I almost immediately thought of Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin prowls over any city or small town, but the pure blatant indulgence and celebration of sin in the desert seemed like the perfect setting for this movie. But if we all fall short of the glory of God, and it is by Grace and Grace alone that saves a wicked sinner like me… then there is a leveling empathy and humility that should distinguish Christ followers. So I decided to center the story around the outcasts and most looked-down upon members of society — the prostitutes, the drug addicts, the abused, used, and lost children of God.
“Sometimes it tries to kid me
That it’s just a teddy bear
And even somehow manage to vanish in the air
And that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me”
We all try to cope with our own demons… beasts. But there is a reckoning that takes place. Either in this life or the life to come. There needs to be a sacrifice for the wrongs, there needs to be justice. We can all feel that. But I and my past acts and sins are included in that need for retribution the world in bondage aches for. So there needs to be redemption, and I and my fictional characters in this fictional world all need a savior.
Honestly, how could we not?
“That everybody knows
They’ve seen him out dressed in my clothes
If it’s New York or New Year
God help the beast in me…
The beast in me”
Director Spencer T. Folmar’s theatrical debut, “Generational Sins,” has spurred a national debate surrounding the interplay of faith and film. Folmar coined the term “Hard Faith” to describe this new genre of film, written for audiences who are hungry for hope in the midst of gritty real-life stories. Folmar’s films are now released under his Los Angeles production company Hard Faith Films, which is currently developing several projects that will reflect today’s multifaceted culture and audience.