By William McCray Sutherlin
Local director Joshua Overbay’s first feature film, “As It Is In Heaven” tells the story of a cult leader who struggles to cling to his faith and keep his community together after his doomsday prophecy is befuddled.
Overbay is currently an Assistant Professor of Film and Television at LSU and debuted the film October 3 the Zeitgeist Multi- Disciplinary Arts Center in New Orleans.
The story was originally crafted by Overbay and his wife Ginny Lee.
“It’s truly a collaborative partnership,” he said. “My wife is incredibly skilled with scene creation, dialogue, and sequence structure. I tend to be skilled with plotting and character development. So most of the ‘partnering’ took place in the outlining stage, where we would discuss and debate the best way to structure our story. And then, after Ginny wrote a draft, I would assess it, provide notes, and try to figure out what structural issues would need work. We wrote a ton of drafts before we landed on a final script. Some of these changes were minor, but we were making major changes to the plot up until the last moments.”
Set in rural Kentucky, Overbay described the film as focusing on a group of “heterogeneous individuals, all brought together by their desperation for meaning and their commitment to the idea that they are God’s special people. This idea leads them to self-destruction, death, and, ultimately, doubt.”
With what the film’s producer calls a “nano-budget”, Overbay and his crew managed to shoot the entire film in just 17 days, and for that, Overbay credits producer and first assistant director Nathaniel Glass
“He’s not only a gifted leader on set, but did an incredible job at scheduling,” Overbay said. “Plus, we had an incredible crew. On average, we pulled off over 25 to 27 shots per day. It was crazy.”
During production, all filmmakers encounter difficulties on some level. When we asked Overbay what his most significant difficulty was, he quickly responded: “Money.”
“Not having money means no one gets paid, which means people have to truly believe in the project to give of their time. We were lucky enough to find a cast and crew who were as committed as the core leadership team. Without them, this film would not happen. No way.”
Overbay and his team managed to overcome any obstacles that got in their way. As a result, they were awarded “Top Grit” in the Indie Grits US film festival, and Overbay was nominated for Best New Director in Nashville Film Festival’s New Director Competition. He describes the experience as a “huge honor and a dream come true.”
“I wanted to find a setting which created a space to discuss how belief has functioned in my life – both negatively and positively – and the lives of others I’ve observed,” he said. “The film, really, is about the power of belief and how far one is willing to go to maintain one’s beliefs.”