Episode 48

From Burnout to Filmmaking with Tara Massey

Episode 48 - From Burnout to Filmmaking with Tara Massey

In this episode of the Faith and Family Filmmakers Podcast, hosts Geoffrey Whitt and Jaclyn Whitt interview Tara Massey, who, alongside her husband Jason, founded Dove Light Studios. The discussion covers Tara's journey from running a photography business to establishing a film studio and producing their first full feature film, 'Do Not Grow Weary', featuring Dean Cain. Tara shares experiences about working with JC Films, challenges faced, and how their faith has guided their creative endeavors. She also introduces her podcast, 'Movie Worthy Stories,' which aims to showcase true stories and potential film adaptations. Additionally, Tara discusses her background in acting, ultra-running, and the personal impact of creativity and storytelling on her life.

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • The Birth of Dove Light Studios
  • Transition to Video Production
  • The Turning Point: Burnout and Revival
  • Creating 'Do Not Grow Weary'
  • Current Projects at Dove Light Studios
  • The Movie Worthy Stories Podcast
  • The Power of Testimony
  • Finding Purpose: Tara's Acting Journey
  • Family Involvement
  • Favorite Genre
  • The Impact of Art
  • The impact of Mark Hall and Casting Crowns
  • Do not Grow Weary: Movie Details

Tara Masey is a mom of 2, a loving wife, and a child of God. She's also an actress and a producer. She and her husband founded Dovelight studios, She worked with Dean Cain on her most recent project, which she and her husband produced with their film club.

Dove Light Studios: https://www.dovelightphotography.com/

Tara on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=taraelizabethmassey

Tara on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taraelizabethmassey/

Featured Ad: Mark Stewart Iverson's "For Prophet": https://forprophetfilm.com/

The Faith & Family Filmmakers podcast helps filmmakers who share a Christian worldview stay in touch, informed, and inspired. Releasing new episodes every Monday, we interview experts from varying fields of filmmaking; from screenwriters, actors, directors, and producers, to film scorers,  talent agents, and distributors. 

It is produced and hosted by Geoffrey Whitt and Jaclyn Whitt , and is brought to you by the Faith & Family Filmmakers Association

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Transcript
Geoff:

Welcome to the Faith and Family Filmmakers Podcast.

Geoff:

I'm Geoffrey Whitt

Jaclyn:

And I'm Jaclyn Whitt.

Geoff:

and we're glad you're with us today.

Geoff:

Today we're talking with Tara Massey.

Jaclyn:

Tara Massey is a mom of two, a loving wife, and a child of God.

Jaclyn:

She's also an actress and a producer.

Jaclyn:

She and her husband founded Dove Light Studios, which we'll be sure to talk about today, and she worked with Dean Cain on her most recent project, which she and her husband produced with their film club, which I am also excited to hear about.

Geoff:

Welcome Tara.

Tara:

Well, thank you.

Tara:

Good to be here with you.

Geoff:

Great to have you.

Jaclyn:

I want to learn about Dove Light Studios.

Jaclyn:

How did you get started?

Tara:

Yeah, well, thanks.

Tara:

So, it's kind of a long story, but I'll keep it short.

Tara:

Um, my husband Jason went to school for photography.

Tara:

I went to school for communications, and I took a lot of video courses.

Tara:

And before we got married, we were like, obviously we're gonna start a business, and it's gonna be a Dove Light Photography.

Tara:

And so we started this, photography business.

Tara:

And Jason really was out in Hollywood at the time, and he had done some tours with Johnny Wright's entertainment group.

Tara:

He managed people like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC and Jonas Brothers.

Tara:

And so Jason got to be on tour with those guys, doing some video work for them.

Tara:

he had a lot of really neat experiences, but didn't know the business end, and so when he, met me, we were like, well, here we go.

Tara:

You know, we were just good partners right out of the bat.

Tara:

So we started Dove Light Photography, and at that point we were in Michigan and we got married, and we did a lot with, weddings and families and businesses.

