An Inspiring Interview with Cecil Stokes

Today, I am please to welcome Cecil Stokes, founder of TentMakers Entertainment and producer of October Baby, to Inspire a Fire.

What inspired you to take an interest in film production?  I was at the right place at the right time, which is just another way of saying God had a plan for me when I was unaware of what He wanted me to be. I had a work study job in the career services department and answered a call one day from a TV network wanting to post a job. I thought it sounded great and applied on the spot. On the very first day of work, I felt something I had not felt before – I was beginning to find my path.

Were you interested in film production from a young age, or did you develop your interest as an adult? I grew up watching a lot of TV and really enjoyed getting to see so many stories unlike my own. I loved “meeting” different characters and seeing a bigger part of the world than I had at my own front door. While media can be used negatively, it also has positive benefits like expanding one’s world – which it did for me.

What steps did you take to take to become a film producer? Did you go to school, learn on your own, work as an apprentice? The entertainment industry is filled with two kinds of people: those who went to school and those who learned it on the job. I learned it on the job. I didn’t have a single media class in college, but I started in the business at the bottom rung of the ladder and worked my way up, one position at a time. Both of those journeys are great, so I could not recommend one over the other.

What inspired you to work in Christian film-making? My Christian values have always been intertwined with the projects I work on. I have written or produced over 500 hours of cable tv, two documentaries, almost a hundred commercials and one feature film. None of those were ever classified as “Christian” until October Baby. I am just a storyteller and audiences can interrupt the stories I tell from their own world view.

What was your first film ever? Was it a class project?  Ha! I wrote my first piece of fiction in 4th grade. I persuaded the teacher to allow a group of us to practice during recess, and eventually, we performed it for the entire 4th grade. Beyond that, my first “real” project was writing an episode of “America’s Castles” on A&E.

What are a few of the things you’ve done as a film producer? I am very blessed to have been able to work in every field of entertainment from theater to TV to film. I won an Emmy award in 2004 and my films have won many film festivals. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what people think of what I create as long as I honor my Creator.

Has anyone in particular been an inspiration or influence in your career? The man who gave me my first real job in television is Scott Galloway. I think my life would have turned out very differently if our paths had not crossed. God is amazing at weaving our human tapestries together into something beautiful…

What inspires you today?  I love that you used the word “inspire.”  That is truly what makes me happy. I feel complete when I am inspired and when I am used to inspire others. I love watching good films or TV, reading books, being alone with God in nature and interacting with the truly amazing people God has placed in my life. He is the greatest storyteller and I love what He has written for me.

What words of encouragement would you have for someone who dreams of being part of the film industry? I don’t know that this will read as “encouragement,” but make sure your dreams are from God. Many people choose this field because it looks fun or it seems to have a lot to offer, but it is a tumultuous industry. I only suggest going into it if you are called by God. This has to be what you were created to do.

Thank you, Cecil! It’s been a pleasure talking with you today. I pray our readers find inspiration in the words you’ve shared about your journey in the production arts.

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Office

Pirate Preacher

Eddie is an award-winning author of middle-grade fiction with HarperCollins. Father of two boys, he’s also a pirate at heart who loves to surf. Eddie loves to connect with his readers! Learn more about Eddie at: EddieJones.org , pirate-preacher.com or WritersCoach.us

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