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A MUST SEE ABOUT THE IMPACT OF FATHERS - Q & A WITH JOHN FINCH OF ‘THE FATHER EFFECT’


Q & A WITH JOHN FINCH

FILMMAKER - 'THE FATHER EFFECT'


The Father Effect:

Our mission is to awaken fathers to a real understanding of the significant impact that they have on their children.

Our prayer in making this film is to capture the critical and powerful impact of fathers in a documentary so compelling that it ignites intentional and purposeful actions by the men who watch it.

FC:

First off, John, thank you so much for making the film The Father Effect.  For many people who grew up without a father, the absence is a huge void in their lives, however, many people don’t realize this absence as part of their wounds (as you've touched on in the film).  Can you tell us the turning point where you realized some of your life challenges were attributable to a father’s absence?

You mention in the film that on February 20, 2009 you began a journey of forgiveness for your father, what prompted this?  Were you a filmmaker before this point?

JF:

In my late 30's, I was a traveling salesman and a social alcoholic who was making very good money.  I had bought into all that the world tells you that you should be as a man - success, money, power, alcohol, a big house, a nice car, etc.  I was on a quarterly business trip to Nashville to see a customer who was also an alcoholic in Nov of 08.  We met and hit the Nashville strip late in the afternoon, drinking fast and furious, which was my style.  I got back to my hotel room about 4am and laid down for about an hour before I had to catch an early flight back to Dallas.  On the drive to the airport, I was still drunk and I remember thinking that if I got pulled over, I could get busted for a DWI.  I verbally said out loud to God, "you are going to have to slap me upside the face to get my attention."  I was having too much fun running from God and did not want to face the monster in the mirror that I had created along with all the guilt and shame from the mistakes I had made for the last 30 years.  About 3 months later, on Feb. 20th, 2009, God took me to a place of real brokenness which is where He had to take me to get my attention.  My world had turned upside down. I knew my life and behavior weren't normal and something had to change. It was then that I remembered a conversation I had with a friend of mine on the golf course just a few years earlier.  I had been introduced to the concept of a father wound for the first time while playing golf with a friend of mine.  (I talk about it a little in the short film)  After sharing with him some of the struggles and trials I was going through at the time, he said, "You grew up without a father rich?" and I said, "yes" and went on to explain how incredible my mom was.  When I finished, he turned to me and said, "But was she a dad?".  It was at that point that I began to realize the significant and lifelong impact of growing up without a dad.  My friend went on to shared the idea of a father wound with me.  Up until that day, I felt like I had this disease that no doctor could cure or even had a name for and that I was all alone and the only one having these issues.  Walking away from the golf course that day, I felt relieved to find out that I wasn't the only one, I wasn't all alone, and that I wasn't weird or abnormal.  Like most people, I still denied that I had a father wound for a few more years.  God planted the seed that day and I was constantly reminded of it until Feb. 20, 2009, the day I finally admitted that I had a wound, fully surrendered to God, and invited God to help me with this wound.  I started the ministry in June 2010 and was having trouble getting the message out about my story and the impact of fathers.  In March, 2011, God laid it upon my heart to make a film, but I had no experience in filmmaking.

FC:

How do you think a father’s absence effects men and women differently?

You mentioned having a wonderful mother in The Father Effect.  However, your friend stopped you and asked ‘but was she a Dad?’  How is having an absent father detrimental?

JF:

A father's absence affect men and women differently when they are children, but there are also some similarities.  A father's absence tells both boys and girls that they don't matter and they are not important.  The way boys and girls react to this is similar in many ways.  The difference is that a girl who is not shown love by her dad will go out and find love somewhere, usually through other men using sex, becoming promiscuous, doing anything to get a man's attention, which most of the times leads to a pattern of dysfunctional and abusive relationships.  A boy wants to know from his dad that he has what it takes to be a man.  If he doesn't' get this from his dad, he will try to attain love through performance - working extremely hard to be successful in business, maybe working to gain attention by building his own physical body in the gym all the time, or conquering women to show that he is a "real man".  Both men and women who grow up with absent fathers struggle with guilt, shame, inadequacy, and unworthiness, never feeling they are good enough for anyone.