Tara:

And then, six years later, we, we moved down to Greenville, South Carolina, and we've been here for six years.

Tara:

And, we really switched our business over to mostly video, especially in 2020 when COVID hit.

Tara:

Everyone needed video.

Tara:

So, um, we did a lot with that.

Tara:

and so we kind of were like, well, we're photo and video, but we're Dove Light Photography.

Tara:

And then I had a huge burnout in 2021 and 2022.

Tara:

I pretty much quit the business and, um, but things shifted and it was a really good thing and God really used that time.

Tara:

And so what happened was I said, Jason, I'm taking the kids, we're going to Atlanta and we're going to do an acting class there.

Tara:

And Jason's like, " Okay, well, I'm going to come with you".

Tara:

And it was wonderful.

Tara:

So he came down and we met a filmmaker there and he said, you know, you guys are really set up to make a film.

Tara:

Would you like to make a film?

Tara:

And we were like, um, okay, you know.

Tara:

And so, um, we have a studio in beautiful Greenville South Carolina, and it's a hallmark town.

Tara:

It's really picturesque.

Jaclyn:

huh.

Jaclyn:

Nice.

Tara:

we're also near Bob Jones University, so there's a great amount of film students and a pretty good film industry here since we're about two hours from Atlanta.

Tara:

And two hours from Charlotte.

Tara:

Um, we have Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Tara:

And all of those are good film production industries are in those areas.

Tara:

So we really didn't know at the time, like, just how amazing of an opportunity this was.

Tara:

But, we felt like God was calling us to this, and so we were working with JC Films and Jason Campbell, who started JC Films.

Tara:

He sent us a script, and it is called Do Not Grow Weary.

Tara:

And it was not completely finished.

Tara:

So, me and a bunch of other volunteers got to learn a little bit about screenwriting and finish the script, and go into pre production, and do what it takes to make a movie.

Tara:

So then that's, what kind of turned into Dove Light Studios.

Jaclyn:

Awesome.

Jaclyn:

We're going to talk more about, Do Not Grow Weary, the film that you've produced, in our members only portion, because there's a lot, uh, we won't get into it now, but I know that you've said that you've learned some things, during that production, and, so we're gonna get into it a little bit later.

Jaclyn:

Hope you all can join us for that.

Jaclyn:

So tell me, what are you doing now with Dove Light Studios ? You've switched over to Dove Light Studios instead of Dove Light Photography.

Jaclyn:

So what are you doing and where are you going?

Tara:

Yeah.

Tara:

Great question.

Tara:

So, first of all, I have to say how amazing it is that, you know, our time as photographers, and doing weddings and doing all kinds of different projects for the business world, you know, commercials and promo videos, it really prepared us for the film industry.

Tara:

I couldn't believe how well all of our skills and things translated.

Tara:

We still had to learn A lot.

Tara:

And we're still learning a lot.

Tara:

But I just have to put that out there if that encourages anyone.

Tara:

But Dove Light Studios is still working a lot with businesses.

Tara:

We no longer do weddings.

Tara:

but we also have a podcast called Movie Worthy Stories.

Tara:

And that's where I'm just collecting true stories from people and they're sharing their testimonies and sharing, just amazing things about what God has shown them through their journeys.

Tara:

And, um, maybe their story is movie worthy, and we'll hopefully turn that into a movie.

Geoff:

So how closely do you, in your mind tie that podcast with Dove Light Studios as far as what you just mentioned, the idea of possibly making one into a movie.

Geoff:

And how much do you see it as kind of a standalone program, um, tell us how you see it.

Tara:

Yeah, sure.

Tara:

I guess I see myself as a producer, and so I would, you know, produce movie.

Tara:

My husband, Jason, he's definitely director of photography, an excellent director, and colorist as well.

Tara:

and then we would, you know, hire on crew and other people, screenwriters, and...

Tara:

I also do some screenwriting, but Jaclyn, I, I don't trust myself as much as I trust you.

