“We have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.” – Zan Tyler
While we were at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, in Vancouver, Washington to finish filming interviews for Schoolhouse Rocked, homeschool pioneer, Zan Tyler stopped by for a surprise visit. Zan was instrumental in the fight to make homeschooling legal in South Carolina, in the early 1980s. She was in Oregon to speak at the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEANetwork) homeschool conference, in Albany, Oregon and wanted to visit Heidi St. John and get a tour of the homeschool resource center. Because her story of the legal battles and persecution that she endured to pave the way for homeschooling families in her state provided such important historical perspective and cautionary advice, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to interview her for the movie and for the podcast.
Following her dramatic battle for the right to homeschool her children, Zan went on to teach them through graduation and all three of them attended college on a variety of scholarships. Gaining resolve during her battle, she went on to fight for other homeschooling families in South Carolina and across the United States, founding the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990, Speaking at homeschool conventions around the world, and writing several books, including Seven Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential and the forward for Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years. She has also worked to develop Bible-bases homeschool resources as the director of Apologia Press. Here is her story.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette, and we are back with the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. This is a really fun one, because we are actually on the set filming for Schoolhouse Rocked the movie. It’s so neat to see how the Lord provides just different guests and people for the movie and for the podcast as well.
You are going to love my guest today, her name is Zan Tyler. She is just a sweet, sweet homeschool mom whose kids are grown now. She has an amazing story and I know you are going to be so encouraged by what God has done in her family and through her family, for the homeschool world.
So Zan, welcome. I am really excited to talk to you today!
Zan: Oh, thank you, Yvette. It’s great to be here.
Yvette: Thank you. Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Zan: Well, we have three grown kids, six grandchildren, and we homeschooled for 21 years, from 1984 to 2005, and homeschooled each of the kids from kindergarten through high school.
Yvette: So that was back in the day.
Zan: That was back in the day for sure.
Yvette: You are truly considered, in the homeschool world, one of the pioneers, who really got homeschooling kind of off the ground, and you are very instrumental in homeschooling becoming legal. Not just your state of South Carolina, but in many states, in addition to that. So, let’s talk about that, because there’s so much to tell in your story. Tell us, kind of from the beginning, how this whole story unfolded for you.
“When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, ‘Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.’ I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.”
Zan: Well, it was 1984, which I just always think is so George Orwellian, and my oldest son was in kindergarten. He was very bright and gifted, but not reading. He was the only one in this little kindergarten of eight that wasn’t reading. So I was looking for answers, because I had no educational background. I wasn’t sure if it was a problem, or what he was going through.
A friend of mine recommended that we hold him back a year. That was normal for boys, they needed a little more time to mature. But another friend of mine, she and her husband were getting their masters degrees at Columbia Bible College, getting ready to go to the mission field said, “Zan, I taught in the public schools for many years before I had Nat and I’m going to homeschool, and I think you should homeschool Ty.”
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You know the scene from Star Wars, where the walls – it’s really a trash compactor – and they start closing in? When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, “Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.” I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.
But she gave me a book, Homegrown Kids by Dr. Moore. I took home that book, and all the way home I’m telling the Lord, “Well, I’m never going to homeschool.” I get home and I start reading that book, more as a courtesy from my friend than anything else, and it was like the Holy Spirit was just wooing me, and softening my heart, and showing me what a glorious way to educate homeschooling really is.
The only problem was, this was 1984, and we didn’t know one person in the world who homeschooled. There were no organizations, no HSLDA. I think it had actually started on the West Coast, but we certainly didn’t know of them on the East Coast. No state organizations, no support groups, no, nobody. So I really had nobody to turn to.
I used to walk in the morning early and pray and listen to the Bible on my Walkman, and I really just felt like the Lord was saying, “Okay, I really want you to homeschool your boys.” I just remember saying, “No, I just can’t do this.” So I ran inside. We went to the public school district in our area, I showed them the testing that Ty should be held back a year, even though he was six, and they said, “Okay.” That was that, and I thought that was the end of the story.
Until others, people in the school district, were getting their orientation packets for kindergarten and I didn’t get one. I called the school superintendent, he said, “You can’t put your first grader in our kindergarten program. We’ve put him in first grade.” I said, “Well, private schools are filled at this point, I have no choice.” He said, “Well, I’m sorry, you cannot do this.”
So, I called my old high school principal, who is now associate superintendent of instruction in the district, and just asked him to write a note to hold Ty back. He said, “Well, Zan, I just can’t do that.” Which, they did those kinds of things all the time. I said, “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to homeschool Ty.” It was a threat, it was my trump card. He said, “Oh, the school district’s gotten so lenient with that kind of thing.”
Later I found out they had approved one person in the history of the district, and she was a certified teacher. I had been an economics major in college. I had planned to go to law school, until Joe proposed and we got married and had children instead. I mean, I did not have the educational background they were looking for. So we had to hire an attorney just to find out what the law was. The local school district, nor the State Department of Education, would give us the law. There’s no internet, no Google, no organizations, no other way to find it out.
So, we hired him, we submitted our application. It’s about, oh, I mean, it was about five inches thick, everything they wanted from me at that point, and they denied my application. So we had to call our attorney again. He said, “Oh, now you appeal to the state board. They will deny you, they will uphold whatever the local school board did.” I said, “What then?” He said, “You’ll end up in family court.” I said, “What then?” He said, “Well, I don’t know, honey.”
“He looked at me and he said, ‘Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.’ So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, ‘Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.'”
So, I’m telling the Lord, “I told you this was not a good idea.” So, in the middle of all of this, I had a thought. The State Superintendent of Education had actually observed my mother’s classroom. She was a fourth grade teacher when he was getting his PhD. I was in the fourth grade, so I saw him every day after school for several months. I called Dr. Williams, said, “Dr. Williams, this is Zan Tyler. I’m Sybil Peter’s daughter. I have a problem, can I come see you?”
So, I went up there, and just explained my predicament, all I wanted to do is hold Ty back a year. The school district said, yes, then they said no. Private schools were filled, and they denied my application to homeschool. What am I going to do? He looked at me and he said, “Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.” So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, “Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.”
Yvette: Which at that point, I would say most parents would probably just say, “Okay.” They would throw their hands up, give up and say, “All right.”
Zan: You know, I think that was just when the Lord took over for me. There’s the verse in Acts that says, “Don’t fear when you’re brought before governors, because I’ll tell you what to say.” It was really an out of body experience, because I said, “Then Dr. Williams, you’ll have to put me in jail.” I’m thinking, “Who just said that?” It was really like an out of body experience. But I knew the Lord had been calling me, and in that moment he, I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but he confirmed that to me.
Yvette: It’s so neat to have just a piece of God when he asks us to do everything. We’ve talked a whole lot about this on the podcast, is that when God calls you to something, he’s going to provide everything that you need, and he is going to pave the way for you. Whether it’s homeschooling, or, you know, a new job, or a move across the country. Whatever it is, he’s going to provide the way, and he’s going to pave that road.
So I love that you were just obedient and you were willing to listen to what God was telling you, because you have, now since then, impacted so many families. So, continue on. Well, let me ask you this first. How did your husband, Joe, how did he respond to this whole idea of homeschooling? Was he all in favor of it? Was he a little resistant? What was his response?
Zan: Well, I’ll tell you now that Joe does a workshop called, You Want to What? Confessions of a Reluctant Homeschool Dad. So, we’ve always had a great marriage. Joe’s a great communicator, and so we could always talk. Basically what he said to me was, “I know how much you love the Lord, and I know how much you love the kids. So I totally trust you, but I think this is the craziest thing we’ve ever done.”
He finally said, “Well, if it’s numbers and colors, you can’t mess up a kid too much in kindergarten.” Then we laughed, because low and behold Ty was color blind, and we didn’t know it yet. I mean, he was very supportive of me, he just thought the idea of homeschooling was nuts.
Yvette: So what was his response when you started to get into a little bit of legal trouble?
Zan: You know, then we were just all in it together.
Yvette: Which is how it should be.
Zan: Yes, yes. So, he tons of pizza. I should say this, no man should have to eat as much pizza during those early years of homeschooling as Joe did.
Yvette: Yep. You are one busy mama.
Yvette: So, how did the rest of the story transpire from there?
Zan: Well, it was interesting, because being the brave noble person I was, we had decided not to tell either set of parents we were going to homeschool. Joe said, “You know, you’re going to have to tell them at some point, it’s kind of like being pregnant. People will recognize, at some point, that something is going on.” I said, “Well, when the time comes, I’ll talk about it.” I just had no more emotional bandwidth.
So, when I was threatened with jail, then that forced the conversation, because my parents were very involved in the whole fabric of Columbia. Not social life, but just community life. Dad was, in addition to his profession and being a lawyer, he was chairman of the board of the Baptist hospital system. I knew that the newspapers would not say, “P on homeschool mothers and Tyler goes to jail.” It would say, “John Peter’s daughter goes to jail.”
I knew I needed to tell them. So, I go by to tell them, and I hold it together, “Mom, dad, I’m going to homeschool Ty.” Of course, they don’t know what it is, I barely know what it is. “I’ve been threatened with jail, and my hearing is on Tuesday. I didn’t want you to read about it in the newspaper.” Then I just lost it. I was hysterical, and I left. My daddy, we’ve always been so close, he just went to be with the Lord. But he was just so mad I had been treated that way.
As God, in his very kind of providence would have it, he was speaking at a hospital function the next night with Nancy Thurman, who was the wife of Senator Strom Thurmond, who was a legend in South Carolina politics, served in the Senate for 50 or so years. I had worked for him when I was in high school. It was the first year of the 18 year old vote, and I was female to boot. So I did television commercials with him and toured the state with fundraisers with him and his team. So I knew him, and I had called his office and gotten no response.
Dad said to Mrs. Thurman that night, “Zan needs help from the Senator now.” So she called his chief of staff who said, “We’ll overnight a letter to Charlie Williams, the State Superintendent of Education, telling him to approve the program.” But the next day we got a call from his chief of staff saying that the Senator was actually going to fly down and meet personally with Charlie Williams, who was the State Superintendent of Education.
