That's what this interview is, and it describes everything Little Crew Studios puts out.
I'm about to show you a clip from one of my favorite movies of all time. After all, a moving picture is worth...a lot more words than you'd want to read.
Just enjoy this.
Ahh! Aren't they the CUTEST!
And guess what. The mama who raised these children graciously agreed to be interviewed! And as awesome as their movies are, the words this wise woman shared have blessed me more.
I pray God blesses you through Lisa Steege as He has me. That's a huge blessing, by the way.
I’m Lisa Steege, a Kansan by birth, and an Oregonian for the past two decades. I’ve been married to Joel for 21 blessed, happy years; and we have 8 children ranging in age from 19 to 3.
The more I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how much I need Him. I am only a sinner saved by grace.
For the past eleven years, our family has been producing action/adventure Christian movies. We love working together.
But we’re just like any other family. It’s a constant struggle to keep kids’ rooms clean. We’re often challenged to live harmoniously without squabbling, and it’s impossible to find a pair of matching socks in our house!
People ask how we got into filmmaking.
After spending the first ten years of our married life in the corporate world, we knew we didn’t want to do that forever.
Joel’s job required long hours and frequent travel, which kept him away from home for days, even weeks at a time. We began praying for the Lord to open a door for us to do something different.
We’d played around with making home videos for the grandparents and found that it was something Joel enjoyed and seemed to have a knack for – why not try filmmaking?
Despite the warnings NOT to make a full-length feature on our very first try, and NOT to use an all-children cast, we set out to make an 80-minute movie using only our children as actors. We soon discovered that we couldn’t do it on the side while Joel continued to work.
It was all or nothing.
So we took the plunge and Joel quit his job in January of 2008.
Our ambitious excitement soon turned to panic as we tried a few practice scenes in the living room. The kids’ acting was pitiful, and we realized we had no idea what we were doing with the camera. What had we done?!
Eleven years and two feature films later (third in progress), we have learned a LOT about the Lord’s faithfulness in spite of our inadequacies.
We've seen time after time that the Lord loves to put us in humanly impossible situations, like the Israelites at the Red Sea, or David against Goliath, so that He can show Himself strong and be glorified.
There have been times when we’ve wondered if we’re totally crazy-- but we wouldn’t trade the memories we’ve made together for anything!
Joel is really “the crew” behind Little Crew Studios – he is storywriter, cameraman, director, producer, lighting, sound, and everything to do with post-production – all in one.
I view my main role as supporting my husband in carrying all his responsibilities. I handle the costumes and makeup for our movies, as well as set decoration along with my daughter Amelia. During shoots, I'm the script supervisor and usually the boom microphone operator.
I also head up catering services.
Our favorite part of moviemaking is the actual filming, because we’re all on set together, working as a team. Often our shoots are dependent on the weather, so we can’t really plan ahead when we’re going to film. I've had to flex with our homeschooling during those times, for though we try to keep up with school during production, there are many days when it all goes out the window.
The story is a work in progress, from the initial brainstorming idea to the very last “it’s a wrap!” Our family’s way of making movies is very non-traditional. Since we use an all-children cast, we have to adapt and flex A LOT.
Joel is our storywriter. The story stays with him for at least a year, or even two, as he refines and revises it.
Once he has an initial rough draft, he shares it with the children and me, and we begin the “family edit.” As our kids have gotten older, they have become much more involved in the creative process, which has been very fun.
The story usually goes through several revisions after this point, as we all offer our criticism and input. Sometimes we shelve it for a while as we work on costumes and sets, and come back to it with a fresh perspective to do some more revising.
When the sets are built and costumes are ready, and we feel fairly confident about the story, we head for the pole building for an initial try at a scene.
With kids, it’s easier to just shoot!