Tara:

Um.

Tara:

You know that, so, um, I need a few more classes from you.

Tara:

So, we would kind of handle the production of the movies.

Tara:

However, with the Movie Worthy Stories podcast, other filmmakers could say, Hey, I really like this story, could I, you know, buy the rights to this story and create this as well.

Tara:

So, um, yeah.

Tara:

So that, that's kind of how we see this working.

Geoff:

So you're creating opportunities, potential opportunities for your guests.

Tara:

That's right.

Tara:

Yeah.

Jaclyn:

And also sharing their stories, because whether it's made into a movie or not, sometimes just sharing our testimonies, you know, it has power, right?

Jaclyn:

When God moves in our lives and we can talk about that and share that with people, it really empowers and inspires people.

Jaclyn:

know that, like, I've shared testimonies and it's helpful.

Jaclyn:

I think it even says in the Bible that it builds up the congregation, right?

Jaclyn:

Like, we can be built up in our faith.

Jaclyn:

And for those that don't already have faith, it can challenge them to, or draw them in because you can't argue with a testimony.

Jaclyn:

This is what happened.

Jaclyn:

It's not theology.

Jaclyn:

It's just what happened.

Tara:

That's right.

Tara:

Absolutely.

Tara:

I didn't know what to expect when I started interviewing people.

Tara:

Like, would I be getting more Christians?

Tara:

Would I be getting other people just, sharing their stories?

Tara:

I have had a little of both, but most of the time it's someone who says, I really feel like the Lord is calling me to share my story and it sounds like you might be giving me an opportunity.

Tara:

There are stories that are absolutely meant to be told.

Tara:

I believe every person's story is meant to be told and shared.

Tara:

But, You know, the medium to tell that story might not be a movie, it might be a book or, yeah, something like that.

Jaclyn:

So what is the name of your podcast?

Tara:

It's called Movie Worthy Stories.

Jaclyn:

Is it already, published, or where can people find it?

Tara:

So, it's not yet published, but I'm very close to getting some out there.

Tara:

but it will be on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.

Jaclyn:

Awesome.

Jaclyn:

Once it's going, go ahead and send us those links and we'll update our show notes.

Jaclyn:

So, for anybody who's listening in the future, go check the show notes and, the links will be there.

Tara:

Awesome.

Tara:

Thank you.

Tara:

I'll definitely do that.

Jaclyn:

So, you also do some acting, am I correct?

Tara:

That's right.

Tara:

Yeah.

Jaclyn:

Is that something you wanted since you were a child or is this, like, just something that kind of just happened recently?

Jaclyn:

Where did that come from?

Tara:

Oh, it's such a fun question to answer.

Tara:

I have always loved acting and as a child I did a lot of acting with, you know, school plays and I was involved with a really cool program that's still around.

Tara:

I was like, I don't know, I want to say I was like six or seven years old and I was in the Wizard of Oz.

Tara:

I was in Munchkin, of course, and that was my very first show.

Tara:

I remember my lines still, and I remember the director, and she still has a really cool thing going called Children's Creations in Michigan.

Tara:

And then, let's see, high school, I did some plays in theater.

Tara:

But then my youngest sister...

Tara:

I have three younger sisters, started going into acting, um, film acting, and she was getting pretty serious about it.

Tara:

And I saw that, you know, she was doing a lot of background work and things like that.

Tara:

And at that point, I had a lot of interests, and I was in college, and I was really interested in ministry work.

Tara:

And so I was going to school for communications, with some sociology classes and some ministry classes.

Tara:

I don't know.

Tara:

I had all kinds of interests.

Tara:

And I just saw her journey and I'm like, no, I don't think that's what God's calling me to right now.

Tara:

And, you know, I got married and, really put acting on kind of just the off limits.

Tara:

Like that's just not going to be my life.

Tara:

so, um, I let go of that.

Tara:

And when I was going through my burnout, I was asked, like, what do you really want to do?