FC:

In your personal opinion, what’s the best way to talk to a child about an absent father?

JF:

In my opinion, the best way to talk with a child about an absent father is with a Christian counselor.  As a child, I knew my mom already had enough to deal with and I did not want to give her more worry or concern. I am a huge advocate of counselors and know that I would not be where I am today without one.  My counselor was my Aaron to Moses.  He helped me walked through the doors I would have never opened so that I could work through some of my issues.  A trained professional who has experience with father wounds can be extremely helpful to a child or adult.  A lot of times, kids are more open to talking with someone else about their true feelings, which then opens the door to sharing with their parents.

'Because my father wasn't around' - listen to the video interview
here from The Father Effect Youtube Channel.

 

FC:

Was there a moment where you were overcome by emotion knowing that making The Father Effect was life changing (for yourself and others)? 

JF:

There were many "WOW" moments for me in making the short film and continue to be in making the full length documentary.  Hearing some of the messages from people who I interviewed personally changed my own life as a father and husband. And the responses, emails, posts I have received also made me understand the power of the message and what God was doing in peoples' lives as a result of the film.  Many times, the people I interviewed got emotional as they talked about their dads.

FC:

How did you search for people to interview?  What was your “pitch” to them?

 
JF:

People for the interviews - I literally started talking to friends and posting on Facebook that we were making a movie about the impact of fathers and I encouraged people to interview because they would be amazed at how their story could help change the lives of others.

FC:

Are there any interview moments with the people who shared their stories that really struck you?

JF:

Stories that stuck with me - There were many!  One of the most profound was with Dr. Meg Meeker, a six time best-selling author and pediatrician, who told me a story about girls who would come into her office at the age of 13 or 14.  They were sexually active and before they would leave, they would ask her to write them a prescription.  She would ask what for and they would say "I don't care what it is for, just put on the bottom of it that I cannot have sex."  Dr. Meeker went on to explain that these girls were having sex at the age of 13 and 14 and that it wasn't pleasurable either physically or emotionall, but it was the only affection and attention they were getting.  They weren't getting any positive affection and attention from their dads.  And this prescription was their "permission slip" to show their boyfriends that they could not have sex.

FC:

How many hours of footage did you capture?  What was the deciding factor in using the interviews that you did?

JF:

I ended up with about 70+ hours of interview footage.  I decided on the interview clips based on the story line that I had originally written for the film.  However, there were interview clips that I felt compelled to include because of the important messages and because they were so powerful and relevant to the story.

FC:

How many people were on the interview “crew?” Was it you with a camera and tripod or did you have a sound person, lighting, etc.?

JF:

I was encouraged early on by a few people who just told me to go do it.  So, it was just me, my video camera, and a 2 light kit for most of the interviews.  I did have a videographer for a few of the high profile interviews (about 8 out of the 70) so that I didn't take a chance of missing footage.

TheFatherEffect.com "My Rage, Fustration, and Pain" Interview With An Indiana Inmate (From the Father Effect Youtube Channel)


FC:

Do you think the wound is different for children who have lost their father through death rather than absence (either physically or emotionally)?

JF:

I believe the wound is definitely different for those who have experienced it through death versus physical or emotional absence.  Death tends to have some finality or closure, but has its own difficulties because there is no one to go to and find explanations, ask for forgiveness or find forgiveness. Physically or emotionally absence can be very difficult on a whole different level.  Because the person is still alive, it can be a constant reminder of rejection, abandonment, etc which can continue to affect the son or daughter on a daily basis.

FC:

Do you have tips on how to move beyond blame and anger for having a absent father?  Many people use it as a crutch (rightfully so), which only holds them back.  Can you tell us things that worked for you and/or the people with whom you came in contact with?