So, when Senator Thurmond, the legend, walks in and tells Dr. Williams, “Her program is legal, we’ve looked into it, you need to approve it.” Then everything changed. So, the threats of jail averted, and the State Board approved my program. We homeschooled that first year. It was still very tough, we had policemen riding up and down our streets of a very quiet neighborhood. We assumed to make sure that we were inside having school and at home, and we had threatening phone calls, and neighbors.
Yvette: From the school board?
Zan: Well, you know, at first, we didn’t know. This is before caller ID and cell phones and all of this. So BellSouth had just come out with this very expensive callback system, you could see who called you. I told Joe, I said, “I want to pay for this.” We had no money at this point, legal fees and all. He said, “Okay, you’re paranoid, but we’ll do it.” It was school districts, and it was not just my own. It was other school districts in the state calling me, wanting personal information, seeing if I answered the phone.
It was crazy. But that year, our goal was just to get Ty ready for first grade. But the things that we saw happening in our home, even with all the pressure, the legal pressure outside of the home, there was just this, not magic, that’s the wrong word, but this just incredible depth building in our home that we had never had before, even though I was a stay at home mother up until that point.
So, our vision for homeschooling began to grow a little bit, and legal threats were starting to pour in, and the State Department of Education was getting ready to promulgate very negative regulations. So, it just grew into an eight year struggle, really, or battle, where for eight years our family was, either in court or in the legislature, fighting for good homeschool laws in South Carolina.
Yvette: At that point you knew you weren’t just fighting for yourself; you were fighting for others who would come into homeschooling.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: Through that time, did you start to meet other families who were homeschooling?
Zan: Yes, yes. I remember we went to the first conference in Atlanta, and I think there were seven families from South Carolina there. Which I had no idea, we were delighted to see seven. But everybody was so nervous, nobody would give out their phone numbers or their last names, because we were so afraid that there was somebody from the government there. They were scary times.
But during that first year, Joe and I began to keep a database of people who were starting to call us then from all over the country, it was kind of strange. It was think tanks and attorneys, and people looking to move to South Carolina, who may have already started homeschooling in another state where there was no threat. So, we just started collecting names of people who had heard of homeschooling. We weren’t necessarily looking for homeschoolers, just people who had heard of it.
So we started growing this database, which came in handy then, in December of 1985, a year later, when we got the information that the State Department was getting ready to promulgate the regulations that would require teaching parents, and to have a college degree, and only use state-approved tax. So that gave us a little bit of list to begin building that grassroots movement with.
Yvette: So how did homeschooling change your family?
Zan: Oh, my goodness, I feel like Shakespeare, “let me count the ways.” It just, this closeness. We were close to begin with, I can’t explain it. Just a deeper intimacy. It made the kids closer. The most dramatic change for me is I began to notice my boys’ spiritual gifts. There was no time for that kind of observation before, but even though they were young, I believe that the Lord gave me insight into things that the boys were capable of spiritually, and the way they thought.
For instance, we had been praying, just for our neighbors, that we’d have a chance to witness. One day, during our first few weeks of homeschooling, they were out playing and I called them in, they were riding their bikes in the driveway, and he didn’t come. I said, “Ty, honey, you have to obey me the first time, or homeschooling is not going to work.” He said, “Well, mom, did you see that little boy on the bicycle?” He said, “We’ve been sharing Jesus. I’d never seen him in our neighborhood. I was afraid I’d never see him again, and I just needed to tell him about Jesus.”
Zan: It was through instances of being together so much, that I began to see his heart to really share the Gospel, even as a young little boy. Then my other son, who is now an attorney, was always very thoughtful. When Joe and I went to our first homeschool conference, in Atlanta. Conference, I use that word very lightly, there were maybe 60 people there from 10 states or five states or something. My sister took John and Ty up to Stone Mountain, and they were six and four. We’d been learning the children’s catechism, and they found this footprint that looked like a huge footprint in the mountain, and Ty said, “John, look at this. This is so big, it must be God’s.” Four year old little John says, “Ty, God is a spirit and have not a body like man.”
Oh, my goodness! So, I began to see their spiritual depth really blossom. That has always been one of the greatest parts of homeschooling to me, is that we can prepare our kids to take their place in the world, not just academically gifted and other gifts, but their spiritual gifts. The church just needs mature believers now, people who can speak truth.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. So, kind of take us down the road of what homeschooling looked like. You say you went to these conventions, and there were about 60 people there, you know, to what it is today. Because now you go and you’ve got 6,000, 7,000 people or more at some conventions. It has changed dramatically, obviously.
It’s really interesting, because we’re going into our ninth year of homeschooling, but when we came into homeschooling nine years ago, it was very similar to what it is now. It was a very acceptable culture, it’s not awkward for us to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. When people say, you know, “Oh, are you off of school today?” My girls say, “No, we’re homeschooled.” Then typically people will respond with, “Oh, wow, that’s great. I wish I could homeschool, or, you know, my sister homeschools, or my daughter home schools.” I mean, everybody knows somebody who homeschools.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: But obviously, it wasn’t that way for you.
Zan: That’s right.
Yvette: So, take us through what it was like for you in those beginning years, and other families, to what homeschooling has become today.
Zan: I have such a vivid memory of having homeschooled for about six months, and being in tears one morning during my quiet time, just saying, “Lord, remember me, this person you made so extroverted? I now have no friends.” There were people in the neighborhood who would no longer speak to us, people in our church who were suspicious. I mean, this was 1984, and like I said, when I said we knew nobody when we started, we knew nobody when we started. So, there was just no support and nobody for the kids to share that experience with.
Now, as the year progressed and we went into the second year, then we found friends. I mean, it wasn’t unusual for us to drive to Greenville to see another homeschool family, which was 100 miles away, or Charleston. Then we began to develop a few friends and a little bit of a community. I will say this, that the community that developed was very, very close. Then when we were threatened in 1985, with those regulations from the State Department, we started pulling the group together and sending mailings out.
Then somebody gave us an organization that had already the 501(c)(3) status they weren’t using anymore. We took that over and then formed the first homeschooling organization in South Carolina. So, it was definitely hard. It was just hard. But we knew the Lord had called us, and then to watch it grow step by step. We had the first public hearing in South Carolina in 1986, and we actually had about 400 people show up for that, which was really amazing. We had no idea. We just sent out this blind list, this list we had been mailing, and we had all these people show up. It was pretty amazing. That was a ton of people.
Yvette: That is a lot, because that’s before the days of even email-
Zan: That’s right, oh, no, email, no. That was the days before fax. It was by phone or mail. So, it was very interesting. So, it was the Lord, and then eventually we started going to the National Leadership Conference. It was people from a lot of other states who had … everybody was going through their own set of circumstances. Some people were very free, like in Georgia or North Carolina, other people were like us in South Carolina, where we were very threatened, and it was very hard. But that was our peer group, and that sort of was what the Lord gave us, just to keep us going, and that fellowship we needed to keep going.
I can remember the first time Joe and I were asked to go to Japan to speak at a conference there, and it wasn’t for expats, it was for Japanese. I sat on the plane, and all of a sudden I just started crying, because I looked at Joe and I said, “You remember when we first started homeschooling? All people wanted to do was shut me up. You know, make her be quiet, stop talking about this, go away.” The fact that somebody was paying us to fly halfway across the world to talk to them about homeschooling, it was just overwhelming.
It’s one of those moments that will just always be emblazoned in my mind. But it was like a revival movement, the Lord just kept raising people up and up and up, and it got bigger and bigger, and it was this grassroots ground swell. That was one reason you know it’s really the Holy Spirit, because there’s no other explanation for it.
Yvette: Yeah. So, you’ve been through the whole process of helping to make it legal. Where do you see homeschooling going in the future? Do you see that our freedoms are in jeopardy at all? Or do you think that we will be able to continue on with our freedom? And how can people make sure that our freedom stays?
Zan: Joe always says, “It’s not that the grass is greener on the other side, it’s the grass is greenest where you water it and fertilize it.” So we shouldn’t ever take our marriages for granted, we should never take our freedom for granted. I know what it’s like to be an innocent person who was threatened legally. I will tell you that is not fun. I never want another mother to go through what we went through. It was horrible. Wandering at night if somebody was going to take my kids, if a neighbor was going to turn us in to the Department of Social Services for something. It was extremely stressful.
So, my love for freedom is very, not guarded, but it’s in the context of knowing we can lose it, and knowing what that feels like. Ronald Reagan said, “It only takes a generation to lose our freedom.” Then there’s the quote, “All we need to lose our freedom is … for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” So I think it’s very easy to become complacent, when it seems so easy.
But we need to remember we have enemies, whether it’s the National Education Association or the School Administrators Association. There are people out there who think that the fact that we can homeschool our children is the worst thing that has ever happened to the culture. We think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the culture.
Yvette: Right, of course, but they want control over our children.
Zan: We were talking earlier today about this, I was speaking at a leadership forum sponsored by Clemson University in South Carolina, but this was the education segment, I was the homeschool spokesman. After it was over, this woman asked me, she said, “Don’t you feel guilty for homeschooling?” I said, “Well, I have felt a lot of emotions over homeschooling, but guilt is not one of them, why?” She said, “Because you’ve robbed the school district of all the money the state would have given them for your children, you’ve robbed the school district of kids who probably would have good test scores, because you’ve also robbed the school district of involved parents, all of these things which we need.”
So I got real quiet, and I said, “Well, who do you think my kids belong to?” Well, she had no answer. So I read her this, this shows what my life was like. I used to travel with this in my purse, I had no idea what I’m going to talk about at this day. So I read her this statement, I’m going to read it to you, just because this is where my life was.
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize his children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state. Those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
So she looked at me like, “Where did you get that right wing Christian propaganda?” She said, “Where did you get that?” I said, “From the United States Supreme Court, Pierce vs Society of Sisters, 1925.” I remember thinking then here is the problem with our society, nobody knows anymore that children don’t belong to the state. When you have to tell an audience that the child is not the mere creature of the state, and that is news to them, we are in trouble as a culture.
So, we have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.
