Grooters is founder and president of Grooters Productions, a full service HD
media production facility with graphics, music, editorial, acquisition, and
creative services. He recently launched Ferocious Films, a distribution company
for media entertainment dedicated to releasing God-and-family-honoring content
of the highest quality. He’s one busy and creative person, limited only by the
number of hours in a day.
Dove: How did you get started in the
John: "I got started in storytelling - that's
the essence of what I do. I've been working storytelling into music making and
film making throughout my whole life. Music and film are very similar to me -
there's a creative vision of where you want to end up, and a lot of small
details you need to accomplish to get there." (Editor: John and his team have
filmed many well-known documentaries including the series, That the World May
Know with Ray Vander Laan, for Focus on the Family
and Zondervan Publishers.)
Dove: What prompted you to move from there
into making a feature film?
John: "This film was prompted by a general
frustration when my son was about 12 years old that I couldn't find a movie to
go to with him. The kid’s movies weren't cool enough, the cool movies weren't
safe enough, and the only role models I could find were girls."
Dove: What was the inspiration for The
Frontier Boys story?
John: "It revolves around being a dad and
hanging out with my son, Jed. We were on a ski trip together in Vancouver, and
we decided to spend some chairlift time inventing a story. We went down all
kinds of rabbit trails, and then settled on the concept: 'What if your best
friend shot your other best friend, but he couldn't tell anyone, and you didn't
Dove: Can you share a couple of inside
stories about casting, directing and producing?
John: "The Frontier Boys is blessed with a
great cast - and it's a really deep cast. It's not a movie where there are two
or three good actors and the rest of the parts are sloppy. We have a really
strong cast all they way down the line from our young leads, to our musical
stars Big Kenny and Rebecca St. James, along with Melissa Brock of Superchick,
and Lara Landon, and then a bunch of just plain terrific actors. Most of the
casting was done via Skype auditions, and we brought the cast together from
California, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Michigan."
"I pretty much believe that directing is 90%
casting, and 10% making sure you finish on time. I loved directing this film,
and I loved making the film in and around Charlevoix in Northern Michigan. We
had tremendous support and cooperation from the community, and they really made
the film possible."
Dove: Making a movie is full of challenges.
Can you share one in particular?
John: "We had one really funny challenge. We
began shooting in February, and we front-loaded the schedule with as many
snow-based exteriors as we could. We spent our first three nights in Northern
Michigan shooting the snowmobile chase scene. It's a tough scene because it's
shot at night, and it goes over the river and through the woods, you know.
Lighting is a bear. So we captured most of the chase scene, but we didn't get
to the final conclusion where the good guys reunite having lost the bad guy. We
had to break for several days because some of our bigger stars came to set, and
then we had to shoot basketball court scenes on Saturday, we took Sunday off -
and by the next Monday, the day we were going to film the conclusion of our
harrowing snowmobile chase scene - by then, all the snow in Michigan had
melted. That was a problem. You couldn't very well sell the audience on the
concept that all the snow melted during the chase scene itself. We were saved,
in the end, by the local rope tow ski hill, Mt. McSauba, who still had a thin
base of snow as you moved up the mountain. We relocated Butch, our youth group
leader character, who now happened to live in an Airstream Trailer - which we
hauled just far enough up the hill to find some snow. By the next day, even
that snow was gone. That was cutting it a little close."
Dove: Can you share any particular ways you
saw God’s hand while shooting the movie?
John: "I saw God's involvement all throughout
the process of making the film, always with just enough, and just when we needed
it…whatever it was. It was really cool to have Taylor DeRoo play the part of
T.J. Lewis one of the main characters. In the film, T.J. is shot, is in a coma,
and is being kept alive only by machines. In real life, Taylor collapsed during
a basketball game, and his family was braced to accept that he was not expected
to come out of the coma. Taylor was miraculously healed - no explanations
possible. He played his character beautifully, and obviously - authentically."
Dove: What is the current status of The
John: "The Frontier Boys DVD is now in
WalMart Stores across the country, along with most Christian Bookstores. It has
just finished theatrical runs in Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. The
novel, The Frontier Boys, will hit bookstores in just a few days, and
another book I wrote along with my son Jed called Raising a Modern Frontier
Boy will be in bookstores soon. There is also a really great curriculum
called The Frontier Boys: Explore released by Lifeway, that will be
available in early October."
Dove: What's next for Grooters Productions?
John: "We're raising money to begin shooting
Frontier Boys II - Long Gone, and Frontier Boys III - Ice Cold. I
can't wait to begin those two films, and hope to be underway on them this
calendar year. We're also in development for another film called Forbidden
Speech which is a film based on the true story of a boy banned from speaking at
his high school graduation because he wanted to quote from the Bible. That boy
was my son, and that issue - freedom of speech and the First Amendment - is a
powerful one to explore."
Read Dove's review of The Frontier Boys