JF:

Forgiveness of a father is the only answer to complete healing from anger and blame.  Getting to know your dad's story is a huge step for many as they start the journey towards forgiveness.  Really coming to understand my dad's own story - how he grew up, what his dad was like, what he had to deal with as a kid, as a teenager, etc - helped me have compassion for my dad and understand that he did not have the tools to be a dad because he never received them from his dad.  This opened the door for God to then show me forgiveness for my dad.

FC:

Was there any moment during the making of your film The Father Effect that you hesitated sharing your own story or feeling uneasy about such an emotional issue?

JF:

I did not have a moment in the making of the film that made me uncomfortable in sharing my story or talking about emotional issues. When I walked away from my corporate sales job to start the ministry in June 2010, God told me to share my story.  I found that when I shared my story, it was so much easier for others then to share theirs.  As a result, I would typically share a little of my story with each person I interviewed so they would then feel more comfortable in sharing theirs. I have a lot of common bonds with those I interviewed as a result.


Filmmaker John Finch interviewing  John Eldredge (best-selling author of Wild At Heart and Fathered By God) for The Father Effect Movie

FC:

As a kid, how did you feel being around your friends’ families and fathers?  Did it make you uncomfortable, jealous or did you sense something was missing in your life?

JF:

I absolutely felt weird and uncomfortable around others friends' dads as a kid.  I wasn't sure how to act because of not having dad myself.  I really felt that I was missing out on something that a lot of my friends had, which only led to more anger and resentment towards my dad because he wasn't around and had chosen to leave me.  Ironically, there were also times I remember thinking that maybe I didn't have it so bad (and maybe I was even lucky) because of the example of some of my friend's who had abusive or alcoholic dads.

FC:

Was the movie you set out to make the movie you ended up with or did it evolve/change direction in post production?

JF:

The movie I set out to make was pretty similar as what we finished with.  Some of the messages or topics changed a little, but the story line was essentially the same as the original. 

FC:

The Father Effect is so rich with meaning.  Have you considered making this film a feature?

JF:

We are almost finished with the full length documentary.  I would love the opportunity to make a feature film about fathers and their importance and impact.  I had one group that expressed an interest (when we first began the documentary) in making a full length feature film based on my story and the stories of a few of the people we interviewed.  Haven't heard anything back from them.  What I have continued to learn throughout this journey is that God is in control and if it is His will, it will happen.

FC:

What are some of the responses you’ve received about the film and its message?

JF:

We have received all positive responses from all over the world - Africa, Mexico, Europe, and Canada.  And we continue to receive them almost on a daily basis. Here are just a few:

"This video is amazing! It has given me a greater understanding of my impact on my children. God bless your ministry!" Brendan

“Fabulous film! I pray every DAD will see this Movie.” Susan

“Powerful! Sobering.” Jahg

"Love the Film!!!! We need more awareness of the important role fathers play!” Michael

“Thank you. May God use this work to restore that which has been broken and may it call many men to the greatest privilege they've been given - to be a dad. Bravo!”  Mosaic

"I'm so crying right now... I wish my dad could watch this.” Rosy

“Wow, if the world could hear this.”  TF

“Kudos for bringing the truth and changing the conversation about the importance of Fathers.” Giacomo

“I'm overwhelmed and at a loss for words but wanted you to know how deeply this impacted me.” Beverly

“I have shared this with my single friends...Your movie short is astounding on a personal level and spoke to my heart.” Kaz

“A great message to dads and children everywhere. Kudos to everyone involved in making this video!”
Larry

"This is something every father should watch!" Charlene

"Absolutely brilliant! As an abused kid by my father (left home at 15 because it), I was left with a deep fear of one day repeating the cycle, especially after discovering the clear pattern of abandonment and emotional/physical abuse my father also experienced. When I finally reached a place of forgiveness for my father when he was in hospice care, the fear of being a dad vanished. I ended up a stay at home dad with our 2 boys for over 7 years! Forgiveness changed our lives forever!" Patrick

FC:

Do you have advice for fathers or mothers raising kids currently who had an absent father during their childhood?

