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Tracy J Trost
Trost Moving Pictures

The Advocate

Tracy J Trost Interview

by C.J. Darlington

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"I love telling a story the people can relate to and hopefully it is a story that will move them to want to change for the better. Movies impact peoples lives because they are stories."
-- Tracy J Trost

Award-winning director and visionary Tracy J Trost’s filmmaking technique has rendered him one of the most recognizable independent filmmakers in the industry. The first two films that he co-wrote and directed, Find Me and A Christmas Snow, have won numerous awards including Best Feature, Best Actor, and Best of Festival and have created a wave of audience appreciation and critical acclaim. His follow-up to these instant classics, The Lamp starring Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr, is another masterpiece that highlights his artistic talent and richly-detailed storytelling.

In addition to filmmaking, Trost has become an established and well-respected author. Tracy brings more than 20 years of award winning television production experience with him to Trost Moving Pictures. Whether it’s directing a music festival broadcast live to over 200 countries, a stadium event with 20,000 screaming teenagers, a gathering of more than 200,000 people in Central America, or a business seminar set in the Hawaiian Islands, Tracy has done it all.

What was it about Jim Stovall’s The Lamp that first made you want to make it into a feature film?

Jim and I were talking about different stories and projects that we might want to work on and he sent me a copy of The Lamp and asked me to read it. I was drawn to the concept that whatever you are focusing on in life, your life eventually becomes. We need to realize that our lives today are a direct result of our belief system and formed by the choices and decisions we have made up until this point. If we want our lives to be different we need to retrain our brains and our thinking. We need to realize that the things that we are focusing on every day are eventually what our lives will become. The Lamp has this message at it’s core and I believe it is an important message for everyone today.

Jim seems like an incredible guy. How would you describe him to those who haven’t met him, and what’s he like as a creative partner?

Jim is an enigma. There is no one that you can compare him to because he stands out all by himself. I have had many partners in my life and up until I worked with him, I did not realize what a true partner is. He is a man with the highest integrity and he is a very deep thinker. I consider it a great honor to be considered among his friends, let alone a partner.

The LampI remember you telling me there was some adapting of his novel involved. How did you approach that to stay true to the story and yet make it work well on the screen?

When you write a book you have the ability to let the reader know what your characters are thinking. When you write a screenplay you have to use situations and many times other characters to let the viewer know what the characters are thinking. I had to add some situations and other characters for my leads to interact with so I could let the audience see what the characters were thinking. This happens with all novel adaptations.

So, the new The Lamp novel is based on the screenplay, correct? How did you and Jim collaborate on that?

I pretty much stay out of Jim’s way when it comes to the writing of the novel. Jim is very much involved in the development of the story. We have many conversations about the characters and the heart of the story. He reviews my different script drafts and gives his input. But once the screenplay is done, I step back and let him do his magic.

What was the most memorable on set moment you experienced while working on The Lamp?

Filming the fight scene between Stanley (Jason London) and Lisa (Meredith Salenger). On the day of the shoot we knew it was going to be a pretty intense day. Through all of the different takes the actors had to keep their angry energy up and could not step out of character. My crew worked very stealth like and kept the set very quiet. Jason and I talked through the scene and came up with a strategy for the day. I can remember when I was shooting a close up of Jason and he was so angry that he was on the verge of tears. His face told so much that anyone watching could see the pain in his eyes. He nailed the scene and solidified in my mind what a great actor he really is.

What do you hope viewers come away with when they watch this film?

Just Believe – All things in life are possible if you will only first be willing to believe they are.

How did the making of this film differ from A Christmas Snow? Did anything surprise you in particular?

I think overall we just got better at what we were doing. As a writer/producer/director I think the experience of A Christmas Snow only helped me be get better at what I do. In the same vein I think The Lamp had the same affect.

How has your vision for film making changed or strengthened over the years since you first made Find Me until now making your third feature film?

Each film I make just helps make the foundation stronger for the next project. I always learn something new with each film. I know one thing for sure, I love making movies.

As a Christian, how does your faith impact your movies?

I think it would be hard for me to write anything that did not have some sort of a spiritual basis. It is not just what I believe, it is who I am. My faith in God has made me the person I am today and it would be impossible for me to try to share a truth that is not based on my belief system. Right now with The Lamp it is really that you can do anything you want in life if you first believe you can.

What do you know now that you wish you would’ve known in the beginning?

That is a tough question. I think the experiences we have in life help build us into the people we are. I think to not go through an experience would be cheating myself out of a growth period. It is those periods in life that allow us to be great. If I had all the answers then I would not be growing. I might as well be dead. The day I stop learning and growing will be a very sad day.

Lamp movie still

What actor would you love to work with someday and why?

For a male actor I would say Timothy Olyphant. He is a very dynamic personality and I love the way that he changes character to play a part. I think though he is popular, he has not truly been recognized for his work.

For an actress I would love to work with Clair Forlani. She knows how to use her body language and her face to sell a scene. There are many actresses who say lines from a script. There are few that make you believe what they are saying because their entire being is saying it. She understands this art. She is dynamic.

As a filmmaker, what are you most passionate about?

Telling stories. That’s all movies really are. They are stories told through a visual medium. I love telling a story the people can relate to and hopefully it is a story that will move them to want to change for the better. Movies impact peoples lives because they are stories.

Do you consider making movies your ministry or your job? Why?

Yes – Jesus sat at the gate of the city telling parables. This is how he got his message out to the people. He would present a Kingdom principal through story telling. The biggest influence on our society today is the media. We are deluged with information and video 24/7. If we want to reach the world today TV, movies, and live plays (just a shameless plug for A Christmas Snow Live! in Branson) are one of the best ways to do it.

What’s next for you in the movie department?

I am working on a script for a romantic comedy. This too is based on one of Jim’s stories. However, this story has not been published yet. We plan to be filming this spring.

Portions of this interview first appeared as an article in the Feb/March 2012 issue of FamilyFiction Edge Digital Magazine.

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C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.