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At the Helm of Standing Firm: Kyle Prohaska
At the Helm of Standing Firm: Kyle Prohaska

At the Helm of Standing Firm: Kyle Prohaska

During the last couple of years, Kyle Prohaska caught the attention of the Christian independent filmmaking world. Thanks to his skills in web design and his masterful use of social media, he's been involved in marketing numerous projects while completing his own first film Standing Firm.

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The Spark of an Idea
Going it Alone
Support Along the Way
Paying the Bills
Working the Kinks Out
Lessons Learned
What's Next?

"My film is finished," Kyle said in a recent interview, "but I didn't make it the 'right way,' the way it's supposed to be done. It was done the only way it could have been, but I could never do it that way again."

The Spark of an Idea
The idea for Standing Firm came from a Casting Crowns' song called "The American Dream." Kevin Michael, Kyle's co-writer and co-producer, and Kyle had an idea for a workaholic man based on the song. That was the first piece.

 "Almost everything in there is pulled from a real source. All of it is built around real life, which people who've seen the film seem to enjoy. It seems to come from real people and real situations, and doesn't feel manufactured. That's the best thing for me to hear.

"I brought in elements of my own life; my parents' real marriage (unequally yoked), issues between the son and father (son a Christian, the father not) reflected either issues my father and I had, or were exaggerated and broadened for the story."

Going it Alone
In true indie fashion, the production of a film typically isn't  the hardest part; it's what comes after. Kyle spent a couple of years finishing the film alone, with hardly any outside help.

Kevin & Kyle on set"There were some extremely dark times, especially in the last year when two jobs fell through and I almost had to put the film on the back burner. That happened quite a few times – wondering how I'd get the film finished and manage my regular bills too.

"I have to give God credit for keeping going. Had I tried to do it all on my own strength, I would have quit a long time ago, because it wasn't a fun road for most of that time. Only in the last year has it really been very exciting."

Support Along the Way
Even though much of his work was done alone, Kyle had a great deal of support from family and friends through the process. He was living in his mother's home, and he credits her and his girlfriend as great encouragers. Kyle's work in social media have also gained him a broad support base on the Internet.

"Support via the Internet has been unbelievable. People have stepped up to send emails, make phone calls, leave Facebook posts, anything you can think of to encourage me.

"I just got a message the other day from a guy in Zambia who wants to get a copy of the film and was telling me 'God bless you, I'm so glad you're doing this,' and that's the stuff that makes it easier to keep going. I've had great local support, but the online support has been great.

Paying the Bills
Since the film wasn't finished, it wasn't bringing in income to support Kyle's business, so he had to figure out creative ways to keep the bills paid. "I had to step out and try several new things while I was finishing the film.

Kyle Behind the camera"I worked with some other filmmakers in the last year, not on set, but doing online marketing, social media marketing and online graphic and web design. Those things have become my "normal" job.

"Last August I found myself home without a job and without any prospects, so this work came out of needing to support myself and thinking how I could make money with what I'm already doing, or already know how to do.

"Luckily, God brought along enough work to keep me afloat for the year, and now I'm starting to see it pick up. And at the same time, the film got finished, and I got distribution, and it's starting to get out there now."

Working the Kinks Out
"I'm also doing some of the same things for the movie that I was doing for other people, so it's all helped raise my profile and helped other people learn more about the film.

"Online and social media marketing is free if you know how to do it. There's only so much you can do with it, but if you have a really small film, like mine, then it can be extremely useful and better than not doing anything at all. It was extremely helpful in working out the kinks. My film became the guinea pig for working on others' films.

"Since the film took so long, I had a lot of time to work the kinks out. The length of time it took to get the film produced, shot, done in post, and distributed, provided a good time for all the other things to get finished and for me to learn what I needed to learn. So really I can see God's hand in all of this from the beginning."

Lessons Learned
Setting the shotDuring the three and a half years or so Kyle has been working on his film, he's learned a lot of lessons, the biggest of which has to do with working with people; people who may make mistakes. "People you trust a lot or who give you their word may have a great heart going into it, but they may make mistakes. That's been a hard lesson to learn."

He's also learned that relationships are the most important part of working with people, and also the hardest part. "Relationship problems are different than something going wrong on set or breaking a piece of equipment. You have to be careful that you don't burn bridges and that you uphold a higher standard. That's hard to learn."

He also learned a great deal about the complete process of taking a film from start to finish. "In the beginning, I had a good idea of how things go but I'd never proven myself or tried it. All I knew is what I'd seen others do. I'd learned some smaller things by watching instructional videos when I was on staff at my church. I had some ideas, but now I had a chance to prove it and do it.

"A lot of people never get to say, "It's done." And to be able to do that and have a distribution deal is incredible. Everything has exceeded my expectations from the beginning. The acting, message, the score, everything. God is good."

What's Next?
On his next film, Kyle wants to have a professional crew with a real shooting schedule and a real shooting period. "Although I have a lot of knowledge and experience from this, I'm still something of a novice because I didn't do it "the right way." I wouldn't even know how to handle a crew of eight people who do this on a regular basis, because I haven't had to. But I do look forward to it, and am itching to shoot something again.

"2011 is a big question mark for me. I know I could continue the social media and online marketing, and find more people who are interested in that. I think it would go OK.

Close-up on the truck"I would like to start writing my second film, but the year is a big question mark for me. I don't know if I'm going to continue living here. It's been one whole year since I started working for myself from home, and it's picking up enough speed that I've just started feeling comfortable.

"This film coming out could bring a whole slew of things that I can't even imagine. I have an itch to make my own films. I like making films, and it's driving my crazy having to wait."

"Is it my right to make a second film? No. My only goal is to do what I feel God wants me to do, and to trust Him to bring it forth. It's a privilege, not a right. I want to be good at what I do, and that's going to require more effort and work on my part. Do I hope God gives me another film to do? Yes. But what if He doesn't? Will I get mad at Him?

"I'm not a prodigy or genius, I'm just a kid that wants to make movies." But before he can go make more movies, Kyle has to go cut the grass. "Filmmakers are people too."

©2010 ChristianCinema.com

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