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In the Service of God

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Approx. 25 minutes long.

If you are a fan of "The Field is White," you will definitely enjoy John Lyde's new film, a "story of love, adventure and home teaching." If you did not like "The Field is White," you should probably avoid Lyde's new film, because although it is very different, it absolutely captures the same inimitable style.

In "In the Service of God" we find a young man named Peter about to propose to his girlfriend Molly. But before doing so he learns that Molly would never agree to marry a man who didn't do his home teaching. It's the last day of the month, and Peter has not done his home teaching, and he scrambles to visit his families (after finding out who they are) before popping the question to Molly.

The set-up sounds like the film might be "preachy" or something, but it's really not. I found it to be more a comedy than anything else. It's not slapstick or satire; it's a sort of slice-of-life, very realistic, character-based comedy with humor derived from believable events.

Is this film inspirational? I think it is, but without forcing itself to be. The "inspirational value" doesn't come from cheats or musical swells. The main character is simply a good guy trying to do the right thing. But this is a film that would never have been produced by the Church itself. From Peter's haphazard white-shirt-and-sweats look to his good-natured but rather unorthodox hometeaching visits, "In the Service of God" is entertaining and appealing because it looks like real life, not like a Hollywood movie or a seminary film. One entire home teaching visit consists of Peter and his reluctant companion listening to an old man tell a straight-faced but completely fictitious story about working as a bouncer in a bar. In another scene an unfamiliar ward member (played by Tyson Downey, the star of "The Field is White") greets Peter with a frown and pretends to be an inactive member who doesn't want to see them, then tells them, "Just kidding" and invites them in.

Furthermore, much of the film is not about home teaching, but is about Peter trying to propose to his girlfriend. The scenes are alternately awkward, uncomfortable, funny and sweet, and refreshingly free of typical Hollywood or Church film conventions.

I smiled, I laughed, I enjoyed the video, but at times I also couldn't believe this film was actually being sold -- it's so different from anything else you can find in stores. The film really looks like Lyde spent no money at all to make it. Lyde really does know how to edit and direct, the lighting and sound are fine. If you want an expensive Hollywood look, this isn't for you, but if you are interested in seeing something fun, different, good-hearted and real, then check out "In the Service of God."

As with "The Field is White," the DVD features a director's commentary which provides wonderful insight into the process behind making a commercially-sold film for essentially no money. Interviews Director John Lyde
about his new film, "In the Service of God"

Q. What are some of the key differences and similarities between "In the Service of God" and your last film, "The Field is White"?

Lyde: Both films were shot dirt cheap. I used the same actors and Jonny Taylor did the music again. With "The Field is White" I wanted people to feel the spirit. This film is more light-hearted and fun. I made it with the intention of an Elders quorum presidents showing it at a social or maybe even in class. It's not meant to be preachy but maybe to get us to think about getting out there and doing our home teaching.

Q. What equipment did you use to make "In the Service of God"? What was the production budget?

Lyde: I used a lot of the same equipment that I did before. I shot it with my Canon XL1 and edited it on Adobe Premiere with DVStorm from Canopos. I used a Sennheiser microphone. Since most of it was shot outdoors, I used home-made reflector boards and shields. I had to pay for tapes and the use of a studio to record to music. Once again I was lucky and didn't have to pay my actors. It cost me more to get the VHS and DVD covers done than to make the film.

Q. Was there any feedback from viewers, critics or other filmmakers about "The Field is White" which you considered when making "In the Service of God"?

Lyde: I always enjoy feedback. If it happens to be negative I shed a quick tear and then realize that they are probably right and try and fix the problem in my next film. The major thing I learned from "The Field is White" is that lighting and sound are so important. I made sure that the sound was a lot better this time. I never want do Looping again. When I get positive feedback it gives me incentive to go out and make another film. I've showed the film to my Teachers quorum and my dad showed it to the High Priests in his ward. I think the High Priests liked it even more than my Teachers. Quite a few of them have already asked for copies.

Q. How many of the events in this film were drawn from real experiences, and how many were completely fictitious?

Lyde: I think most of this film is all fictitious. However, I think all writers try and draw from their own experiences of that of others as they write. I tried to think of everything that could happen wrong if you had to get something done in a certain amount of time.

Q. Why did you decide to cast Brad Clark and Ashley Schumacher in the lead roles?

Lyde: I cast Brad because of his personality and because we saw the movie "Signs" together. That's how we became friends. Ashley was cast because she happened to be engaged to Brad at the time. I didn't think the film would work unless the leads had really good chemistry. Thank goodness they did.

Q. Brad Clark looks really, really young as "Peter." It's almost embarrassing watching him get ready to propose. Is he too young to get married?

Lyde: I agree, Brad does look very young. He is actually a returned missionary and I think he is either 24 or 25. He is married to Ashley Shumacher (now Ashley Clark) in real life. I thought that his young look would add a little bit of humor to his part.

Q. Many of the actors from "The Field is White" were cast in "In the Service of God." What was it like working a second time with so many people?

