I had the good fortune to interview filmmaker Adam White today. Adam is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently called the Mormon Church). He wrote and directed the feature film Inspired Guns premiering in Utah, January 24, 2014.
What happens when two [Mormon] missionaries get mistaken for mafia?
The inspiration for Inspired Guns came while Adam served as a Mormon missionary in Argentina. People congregated in the town plazas, and the missionaries talked to people there. Adam said that since missionaries always wore suits, Argentines often mistook him and his companion (missionaries are assigned to work in twos) as CIA agents. Repeatedly being mistaken for CIA, FBI, or some other agency, sparked the concept for Inspired Guns, which Adam thought would be entertaining and funny.
He wrote the first draft ten years ago and it’s evolved over time. Though he held auditions for most of the parts, Adam handpicked the four leads-the two missionaries and mafia brothers. They, and many of the other cast members, are also Latter-day Saints.
A Quick Backstory on Adam White
Adam was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona. He met his wife Greta when he went to Eastern Arizona College to watch his sister in a play. She and Greta were good friends, so Adam “hung out there to get to know her better.” Adam and Greta married in 2000 and have five children. They love going to movies as a family.
Becoming a Director
When asked what initially inspired his film career, Adam said,
Dad bought a VHS camcorder when I was a kid, and I started making movies back then, but I didn’t realize making movies was a possible career choice.
Adam attended Brigham Young University and decided to look into film as a career. He and his wife, Greta, had two children at the time, and Adam was advised to major in business and just do film on the side. He followed that advice, studying at BYU for two years, then transferring to Arizona State University, graduating in Business in 2005. He started an SEO business, which he sold in 2009 to really focus on making films.
Filmmaking was always my first love. I kept wondering, “Is this just a dream or can I really do this for a living?”
Adam mentioned that many comedies are “crass with dirty humor, so I’m not drawn to comedy mainly because there’s not a lot of clean comedy.” He talked about counsel that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ have given on avoiding “unclean, ultra-violent media.”
For example, in 1972, The Church’s First Presidency issued the following statement,
There is abundant evidence of the damaging effect of obscenity. We … are deeply concerned about this growing obscenity in print, on record and tape, on television, and in motion pictures… We … urge all Latter-day Saints to … avoid smut in any of its many insidious forms (First Presidency statement, Church News, 7 Oct. 1972, p. 5).
In a pamphlet for teenagers, maintaining a relationship with the Holy Spirit is the guiding principle in media usage.
Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit (For the Strength of Youth, page 11).
“There is a big need for good clean entertainment,” Adam said, “And I’m really driven and motivated to help fill that need. I wanted to make this movie, and others in the future, to help fill that gap.”
Adam, left, and some of the cast of Inspired Guns
Adam’s Two Goals for Inspired Guns
First, I want to entertain people. I want people to watch & re-watch Inspired Guns, think it’s hilarious, and quote it. I know all of it won’t appeal to everyone, but hopefully there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The second goal was to create good clean content for people to partake of. You can take your family & not worry about what you’re going to see. You can know that it’s 100% clean for the family.
Right to The Top
John Darin, cast as the mission president in Inspired Guns, is not a Latter-day Saint. In The Church of Jesus Christ, mission presidents oversee missionary work throughout the world. Each mission president is assigned a specific mission and leads 200+ missionaries. Being a mission president is physically and spiritually demanding.
Adam scheduled filming in May 2013. In April, to help John Darin prepare for his role as mission president, Adam said, “Here’s how you prepare for this part. Go watch General Conference and pay attention to see how those men portray themselves. Then you can see how you should portray yourself in this role.”
After April General Conference [a semiannual worldwide conference conducted by Latter-day Saint Church leaders], Adam asked John if he had watched it. John replied that he recorded it and watched it 4 or 5 times. He said, “If I ever join your church, I’m ready to go right to the top.”
Go See Inspired Guns Opening Weekend!
Inspired Guns opens in Utah January 24, 2014and will open later in other states in selected theaters.
Adam said opening weekend is the most critical weekend for a movie.
“For good, clean films to succeed, they need support on opening weekend.”
With a strong opening weekend, theaters let the film run longer giving more people a chance to view it. Without strong support, the theater will pull the film and replace it with another movie.
By Delisa Bushman Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.