It’s What I’ve Always Done, But Different.

As I write this, it’s a rainy (still cold) late March Saturday in Cincinnati. In exactly one week I will be doing what I’ve done my entire life – telling the story of Jesus to a group of people.

This time is different on many levels, but at its core, it’s what I do.

In 30 days I will hit the two-year mark of exiting full-time vocational ministry. I’ve been knee-deep in business start-up mode for two years now. I can say it’s been the most exciting and unnerving period of my life. Here’s the hard truth that I had to learn twice in my life – I’m not great at full-time church work. Even when I produce good results, it doesn’t work well for my soul. That means I have to find other ways to tell these stories that mean so much to me.

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We wanted to tell the entire story of Jesus this Lenten season in some capacity. We also wanted to do it outside of the church. That was the birth of the idea of The Gospel of John event coming up next week. Over the course of two hours, I will tell the story of John’s account as purely as I know how. I just want people to experience it. What they do with it is their own business. Like any theatrical event, there is a fee. We tried to keep it reasonable…I hope that doesn’t hinder many from being able to come.

We’ve trusted that the audience would find this event without the need to invest a lot of money in advertising. So far, that seems to be the case. There are still seats available for both shows. Please help us spread the word – you’re our entire marketing plan. It’s April 5th at 4pm and 8pm at Memorial Hall in OTR.

I think good things will come from this experiment. I hope you can be there with us. More info and tickets at www.rebelstorytellers.com.

The Real St. Valentine?

There are different versions of his story, but one goes like this:

It was 269 A.D.

The Roman governor Claudius was seeking a way to strengthen his army. He pontificates that soldiers who have wives at home may not fight as bravely on the front lines for fear that they will not return home to their family. Therefore, he made marriage illegal for soldiers. He believed that loyalty to the state would supersede the natural desire to take a wife, birthing a generation of soldiers completely loyal to Rome.

He was wrong, of course. Many soldiers desired to marry in spite of his decree.

A young priest named Valentine held the firm conviction that marriage should not be denied by the state. He began to secretly and illegally perform marriage ceremonies. More and more Roman soldiers sought him out.

Valentine

Valentine’s crime was eventually uncovered. He was brought before Claudius and told to repent. He refused, believing that he must be faithful to his King, whom he claimed to be a resurrected Jewish rabbi named Yeshua, over the King of Rome. He was immediately arrested and condemned to die as a traitor. From his prison cell, Valentine wrote notes of encouragement to his family and friends signed “from your Valentine.”

On February 14th, 270 he was executed.

But not before making a mark on history for standing on the side of love with undying loyalty to his King over Caesar.

And that is  (probably) the real story behind why florists and chocolatiers are having such a good day today.

The Gospel of John: Live Theatrical Event

I’m excited about a new venture at Rebel Pilgrim. We will be doing our first ever live event on April 5, 2014 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati. I will be doing a one-man show, retelling the Gospel of John in its entirety. It’s an updated reprisal of a show I did ten years ago in Las Vegas. I get the opportunity to tell parts of this story at churches often, but this is a more theatrical version of the full story of Jesus. In this context, I will have the freedom to access a bit more of the actor-side of me vs. the teacher/pastor-side. That’s why we wanted to do this as a theatrical event outside of the church walls. I won’t be “preaching” at all. My goal is to tell the story as best as I understand it in the most dramatic and entertaining way possible. The listeners can decide for themselves what to make of it. I think people of all faiths – or people with no faith at all – will be able to enjoy it and think in a different way about who Jesus really was.

It’s a ticketed event and we’d love for you to be a part of it. We won’t start advertising it officially for a few weeks, but I wanted to post here and on our email list so that you can reserve seats early if you want to come. We love to tell stories of hope. They all matter to us. But this one matters most. It’s our chance to tell our city the story that made us rebel pilgrims in the first place. Here’s the official announcement that we sent out earlier today to our mailing list:

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Written over 1,900 years ago, “The Gospel of John” chronicles the life of a peasant Jewish rabbi from an insignificant Galilean town who became the world’s most controversial household name - Jesus. This man’s story has been told and retold more than any story in history. But never quite like this. Actor/Storyteller Joe Boyd explores the mysteries of this ancient tale in a one-man show that utilizes his unique balance of laugh-out-loud comedy, sincere drama, and historical insights crafted over decades of stage experience.

