Sybil Ludington Director Kim Robinson was recently interviewed about her heart, role and vision for the DVD that she wrote and directed.
FCM: How did God put this on your heart?
Kim Robinson: Amazingly, we had known for over seven years prior to filming Sybil Ludington that we were going to do films. We had been doing family television since 1994, our show KICKS Club airs over 30 times weekly on are around 15 networks. We had gone to Williamsburg, VA to do a special show series, “Elmer Goes to Williamsburg”, which sparked the ambers of passion I had buried for the revolutionary time period for me. I then started developing a curriculum for this series and ‘stumbled’ on the story of Sybil Ludington. The Lord immediately made it clear that He had brought her story before me to do a family film. I set it aside for five years. Then, five years later, one Sunday morning prior to church, the Lord spoke to me, “Just do it. It’s time to do Sybil Ludington.” That day I began writing the script. From that point, it was all through His leading, that within a few months we had a cast and a script in their hands. This step of faith for me has been a very personal experience with the Lord. To see Him take this movie which was simply something that He had spoken for me to do and gave me the ability to write, produce, and direct, is a testimony of His grace, power, and doing. I’m thankful for that and thankful to Him.
Kim Robinson: We shot the film in Ohio, at one of Ohio Historical Society’s locations called, Schoenbrunn Village, located in New Philadelphia, part of Ohio’s Amish Country. This village is Ohio’s first settlement, settled in 1772 by a Moravian Missionary, David Zeisberger. It was a unique set up and was perfect for what we needed. It gave us that ‘historical’ feel, which is what I wanted.
FCM: Why did you choose the location?
Kim Robinson: I wanted the lighting the village cabins would project. Using all natural lighting is important to me as a director. I felt the white walls and the size of them would give an overall feel for what I wanted to portray through the movie which was, warmth, home, family, and faith. The inside of these rooms had a look that we could capture as we creatively dressed the set with a flair to capture the story. The Director of Photography, my son, Tony Robinson and I, worked diligently together to capture the unique lighting I wanted. We used over 1,000 candles to capture the look.
FCM: What did you feel the location could do for the film?
Kim Robinson: I felt the location would give the ‘feel’ that Sybil’s home was much further away from the typical coast of New York, showing her home pressed more into its wooded areas. Her 40 mile ride was through heavy wooded territory as well as populated areas and I felt this location would produce that. I wanted the look that portrayed Colonel Ludington developed the land where they lived, which he did, and wanted to bring out how the Revolutionary War effected these areas and most importantly the personal lives and families who lived there. We also needed an area to bring Sybil’s ride to screen and this village was in the perfect country area of Ohio that I felt could bring this to pass.
FCM: Was there anything specific you had to do develop the film sets?
Kim Robinson: Yes, one thing we did have to do regularly was remove some of the things within the cabins that weren’t period acceptable and replace them with our own props such as, candelabras, candlesticks, candles, rugs, pewter, furniture, etc. We took pictures of these pieces and arrangements and put everything back in its exact spot. We were very specific to take precise precautions of the village items. The buildings were also located closely together giving us the ability to work the sets nicely but had the challenge to keep other buildings out of the shoot. We also had to work around and hide posts, as well as any other modern items. The cabins had no electricity which produced a challenge for any other form of lighting, causing us to use generators, which created other sound challenges. We also had the challenge of keeping traffic sounds and airport sounds out of the film. But, overcoming challenges is really what I feel makes shooting a film creative.
FCM: How long did it take to make the film?
Kim Robinson: We stepped out on this and determined to shoot the film in 17 days, using 3 days of those 17 as any rain or make up days. Miraculously, we finished our shoot in 14 days and had 3 days to close out any last minute decisions. The best way to describe it is, we walked through our shoot and took it ‘one day at a time’. We didn’t look at what was before us but simply at what was there to do at the moment. This is what helped us through it, especially when the challenge came to think it just couldn’t be done. That’s why preplanning and scheduling was vitally important to us. We had studied our schedule and went over it for months prior, and specifically laid it out. We pre-determined to schedule the shoot within that two week period. Once on site, we could take it one day at a time and move forward on the foundation we laid prior to getting there. This worked for us and we were blessed at how the Lord carried us through it but most importantly, His hand in making it happen.
FCM: Does the story of Sybil Ludington touch you personally?