Tara:

And I was like, I still didn't put acting on the table.

Tara:

I was like, well, I want to write.

Tara:

I think I'm going to write, you know, and, um, I do enjoy writing.

Tara:

I did need a creative outlet.

Tara:

But when this acting class came up and I saw it, it was just like, it's in my budget and let's just do it, you know?

Jaclyn:

That's a big part of That is a big part of it, when it's in your budget.

Jaclyn:

I can do this.

Geoff:

So, if I'm correct, you are including your kids as well.

Geoff:

You mentioned taking them to the acting class, is that correct?

Tara:

That's correct, yeah.

Geoff:

How's that going?

Tara:

Oh my goodness, they are so funny.

Tara:

My son Caleb started a YouTube channel, which you can go and find.

Tara:

He only has a, few up, but it's called Caleb's Creature Adventures.

Tara:

And the kid is so good on camera.

Jaclyn:

Yeah.

Jaclyn:

Well, we actually met at the Beyond Entertainment Festival in Florida.

Jaclyn:

And so I saw he was in the acting, track.

Jaclyn:

And so he did a...

Jaclyn:

what did they call it again?

Jaclyn:

Was it like a camera

Jaclyn:

test or

Jaclyn:

something?

Tara:

Yeah, Screen test.

Jaclyn:

Okay.

Jaclyn:

A screen test.

Jaclyn:

And he was hilarious.

Jaclyn:

And he knew it, but he was so good.

Jaclyn:

Oh, yeah.

Jaclyn:

His timing, his delivery, fantastic.

Jaclyn:

Awe, thank you.

Jaclyn:

They love it.

Jaclyn:

Eliana, she's so good on camera too.

Jaclyn:

She's just a lot more shy about it,

Jaclyn:

Mm hmm.

Tara:

We'll get 'em out there.

Jaclyn:

What kind of genre is your favorite?

Tara:

You know, I really love drama.

Tara:

think my dream role would be more action, and in fact, I'm in a zombie movie and I get to like chase and kill zombies and things like that, so that is kind of exciting for me.

Tara:

I'd like to try some comedy though, as well, so.

Jaclyn:

Do you have background in athletic stuff?

Jaclyn:

If you say you want action, like, do you have a background in any of that stuff?

Tara:

Yeah, so I am actually an ultra runner, which just means I run more than marathon distance.

Tara:

So I tend to run 50Ks in the mountains, on the trails.

Tara:

I love that.

Tara:

So, I do love that and mountain climbing, um, and rock climbing.

Tara:

And then, you know, I just have loved spy shows growing up and I'm like, I just want to be a ninja on TV.

Tara:

Maybe someday.

Jaclyn:

That's fun.

Jaclyn:

So how has art, the performing arts, affected your life?

Tara:

It's amazing.

Tara:

When I hit my burnout, I was really supporting Jason and, you know, Dove Light Photography, and I wasn't really doing a lot of creative things on my end, and, I mean, it really led to a huge depression.

Tara:

And, I mean, I would write here and there, but I don't think I was just using creativity to the potential of that God intended for me to use it.

Tara:

And so pulling, you know, I guess a talent off the back burner and putting it more forefront and, and just trusting the Lord, you know, because I always felt like I didn't have time for this kind of thing.

Tara:

But I do believe that creativity holds eternal purpose in our daily work.

Jaclyn:

Mm.

Jaclyn:

I agree.

Tara:

So I will say that, um, once I've gotten more into acting and, and even just doing the film, it brought out so much creativity, like, an inspiration.

Tara:

I started writing songs and like, I'm not a songwriter.

Tara:

It's

Tara:

just funny that

Tara:

all

Tara:

kinds

Tara:

of

Jaclyn:

All kinds.

Jaclyn:

All kinds of art.

Tara:

But also, it was really beautiful.

Tara:

I'd love to share this story.

Tara:

Um, I went to the ICVM Storytellers Conference in Nashville, and this was this past November.