Yvette: That’s right, that’s right. We have a couple minutes left. In these last few minutes I would love for you to talk about, because I know you’ve been very involved in your state organization. How can people get involved in their own state organization, or in, you know, the United States as a whole, to keep the freedoms that we have for homeschooling? And why do these state organizations even exist?
“The state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.”
Zan: Well, the state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.
Homeschooled kids are the best thing we have going for us, because they’re polite and articulate, and well-educated. It’s like one representative said to me, “Zan, now that I see the artwork, I want to know the artist.” So, we need to do that, we need to take our kids with us to vote, we need to get them involved with pro-life, pro-family candidates. My boys started working campaigns with me when they were little, we would hold out signs in the rain. You know, politics is not glamorous, but it is really necessary.
Then, you know, during the presidential election, every presidential election, we would have a blank map of the states, and we would color a state red if it went to the Republican candidate, blue if it went to the Democrat, and we’d mark in the number of electoral votes. So, explain to your kids the electoral college, there’s a great movement afoot to get rid of it. It would destroy our Republican form of government. So I would just say be involved. If it’s uncomfortable, just decide you’re going to live out of your comfort zone.
Heidi’s podcast is a great podcast. She keeps us up politically with what’s going on, and your state organization will do that. Join HSLDA as well, they’ve been a great safeguard for homeschooling parents.
Yvette: Yeah, absolutely. Yes, you’re right. Heidi St. John, her podcast, the Heidi St. John Podcastis excellent. She often talks about just things that are going on in the culture. I get all my news from her.
Zan: Yeah, that’s fabulous.
Yvette: I listen to it every day. But, yes, people can actually go to the Schoolhouse Rockedwebsite,and there’s a dropdown that talks about state organizations, and people can easily find their own state organization on there. So you don’t even have to go anywhere else, you just go straight to the Schoolhouse Rocked website.
Zan, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done, everything that you and your family have sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy today as homeschoolers. You are a homeschool legend, and I am so excited to be sitting here with you. So thank you for your time today.
Zan: It has been my privilege. Thank you so much.
You can find out more about Zan Tyler at ZanTyler.com.
Read Zan’s book, Seven Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential
Read Heidi St. John’s book, Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years
Photo by Garritt Hampton
Countdown to the final shot…
We are so excited! Today, our family packed up our big ol’ Ford Excursion and headed out across this great land to finish filming Schoolhouse Rocked with Heidi St. John, in Vancouver, Washington.
Please pray for our family and for the film as we travel. We always feel a bit anxious and lose several hours (or days) of sleep as we prepare for these trips, but it is always AMAZING to see how God works while we are out. We are thankful and humbled that He has called us to this, but we also recognize it’s not because we are worthy or qualified, but because HE is. In the end, we will only be able to say, “look what GOD did!”
We promise to post Facebook Live videos and send emails as we travel, to let you know where we are, who we are with, and how God is working. The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast will also continue, uninterrupted. We have some GREAT episodes already recorded and we will be recording a few more on the road. Look forward to interviews with filmmaker and homeschool gradate, Aaron W. Burns, Jamie Erickson, from The Unlikely Homeschool, Leigh Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations, Faith Berens, of HSLDA, listener favorite, Aby Rinella, of His Calling. My Passion, and several more!
Here are a couple of general observations as we leave:
1) I will never play Tetris again. This is what it looks like when you beat the game. ↑↑↑ By the end of this trip I will have packed and unpacked the truck approximately 786 times, and I will have earned (but not received — oh, the injustice!) a doctorate in Physics. If the matter in the truck condenses any further, a black hole will be triggered and the universe will collapse into a singularity.
2) We are thankful for hospitality. It has been a huge blessing to be able to make new friends across the country, as people have opened up their homes to us. I am excited about the new friendships we will make on this trip.
3) Learning doesn’t have to stop when we travel. We will spend hours listening to great books, studying God’s Word together, observing His great creation, studying maps and geography, and visiting important and historic locations. Roadschooling is awesome (and REALLY effective)!
4) God is FAITHFUL! We (that “we” includes you) have prayed that God would guide us through the making of Schoolhouse Rocked. We have prayed that he would provide the cast, the story, even our daily bread. He never fails, and He has shown his faithfulness and power, over and over, in the past few weeks – and in many cases, he has use YOU to answer those prayers. Thank you for praying with us. Thank you for supporting the film. Thank you for standing with us.
We are in this together and can’t wait to update you on God’s amazing provision!
Garritt Hampton, Director
Soli Deo gloria!
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For those of you who have been keeping up with production on the movie, you know that last month some big decisions were made about the direction we would take in finishing the film. We asked you to pray for the Lord to guide us, and He has! We are SO excited to tell you that in a few weeks, we are driving west from Georgia to Washington to complete the filming of Schoolhouse Rocked with Heidi St. John! Here’s the scoop…
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. This is Yvette Hampton and I am here with my oldest daughter Brooklyn for this update.
Brooklyn Hampton: Hi, guys.
Yvette: She’s 13. I love having a teenager. It’s so much fun. Most of the time.
Yvette: No, I’m loving it. It is so much fun. So far not at all as scary as I thought it would be. I love being a mom of girls and I love being a mom of a teen. God’s doing great things in her life. Speaking of your life, what are some things that God is doing with our family right now?
Brooklyn: Well, we are going to travel across the country and finish filming the movie with Heidi St. John in Vancouver, Washington. Yeah. It’s very exciting.
Yvette: It’s very exciting. Here’s the update. We are heading to Greenville. We’ll be there for about a week. We’re going to have some meetings with some people there and do a few things there, maybe a little bit of filming, but then we are trekking across the country in our big, blue Excursion and we’re really excited.
Yvette: On the way there we’re going to get to stop and see the Rinella family who we’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last year but we haven’t actually met them in person, right?
Yvette: If you listen to the podcast you’ve heard Aby Rinella for sure on the podcast a few times and so we’re really excited. We’re going to get to meet their family. Then we are going to go all the way to Vancouver, Washington, which is right outside of Portland. We’re going to finish filming the documentary with Heidi St. John. We are super excited about this.
We’ve filmed all of the interviews for the documentary but what we have left to film is the actual storyline that weaves throughout the documentary to pull all of the interviews together. That is going to be myself and Heidi are going to do that together and basically talk as homeschool moms about our journey of homeschooling and all that God has done.
For those of you who don’t know who Heidi is, which most of you do, but for those who don’t she is a homeschool mom of seven kids and she’s got a couple grandkids now but she doesn’t at all look like a grandma.
Brooklyn: She really doesn’t.
Yvette: She’s very young looking. She’s just amazing. She has a great platform. She has a podcast, she speaks, she writes lots of books, and she and her husband and her family run a homeschool resource center in Vancouver, Washington. We’re going to do a bunch of our filming there. We’re going to get to meet some of the families there in Washington and film some B-roll. Then from there we’re going to head to?
Yvette: California is home for us, for those who don’t know. We have not actually really been home for the past two and a half years. We went home for a couple of weeks. My mom was really sick and so we went to help take care of her. We haven’t been back there to actually get to spend time with friends and family and so we’re going to go back to do that and finish filming.
Between Vancouver, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and then our treks south from there to California – and in California we will finish filming the whole documentary, which we are really excited about.
Brooklyn: Yes. We are.
Yvette: It’s been a very exciting few years for our family but we are definitely ready to be done with filming and to get this movie out to encourage homeschool families.
Yvette: Here are some things that you can do to help us. We are in need of lots of prayer. There’s just a whole lot that goes into filming a feature length documentary like what we’re doing. God has been so faithful. I mean, do you want to tell some of the stories? I know that’s totally putting you on the spot because we didn’t talk about this beforehand.
Brooklyn: We didn’t.
Yvette: What are just a couple of things that God has done to provide for our family and to just show his power through the whole process of making this movie?
Brooklyn: I mean, there’s so many.
Yvette: I know.
Brooklyn: I honestly don’t know where to start.
Yvette: How about hospitality?
Brooklyn: Hospitality? All right. When we were coming to Georgia to start really editing the movie and all of that we had so many families just offer up their home to us and just welcome us in and be so hospitable and it was a huge blessing.
Yvette: Yeah. We’ve had that happen all across the country really. I mean, it has been absolutely incredible because, as you can imagine, of course, staying in hotel rooms and stuff can get really expensive. We have sometimes reached out and just said, “We’re coming to this particular area. If there’s anybody there who is willing to host our family we’ll be there from these dates …”
Every single time, without fail, God has provided a place for us to stay and then sometimes people just know where we’re going or … Last week, or I guess it was a couple of weeks ago, there was a family who just sent us an email and she said, “We live in the Modesto area in California.” She said, “If you’re coming through this area we would love to host you and have you stay the night at our house.”
These are people that we don’t even know but it’s such a neat way to just see the tangible hand of God working through the body of Christ to support this documentary because we can’t do it on our own. There’s just so much that goes into this. It really is a team effort of the whole homeschool community. That’s been great.
Brooklyn: While you were talking I thought of a story.
Yvette: Oh, tell a story.
Brooklyn: Yes. All right. It was about a year ago and we were going to head to Tennessee. We had nowhere to stay. We were just trusting God to provide a place and this family opened up their barndominium to us. We got to stay there for about five weeks.
Brooklyn: They were just amazing. Yeah.
Yvette: Yes. We didn’t even know until I think it was two weeks before we left for that trip …
Brooklyn: We had been planning this trip for like months ahead of time.
Brooklyn: Like we had this trip, we were going to Tennessee, and we didn’t know where we were staying.
Yvette: We didn’t know but we trusted that because God was leading us there he was going to provide a place for us to stay. Two weeks before we arrived in Tennessee he provided the most amazing place for us to stay on this farm. The White family, is just so incredibly hospitable and gracious. We have been the recipients. That has happened over and over again. The McCosky’s and … I can’t even list all of people because there are so many of them.
Brooklyn: So many.
Yvette: We have literally stayed in many, many houses, which has really stretched our family and our comfort because it’s kind of awkward sometimes, especially in the beginning, to just go stay with people that you don’t know.