One day only. Two shows. Limited Seating at Cincinnati Memorial Hall.

Tickets are now available at the following links:

Saturday April 5, 2014 – 4 pm   Saturday April 5, 2014 – 8 pm

Tickets are $15-$18 before handling fees. Come early or stay late to purchase dinner, drinks and desserts at one of the several food trucks scheduled to be there. 10% of any proceeds for this event will be donated our non-profit partner, SonLight Power.

We hope you can come and invite some friends to this event. While many of you have heard Joe tell some of these stories in a church setting, this is a unique opportunity to invite people to experience the entire story of Jesus outside of the church walls as a community theatrical production. It’s the greatest story ever (re)told. We’ll see you at the show!

Personal Update: What’s Next For Me

Hi Friends.

This last weekend I was able to speak at Vineyard Cincinnati. Before my teaching I gave some personal updates and it has prompted several folks to follow up with me about various things. I thought it might be good here at the end of 2013 for me to take a minute to let you know what’s going on with me and how you can be involved in various projects we have going on. So here goes…

1. Blogging. Let’s start with that since it’s rather obvious that I was sporadic in 2013. I’ve been blogging for 11 years nows and can’t imagine stopping…but it has ebbed and flowed as a priority in my life. I was honored to be asked to be a contributing blogger at the Huffington Post this  year. For 2014, I plan on using this blog (www.joeboydblog.com) for personal and professional updates. I’ll be blogging more regularly at Huffington Post on bigger issues as time permits.

2. Teaching. I’ll be speaking significantly less at the Vineyard in 2014. I’ll likely teach at other churches and events as well. I will be more intentional about posting my upcoming speaking engagements here on my blog and on my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

3. Gospel of John event and the launch of Rebel Storytellers. We will be launching a live storytelling series at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati on April 5, 2014. I will be doing a one-man show re-telling the Gospel of John in its entirety. I mentioned this at church this weekend and have received a lot of inquiries about it. It will be a ticketed event and seating will be limited. As soon as we know more I will post here and on social media how to get tickets. (Look for that info in mid to late January.) We will also post details at www.rebelpilgrim.com as we know them.

4. Current movies. Three of our films are now available on DVD. They will be carried at Family Christian Stores and other retailers. Some of them will likely be available at Redbox and on Netflix, but it may be several months from now. Here are the direct links to each of them if you are interested in ordering DVDs online. They are available now at most online retailers, below are links to christiancinema.com.

A Strange Brand of Happy

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The Road to Emmaus, PA

5. Future movies. Our film Hope Bridge starring Booboo Stewart and Kevin Sorbo will be released later in 2014. We will get you those details when we know more. We have 6 movies, a reality TV pilot and an animated TV pilot in development. We are talking to networks and distribution partners now, as well as raising funds from individual investors. Please pray for us that we find the right partners to tell these stories. I feel like we are on the verge of some major breakthroughs.

6. Volunteer or paid positions at RPP. I’ve had a lot of inquiries asking to be part of the RPP team. Currently, we aren’t hiring but we can use volunteers from time to time. We also have an internship program. Visit the RPP website and company Facebook and Twitter page for regular updates. You can also email Harmony@rebelpilgrim.com if you want to volunteer or learn more about internships.

Thanks to all of you for your support. One of the earliest prayers I can remember praying as a kid is that I wouldn’t grow up and live a boring life. God is good.

Joe

An Unexpected Gift

I just sent this short email our to our mailing list…good stuff is happening.

I’m happy to let you know that A Strange Brand of Happy has exceeded our distributor’s expectations in the first two weeks of its theatrical run. By the numbers, the movie screened on 45 screens in 40 cities coast to coast. 12 theaters held the movie over for a second week. (It’s running in those theaters now through Thursday night.) We were hoping for two hold overs, so that was a great surprise.

We just received word that two Cincinnati theaters (Kenwood Theatre and AMC West Chester) are holding us over for a third week – now through Oct 3. This is great, unexpected news. It is a testament to the amazing support we have received in our home town.

