The story behind Return to New Haven
Through the years of our family’s adventure in filmmaking, it has often seemed that our paths have ended up going the opposite way of what we expect. Later, it all makes sense. But in the midst of the journey, we don’t always understand the Lord’s leading. It’s learning to walk by faith, not by sight! Our experience with making Return to New Haven was no exception…
It was the summer of 2018 – two years after the release of Defense of New Haven. A script for our third movie was beginning to take shape. Our family still lived on the property where our first two movies were shot – but we had a problem: the pole building in which we built the sets for Defense was too small for the sets we were planning.
Long story short, a multitude of factors combined to bring us to the decision to put the property on the market and look for a place with a larger pole building. For a year we waited for our house and land to sell. A lot of interest was shown in the property – but the property didn't sell.
In the fall of 2019, we pulled the property off the market. Now what? Obviously the Lord did not want us to move yet. Could this mean He wanted us to shoot our next movie here – now? The year’s wait had given us time to refine our script and sketch out sets. We were ready! But how – where? In our mind, our pole building was too small for our set plans – but perhaps we could think out of the box – as in out of doors.
Midway down our hill was a small stock pond, overgrown with reeds. Joel saw potential there: we could dig out the pond to serve as our water canal for our boats. We could build our town around it, which would free up our pole barn for interior scenes.
Finances was another issue - a big issue. We took a walk one night and laid the matter before the Lord. We prayed that the Lord would clearly show us that we were supposed to make another film by bringing in money for sets.
The next day, we received a generous check - completely unexpectedly. No one else knew of our prayer or our need. Once again, God had faithfully provided and confirmed His direction to us. We wasted no time in getting construction underway!
Though at the time we couldn’t understand why our property didn’t sell, the Lord’s plan became clear over the next couple of years. Just as we began production, COVID-19 hit our country with its lock-downs and quarantines. 2020 proved to be the perfect year for our family to stay home and shoot! And as the economic repercussions of COVID became evident, we were so grateful we’d built sets when we did. Two years after our sets were built, lumber prices tripled – which would have made our construction project completely cost prohibitive. We finished production just in the nick of time! (But God knew all these things beforehand.)
The amazing thing was that after all this, God did bring a buyer for our place – in the middle of production! Near the end of our shoot, we received an offer on the property, though it wasn’t even on the market!
Our hope had been to leave our sets in place for any pick-up shots we needed, but now that was out of the question. It was a scramble just to finish filming before we had to move out. The rough cut became the final cut! We wrapped production with just a month to spare for packing up our belongings, crating our movie props, and tearing down sets. Whew!