Kim Robinson: Yes very much. I felt Sybil’s story was a message of courage and about embracing a moment in faith. In her story, I saw it that Sybil had to confront what was before her by moving forward through an action of courage founded in the strength of faith. I wrote a song about the movie that we as a ministry sang through the whole process which embraced us in the simple testimony for me personally about stepping out and writing/producing and directing the film itself. Courageously, I felt I was not only writing about her ride but inspired to take the ride the Lord had put before me. I felt that Sybil’s ride was a destiny the Lord had set before her to impact her country and it was His plan for us to tell her story on film and give Him the opportunity to use what we had done to reflect her story to impact others as well.
The song I wrote was based on the message I felt rooted in Sybil’s story itself. I saw it based from Psalm 91:1, which is quoted in the movie. It says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
The words to the song go;
“Under the shadow of Your wings, I will ride, and You will guide,
Under the shadow of Your wings, I will always go with You.
Your wings they cover me, on a ride that was meant to be,
Your wings they carry me, for a land destined to be free.”
I personally felt the Lord carried Sybil through her ride to impact this nation. I also felt this nation had/has a destiny designed by God to be free and is clearly rooted in Christian faith. I have felt personally through the making of Sybil Ludington the Lord was carrying us by the wind beneath His wings to bring out Sybil’s living example of faith and this country’s Godly roots and foundation, as well as exemplify the passion in the hearts founded in our history for freedom itself.
FCM: What vision did you have for the use of this film?
Kim Robinson: For me, stepping out and doing the movie was my first focus when I started. As I wrote it I wanted to impact the lives of youth and families with a message that unity and family devotion makes for great accomplishment. It has been my passion that its message impact youth and families to make the statement that everyone has “the courage to make a difference, the courage to stand, the courage to bring about change.”
It has been my vision and hope that the Lord will use Sybil Ludington like a pebble dropped in a pond, causing the rippling effect of the message to spread throughout this nation and impact with its message of faith, hope, and family.
As I have seen Sybil Ludington make it into the KidsFirst Film Festival, I was amazed. Then when it made one of the finalists for the festival, I was so honored. We were also extremely honored to be accepted as one of only eight feature films for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and to be named an honorable mention in the San Diego Christian Film Festival. Being chosen for distribution by Bridgestone Multimedia Group has taken Sybil Ludington further than I could have ever imagined. I’ve been awed by the Lord’s doing and inspired to continue doing historical and family films. The heart of our ministry and our efforts to step out have been touched and taken to places I never dreamed. We want to see Sybil Ludington and her inspiration of hope reach into homes, churches, families, schools, be inspirational family entertainment and mostly, into the hearts of people.
FCM: What were some of the greatest challenges in completing this film?
Kim Robinson: There are so many stories I could tell about with the amazing things the Lord did for us in doing this and how we overcame the challenges. But to share what I feel to be a couple of the greatest challenges, would be;
One, was about my desire to have a specific look and to get the ‘vista’ for the film with Sybil’s horse. We were up to one week prior to the shoot date but still did not have the vista location and to top that, we then began to have some real challenges in getting Sybil’s horse from Oklahoma to Ohio. We had to begin looking for another horse that close to the shoot dates and “finally” connected with Mike and Dawn Smitley who were just a few miles from our shoot location. Amazingly, Dawn not only was right there, she had the perfect horse for Sybil’s ride, and she and her husband generously opened up their land for the opener of the movie. They were an answer to prayer not only for the horse, but for the vista of the film. They were an amazing provision.
Secondly, the most challenging I feel was with creating the lighting for the ride, the rain, and the ride itself. We studied so many avenues for this and opted to not use day for night. We brought out generators, lights, and Sybil, with lots of water in spray bottles to get her wet. We had to create the storm, keep a fire in a cabin burning to keep her warm, and work with her over and over with the horse to create the ride. We used reflectors, fog machines, and ran the horse through tons of brush, trees, poison ivy, and fallen branches, all through the dark. It was a bit intense to say the least. We couldn’t start until dark, which Daylight savings time worked against us. We finally completed the ride around 2am. We took the footage, designed its color correction, sound effects and rain. It was an amazing accomplishment and what I feel was one of the greatest challenges and the greatest achievement of filming the movie itself.
Thank you Kim Robinson for such an open-hearted interview! Find Sybil Ludington at FamilyChristianMovies.com- Sybil Ludington