Movie Magic

by Marketing Services- Cedarville, OH

Wherever there is darkness there is opportunity for light — just ask Jonathan Zemmer ’03, a motion graphics artist for MainSail Productions. Working in one of our culture’s “darkest” industries — that of making and producing movies — Jonathan has the opportunity to learn and work under the leadership of Christian director, writer, and producer Mike Webber. Although Jonathan would acknowledge that his role in movie production at this point is minor, he feels blessed to be in a mentoring relationship where he can hone his skills and “learn the ropes.”

Jonathan’s main role at MainSail Productions is to work in the postproduction department, creating motion graphics to be included in instructional and promotional videos. His software of choice is Discrete Combustion, which is used to create some of the higher-end animations. In other parts of postproduction, he enjoys developing interactive DVDs and CD-ROMs. During production, specifically during commercial shoots, he often serves as the assistant producer and helps coordinate different aspects of the shoot.

Most recently, Jonathan had the opportunity to work under Mike in the postproduction phase of MainSail’s latest production, the movie Thr3e. Based on the best-selling novel by Ted Dekker, it tells the story of a seminary student targeted by a psychopathic killer. Filled with riddles, intrigue, twisted thinking, and heart-pounding scenes, Thr3e has all the elements of a Hollywood suspense thriller. Yet it goes one step further: Thr3e has a clear moral message! The official website for the movie,, includes not only a description of the movie and links to theatres where it can be viewed, but also has resources that can be used by churches to promote discussions on topics such as good vs. evil, the consequences of yielding to sin, and the importance of confession. All of these themes penetrate Thr3e.

According to Jonathan, movies are ingrained in the American culture. In a culture already saturated with visual images, movies have become more than just entertainment alone. They have the power to sway culture. Jonathan shared, “There is always a message a movie is trying to communicate, and most of the time it does not agree with Scripture.” Jonathan would like to see that change. He believes the moviemaking industry needs more Christians using their talents to produce good, clean movies that will spark conversation, debate, and interest among viewers that will point them toward God’s Word. Jonathan, now growing under the leadership of his mentor, would like to be one of those people.

So how did Jonathan end up working at MainSail, having the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced producer and director? A challenge from CU professor John LeBlanc, as well as wise counsel from his future in-laws, encouraged Jonathan to rethink his major. Jonathan started out as a management information systems major. John LeBlanc challenged Jonathan and his business classmates to be sure their career paths were based on a God-given desire. Jonathan’s in-laws recognized that he was not suited to be a programmer and encouraged him to pursue a career that complemented his passions and abilities. Jonathan ended up changing his major to multimedia technologies, and he’s never regretted the switch. From starting a small media company with Tim Phipps ’03 following graduation to being asked to join MainSail Productions two years later, Jonathan has felt God leading him in this industry. Ultimately, Jonathan hopes to produce or direct his own values-based movie. Right now, however, he is thankful for the opportunity for career growth as he works and learns from Mike Webber.

Ever since The Passion of the Christ was released several years ago, Jonathan sees Hollywood as having more interest in Christian movies. Currently, he sees a big market for Christian, values-based films similar to Thr3e; however, the window of opportunity is narrow. Unfortunately, Hollywood will only look at the Christian movie market from a financial standpoint. Therefore, Jonathan feels it is essential that believers support the efforts of companies such as Fox Faith Films. If believers voice their approval of these quality movies, the door will remain open for more values-based movies to be produced, allowing for further light in an industry too often saturated with darkness. While Jonathan continues to be passionate about seeing good Christian movies produced in the coming years, he is thankful for the opportunities that God is currently giving him at MainSail Productions. He feels he has been given a small part in bringing the light into the darkness.