Lyde: For a lot of actors it was not just our second time working together. It was my first time working with Brad and Ashley, but everyone else has been in my films numerous times. It's like a bunch of buddies getting together and hanging out. We just go out and shoot a movie though instead of watching TV or playing football. Although, we do those things too.

Q. "In the Service of God" is about home teaching. Have the people you home teach seen it?

Lyde: They haven't seen it yet. I am waiting to get a higher quality version from the duplicators. I will show it to them next month.

Q. What did you think when you heard that HaleStorm Entertainment is planning to make a feature film called "The Home Teachers"?

Lyde: At first I was a little upset because I had told one of the guys from HaleStorm my entire plot months ago and right when I'm getting to release my film they announce that they are making one. Their writer, John Moyer, assured me that there is no similarity in our plots. Except that they are both about home teaching on the last day of the month. I'm sure our films will be quite different. I think they have a budget of 500,000 dollars compared to mine of 500 cents. I'm sure their film will be great.

Q. "In the Service of God" is definitely not like a typical Church-made inspirational film. Did you actively do anything to make your film different from a Church-made video?

Lyde: I try and make my films as realistic as possible so people can relate to them better. I don't actively try and do anything different than the Church. I know their films have to go through an approval process since the film will be representing the church. I try and always portray the Church in a positive light. I show my films to my wife and parents first. If my mom doesn't get offended by it, no one will.

Q. Were there things you wanted to do in "In the Service of God," but didn't, because your intended route of distribution was LDS bookstores?

Lyde: I always wish I had more resources and money while making a film. While shooting I try and make it as professional as possible with what money I have. If I had more money I would shoot it on 16mm film and spend more time making the film. With most of my films we have such small windows of time where I can get people together to film. If I was ever to do a theatrical release I would want to shoot it in 35mm. One day maybe.

Q. Explain the character of "Mr. Hedges" to me.

Lyde: Mr. Hedges could be one of two things. Some people might think that Mr. Hedges is actually the family that the home teachers are trying to visit and is just hiding from them. Or he can be viewed as one of those strange people we always run into. A couple times on my mission when knocking on one door a neighbor would appear from behind a fence or something and say some of the strangest things then disappear before we could go over and talk to them.

Q. Eight feature films have been released to theaters in the so-called "LDS Cinema" genre. Which is your favorite and why?

Lyde: I would have to say that "God's Army" is my favorite. I liked it so much because it was a first of its kind. Not only that, but I thought overall it was a very enjoyable movie. I liked it in the theaters and on DVD. The commentary on the DVD is one of the few I can actually stand listening to and find it very informative. The acting and directing are top notch and the film was very believable to me and best of all I could feel the spirit while watching the film. On a side note, I really enjoyed the cinematography in "Handcart".

Q. What can you tell me briefly about the movie you're working on now, "The Collectors"?

Lyde: Filming starts in just a couple weeks. I am trying a lot of new things with this film. I took 3 months off work at BYU to make this film. I am holding auditions and paying actors for the major roles. I actually have a little bit of money to make this film. I am using a Director of Photography [Kels Goodman], which I have only done one other time. I really want this film to have a polished look. It still won't look like a major Hollywood film, but it will definitely look better than the countless straight-to-video movies out there. We have already shot and cut together the opening scene and I am quite happy with the way it turned out. We are hoping to have an international video release with this film.

"In the Service of God"
OPENING Credits as they appear in the film

JKL Entertainment

A John Lyde Film


"It is a program that touches hearts, that changes lives, and that saves souls; a program that has the stamp of approval of our Father in Heaven; a program so vital that, if faithfully followed, it will help to spiritually renew the Church and exalt its individual membes and families... I am speaking about priesthood home teaching."

-- Ezra Taft Benson

"In the Service of God"
CLOSING Credits as they appear in the film

Written, Edited, Filmed
and Directed by
John Lyde

Produced by
John & Lorien Lyde

Music by
Jonny Taylor
Brian Taylor
John Lyde

Brad Clark

Ashley Schumacher

Steven Lyde

Charone V. Smith

Dave Kenchington
Brother Hale

Jonny Taylor
Sean Carpenter &
Dan Singer

The Nerds

Frank Stubbs
Mr. Hedges

Tyson Downey &
Stacy Wolfgang

The Ballentines

Roger Rowbury
Brother Young

Richard Pratt
Brother Johnson

The Young Girl Annette Rowbury
Kevin's Mother Pat Brann
The Hecklers Jonny 5, DMS & S-Mart
The Bruisers Kraig Lodge
Jason "The Saint" Meik
The Dizzy Dames Margaux Lodge
Michelle Griffin
The Bartender Scotty

Boom Operators
Kevin Lyde
Steven Lyde
Rose Rowbury

Benji Parker
Jason "Branches" Williams
Alex Willes

In the Service of God

NOTE: The three actors credited using pseudonyms as "The Hecklers" are actually Jonny Taylor, Sean Carpenter and Dan Singer, who also played "the nerds" (the lead character's friends).
Web page created 23 February 2003. Last modified 24 February 2003.