Yvette: But we have made friends. We have friends now across the country. Like really good friends.
Brooklyn: Yeah, that we now text with everyday and they just say, “Hey, how’s it going? We’re praying for you.” Those are friends we didn’t even know before.
Yvette: Right. We are learning that where God guides he provides. Our pastor gave a sermon on that years ago, before we left California. This was probably just a few weeks before we left. I remember him giving a sermon and he said, “Where God guides, he provides. That really stuck with Garritt and I. We were like, “Okay, God is guiding us on this trip. He’s guiding us to make this movie. He is going to provide everything that we need” and he has unmistakably and miraculously provided for us in ways … The boxes.
Brooklyn: The boxes. Yes.
Yvette: Do you want to tell the story about the boxes?
Brooklyn: I was going to tell the story but I didn’t know if you were going to go into that whole thing.
Yvette: No. Tell the story of the boxes.
Brooklyn: Yes. Okay. We recently sold our trailer and we are heading across the country, as you guys already know. We just needed totes.
Yvette: Those plastic Rubbermaid tote boxes.
Brooklyn: Earlier that day we had gone to Sam’s Club and we saw these … I don’t even know how much they were like.
Yvette: I think they were like $8 a piece.
Brooklyn: $8. They were like top quality totes. We put them in the cart. We just were walking through and my dad was like, “I don’t think we should buy these right now.” We put them back. We had two of them. I don’t know if I mentioned that.
Yvette: We had two of them. That we needed.
Brooklyn: That we needed. We really did need them. Later that day … Oh my gosh. Later that day we went to my grandpa’s house and we were unloading some stuff and loading up some stuff.
Yvette: To store at his house.
Brooklyn: Yeah. He said, “Hey, I have two totes. Would you guys possibly be interested?” We were like, “Two totes? What?”
Yvette: Yeah. I mean, it was just amazing because it seems like such a small thing but it was one of those moments where I realized once again that God cares even about the little things. He provides for us in amazing ways. He provides for us even in the little things. He provides for us in big ways but he knows when we need plastic boxes and he provides those for us as well. He is a faithful, faithful God.
Just as we have gone to Tennessee and God provided a place for us we’re now trucking across the country to finish filming with Heidi. Heidi is excited about it. We are super excited about it. We know absolutely that this is God’s plan for finishing the story of Schoolhouse Rocked. We have prayed a lot about it. We’ve sought wise counsel. This is just absolutely the direction God is leading us.
It costs a whole lot of money to do this. We’ve got to hire a crew of people to help us finish filming. We’re going to be filming for probably five solid film days with Heidi but we’ll be filming for probably about 10 to 12 days in Vancouver and Portland area and then a few more days in California.
Yvette: It costs a lot of money to do that. We would love your help. We don’t very often ask for this. We would love it if you guys would be willing to come alongside of us and just help support us financially so that we can get to Washington, hire the crew that we need to finish filming, get the movie done, and then we can move into post-production.
We’re looking at some investors, talking to a couple of investors, but those people will come in for the post-production part to fund that part of it because that’s a big huge chunk of money.
If you would be willing to just pray about it and just see if the Lord might put it on your heart to help support the rest of filming for the movie so that we can get this part of it done and then move into post-production. We would love that.
Brooklyn: That’d be a huge blessing.
Yvette: That would be a huge blessing. We know God is going to provide. He provides miraculously. I mean, again, we have so many stories of what he’s done and how he has provided. Where can people go to find out more about helping with Schoolhouse Rocked? Schoolhouse Rocked dot com.
Brooklyn: Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. She totally likes those lines.
Yvette: I did. Though, you would have known that if I hadn’t said that, right? Would you have known to say that?
Yvette: Go to Schoolhouse Rocked dot com. Right on the front page you’ll see a button that says support … I think it says support.
Yvette: Just click on that. You can actually make a donation to Schoolhouse Rocked. Then, of course, pray for us. There is just so much more to be done. We continue to be in awe of what God has called us to do. We feel very honored that God has called our family to make this documentary and very humbled. It’s all for his glory.
It’s not for our recognition or our glory but it’s really to change the hearts of parents and call people to bring their kids out of the public school system, out of private schools, if that’s where they’re called to, and bring them home and disciple their children. Homeschooling is a blessing.
Brooklyn: It is.
Yvette: It’s fun. Do you enjoy being homeschooled?
Brooklyn: I love being homeschooled. I love being homeschooled.
Yvette: I didn’t pay you to say that either.
Brooklyn: No. She didn’t. I really genuinely love being homeschooled. Real fast, while you were saying the support thing, the other thing you can do to support is send us emails. Send us encouraging emails. That really helps keep us going.
Brooklyn: It’s like send us texts, send us emails. Those are really a blessing. I don’t think people know how much of a blessing that is to us. That really lifts our spirits and it helps us keep going.
Yvette: Yes. Well said, Brooklyn. That is true. People will randomly just send messages either on Facebook or email or sometimes they’ll leave reviews for the podcast.
Brooklyn: Do that too.
Yvette: Do that too. Yes, that is an easy way that you can just let us know that you’re praying for us, that you’re standing with us. Sometimes people can’t afford to support us financially but you can certainly afford to support us through prayer. We would love that. Thank you for saying that.
Brooklyn: You’re welcome.
Yvette: I appreciate that. Yeah. That’s where we’re at. Keep up with us this summer. If you are on our Facebook page it’s The Schoolhouse Rocked Facebook page. You can keep up with us there and we’ll keep up to date on where we are and what we’re doing. We’ll be doing Facebook Lives, especially while we’re filming because that’s just fun.
Brooklyn: Oh, yeah.
Yvette: We’ll give you updates on what God is doing and how he’s providing. If you would like to just be part of that we would love to have you on our team and just have you to be part of the Schoolhouse Rocked crew by being some of the prayer and financial backing that we need.
Thank you, guys, for listening and if you’re watching this on video thank you for watching. We are praying for you guys. We pray all the time that the Lord would use this movie to be a blessing to you and that it would just honor him and serve his kingdom well.
We love you guys. Thank you for your support. Thank you, Brooklyn, for being my guest today.
Brooklyn: I kind of asked for this.
Yvette: You did ask for it. She keeps asking if she can record something with me.
Brooklyn: Yeah. Be on the podcast.
Yvette: Be on the podcast. Here you have it.
Yvette: I’m glad that we get to do this together.
Brooklyn: Me too.
Yvette: All right, you guys. Have a great day. Bye.
“The mission of Schoolhouse Rocked is to encourage and equip homeschool families to start strong and finish well. And so everything we’ve done has been guided by that goal. Our primary goal is to glorify God in all we do, but we want to do that by building up homeschool families. We know that it can be difficult, but it’s super rewarding. So we want to be a part of the process of making homeschooling great for your family. That’s what we’re doing with the film. That’s what we’re doing with the podcast.” – Garritt Hampton
Yvette Hampton: Welcome to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I’m Yvette Hampton, producer and host of the upcoming documentary Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution. On this podcast we bring you the very best from today’s homeschool leaders to help you start strong and finish well. This podcast is for you. If you have a guest or topic suggestion, email email@example.com.
We are so excited to have you here. This is the first official episode of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast and I have an amazing guest with me today. I can say hands down that my guest today is my absolute favorite guests that I have had on and that I will ever have on the podcast. My guest today is Garritt Hampton, director of Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution and he also happens to be my wonderful, faithful, loving husband of 23 years, and the father of my two amazing, beautiful daughters.
Garritt Hampton: Proudly.
Yvette: Welcome to the podcast.
Garritt Hampton: Thank you. It’s exciting to be here. Yeah, I’m really excited about this podcast. We’ve been talking about doing this for over a year and kind of, it’s been kind of in the back of our planning process as we’ve been working on so many other different things. And you know, God’s just put us in a great position where over the past two years as we’ve been recording for the movie and filming, we have had a chance to meet so many amazing people and it just made sense to be able to reach out to those people again and say, Hey, will you be part of the podcast? And so, we’re excited to do that. I mean, do you want to tell them what the purpose of the podcast?
Garritt Hampton: Well, the purpose of the podcast is very much the same as the purpose of Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie, which is to encourage and equip homeschool families. We set out when we, when we started production, when we started pre-production, one of the first things we did was write out our mission statement. And it’s very simple. The mission of Schoolhouse Rocked is to encourage and equip homeschool families to start strong and finish well. And so, everything we’ve done has been guided by that goal. Our primary goal is to glorify God in all we do, but we want to do that by building up homeschool families. We know that it can be difficult, but it’s super rewarding. So, we want to be a part of the process of making homeschooling great for your family. That’s what we’re doing with the film. That’s what we’re doing with the podcast.
Yvette: Yeah. So maybe we could give him a little bit of an idea of kind of where this podcast is going. We have actually, this is podcast number one, but we have actually recorded five already and we have several more already scheduled to record. So, I’m really, really excited about who, who we have. so far have recorded interviews with, Israel, Wayne, Ginger Hubbard, Connie Alberts, Carol Swain, and Scott Lob here.
Garritt: All of them. Excellent. I’ve, I’ve heard them also.
Yvette: all of them. Excellent. And all of them. Part of the cast. Right. And then we’ve got Pam Barnhill coming up. We’ve got Dr. Christopher Perrin, we have Andrew Kern and we have several others that were still actually just trying to work out dates with, but it’s actually not going to be all the expert types as people would know. It will also be regular just homeschool moms like me who are just in the thick of it right now who are working through this great thing that we call homeschooling. And um, and so we have several moms who just have different stories maybe. I know we’ve got one mom who’s going to be on, and she dealt with cancer a few years ago and so she’s got just a great testimony about her journey of dealing with cancer and homeschooling at the same time and how God brought her and her family through that. We’ve got calling Kessler. We’ll be on talking about kids who are twice exceptional and gifted. And we, we’ve got just a great lineup of people who will be on the podcast and just some great moms and dads who will come on and just share their experiences and wisdom so that we can encourage and equip people to be able to homeschool. So, we’re very excited about that.
Garritt: Now can I ask you a question about that? Sure. You say moms and Dads, and already we’ve recorded five episodes and two of them have been homeschooled dads. How does listening to homeschool dads build up encourage quip homeschool moms?