What we are most thrilled about is the hundreds of messages, emails, calls and texts we have received from people saying the movie gave them a boost of hope and started meaningful conversations. That’s why we do what we do.

I have one more request for those of you in/around Cincinnati. This third weekend coming up is a gift we didn’t see coming. It’s a chance for all of us to return to the theater with a friend who might need a little hope. If you’ve already seen the movie and enjoyed it, consider bringing a friend this weekend to Kenwood or West Chester.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the full list of theaters showing the movie today and tomorrow can be found at www.strangehappymovie.com.

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My Thoughts after Week One of #StrangeHappy

When I was in my twenties I started a church. I remember months of planning for the first service. Everything lead up to it, and it was, for the most part, a success. 197 people showed up and we were off and running. I remember my first thought after that first service:

“What do we do next week?” 

In the process of planning for week one, I had genuinely never thought once about week two.

That’s the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning to find our movie still playing in theaters across the U.S. Nine months ago most everyone we talked to said we could never get this movie into theaters. Only about 400 movies of the over 15,000 made every year get into theaters. Nobody thought we would carry over on ten screens – that’s really against the odds. It’s been a wonderful surprise.

We’ve gotten lots of positive feedback this last week. We received a couple of less-than-great “top critic” reviews as well. That’s all part of putting yourself out there. As an artist, it’s always easier to listen to the critics who distract you from the great things that are happening in the moment. I can live with the fact that our movie isn’t for everyone, because I now have empirical evidence (hundreds of messages, emails, texts and letters) saying that the movie touched many people in a deep way and started meaningful conversations. Sure, the first nice comments were from my wife and mom…but it has now spread to strangers across the country. All we ever wanted was to spark a little hope in the world. I think God is letting that happen.

So…week two is here. For a list of current theaters playing A Strange Brand of Happy head over to www.strangehappymovie.com. If you’ve seen it once, think about seeing it again this weekend with a friend. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you will before it’s gone.

My Thoughts the Day After the #StrangeHappy Release

I’m on my flight home from last night’s  successful LA premiere of A Strange Brand of Happy. Yesterday was even crazier than expected. Brad Wise and I were awake for 25 straight hours. It was scary and exciting and at times surreal. There were ups and downs…but overall it was a day I won’t ever forget. Your tweets, messages and texts were overwhelming in a good way.

Your kind words and honest expressions of support carried us through. We know our little movie isn’t for everyone, but yesterday showed us that it has a significant role to play in the world today. We are all about sparking hope and action…and I think this movie does that for people who need it.

Lots of people are asking if there’s anything they can do to help the movie continue to succeed this week. Really at this point, there’s just a few things.

- Continue to let your friends know that the film plays at least until Thursday, Sept 19 in all theaters.

- Come back with a friend tomorrow. The Sunday numbers are the most important in determining if a theater will book for another week.

-Come back with a friend Monday – Thursday this week, but reserve your tickets now at www.strangehappymovie.com. Because if theaters see more early reservations popping up, they may keep it in theaters longer.

Thanks again. Everyone at Rebel Pilgrim clearly knows that we couldn’t have done this without your constant support.

It’s all about God – and hope – and starting those discussions that can lead to much, much more.

Update & Answers on ASBOH Tix, etc.

If you have 3 min, please watch this. (Thanks for the flattering screen grab, YouTube.)

Cliff’s notes below. (Make sure to read the first bullet point below if you have a GIFT CARD from us for the movie.)

  • (Not in Video) If you got a GIFT CARD from us we just got the info we need to process them. Make sure you have registered following the instructions on the back and graciously give us some time to get them out. We’re working hard on it.
  • If you reserved tickets on Seatzy you should have received an email from them Monday night with your ticket code. If you didn’t get it, check the email connected to your Amazon account and your spam folders. If you can’t find it, email support@seatzy.com. You can cc us if want at info@rebelpilgrim.com.
  • The 43 theaters nationwide are all listed at www.strangehappymovie.com. They all screen the movie for 7 days starting Friday multiple times everyday. So just show up and get a ticket like any other movie.
  • The theaters decide if we will run a second week on Tuesday Sept 17, so if you are going throughout the week try to go Monday Sept 16 if you can.

