Joshua Overbay: Director/Writer of AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, from concept to financing.
In the fall of 2011, my producing partner and I decided we were just going to do it — we were going to make a feature film. I said to my wife, the co-writer, “Let’s write a script about a cult leader.” I had always found cult leaders fascinating, specifically David Koresh and Jim Jones, and wanted to see that ascension to power from an altruistic beginning to the kind of ending that usually accompanies these stories.
We pulled together a producing team and got to work on pre-production. As a film professor, I was able to recruit students to crew the film; in fact, 95% of the crew were students. Due to extremely limited funds (as in, no up front investors), we chose to crowd fund the project through Kickstarter, and the rest is history.
2Q: Cinequest is proud to host the World Premiere of AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
I always tell my students that if you don’t feel entirely exposed when premiering your film, then you haven’t fully invested yourself in the project. So, I feel incredibly vulnerable! But I’m also very excited to be able to share this. I think it is a challenging story, and I hope that it will push people to think hard about why they believe what they believe.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making AS IT IS IN HEAVEN?
I didn’t anticipate how close our ragtag group would become, so even now, looking back on making this film, it was one of the best experiences of my life. We definitely created a family bond.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
People go to film festivals to be entertained, and also challenged. This film accomplishes both. The main reason I made As It Is in Heaven was that I saw a lack in American cinema concerning the nature and power of belief; I was inspired by Bergman and Tarkovsky and their fearlessness in their examination of the human condition and how faith is an essential aspect of that. If anyone is interested in the potential cinema has to explore belief, come see this film.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Best Director Oscar for AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. Give us your acceptance speech.
First and foremost, I have to thank my wife for her long-suffering nature. I have to thank my producers, Nathaniel Glass and Isaac Pletcher. The cast was amazing, and thank you to Chris Nelson for his phenomenal performance as David. And a huge thank you to the incredible volunteer crew for working long hours in the summer sun, and the numerous friends and family who helped finance this film and made the whole thing possible.