Yvette: Well, I actually, my hope and prayer is that with the podcast that it won’t be a podcast that just moms will listen to. I’m really hoping that with the dads who will be on that they will be able to encourage the other dads because dads have such a very important role in homeschooling. And we actually talk a lot about that in the movie. And we’ll talk about the movie in a few minutes. But in the movie, we talk a lot about the important role of dads to lead their families to encourage and support their wives and how they can do that. And so that if anyone ever asked me what my favorite part of the movie is done, hands down my, my absolute favorite part because I think many dads don’t realize how, just how important that is in their day to day family life and how much their wives need. That.
Garritt: It’s definitely been a fun part. Um, as we’ve interviewed just great Christian men who are leading their families well and going through this journey and being spiritual leaders, we’ve always taken a minute to step out of the homeschool part of the movie and just ask them what it’s like to be the spiritual leader in their home. How do they do that? What does it look like? What are they trying to get? Um, get into their kids and get out of the, out from their kids. And it’s always been a huge encouragement. We’ve had some great discussions and I will tell you there may be another movie in that. Um, we have not talked about this, but there’s so much good stuff there. You will see it on the backstage past site for sure. Um, but there may be something else in the works.
Yvette: Yeah, I think so too. Um, I want to back up a little bit and talk a little bit about Schoolhouse Rocked too because some people listening to this podcast may not know that Schoolhouse Rocked is actually a movie. It’s a full-length movie that we are currently in production on. And so, let’s, let’s tell them a little bit about the movie, kind of our story, what we’ve done and how we’ve come to this place of doing this podcast. Do you want to go?
Garritt: I think you’re wanting me to go there.
Well, I kind of want to start from the, not the very beginning of time, but um, start a little bit.
Garritt: God created the heavens and the air. Yes, he did. The earth was without form and void in the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the year 2016. That’s a big jump. And that is a big jam. K 2016. So, we’ll go back to the very inception of the movie. I was teaching film at a private school in Lancaster, California. And in that year, I got asked to help out with a student film. Um, the crew, the girl doing the film was a friend of a teacher that I was working with and it was a short film on homeschooling that really was the beginning of this project. And I saw the short film that she did and thought, wow, what a great opportunity to just build up homeschooling families to show that homeschooling is a great option for families and really to legitimize the movement. And so, but this film was short. It was seven minutes long, I think. And even in that seven minutes, it was really powerful. So, I actually asked her if she wanted to do a feature and she said no, she was done with that project. So, I said, you know, that would be an awesome movie. And we started thinking about it at that point. Um,
Yvette: and I think you should mention previous to that, you had worked in the Hollywood film industry for many years, right? That was part of your background and then you’d worked in the music industry before that.
Garritt: Right. My, my background is really entertainment. Um, and I’ve had a varied background, but the, the last 10 years I’ve really spent doing movies and prior to that I had done music. Um, and so it wasn’t like I was just jumping into this movie thing cause a man, it would be a hard thing to jump into. But I had taken a year where I was teaching film at a school really because the movie industry had just become such a crazy mass for our family. I was, there was a lot of travel, a lot of time away from the girls in it. It needed to slow down a little bit. So, I had an awesome opportunity to teach film to junior high and high school students for a year. And it was a great time. Um, but it was also only a year. And so, we knew something was coming after that year. We knew we’d have to make a decision about where we’d be because it was going to end.
Yvette: Can I interject here in, in, on, on my end of it I was the homeschool mom. I was the homeschool mom who said I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever homeschooled my kids. We said that for many years. We had been married for about 11 years before we had our first child. And so, for this whole 11 years, we were adamant about it. We said we would never homeschool. And the reason for that was because we had so many misconceptions about homeschooling and what it was and all the negative stereotypes of, you know, what, how we saw homeschooling as kids because it was very different when we were growing up in the eighties and nineties
Garritt: yeah. It was different and we just didn’t get it too.
Yvette: Right, right. It’s not, it wasn’t bad. We just didn’t get it. That’s exactly right. Yeah.
Garritt: Right. It has changed though. It’s ironic because even, even though it was different, we still just didn’t get it and it was still a great movement, but we just saw all the negative things that people from the outside see. So, we really, I mean, we were, we had so many discussions about this saying how we would never homeschool our kids and so we didn’t want them to be socially awkward. Yes. The obnoxious. How will you socialize your kids? Argument came out of our mouth as many times and we’re ashamed of it.
Yvette: Well, I wouldn’t say that we’re ashamed of it. I’m actually glad that we were on that side of the fence because I think it has given us, I mentioned better understanding of people now who are on that side of the fence that they just simply don’t get it, which is why we’re making this movie.
Garritt: Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to answer so many of those questions because we had all those questions and when, when it came time to decide what we were going to do with our daughter for school, we had to work through all those issues. And it was by God’s grace that he changed our hearts about homeschooling. Um, I’m sure we could get into that, but it might take the whole show. But God changed our hearts. But to do that, he had a breakdown, a lot of misconceptions in our minds. And so, part of the reason we’re making this movie is so that we can show what homeschooling really looks like and that so many of those things aren’t true. And homeschooling can be really, really good for your family.
Yvette: So, yeah. Yeah. I agree. Okay. So, so we started our, we, I guess you stopped at that you were teaching film at a private school. And this was in, this was into the summer of 2016 so two years ago,
Garritt: right. So, two years ago, I knew that my time at the school was going to end at the end of the school year, and we didn’t know quite what we were going to do. And yet we had felt God just prompting us to make this movie. And it was in little ways. He never spoke from heaven. We never heard the audible voice of God. I wish we would have. Right. Maybe it would have been, it would’ve been helpful, but we were also feeling that it was time to get out of California. Um, for many reasons. We Love California. Our family is, there are churches there, our friends are there. Um, but we were feeling like it may be time to leave. And so the, the break from the school job and the, and what I was doing was a good opportunity to determine if it was time to go which over the, over the months as I, as it lead up to the end of the school year, God just made it more and more clear that it was time to leave and that it was a good idea to do this film.
Um, and he would just confirm it in great ways. It’s funny, this weekend actually, we, we got to see some friends and it was great just seeing friends from California and getting that fellowship, but I was reminded of how God confirmed things for us. One day after church, we went out to lunch with some friends who we loved, some friends for our homes from our homeschool co-op and they had another friend with them who we didn’t know. And we were just at the point where we were ready to tell people we were going to do this crazy thing, which was make a movie. And we’re sitting at lunch and, and you know, somebody asked, so what are you guys going to do? And I said, well, we’re, we’re going to make a homeschool movie. We didn’t have a title for the, for it at this point.
We didn’t even really know what it was going to look like. But we said, we’re going to show homeschooling. Like it really is. We’re going to show that it’s a great option for families and we’re really excited about it. I think that’s about all we knew. Right. And the friend who we didn’t know at the table said, “Oh man, you’ve got to meet our friend Scott LaPierre.” And we said, okay, great. Tell us about Scott. And they, you know, told us about Scott, you’re going to get to meet Scott in an upcoming episode. We have already recorded his episode and it’s fantastic. But within a few weeks of that meeting, we were on a plane up to woodland Washington to meet Scott and Katie, his wife and to interview him and several people from his church. We actually ended up doing a day in Portland where we did street interviews and then all day at a church from, well just after lunch because we did go to church in the morning.
We had lunch with the congregation and then started recording interviews and we got done at like as like 10 or 11 o’clock at night. It was a long day, but we had great stuff in the movie, was off to a great start. So, God just kept confirming in such interesting ways and definitely made it clear that we were supposed to do that. So, we set off on this journey. Long Story Short we sold everything we had. We sold our house, we sold our cars, we sold our furniture, we sold everything and bought a travel trailer and a truck and headed off across the country to make this move knowing where we were going. Right. We
Yvette: literally go, we, we knew that we were just going to head to Georgia because we had family in Georgia. And so, we said, well, well we’ll head there because it was December. We left on December 16th. And we said, we just need to make it to Georgia by Christmas. Cause we had promised the girls that we would be with family on Christmas Day.
Garritt: And so, we drove away from California really not knowing what God had in store. And up until that point, we had recorded interviews on three different sub sessions, three different occasions. We had done the interviews in Washington and Oregon, which were great. We had done a day of interviewing at our Classical Conversations group, which was really fun. And then we had interviewed Andrew Poodle. Ah.
Yvette: Oh, that was, that was a neat story too. You want me to tell that one? Sure. Yeah. Okay. So that was really cool. We had kind of made our list of people that we are wanting to kind of start the movie with. And Andrew Pudewa was one at the very top of that list. And so, we, we worked for melting. We were doing IEW curriculum with our daughter and stuff. And so, I was very familiar with him and I thought, you know, he would just be great. He’s just got such a great personality and hang, there’d be a great one to start with. And so Garritt sent him an email I think, and just said, hey, we’re making this movie again. I don’t think at the time we even had a title yet for the movie. And we said, we’re filming this documentary on homeschooling.
We would love to have you be part of it. And our thought was, we’re going to be traveling across the country from west coast to east coast and we can just kind of hit, oh, we knew he was in Oklahoma. We can hit Oklahoma on the way if we need to and interview him. We would be willing to do that. And so, you sent him an email, Garritt, and he responded within like a few hours and he said, yes, I’d love to be part of this documentary. You know, how do we work out the details of it? And, and then anyway, long story short, it turned out that he was heading out to California. He was going to be just a couple of hours from where we, where we lived and he said, I’ll, I’ll be happy to come to you because he was going out there to visit his family and it was going to be a personal trip.
And I remember he said, if I go out there and we filmed this and it can turn my personal trip into a business trip and I can write it off, you’re like, you’re welcome. And he was so gracious. He actually drove I think about two hours to where we actually were. And he spent the day with us. We got to interview him, we got to take him out to dinner that night and just got to spend some great time getting to know him. And, and he said, you know, here’s all the, a list of people that you, you know, you should get in this movie and if you have any problems getting in touch with them, let me know, I’d be happy to help you. And he was just so gracious and his name alone really, really kind of brought, you know, credibility. Right. Credibility. That’s the word I’m thinking of to the movie because as soon as we said to so many people, oh, you know, we’ve interviewed Andrew Pudewa while they would say, Oh, we love Andrew, he’s wonderful and well if he’s in it, it must be a real movie. And um, and it was just so great. And so that got the whole thing rolling and God just opened up that great door and we were able to connect with so many people because of that. And that was nothing but God’s doing.