Thanks! Especially for your patience if you’ve had any snags through this process. Let us know how we can help. We aren’t sleeping this week anyway.

You’re Invited to a Red Carpet Event on Thursday.

On September 13th, I will be flying to LA for an opening night red carpet LA Premiere of A Strange Brand of Happy. There will be at least one Academy Award winner in the crowd and press and all that Hollywood stuff. It will be exciting, I’m sure, but it won’t be the World Premiere

That happens this Thursday. Not in LA. Or New York. But in Cincinnati.

And we couldn’t be happier about that.

This movie is proudly Cincinnati. It was conceived here. Written here. Produced here. Shot here. Set here. Edited here. From start to finish, A Strange Brand of Happy is pure Cincinnati.

Things have been moving fast in my life and I regret not letting everyone know a little sooner that not only was A Strange Brand of Happy named an official selection of the 2013 Cincinnati Film Festival, but it was chosen to open the 10-day Festival (which showcases over 100 other films from all over the world) on September 5. That’s a huge honor for us.

We’d love for you to join us this Thursday if you are in the area. It’s a red carpet world premiere event. We are honored to have the film introduced by the legendary Nick Clooney. There will be finger foods and a cash bar. If you’ve never been to a film festival or movie premiere, it’s a different experience than watching a movie in a theater. You get to talk to the cast and crew and ask questions after the screening. It’s more of a party atmosphere.

It’s $15 for the evening. All that money goes to support our home town film festival. I’d love to see you there. Here are some links to get tickets…or you can show up at the door.

When: Thursday, Sept. 5. 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Where: 20th Century Theatre. 3021 Madison Ave. Cincinnati, OH

Tix: Direct link to get tickets.

Cincinnati Film Festival official site.

Seatzy is Working! Theaters are booking! What’s Next?

Our 3-month Seatzy campaign for A Strange Brand of Happy will end at 11:00 pm EST tomorrow Saturday, August 31.

It’s been quite a journey of discovery as we were the very first movie to ever use this program. The folks at Seatzy had to fix some things on the fly. Things worked mostly as we thought they would, but there are always challenges along the way. There still may be a few to come, but overall…

The important thing I want to communicate today is that Seatzy is working!

We will be announcing our list of officially booked theaters Monday morning, but here’s what we know so far:

-All the cites we’ve reserved over 500 tickets to date will play for a full run (at least 30 screenings) in those markets.

-The overwhelming response in Cincinnati created huge benefits for us not accorded to most small indie films including:

      -The theater in West Chester has scheduled 35 screenings instead of the normal 30.

     -They’ve given us a larger auditorium than normal.

     -Other theaters in the region are contacting us to run the movie.

-Some theaters who were not planning on carrying our movie have decided to book the movie apart from the Seatzy program.

-We were able to book a full run of 30 screenings in Los Angeles at the Regency Van Nuys. It’s hard to play in LA and this allows us to have an LA premiere. It also makes us eligible to receive reviews for the LA Times and other national influencers.

So here’s what you need to know now:

-You can still reserve tickets until Saturday at 11:00 pm EST on Seatzy. That still benefits us in several ways if you do so. Here’s that link.

-You can still donate tickets at this link that will be given to churches around the country to use as an outreach. Donations on Seatzy also shut down Saturday night.

-If you have reserved on Seatzy you will be receiving an email next week letting you know if your campaign was successful and how to claim your e-tickets.

-Beginning Sunday, you will still be able to reserve tickets for the screenings in most every market via Fandango and the theater websites. We will post all the info at www.strangehappymovie.com.

-Every screen we book will play for 7 days. We only reserved for opening weekend on Seatzy, but you can still go and bring friends all weekend and Monday-Thursday in every city.

-Like any other movie, people can walk up and get tickets at the box office. Reserving your tickets early on Seatzy is a massive show of support, but people can still go to the movie by just showing up.

-The movie is eligible to be “carried over” for a second week in every city. It is completely dependent on the box office performance per theater.

-If you have any problems, questions or promotional ideas please contact us directly at info@rebelpilgrim.com.  The biggest question we are being asked now is “When will I get my tickets?” We will email you that info as soon as we have sometime between Sept 1-10.

As always, your support and kindness blows me away. There’s no way we get here without you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.