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October 7, 2010

'Blue Like Jazz' Movie Back on Track

In just three weeks, project went from dead in the water to moving forward with production

(Updated 10/11; see below)

On September 16, three weeks ago today, Donald Miller wrote on his blog that the Blue Like Jazz movie, which he and filmmaker Steve Taylor had been trying to make for several years, was essentially dead. "The book that swept the country will not sweep theaters," Miller blogged that day. The main culprit was a lack of funding, especially after a key investor had decided to back out of the project.

Less than two weeks later, the film received a breath of fresh air -- and possibly new life -- when two young men from Franklin, Tenn., launched SaveBlueLikeJazz.com, a grassroots effort to raise $125,000 by October 25 to keep the film on track. The money was being raised through Kickstarter.com, an online fundraising site.

They had 30 days to raise the money; they did it in ten. Miller announced the news on his blog today with a post titled, "YOU DID IT!", writing, "I’ll blog more about all of this soon, but for now, raise your glasses friends, because WE ARE MAKING A MOVIE!"

Taylor recently told CT that once the money is raised, shooting would begin within a few weeks, mostly in Tennessee (where Taylor lives) to save significantly on costs. Originally, the entire film was to be shot in Portland, where Miller lives and where much of the story is based. Now, only portions of it will be shot in Portland.

In a later e-mail to CT, Miller said, "It’s become a bigger and better story, and a story I think God stepped into the middle of. Some thoughts:

"We had so much trouble raising the money for the film that I wondered whether God wanted us to make it. . . . This is a very honest movie, a very raw movie, but it’s a movie that presents faith as it intersects with a fallen humanity. So I think God answered my doubt in a way only God could. That’s been the most amazing part for me.

"We all get to tell this story together now. It’s our story. It’s not a story for the church to consume, it’s a story for the church to tell.

"The gospel is about rescue, and in a very real way, we got rescued on this. Our brothers and sisters swooped in to help us out.

"Another feeling I didn’t expect . . . is fear. We’ve got to make an amazing movie now! We’ve been pushing so hard to get the finances, and now we’ve turned a corner and are making it, and that let loose a lot of fear. Fear is a good thing, for sure, but it has to be overcome. The only way to overcome this fear is to make a heck of a movie. So here we go."

10/11 UPDATE: Jonathan Frazier and Zach Prichard, who launched the SaveBlueLikeJazz website, report that contributions came from almost 1900 backers, with donations ranging from $1 to $5,000, and that most donations were between $50 and $100 -- "which is great," they note, "because it proves that this was truly a groundswell of smaller donations that made the difference."

Director Steve Taylor weighs in on the good news: "I've been overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. We reached the end, then God provided a very unexpected turn via a couple of very dedicated fans of the project. It hit me at the end of the third day of the campaign, 'Hey - we're making a movie. Time to stop saying "if" and start planning "when."' Not since the Apostle Thomas has anyone been so happy to be proven wrong." Taylor said that shooting would start in late October and run through November.

Here's an updated video from the team behind SaveBlueLikeJazz, including thank you's from Taylor and Miller:

Let's Make History! from Save Blue Like Jazz on Vimeo.


What can I say? The review is devastating and gets at the heart of all that’s wrong with the postmodern ethos in certain sectors of the Emergent church movement.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller along with the Emergent church has the right diagnosis, but the wrong prognosis. I suggest reading this book review to learn more:


@linda I wouldn't expect a much different response from the SBC, an organization that refuses to realize they are alienating people from the Good News of God's love and grace. Miller is not associated with the Emerging Church or their agenda. He does not say that there is no place for apologetics, he just implies that apologetics are not going to save most people in modern day America. Authenticity and community, however, will truly have the greatest impact in this country.

Christ himself stated, "whoever is not against us is for us." Blue Like Jazz & Donald Miller have reached so many souls for Christ. Why can't you rejoice with the angels instead of offering your Pharisaical critique? If Christians were united as Jesus prayed for us to be, then the world would not be so skeptical about the validity of what we preach.

God has worked a miracle to save this movie. I'll be praying for it and all the people who will see it, and I would suggest you do the same.

Keep preaching Don!


1. Blue Like Jazz is one of my favorite books and I think I'm going to like the movie (but after reading "A Million Miles In A Thousand Years" I have to admit I'm fearful that it won't live up to "BLJ The Book").

2. I'm part of the SBC and, like all organizations, it has its strengths and weaknesses and is (excuse the use of this term) evolving. (Tony C, I disagree that they refuse to realize they are alienating people from the Good News of God's love and grace . . . some do, some don't).

3a. As for the book review, don't miss the reviewer's statement that he ". . . loved reading Miller's book and would recommend it to almost anyone — Miller's wit, sincerity, and candor make its pages a delight. I giggled all the way through it. My copy is ruthlessly underlined and earmarked, and I have carried the book about town reading delightful paragraphs to my wife, friends, and complete strangers. I was moved, challenged, and encouraged. Miller's book encapsulates the best of what the emerging church has to add to our gospel witness.

3b. My disappointment with the review was that the "briefly comment" section of the weaknesses (of emergent thought) was 1) not so "brief;" and 2) has the tone to which Tony C refers (and I also abhor - but, in all fairness, it is hard to critique without sounding critical or, as believers, Pharisaical).

4. Question: To what (devastating) review was Linda referring?

God bless us all

Steve....if you are reading this then plese, please make this film good.

(No pressure, of course).

The fact is that I am completely dismayed with the utter inability of most "Christian" filmakers to make a decent film that I'm completely hesitant to see this book made into a movie.

It's in your hands now, Mr. Taylor. Let's make this one count.