Garritt: Yeah. And that was how he worked and has worked since. Um, we had also done Master’s College too. Oh yes. We knew that we were, we were going to need the college perspective for the movie. And so, one day we got to drive down to master’s college and we had done some others at the house where we did Andrew put a while, but we didn’t have much of an idea still what we were doing and we headed out across the country. And how long have we filmed? I mean we, we filmed for about a year and a half.
Yvette: Well, it’s been almost two because I think our very, very first interviews that we did, we’re in August. Right. I want to say they were in August because it was when we were still on our house. Sure. The test was in August, right. August, September. So, but, but our first interviews that we did, official interviews were in December of 2016 so, right. So, it’s been little more than a year and a half since we filmed those first interviews.
Garritt: Yeah. And it’s been great. God has provided the, just the best people. Um, we, we go into every interview not really knowing what to expect and event has kind of some questions in line just to get things started and make sure the interview moves in a certain direction. But it always goes somewhere better. I think in every case. And we’ll be, we’ll be watching together as the interviews going on and thinking about how interviews will work together with others that we’ve done in the past. And it is just such a friend. Fun Process. We finished interviewing
Yvette: in Nashville, right. And Nashville, which was just a few months ago in March of 2018 and over the past year and a half or so we’ve traveled ally, we’ve been to, I think we’ve traveled to, I think we filmed in 20 states. Have we, something like that. Yeah, it’s been a lot. Um, or at least had that many states represented cause some people have come from other states and, but we’ve taught, we’ve, I think we have traveled to about 20 different states and it’s been so great just to get her perspective of homeschooling across the country. And part of it has been that people have just opened up their homes to, as we’ve traveled and said, hey, you know, come stay with us. We have made friends. I mean across the whole country; it has been the most amazing thing. You know, we were kind of part of our little bubble in California, which we love.
We love our California bubble; we love our friends and family there. And it was really hard to move out outside of that. But it has been such a blessing meeting people in all different parts of the country and getting to see all these different parts of the country and interviewing. So, it’s not like we just stayed in one place and got just, okay. Here’s perspective of people homeschooling in California. I mean we have people from New York, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, California, of course, Alabama, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio. I mean a lot. And it’s been a really exciting to see and it’s been neat to see the homeschool community just rally around us and come together and really people, people are people. And there is just a real great community of people in the homeschool movement who love each other and work together. And you know,
Garritt: and we found so many similarities too. You would think that things would be different, and they are different from community to community. But really the homeschool community is very similar. I’m very, very open, very family oriented of course, because it’s, it’s really a movement of families. Um, and we have been so blessed by getting to know them. I, I, yeah. It’s,
Yvette: and the struggles are all the same for everybody. You know, it seems like every mom we talk to has, you know, more or less the same fears about, you know, am I doing it right? Am I messing up my kids? Am I teaching them enough? Um, you know, am I making it fun? Am I doing this the right way? And so, it’s been neat to just be able to just come alongside those people and say, you’re the same as everyone else. We all are in that same boat. And then you have those older moms like Doretta Wilson and Heidi St John and Connie Alberts who have been through it. They’ve done it. They’ve graduated their kids and their kids are thriving as adults. And those are the moms and dads who are coming alongside Zane. You’re doing a great job. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Garritt: What a great encouragement they are to them.
Yvette: It really has been. It has been. Yeah.
Garritt: One of my favorite things we’ve done to, I don’t mean to keep going on this, but I was thinking about as you say, Heidi and Connie and these people is um, it’s been a blessing to be at homeschool conventions where these people speak because you see the homeschool community come together and there’s nothing more encouraging than being in a room with 4,000 homeschool families and all knowing that everyone is going through basically the same things and dealing with similar issues. But having these people on stage say, you’re okay. This is what you need to do to move forward. And it’s going to be all right. Your kids are going to be great. We have been blessed. We’ve been able to be at several conventions across the country. And to me, I always leave energized. I leave energized as a homeschool dad, as a husband, you know, encouraged to do my job.
I leave energized as a filmmaker because I know that that stuff is just so impactful and we’re going to be able to incorporate that into the film, but so much more highly selfishly encouraged. Um, it really is a blessing. The other thing that’s a blessing is seeing how many families are together at these things. Homeschooling. Um, it, it’s always encouraging to me to see the movement of families who are intentional about raising their kids up in the right way. Um, we believe that that right way is in the, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And you see so many families together walking hand in hand through these conventions who are all walking in the same direction. It really is. It’s encouraging.
Yvette: It is. And you know, as you were talking about conventions, one of the things that we have realized is that almost across the board, every curriculum company that’s out there, I won’t say every single one, but most of them were homeschooled families who saw a need and met that need and they created their curriculum, Classical Conversations, apology, a not cross history. Um, I just, I mean there are so, so many of them that are, we’re just, there are families that, you know, mom or dad saw a need and just said, hey, you know, let’s create this curriculum. Oftentimes it was for their own kids and then it just turned into something bigger. And so, most of the curriculum you see out there nowadays is created by homeschool families and often still being run by those families themselves. Right. Which is really exciting because actually in the movie we talk a lot about family business and entrepreneurship and things like that.
And so that plays perfectly into homeschooling. And how and why homeschooling is so powerful for families because it allows families to be together and work together and learn together and teaches kids work ethic. And you know, our girls work with us. That’s been a really exciting part of filming this movie is that we, you know, we went from gear up being gone pretty much all the time when he was working in, in the Hollywood film industry. He was just, I mean, he’d be gone for days at a time and it was really hard on our family and now we’re together 24 hours a day, seven days a week and, and we love it. And you know, sometimes we need to get out and breathe a little bit, but we really enjoy being together and, and it has brought such a different element to our family and to our girls lives that they get to be part of this amazing thing that God has called us to, of making this documentary.
Garritt: Yeah. So back to the podcast, we, we have been talking about this for a year and we’re, we try to keep them around 30 minutes. So, we’re at 26 minutes right now and I want to get back to what people can expect. But one of the reasons we did the podcast was because we had such a wealth of great stuff to share with people. When you make a movie like ours, you go out and you film a lot of stuff and it can’t all make it into the movie. And we didn’t want to just let it down and go into a hole and disappear. We wanted to really build up homeschool families. So, an outgrowth of that was the podcast because we had forged relationships with great people who just had so much good wisdom to share. So, we wanted to bring those to you. Um, another aspect of that though is that we went out to our news newsletter subscribers early on and said, what do you want to hear in the podcast? What can we answer for you? And we’ve already started answering some of those questions you’ve had, do you want to share some of those?
Yvette: That was so much fun. We, we didn’t know how many responses we would get from that. And we got well over 80 responses and they were such good suggestions for topics and guests to have on. I mean the interesting thing is so many people asked the same questions in different ways. A lot of people are, you know, just wanting to know how I balance my homeschool day or how do I balance my homeschool day with little ones. You know, I’ve got an infant and a two-year-old who are running around like crazy and I’m trying to homeschool my seven and nine-year-old or you know, whatever your family dynamics still look like. And so, we have Pam Barnhill is going to be on, she’s going to talk a little bit about some of that stuff and um, we’ve got some other guests actually that are coming on as well that will help address some of these questions.
We have people who’ve asked about children with learning disabilities and how you homeschooled those kids. And so, we’ve got people who are going to come on and talk about that. We’ve got a, one of the questions we were asked, which Scott Lob here does such a beautiful job of answering is what do, what do your moms do when their husbands are not on board with homeschooling? And so, I talked with Scott about that and he just, he addresses it so perfectly and biblically and I’m just gives a great answer to that question. And um, you know, how do I make homeschool fun? So, Trish Corlew from hip homeschool moms is going to come on and talk about how to make homeschool fun. She’s a fun one. She is really fun because it doesn’t have to it, you know, the thing that we’ve realized is that with homeschooling, so many moms think that when you homeschool, you have in your brain the school room as we know in, into your home.
And it’s really hard to replicate what school looks like at a traditional school. And that’s not what homeschooling is. And so, we can encouragement from moms again, you know like Durenda Wilson who’ve been through it and who, who have walked that road and can give encouragement of just relax, just relaxed and have fun with your kids. I’m gender hybrid, talks about parenting. We had some questions about parenting and how do you deal with discipline issues because obviously that’s part of homeschool and that’s part of raising our kids. So Ginger Hubbard addresses that beautifully and she talks about just training the hearts of your children. And so many of these questions are getting answered and then we had a whole list of guest suggestions and we’ve already been able to connect with some of those people and they’ve agreed to come on the show. And some of them we’ve actually already recorded podcast interviews with. So that’s been really exciting.
Garritt: I see a couple here that are really fun to me and they’re the one-word ones. We have one, somebody just said encouragement. And I would really honestly say that as the heart of what we do is encourage homeschool families. We want to equip you by giving you great resources and great, you know, pouring wisdom into you and instructing you. But really, we want to build you up and encourage you so that you can make it through. So, we will do that in spades. That is our highest goal. The other one is road schooling. And on our journey, we’ve gotten to try that out and we have now almost a year and a half, well actually a more than a year and a half of roadschooling under our belt. So, we’ll get to that. Um, maybe we can have on another guest who’s done it and talk about the joys of traveling.
It’s awesome that homeschooling allows you the freedom to get out and travel and you can still do school on the road. So, it’s fine. We get to say that our girls get to actually drive the map and said, I just look at it on a piece of paper. And so that’s been a big blasting. So, we’re almost to 30 minutes and I want to tie up this episode, but really quickly I want to talk about the two other things that we have that we can offer to people, which is the website and then our backstage pass membership site. Cause those are great resources as well. Um, the websites – go to SchoolhouseRocked.com. We have some guest bloggers who are just wonderful and they, they post such encouraging things and all kinds of different topics that you can find on there. So, you can find guest blog posts on there and we actually will have a whole lot of more guest posts coming up in the near future.
