We chatted with N.D Wilson about his film The Riot and The Dance, creation and completing the film with a brain tumour.
Tell us about yourself and how you became a Christian?
I was raised in a Christian home with faithful Christian parents who emulated Christ daily and raised in the light of the gospel. I was baptized around the age of 12, but I cannot remember a day that I spent away from Christ.
You are a Young Adult novel author, how did you get into creating a nature documentary?
My uncle (the star of my film!) used to take me out hunting critters when I was young, and sometimes he would have me over to watch a nature doc or two. I’ve always wanted to make one that celebrated creation in a distinctively Christian way. And luckily, film production fits in nicely around a novelist’s schedule!
Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker?
I’ve known I wanted to be a storyteller since elementary school, and a filmmaker since high school. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to do both.
How did the concept for The Riot and The Dance come about?
I wanted to take the experience I had adventuring with my uncle when I was young, and give it to as many people as I could. Selfishly, I also wanted to continue our adventures together! The concept was two-fold: Begin close to home, finding wonder and gratitude in simple and familiar things before launching into faraway deserts and jungles in search of the exotic. And highlight the dual reality that we find out their in the world: this fallen creation is broken, cursed with death, and groaning for the resurrection. That’s the riot. But everything around us is also wondrously and majestically made, revealing the personality of our magnificent Creator. The glorious artistry of God can be found in every single corner of this globe. In those countless glimpses of Eden, we see the dance.
How can we discover more about God, by examine the world around us?
In the same way that we can learn more about any artist by studying his work, we can learn more about our Father’s artistry, taste, affection, and power by studying the many things He crafted and set loose throughout the earth. In Job, we’re told to ask the beasts and they will teach us. Teach us what? They will teach us about God.
How is nature essential to our walk with Christ?
We should all want to know and imitate Christ as much as we can. This is His world. He made it. He bought it. He gave it to us to tend. It’s easy for modern, technologically dependant Christians to get a false sense of what God is like because they never study (or even acknowledge) His work in creation. We’re so numb and blind while miracles go on around us all the time. We should try to love what God loves, right? And He loves birds. And butterflies. And pumas. And buffalos. And leopards. And…and…and…and…
What is your favourite part of Creation?
Colour. Wind. The first smell of rain on asphalt on a hot day. Taste. Jumping. Fast things. Slow things. Towering clouds. Weaver birds. Sunlight. Night time. Moonlight on water. I could go on indefinitely.
How difficult was it completing this film whilst being treated for a brain tumour?
Not easy! I’d been in production for two years when I found out about my large brain tumor (my children and I named it Steve). Then, right after surgery, I began working on the narration for the film. I have to say, my gratitude for reality and my continued existence really impacted how I approached the narration.
What is next for you and how can we pray for you?
Thanks for asking! You can pray that I won’t need any further brain surgeries. And that THE RIOT AND THE DANCE will honor God and impact families around the world with a worshipful wonder for our Creator.