Today my fellow filmmakers and I release a project that is near to our hearts. It’s a film called Riva that we originally created as part of the 168 Film Project back in May of 2015. This 12 minute film was shot and edited in just 7 days – or 168 hours. We filmed on location in Texas where I am from and where Chris Wiegand, our cinematographer/director/editor/producer and Alan Tregoning, our co-writer/producer live.
Riva, to me, is not just another short film. It came about at a time in my life when I truly felt God calling me to this project. I had just turned down a potential role as lead in a film I had prepared for over six months (and for which I had dyed my hair!) because at the final hour they decided to add nudity to the project. It was a film about human trafficking, an issue I feel blessed to have been able to learn about, research, and study over that six month period of time. I fell in love with the cause, the characters, and script. But as the Lord would have it, this was not His will for me or my path to take. And so, with tears in my eyes and grief in my heart, I did a 180 degree turn and walked away from it all.
It wasn’t shortly thereafter I received an email about the 168 Film Project, a Christian film festival in which filmmakers select a Bible verse at random and create a script based from that Scripture. My fellow filmmakers had been a part of this festival before and were actually the first to introduce me to it when they invited me to the awards ceremony the first year I had lived in Los Angeles. This time I was the one picking up the phone to ask them if they would like to partner in creating a film once again.
They agreed, much to my joy and gratitude. These guys are truly talented, and there is no one else with whom I would have wanted to create this film. What was the result of three friends coming together to create something for the Lord was this short film. Riva. I didn’t know what God would help us to create, but not only was He there each step of the way – providing everything from locations to wardrobe to protecting me from being bitten by snakes in the water – He helped us to create a film that I hope people find both powerful and universal.
I believe anyone can insert their own “bleeding hands” – their sin, their shame, their insecurities, failures and shortcomings, their pain both physical and emotional – and relate to Riva’s struggle of being an outsider, a wanderer, a broken version of herself. My prayer is that as audiences watch they will be inspired by, encouraged by, and find hope in Riva’s journey to find healing – not healing from this world that would merely place a bandaid on a wound that has a much deeper source, but an ultimate and perfect healing from the Father who in all His goodness so desires to reach down, to help us to stand, to heal our broken hands/hearts/souls, and to send us back out into the remainder of our short time here on this earth to be instruments of His light, truth, and hope to this world that is so dark, lonely, and lost.
There’s a quote I love by Elisabeth Elliot that says, “God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.” I got to see God take something from my own life – a grief, sadness, and disappointment I felt from having to walk away from that other opportunity – and make possible something wonderful: a story based on His Truth, His Living Word, that I believes honors, glorifies, reflects and points others to Him. Our God is in the business of restoring what is broken, healing what is painful, and making beautiful things out of ashes and dust… and well, us.
After eighteen months, screening at film festivals both domestic and international, and being honored with 26 nominations and 15 festival awards, we are beyond excited to share our little film with you all. Thank you to all to our family and friends who have supported us along the way, thank you to the festivals that gave us our first audience, thank you to God for being the ultimate inspiration for the story, and thanks to you for watching.
And now we present to you: Riva. Enjoy.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
– Mark 5:34