There’s already a wealth on there though. There’s stuff on special needs. Homeschooling was special needs or stuff on family business. Um, there’s just general encouragement for homeschooling. It’s a wealth of information. Then the backstage past membership. Um, the backstage pass site is where you get an inside look at the making of the movie and you get the value of all this video that we’ve done. We’re going to release basically everything over time. Um, in addition to the movie, you’re going to see the uncut interviews with our guests and you’ll find that at the backstage pass site there’s a free subscription that gets you access to clips that you can search by topic and, and they’re going to answer your questions and build you up quick. But if you really want to dig down deep, we have a paid membership and it’s the Co cost of a cup of coffee, coffee a month for four 99 a month you can get access to complete interviews and there’s already several hours up there. We have a Heidi St John, Sarah McKinsey and her, Andrew Kern, Connie Albers is up there. Josh Tolley. His is amazing. That was Brooklyn’s favorite. Do we have Sam up yet?
Garritt: Her whole interview isn’t up yet, but there’s a few minutes there and it’s great. And I want to just elaborate a little bit on what that is. So, as we’ve filmed interviews for the movie, each interview has been, I mean I would say the average time that it taken for an interview is probably close to an hour and we have a ton of them. I mean our cast list is, is massive. If you go on the website, you can actually see who several of our cast members are and then families as well. And so obviously, you know, we can’t put an hour of Heidi St John in the movie because that would take up, it would be a good movie, it would be fantastic. But we’ve got so much great content in, so, you know, we can’t, we want to do something with the remainder of the footage that’s not going to make it into the movie.
That’s just so powerful that we really want people to be encouraged by it. And so, well that’s what’s going to be on the backstage pass membership site is you’ll get some behind the scenes stuff and then you’ll also get the full exclusive interviews from the cast members and you get to see us record this podcast live in color.
Garritt: Just to go on that for just one more second. Our first big interview, like we said was Andrew Pudewa and his interview was almost two hours long and there’s not one minute that’s not excellent. I don’t know how I’m going to cut that interview. It was so good. We were sitting there just dying because it was two hours of great stuff. So that’s coming to the Backstage Pass site, and just so much more if you want to be built up, if you want to be encouraged and equipped check out Members.SchoolhouseRocked.com and it’s a great way to support the movie.
Yvette: All of the paid memberships that come in actually goes to support production out of Schoolhouse Rocked. And so that’s a great way to support the movie and get something for yourself in return. Yep, absolutely. Why support the movie? Well we, we actually, right now the plan is that the movie is going to be in theaters and early summer of 2019, but we have a huge budget that we still need to meet in order to get it in theaters by next year. Um, we’re working with fathom events, which some of you may be familiar with them. They’re the company that does a lot of Kirk Cameron’s documentaries and, and live events and stuff like that. And so as of now, the plan is that the movie will be in theaters across the country, probably 850 plus theaters. And we’re really excited about that, but that is going to take an army of people to get it done. We have to hire, and we’ve already had to have all these people in place, but we have to pay for a composer and a colorist and a second editor. And I mean there’s just an, a marketing angel in a marketing budget, right? The marketing budget is huge. And so, we need to raise the rest of our budget to get it in theaters. And it’s a whole lot of money. And so, every year
Garritt: thing that, you know, whenever people pay for the backstage pass membership, that goes to help support that, right? Yeah. Every, every membership goes straight to production on the movie. And you can also donate to support. If you believe in what we’re doing, come beside us and help make a movie. You will be doing a great thing. Um, and you will be building up the homeschool community just like you’ve been built up.
Thank you so much for listening today. We are very excited to be here with you. We hope that it’s been an encouragement to you and we really hope that this podcast will encourage and equip you in many, many ways on this homeschool journey for great homeschooling videos, articles, giveaways, and more. Check out Members.SchoolhouseRocked.com and use the coupon code “PODCAST10” to save 10% on any paid Backstage Pass membership backstage pass members get exclusive access to full interviews from the cast of Schoolhouse Rocked and so much more. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave a review. Until next time. I’m Yvette Hampton. Wish she knew the joys of community and the wisdom to teach and learn.
Lately, it seems like all of my effort is going into just keeping up, and quite honestly it can be exhausting! I am relieved to know that this is just a season, and that we are working toward a big goal for God’s glory – and I am constantly encouraged by the wonderful support and encouragement we receive from you – our amazing tribe of fellow homeschoolers, prayer partners, Facebook commenters, subscribers, donors and Backstage Pass members, video viewers, podcast listeners, and patient waiters for the film (keep reading to find out what’s going on with production).
If you have ever felt like you just can’t keep up, here’s a great piece of encouragement from Katie Glennon, at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage – Keeping up with the Joneses, Homeschool Style.
We really believe that God is doing great things through Schoolhouse Rocked, and we really believe in this whole homeschooling thing. We see God using homeschooling to build up families and to prepare the next generation of leaders to reclaim culture for TRUTH. We are totally committed to what we know God has called us to – to making this big ‘ole crazy homeschooling documentary and to creating and gathering resources to encourage and equip families to homeschool with excellence, to the end, and not lose their minds doing it, all for His glory!
So what’s up with the film?
It seems like every newsletter I send, I get emails from people wondering where the film is, with really good cause. I have been too slow in sending actual production updates! Here’s the (really short) story. Much has been done, but there is still much to do. We have finished filming all of the primary content for the film, and we have been blessed with a ton of great interviews! Next comes editing all this great content into a film – a single cohesive, engaging, beautiful story of what makes homeschooling great and why we, and around 2.3 million other families in the U.S. do it.
In the mean time, we have also worked to give these homeschooling families the tools and encouragement they need to keep going, and to give new families the gentle push they need to get started. We have been blessed with a team of great homeschool bloggers, who are writing excellent, super-practical, uber-encourgaging, another-great-adjective-
Upon filming our last interview in May-ish, we shifted gears to fundraising and post-production (with a heavy emphasis on fundraising). You see, to finish the film and get it in theaters we still need to raise a pretty big chunk of change. You can see the budget here. Production on Schoolhouse Rocked has been funded through a few different sources – corporate sponsors, donors, premium content memberships – and coming soon, a gigantic crowdfunding campaign. We hope to launch the crowdfunding campaign September 10th, and will be trying to raise all of the money we need to finish post-production (editing, sound, music, etc.). This is going to to require the help of a big part of the homeschooling community.
To that end, we have been gathering a group of awesome marketing partners to help get the word out. God has blessed us with an amazing group of like-minded companies, bloggers, podcasters, authors, speakers, and homeschool boosters to help us reach the big goal of funding the rest of the production through this campaign. Check out a few of our marketing partners here, and head over to their websites to say thanks. They really are awesome!
Ever since teaching film at the middle school and high school level I have loved helping students learn the skills to become great filmmakers. I recently got a pretty open-ended question from one of these students on how to turn 4 1/2 hours of video into a story worth watching. This is a topic that is near and dear to me, as I have to do the same thing (on a much bigger scale) in editing Schoolhouse Rocked. Luckily, the fundamentals are the same, and learning these fundamentals is the key to becoming a great filmmaker.
4 1/2 hours of footage is a lot! This young filmmaker had recently gone on a mission trip and had come back with hours of assorted footage, people talking and sharing their experiences, people working, kids playing, etc. Now it was time to turn this footage into a film – and one that is actually worth watching. This is no small task, but by following some simple steps it can be done.
How long is too long? Filmmakers are usually tempted to think in terms of “how long should the final video be” when approaching projects like this. This is the wrong question to be asking, and will lead to the wrong outcome. Whether a video is fifteen seconds long (most commercials), or four hours long (Gone With The Wind, The Ten Commandments, Dances With Wolves), what really matters is STORY!!! I have seen completely boring 15 second commercials, and have been completely engaged through four-hour epics. Story makes all the difference.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
1) Watch ALL the footage
Sit down with a notebook and pen and watch every grueling minute of footage and take great notes (mark clip names and start and stop times with specific notes about content and story). This makes all the difference in getting this much footage edited.
Look and listen for STORIES! You want to listen to everyone and be looking for unifying threads of story that run throughout the dialog. It is great if you can tell a single story with a start, middle, and end (a 3-act structure). It is better if it has dynamics (rising and falling action, rising and falling emotions), It is best if this single story can be told by several people (not repeated, but multiple viewpoints unified into a single story). Story is king!
2) Once you have your story in mind and have great notes, it is time to start the ROUGH edit. (We’ll get back to that “rough” bit in a minute)
Only bring the clips in to your project that you know you need, and use folders to organize clips. I use the following folders to start every project: Music, Titles, Story (broken into subfolders by character and camera/angle), b-roll, and behind-the-scenes (not always necessary). This way you don’t have to scroll through miles of files to find what you need. I create all the folders first, even if they don’t have content yet, because I know I will need them.
3) Edit dialog first.
Don’t even worry too much about visuals. As long as the footage isn’t a mess, get the dialog edited. Use good headphones and listen critically. Make sure that pauses at cuts are natural (not too long or too short), and make sure there are no pops at the edits (use crossfades or ramp the volume down and then up for the next clip). Make sure that there is no distracting noise (wind, hums, static, etc. – don’t be afraid to use noise reduction, but don’t overuse it. If you can hear the noise reduction you are using too much).
Once you have the story put together in dialog, EQ, compress, and mix the audio to get the levels and sound right. I usually try to get my dialog peaking at about -6db on the meters, and pretty heavily compressed. If you don’t do this viewers won’t be able to hear it on little laptop speakers. You want it pretty loud (get to know your compressor well!)
4) Think about music REALLY early.
This is almost as important as the dialog. While the dialog will make the story, the music will set the mood for the story. Pick carefully. Listen to lots of music and choose something that will set the proper tone.
Drop your music into the edit sequence early and listen to it while you cut. If you can, cut to the music (put cuts on the beat). Cutting to the music is more effective with uptempo songs, but works on slower stuff too.