Instead of the traditional storyboarding – where a scene is drawn out frame by frame – we “storyboard” on set with the camera. As we shoot through a scene, we see what works and what doesn’t. Often the intensity or the humor that Joel had planned does not fly when the kids act it out. Other times, the kids will act or say something totally unplanned that is an instant success, and we decide to go with it.
These alterations may improve the scene, but they also often impact the overall story. We have to pause our filming and take a couple of days to rewrite/revise before we resume.
This happens many times throughout the production process, so we try to shoot chronologically as much as possible. The script is always changing – and often the end result is rather different from our initial storyline.
But that’s the fun of being independent filmmakers – and also why it takes us so long to make a movie!
I am very thankful for my Godly heritage.
After my parents were married and had children they began to learn to obey God’s Word. As my sister and I watched our parents make Christ preeminent in every area of life, it gave us the desire to build our own lives and homes on the foundation of God’s Word.
If our parents’ faith was genuine enough to give them the courage to obey the Lord regardless of whether or not it was popular or understood, then we wanted that same faith in our lives!
In a recent sermon, our pastor said, “There is nothing healthier for the Christian life than to look at Jesus Christ.” Our goal, our prize, is Christ; the race we run is for Him.
We take up our cross, the life the Lord has given us, and follow Him – regardless of results. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 are described as having gained approval through their faith – YET they did not receive what was promised.
They may not have had earthly results, but they were looking to their heavenly reward.
Often we don’t see instant results in our children’s lives. Before I was married, I thought child training was so black and white! I read books on the subject and watched other families struggling to keep control of their children, and thought, “These poor people! Why can’t they get their act together?!”
I thought I had it all figured out.
But now, having had eight of my own, I have changed my tune a bit.
Raising children is NOT as straightforward as it seems – and, bottom line, we can pray and teach and lead by example – but it comes down to the fact that our children have to choose for themselves whom they will serve. We cannot force our faith on them.
But we are to keep on diligently teaching our children God’s Word, even if there is no immediate spiritual fruit. Often it won’t be evident until years down the road. But God has promised that His Word will NOT return to Him void.
Godly Parents Matter
I love the stories of Hudson Taylor, Brother Andrew, Alvin York, and many others in history who were raised by Godly parents who nurtured and prayed for them. Though these men went astray for a time, the Lord brought them back through their parents’ prayers, and they went on to do mighty things for Him!
I am encouraged by the phrase in Hebrews 12:2 that I quoted above – that Jesus is the Author AND Perfecter of our children’s faith. He Who began His work in them will bring it to completion.
I am not my children’s Holy Spirit. I must let go, take my hands off, and let the Lord do His work in their hearts – in His way and in His time.
One of my favorite verses on being a wife is Ephesians 4:33: “…Let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly.]”
I love this expansion of the idea of respecting my husband.
The specifics are so helpful to me – and capitalize on the idea that I am not just to submit to my husband with outward obedience, but that it starts in my heart, with admiration and truly esteeming him as my wise leader.
God brought us together in His perfect plan, He made us to perfectly complement each other, and therefore our strengths and weaknesses, our differences and similarities, are perfectly designed by Him to “sharpen” each other. Joel is exactly who I need!
And God has given him the wisdom to lead our home.
My job is to trust and obey.
I Peter 3 speaks to this, giving the example of Sarah, who submissively followed her husband.
Sometimes it’s scary - sometimes it’s frustrating, when we think we know better – but I Peter tells us that the “pious women of old who hoped in God” beautified themselves with a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is “not anxious or wrought up."
I may not always agree with the course my husband has chosen, but my job is to adapt myself to him and follow him. And then pray – and trust the Lord that He can change my husband if He wills. Or change me!
Many times I’m focused on what I think my husband needs to be doing different, when in reality, it’s MY heart that needs renewing. When I keep my eyes on what I need to be doing, then the Lord is free to work on Joel - which is so much better than my trying to do it by persuasion or arguing.
I often cringe at the perception people have of us, for I know who we are: a VERY ordinary family!
