Christ-centered, outgoing and entertaining are only three of the words that are used to describe film major Daniel Carpenter. Driven by his love for storytelling, Carpenter has been using film since the age of five to display his imagination.
Although he is a film major, the use of film isn’t what Carpenter focuses on specifically; it’s the storytelling that he’s devoted to. This was something he realized when he started studying film here at HU.
“When I started studying film more prominently, it came through friends and through various interactions,” Carpenter said. “I felt God emphasizing, ‘Daniel, you’re good at storytelling. I want you to pursue that.”
So since then, he has made it a goal to tell stories using film as his medium.
“Over the years, I really felt God calling me, saying that I love storytelling more than film,” Carpenter said. “Granted, film is my preferred medium for telling stories. Ultimately, I just love entertaining people.”
Using entertainment, Carpenter wants to strip viewers of reality and teach them something new about life.
“I think there’s something enchanting and kind of ironic about bringing someone out of reality to teach them something that applies to reality,” Carpenter said. “Being more aware of your current reality by being removed from it, it’s in an escapist form. I love that.”
Other than teaching people new things, Carpenter also aspires to inspire community with his work in film.
“There’s something uniquely bonding about film; there’s just this strange way that it can build community,” Carpenter said. “That’s what I love about film: I love people, I love film, I love stories, and it all just meshes together for me.”
His inclusiveness in community comes full circle back to film. When living at home, his family influenced his belief that film is perceived from multiple standpoints.
“Growing up, my family was instrumental in teaching me that film comes from various perspectives, not just my own,” he said. “We always had discussions after watching movies, and I realized about some movies, certain members of my family and I would feel the same way, but other movies my dad, mom, or my brother would disagree. And it was fascinating to have those productive conversations because I’m like, ‘You know what, I can understand that.’”
Coming into HU where God and community are key features, Carpenter applies what he learned from his family discussions to meeting new people and learning about them; he even uses these encounters to reflect on himself.
“It’s really helped me a lot and it’s a great way to get to know someone,” Carpenter said, “Just to ask them questions, not for the sake of winning them over with my argument, but for the sake of gleaning insight for myself.”
In the end, this all relates back to his faith as well. Carpenter sees symmetry between movies and the Bible that many people don’t.
“I’ve noticed that there is a lot of universal truths that circumvent what the Bible has to say—that a lot of people and that a lot of films made by non-believers hit on,” Carpenter said. “The classic good versus evil conflict, the hero on a journey of growth—it’s very synonymous with our own walk with God.”
Carpenter is aware that in the walk with Christ there is always something trying to fight back, whether it be in his walk or in others’ walks. He sees this walk like how a movie is played out.
“There will be conflict, there will be temptations, there will be an evil force always to fight against, but therein lies point B,” Carpenter said. “Right now, we’re at point A, but it’s always about getting closer to God, so I’m constantly reminded of that.”
Carpenter wants to use his belief in Christ to influence his audience, but not in the way most would expect. He doesn’t plan to solely focus on Christian-themed films, he plans to tell a great story that exemplifies the “universal truths” he mentioned. He wants to bring a new angle to films that force people to think.
“My mission statement has been to bring depth and dignity into the more fantastic parts of film,” Carpenter said, “so I aspire to take my theological beliefs, Christian faith, the simple truths, and maybe the more complex ones and find ways to integrate those into my story and find ways to maybe plant those seeds in people’s minds, Christian or not Christian.”
Using faith, storytelling and film, Carpenter plans to encourage others to “find meaning in the common things, creativity where there seems to be none, and another road to go when there appears to be a dead end.”