You don’t need music through every minute of your edit, but all your music should work together, and you should open and close with music.
Watch your levels. Dialog is your primary audio (unless you are doing a music video or montage sequence), so make sure every word can be heard clearly. If not, the music is too loud.
5) Once your dialog and music are edited it’s time to work on picture.
Since your dialog is edited, much of the picture edit should be done. Now it’s time to make it look good. If there is an edit while one person is talking, switch to another camera angle or use b-roll over the cut so that you don’t see the person’s head jerk.
Look for b-roll that enhances your story. Don’t be afraid to slow down b-roll. Most b-roll looks better slowed down (I always try to shoot my b-roll at 120 fps to slow it down in post)
Use “J” and “L” cuts to bring some excitement to the edit. Have someone start talking during b-roll, then cut to them, or start on them talking and then cut to b-roll.
6) Cut rough, then polish! (Here’s the scoop on that “rough” business – This should actually be point #2, but it is a bit easier to understand here. Just remember to implement it at point #2)
This is one of the hardest skills to master. People tend to want to polish every cut as they make it. DON’T! Make a really rough cut first, just to get the story put together, then go back and polish one thing at a time (first dialog and music, then visual edit timing, transitions and effects, then color). This not only helps you get a good story put together more quickly, but it makes your computer run better throughout the edit, because you save the heavy lifting (audio plugins, transitions, effects, and color correction) for last. Learn this well and early and you will thank me for the rest of your career!
7) Less is more!
Nothing screams “amateur: more than a million crazy transitions, weird color correction, bad effects, etc. I used to tell my film students that they could only use cuts and dissolves in their edits. Cuts are appropriate for most edits. Dissolves signal that you are in a new time or place, or that the subject or topic has changed. I use fades to and from black (and occasionally white) for beginnings and endings (when appropriate), Mostly cuts for all normal edits, and dissolves to signal some big change. That’s pretty much it, unless there is a really important stylistic reason to do something different.
Note: I’m not saying you can never use that cool “glitch” transition, or a zoom or wipe transition when appropriate, but they have to be APPROPRIATE and serve the story! Unless you are editing action movies, extreme sports, or music videos you will find that you can get by with cuts and dissolves 99.999% of the time. I challenge you to develop this discipline, master the art of the edit using cuts and dissolves, and when the time is right for that special “page curl” or “star iris” transition you’ll know it (hint: the time will never be right for either).
8) Don’t forget titles and graphics
Us appropriate opening titles and closing credits to put the finishing polish on your edit. This little step takes it from “home video” to “short film”. Remember rule #7 – less is more! Use simple titles and look like a pro.
Backstage Pass members can listen to the following talks I recently gave at the Miracle Mountain Ranch Photography and Media Summit. Both classes are around an hour and include presentation slides, notes, and additional resources.
On December 15th, 2016 our family left California in a truck and travel trailer and set out across America to make a homeschool documentary. The irony of this situation wouldn’t be lost on anyone who knew our family just a few years before. You see, like so many other homeschool families, we were NEVER going to homeschool!
Prior to having children we bought into nearly every homeschooling misconception. Our limited exposure to homeschooling enforced the notion of socially maladjusted, poorly educated kids, taught by ill-equipped and under-qualified moms. We believed that missing out on the classroom dynamic and structure of school would lead to poor academic outcomes, and that without a “real” diploma, college acceptance was a gamble. Not to mention, why would we want to spend all day with our kids? We said many times we would never do that to our kids or our ourselves, but God laughs in the face of “Never”!
After 11 years of marriage we had our first daughter and our perspective began to change. We wanted to do what was best for our kids and for our family. Parenting was a great responsibility that we accepted whole-heartedly.
As our oldest daughter approached school age we began to carefully consider our options for her education. The public schools in our area weren’t even a consideration. We knew that we could not allow our daughter to be subjected to the indoctrination that she would experience there. We didn’t believe that our short time with her at night and on the weekends would be sufficient to uncover and undo the anti-Biblical teaching she would undoubtedly receive during the week. Additionally, we were in an area where the public schools weren’t even safe. At the time, we would have preferred to put her in a Christian school, but we just couldn’t afford this option. As a last resort, we thought that maybe we would give homeschooling a try for a year, and see how it went.
Thankfully, God changed our hearts. Before we even began homeschooling, we met with a pastor and his wife who homeschooled their kids. They began to encourage us and tried to unravel many of the misconceptions we believed. They also encouraged us to attend a homeschool convention; an experience that was both eye-opening and extremely encouraging, as we saw how many “normal” people homeschooled. It was then that we began to learn about the very real benefits of homeschooling.
Six years into our one-year experiment we were huge fans of homeschooling! We were blessed to have participated in great co-ops and a fantastic Classical Conversations community, experienced support and encouragement from most of our family and friends, and our children had benefitted from the excellent academic and social opportunities that were available to them. We were enjoying the freedom to travel and to tailor school to the strengths of our children and to the needs of our family. We savored the blessing and privilege of integrating God’s Word into every subject and weaving a Christian worldview into every aspect of “school.” While we experienced many of the challenges faced by other homeschool families, we were extremely privileged to see the benefits as well, and we desired to share these benefits with others.
Time For Change – BIG CHANGE!
After many years of working in Hollywood, I knew it was time for a change. Heavy travel and long hours on set had cost me precious time with my wife and young daughters, an my health and family were suffering. I loved my job and the people I worked with, but I could see that a continued career in Hollywood would have grave costs. It was not worth trading my family and health for my job, so without a back-up plan, with only the conviction that something had to change, I quit. When I called Yvette to tell her the news, she could only respond, “Praise God”!
In the months that followed, God showed his great power. He provided a perfect new job for me and began to lay the foundation for Schoolhouse Rocked. I would teach film at a local Christian school and produce short documentary content for our church. While it was only a one-year commitment, we knew that this was exactly where God wanted us. He had met our immediate needs, but He was also preparing us for what was to come.
Toward the end of the school year, God provided another opportunity that set the wheels in motion for Schoolhouse Rocked. A well-loved fellow teacher asked if I would film some b-roll for his sister’s student film. As her final project for her film degree at Biola University, she was making a short documentary on homeschooling and needed a few shots of this teacher, himself a homeschool graduate, teaching his AP History class. I gladly agreed, and when I saw the finished film I became excited about the opportunity to encourage prospective homeschoolers through a feature film. I was reminded of what an impact the documentary, Indoctrination had had on Yvette and me in our own decision to homeschool. This young film school graduate had no intention of making a feature-length documentary, but this experience had birthed a desire in me to see this film become a reality.
At the end of the year my contract with the school and church ended and it was time to seek God’s guidance on the next chapter of our lives. Our family had long felt prompted to leave California and believed that this period of transition provided the perfect opportunity. Reluctant to pursue a new job in California, and feeling increasingly convinced that we needed to make a documentary on homeschooling, we laid a fleece before the Lord. We prayed and asked that if it was God’s will that our family make this film He would make it abundantly clear. We knew that we would have to travel to film the movie and we knew we didn’t have the money to travel – let alone make a movie – so we asked for God to answer clearly. If He wanted us to make Schoolhouse Rocked we would need to sell our house. We listed the house and put it in God’s hands. The next day we had a nearly-full-price offer. We took that as confirmation! While that first deal didn’t go through, the house sold quickly and God continued to work. We started pre-production on Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution.
Next, we would have to sell everything in our house. We had a house full of furniture and possessions that certainly wouldn’t fit in an RV. Right away, friends began to call and ask if we were selling things. One family bought most of our furniture. Our cars quickly sold as well. To get rid of the little stuff – dishes, decorations, books – we held an estate sale. We advertised that the sale would start at 7:00 am on a Friday, and by 6:30 there were people lined up on the sidewalk. We opened up our house and moved a few items onto the lawn. By 2:00 almost everything was gone. The next day we had a few tables of odds and ends on the front lawn, and at the end of the day there was nothing left.
With no home and no stuff it would be easy to travel to film the documentary, but now we needed an RV. We had been looking at travel trailers, 5th wheels, and motorhomes for weeks to determine what would suit our family best. Again, God provided perfectly. One day we got a phone call from some friends who asked if we were still looking for a trailer. It turned out that just a few miles away a family had the perfect trailer for us, and a truck to go with it! We had been looking all over Southern California and the perfect truck and trailer were just across town.
Making a Homeschool Movie
Honestly, had God not confirmed his call in so many ways I don’t know if we would have done this. We left family and friends and a church we loved in California. We left our home and a lifetime of stuff accumulated in our 22 years of marriage. We went out not knowing how God would provide, but certain that He would, because he had given so many clear confirmations. He has proven Himself over and over again. Not only has He provided for our family in miraculous ways, He has provided for the movie in miraculous ways.
When we set out to film Schoolhouse Rocked we had a wish list of people we wanted to interview, but almost no connections and no idea how we were going to get in touch with these people. God opened doors! It was only by His amazing power that we were able to get interviews with such an amazing cast. He provided exactly who we needed to tell a great story and to make a strong case for homeschooling.
Filming for the movie has taken place all over the country. This has provided a very broad view of homeschooling across the United States and has allowed us to build a base of support in several different regions. We have also been blessed to have made great friends in several states.
In March we finished filming the last of the interviews for the movie. Now the real fun begins. While we will still shoot a bit more b-roll (shots of kids and families living life and doing school), most of our time over the next several months will be spent editing and fundraising for post-production and marketing. We are planning for a nationwide theatrical release with Fathom Events in 2019, and a release like this takes a substantial budget and network of marketing partners. We are extremely thankful for our great sponsors, generous donors, and the marketing partners who have already provided excellent support.
We are thankful that God has called us to this important task. It has been a privilege for our family to work on this important project, but more importantly, we know He will be glorified by the film and many families will be blessed and strengthened through Schoolhouse Rocked.
Schoolhouse Rocked will encourage new families to homeschool and equip homeschooling families to start strong and finish well. It will break down common myths and misconceptions and answer important questions about homeschooling. We need your help to advance the homeschooling movement through this important film!
Donate – Your donation goes directly to production on the film.