Banana Island Films
The entire creative team are ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, including the musicians
Check out the albums below!
Concept - Cameras - Cut
I have been actively working on documentaries for about nine years and have had a life long passion working with cameras starting with a Canon AE-1 as a teen. Our photo and film departments in high school were on par with university. I've had incredible access to great equipment and creative freedom since I was 16.
I was raised on the fringes of the Jehovah's Witness culture as my father joined the religion when he was about thirty and I was six. I was coerced into baptism as a teenager like most in the religion. I realized I didn't believe what the religion taught and left at 19 but got dragged back into it by my father for family and cultural reasons. I gave this faith a proper go for a few more years in my early twenties, unofficially volunteering as a part-time minister (50 hours per month), before and during university, well beyond any dedication my immediate family had ever made (grandparents, father and four siblings). After photography school I moved to Ecuador to see first hand how the religion operated internationally. That was truly a life changing experience and where I began to deeply question their methods of preaching abroad. It's a gross form of cultrural colonialism.
Witnessing first hand how they operate in developing nations, is what I've come to view as "cultural imperialism". They have a serious superiority complex and do not treat the locals with much respect for example: opting for a white 18 year old from England as elder over a local in his 30s or 40s who'd been knocking on doors in his childhood town for many years, risking his life long reputation for this cult. Experiencing that first hand was ultimately what lead me to walk away from the religion...that of course on top of a long list of nonsense that they teach and use to manipulate and coerce members into compliance through social control.
After Ecuador I exited the religion permanently. I had made some close friends in the religion, many of whom have since come out as well. Together some of these creative people and I are working on this project to give a voice to silenced former Jehovah's Witnesses.
Video edit, Writing
I was born into the religion and baptized young. In the decade + since my exit, I’ve traveled extensively, learned eagerly and forged new relationships. I was inspired by the concept of the project and am excited to be part of the team!
Ghost Army's fan page
Minneapolis band with one ExJW member, vocalis and songwriter: Chad Rhiger.
Some songs really hit close to home including, "Stay Away, Stand Firm, Grow Mighty
Buy the Album here:
Album: Sleepywood Dojo
A Minneapolis ExJW band, they are an essential part of the creative editing process and a huge support for our" XJW | Coming Out" documentary series as well as a highlight in our feature documentary, Witness Underground
Buy their music here:
Album: Rick Brown Saved My Life
Song: Magic of the Initiatory Act
Ryan Sutter is a Minneapolis based artist. He's the key subject of Witness Underground and has been a huge ally in the creation of our film.
Listen to and buy his music:
Ryan Sutter on Spotify
More creative contributors:
Eric Elvendahl, Cynthia Ivy Ann Elvendahl, Chad Stanley, Mitchel Vandenheuvel, Suzi Clark, Cassie Spicher, Ross Wilkins, Leah DeLaurentis, Soren Russell Carpenter, Ryan DuVal, Vincent Baumont, Nikolaj Svennivig, Linh Duong, Maria Myat Mo, Lourdes Andrea Villaverde, Matias Hidalgo, Jacques Wolf, Jon Dallas, Sian Walmsley, Kate O'Flaherty, Dung Nguyen, Thien Chip, Nicki Seminara, Chi Yen Le
DScott Clark, Drew Carlson
and many more.
Thanks for all the help!