Our children have their moments of being squirrelly, whiny, and disobedient just like all other kids. Some of the “incredible” results you see in our movies are simply the product of Joel’s creative editing…and a vast amount of patience! (With The Runner, we had 14,000 takes; 29,000 for The Defense!)
We are a firm believer in the basic truths of child discipline found in Proverbs. But we don’t really have any amazing techniques we use with our children.
One little practical tidbit: on a movie set, it is essential that we have absolute order. All children who are not involved in a scene must be totally still and silent, or they could ruin a shot.
Training for this has to begin long before we arrive on set. We start “sitting lessons” with our children at a very early age.
When Joel was working, I would have the children sit and fold their hands while we listened to a half-hour sermon on the radio each morning. Now we do the same while Joel leads our family Bible study. They begin as babies on Daddy’s lap, and graduate to sitting beside him.
Children love boundaries – and there is a security for them when Daddy requires absolute stillness and silence. This has proved so valuable for us, whether on set or in church – our children know what’s expected.
Moviemaking – and working together 24/7 – is definitely very character building. As with any homeschooling family, our kids have had to learn to get along as they work, homeschool, and live together all day, every day. They’ve been stretched as they’ve had to take on roles that are not their natural bent.
I think the most exciting thing to me as a mom is that our kids have been able to see the power of prayer – watching God provide for our needs and direct our paths in very tangible ways.
I have a whole journal’s worth of answers to prayer over the years of filmmaking. They’ve been able to see that God is real – and that He cares about all the details of our lives.
I have learned what it really means to walk by faith – not just “Yes, Lord, I trust You to provide - PLUS my husband’s paycheck.” But, “Yes, Lord, I trust You to provide – period” – when there is no guaranteed income.
It’s a whole new journey of faith, of trusting our Heavenly Father.
My favorite verse right now is, “BE STILL – and know that I am God.” How faithful He is to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think – if only we will let go and let Him have His way.
We don’t need to worry about what we will eat or drink, for He knows that we have need of all these things. I have a whole new picture of Who God is – and I have come to realize how dependent I am on Him for everything, moment by moment.
I am a perfectionist – and I tend to fret and stew if everything in my life is not perfect (which is all the time!). The Lord has had me in a major classroom these last few years of learning to let go, take my hands off, and let Him work.
Next to fretting, I think comparison is my besetting sin. I struggle with it constantly! I feel like a failure because… I don’t have a blog with a bazillion followers. I don’t make millions from a home business. I’m not Mrs. Ultimate Homeschooler whose kids know 5 foreign languages, calculus, and chemistry at age 6…
BUT I have to remember:
• My eyes are to be on Christ alone.
Someday I will stand before the Lord – not all these other people that I compare myself to - to give account of my life. My calling is to please Him. In the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord…
• I am to submit to my own husband – not anyone else!
I go to Joel constantly to ask his counsel and direction for me. And often the expectations I have put on myself are not his – they’re self-imposed based on the standards I build from other people – not what he wants for me!
• The most important curriculum I can teach my children is God’s Word.
My job is to prepare my children for LIFE – to ground them in the faith, to prepare them to meet the demands of a world that will test their commitment to Christ in ways we can’t imagine.
There is nothing more important than this.
Education is lifelong – and with the internet, a wealth of knowledge is available at our fingertips anytime. Our kids can learn what they need to know when the time comes.
I'm taking God at His Word, that when we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness – making sure our school day begins with time in His Word together – that He will add all these things unto us – He will bless our children with understanding of what they need academically.
Isn't that good?! I can't tell you how my life personally has been blessed since Lisa shared this wealth with me, especially the part about Sarah and reverence. Isn't God good to introduce us to wise women who give us just what we need when we need it?
Next week, you're in for a treat! Until then, God bless, and thanks for reading!
And now, part two of what you saw earlier with Nate and Allie. Soooo funny...
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