Cooper Anderson, director of the short film Shameless took a minute with dove.org to share his passion for filmmaking and the message behind his impactful short film.
dove.org: Why you are interested in film and what does filmmaking mean to you?
Cooper Anderson: To me, filmmaking is not only a passion, but also a calling. There’s just something about film that gives you the ability to speak a message to people in a way that no other medium of art can. Film combines video, audio, story, writing, color, music, composition, technology, and animation into one central piece of art. The power and capability for it to speak a message and relate to people right where they’re at using all these tools is incredible–that’s why I love it! Film is a diverse, living and breathing art form that can explore a wide range of emotions and stories taking place all across the world. Yet it can be consumed on a small device that people carry around in their pockets! Because of the popularity of social media in our culture today, video is one of the most powerful and widely digested forms of art consumed by all generations. Through the power of film, I can literally touch thousands of lives, all over the world in two minutes or less right from where I live! That’s amazing! To be able to share the messages that Christ lays on my heart with that many people in this way is an absolute blessing. And it’s one I’ve felt called to since early in high school.
dove.org: What a powerful calling! How did your love of filmmaking get its start?
CA: For me, it all started when I bought a small camcorder at a garage sale in middle school…I think I got it for $6. I started making dumb little short videos with my friends and we would all have a blast. Most of these films are just hard for me to watch now because they are so poorly produced. But then early in high school, I began to realize the power of how film can move a person…move them to change…encourage them towards something better. It was at this point that God began laying it on my heart to pursue film as my vocation. I entered some local film festivals and won some awards and began to enter festivals across the country with my shorts. This gave me the passion and encouragement to realize that this is what I was made for! From there I went to college and graduated with my bachelors in Creative Arts Technology with an Emphasis in Film. And now I am creating films and overseeing creative arts for multiple campuses at Mission Church in Bend, Oregon. Whenever a story comes along from our creative team, I get to help guide and direct that story to reach thousands of people across the country through social media, online church, and our physical campuses. And I still feel like God has more stories for me to tell in the future as well!
dove.org: We love your short film Shameless and are excited to share it with our viewers. Share with us the message behind Shameless and anything else you would like viewers to know about the short film.
CA: Shameless was born when our amazing creative team at Mission Church put their heads together about a new series we had coming up for Easter this past year. The message of the series was about how Jesus takes away our shame and allows us to walk as a new person in life without the weight of what we carried before. So we said to each other, what if we had a bunch of people wearing masks with labels of the sins they carry on their foreheads? And what if that was just a normal thing? Everyone had them and none stopped to ask questions because having a mask was just part of life. That’s what the masks in the film are about. They are symbolic of the sins that everyone has, but no one seems to talk about. The main character in the film is a person who has caught a scent of the truth. He notices the mundane similarity of everyone having problems and it bothers him. He also sees the pain and bleakness that it causes in life. Even the children are wearing masks! This character goes on his own journey to seek the truth…to look for something different. At the end of his journey through the bleak version of life, he ends up at the cross; the symbol of freedom and the only thing that can take away his shame. It is the power of what Christ did for us so many years ago. As he arrives, his foot brushes past other masks on the ground symbolic of the people before him that have found the truth. He realizes that in order to receive this freedom, he has to make the decision to take off his own mask and leave it behind at the cross…never coming back to it again. As the mask drops, suddenly the world changes to color and he sees what he has never seen before.
The last part of the film is one of my favorites. Our lead character now lives a life that is shameless. He journeys back to the place he was before, but this time something is different about him. He gives a glimpse of hope and color to everyone around him. He no longer wears a mask and is a witness of what God has done in his life to others who still live in their sin and shame. As he walks down the street, we stop on a girl still wearing a mask. She notices the difference and watches him walk away. She then turns and looks from where he came wondering where he got his hope. She is the symbol of theperson still searching. So will she embark on her own journey? Or will she remain where she is? Only the viewer can decide and only they can apply it to their lives. That’s the power of this film. It shows how to change and where freedom comes from, but it allows the audience to decide what they will do with that truth. That’s the power of the gospel, and it’s the power of free will and choice that God gives us to choose him or walk in our own way…it’s as simple as that. This is one of my most favorite films I have created for this reason.
Cooper’s film Shameless is currently in the Faith Counts film contest. Vote for your favorite film!