My advice for fathers and mothers who had absent fathers growing up would be admit you have a wound, ask God to help you find forgiveness, seek a christian counselor, and most importantly forgive their father.  Many people have never heard of the term "father wound" and don't know what it is.  And many more will live in denial and not even understand they have a wound that is impacting every aspect of their life.

FC:

Having made this film, have you had new realizations about your own being a parent?

JF:

Making this film has changed my life as a man, husband, and father, and I have realized more things about myself as a dad (both negative and positive) than I could have every imagined.  It has also helped me change my legacy as a dad and helped me break the cycle of a generational curse that could have continued for years within my family.

FC:

Are there any books or speaking series you can recommend for people looking to heal wounds from an absent father?

JF:

The books I would recommend for those dealing with a father wound are Wild At Heart and Fathered By God both by John Eldredge, and Captivating by John Eldredge and his wife Stasi.  For dads who have daughters and want to be a better dad, I would recommend Strong Fathers Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker.  For dad with sons and want to be a better dad, I would recommend Raising A Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis.  We are currently working on additional resources also that will be available with the film - a book about my story, a small group curriculum, a DVD Series, The Father Effect Interview - "Stories Every Dad Needs To Hear", and a 21 Day Challenge to Becoming The Dad God Created You To Be.

FC:

Are you speaking/lecturing on the subject?  Where and what are the specific topics?

JF:

I am speaking to churches, addiction centers, and various other organizations (both men and women) about Father Wounds and Forgiveness.  We are also launching a new series of seminars to single moms called "For Single Moms Only- Understanding The Father Wound and It's Impact on Your Children" and for dads "A New Legacy - Becoming The Dad God Created You To Be".  I also educate schools (teachers & coaches) about the impact abusive or absent fathers are having on their students and how to encourage and support their students who have these types of dads.

FC:

What advice do you have for documentarians who are emotionally close to the subject matter in which they are covering?

JF:

My advice for those documentarians close to their subject matter is make sure you get a fresh set of eyes on all that you do.  Because of the emotional attachment, you can easily become blinded to what is good or bad and what should and shouldn't be in the film.  I had many interviews that I did where I knew the person and wanted to include them in the film, but didn't include them in the film.  Others helped me understand that it didn't make sense based on the story line and subject matter.

FC:

You have additional excellent interviews on your Youtube channel The Father Effect - were these interviews afterthoughts or continuations of the film?

JF:

Our YouTube Channel was a vehicle by which we were originally just trying to get the word out about our film.  It has grown into a great tool for us to market our film.  Our intention is to do interviews for the life of the ministry because there is a message in every interview that people can identify with and that God can use to change lives. 

FC:

The Father Effect is incredibly moving.  Thank you for making this film.  We appreciate your willingness to come forward about your own experience and touch others with this message.

BIO - About John (from the site Theperfectfather.org):

When John was eleven years old, his dad committed suicide.  Little did he know the incredible impact that act would have on him 30 years later. Because he did not have the reassurance and affirmation that he craved from a father, for many years, John attempted to fill this void in many unhealthy ways.  As a result, John became a social alcoholic, and like a lot of men, he believed the lie that your value as a man is based on how much money you make.  He also worked extremely hard to create a persona that was totally false.  It was only when John finally realized that he had some unresolved issues (a Father Wound) as a result of his dad's death and life-long absence that he totally surrendered to God, found forgiveness, and became a new man, husband, and father.  John has been married for 17 years, has three beautiful daughters, and he is incredibly thankful for the second chance to be a father and husband for an amazing family.  

John's mission is to spread the message about the father wound and the forgiveness and healing that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  His goal is to help men walk in daily awareness of their significant and lifelong influence as fathers and to help them become better fathers.  Contact John by email at john@TheFatherEffect.com.   Connect on Twitter!

 

 

 

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