Dear Stan and company,
I do hope this note finds you thriving. The film team-Ralph, Jock, Ralph Winter and I-have some very exciting news to share about our documentary film series, “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War.” We are very close to completing Episode 1 of our five-part series!
Our plan is to approach Amazon or Netflix in January 2020 to negotiate worldwide distribution for the film. Ultimately, we believe our film series will become an invitation to many, many people to consider the life and claims of Jesus Christ.
Your friendship, generosity, and advocacy on behalf of the film will not be forgotten. We are so grateful for you!
Let me share with you some highlights of this incredible project and how we arrived at this moment in the production process. It began in 2014, when you gave me the opportunity to speak at the Oxbridge Conference, where Ralph interviewed me about Lewis’s legacy.
A lot has happened since then: We have filmed numerous scene re-enactments to capture critical moments in the lives of Lewis and Tolkien. We have interviewed a stellar cast of biographers and historians, including: Walter Hooper, Lewis’s personal secretary and chief editor of his works; John Lennox, an Oxford philosopher who attended Lewis’s lectures as an undergraduate; Alister McGrath, Oxford theologian and author of an acclaimed Lewis biography; Diana Glyer, a leading scholar on the creative friendship between Lewis, Tolkien, and the Inklings; and Niall Ferguson, one of Britain’s greatest modern historians.
Our travels have taken us to Great Britain, to Oxford University: to the Eagle and Child pub, where Lewis and Tolkien and the Inklings met weekly; to University College, where Lewis studied as an undergraduate and formed friendships that changed his life; to Exeter College, where Tolkien discovered the linguistic key to his story about Middle-earth; and to Addison’s Walk, where Lewis, in a late-night talk with Tolkien, abandoned his agnosticism and embraced Christianity. We have filmed in the Midlands, in the village that became Tolkien’s inspiration for the Shire; and in Great Bookham, where Lewis discovered the author George MacDonald, whose works of Christian fantasy helped lead him to Christ.
We also have travelled to France: to the remnants of the trenches along the Western Front; to the village of Rietz du Vinage, the battlefield where Lewis was nearly killed during the First World War; to the Somme Valley, to the battlefield where Tolkien fought and the inspiration for the “dead marshes” on the way to Mordor in The Lord of the Rings; and to some of the most poignant and beautiful WW1 memorials to honor the fallen.
We have been incredibly blessed by the encouragement and support of many friends along the way, from individual donors as well as a host of vendors, who have donated thousands of dollars in equipment, space, and staff to assist us during the production process.
Our interviewees also gave generously of their time and talents. I should add that my film team and I have taken no salary for our work on the project over these many months-it has been a labor of love.
Because everyone we have interacted with on this project senses what we do: that we are telling through film-for the first time-an immensely powerful story of the friendship and creative achievements of two of the most consequential Christian authors of the last century. We are determined to tell the story of Lewis and Tolkien with integrity and with excellence. Toward that end, in order to maintain complete editorial control over the project, we founded Eastgate Creative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit film production company. At its core, this film is a story about war, friendship, and imagination-a deeply encouraging and ultimately redemptive story-and we intend to tell it as honestly and beautifully as our gifts and resources allow us.
We are now in the final stages of production for Episode 1 in the film series, and we’re planning a trip to the UK this November to gather the remaining footage we need. A very generous family has just offered to support the project with a $25,000 gift, plus a matching gift of up to $50,000. We estimate that the total costs for Episode 1 (including production costs, archival footage, etc.) will be about $100,000.
We cannot complete Episode 1 of the film series without help from our friends. We are at a standstill until we find that support. We know that you-like no one else-share our vision for this project. Ralph has often expressed to me that you have been a mentor to him and have inspired him to pursue beauty and truth in creative ways. It is part of the rich legacy of your work at the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
Stan, we could not have arrived at this crucial moment without you. From the very beginning you have been a terrific cheerleader for the project. Your words at the 2016 Oxbridge Conference-“this film must be made!”-were a rallying cry. Your vision for educating the next generation about the Christian legacy of C.S. Lewis has been an inspiration to us.
With our matching grant opportunity, even gifts of $100, $500, or $1,000 could make it possible to have the film ready for release by early 2020.
Together we can tell a story of faith, friendship, and redemption that the world longs to hear. God bless all your good and vital work.
With deep gratitude,