Tara:

And I went on November 15, and that happened to be the 17th anniversary of a loss that I experienced in my life.

Tara:

Back in November of 2006, I had a fiance who was killed in a car accident,

Geoff:

hmm.

Geoff:

Mm

Tara:

Yeah, thank you.

Tara:

And I think it, you know, obviously, God used that time to really shape my life and, and show Himself to me.

Tara:

But when I went to this Storytellers Conference, um, I hope I don't cry, but I, uh, got to meet Mark Hall.

Tara:

He's the founder of Casting Crowns, and Casting Crowns was a huge band, you know, at the time that Preston passed away.

Tara:

And you know, what was so special about them is that their song, who Am I?

Tara:

Uh, Preston and I sang a few months before he died, at a cowboy church, . So that was like a ministry his family had.

Tara:

And then once he died, you know, casting crown songs really impacted my life.

Tara:

They were a place of comfort for me.

Tara:

And when I heard Mark Hall's story, I had some pretty major takeaways.

Tara:

So let me give you background on Mark Hall.

Tara:

Mark was a youth pastor.

Tara:

And he took that very seriously.

Tara:

And when his music career started taking off, he said, I'm still going to be committed to pastoring these young kids every Sunday.

Tara:

So his deal was, he had to be home by Sunday.

Tara:

And, everyone thought, Mark, just let your music career take off.

Tara:

Like, the Lord is obviously putting you out there, so don't worry about this.

Tara:

He goes, no, no, that's something you would do.

Tara:

that's not me.

Tara:

God is calling me to serve these kids.

Tara:

And, they, I believe are also his inspiration for a lot of the songs.

Tara:

Um, Mark had a really cool "why".

Tara:

And his why was Help the Hurting.

Tara:

As you can tell with his songs, they really speak to the hurting.

Tara:

And so my takeaway was that he had a very strong why.

Tara:

and God used that in his art.

Tara:

But also he was diligent with the talents that God gave him.

Tara:

And he was obedient, he didn't let it go to his head.

Tara:

He stayed humble because he knew it was the Lord.

Tara:

And I also love that Mark said he was terrified about getting his songs out there when he started writing them.

Tara:

Because it's exactly how I feel with my art.

Tara:

It's terrifying putting out, you know.

Jaclyn:

Oh yeah, yeah, anytime you put anything out there, you're just opening yourself up for people to say whatever they want to say,

Jaclyn:

you know, and not everybody's nice.

Geoff:

Especially in today's world.

Tara:

Yeah.

Tara:

Everyone has an opinion.

Tara:

Mark was, um, he was obedient and he was diligent with his artwork and so that spoke to me.

Tara:

But also, I knew that God doesn't need Mark.

Tara:

He doesn't need me.

Tara:

But just the fact that Mark was diligent and obedient, God chose to use his work, you know, his, his songs in so many people's lives.

Tara:

And the Holy Spirit brought his songs to mind when I was going through some really tough times.

Tara:

Including like, you know, just times when I, I just wanted to end it all.

Tara:

I'm not, I'm not gonna say I was suicidal but I will say like, gosh, you just sometimes get to these moments where like, life just is awful.

Tara:

You just, you're kind of done, you know?

Tara:

And I just remember The Voice of Truth, his song Voice of Truth coming to my head.

Tara:

Voice of truth tells me a different story.

Tara:

The voice of truth says, do not be afraid.

Tara:

And I realized like, Oh, I'm afraid.

Tara:

What am I afraid of?

Tara:

And, you know, just going through, like, I'm actually afraid of a lot.

Tara:

I didn't think I was, you know?

Tara:

And it changes everything.

Tara:

So the Holy Spirit really does use our art.

Jaclyn:

Yes, absolutely.

Jaclyn:

wow.

Jaclyn:

Thank you so much for sharing that.

Jaclyn:

Yeah, my mom told me when I was younger...

Jaclyn:

I used to fight going to piano lessons because I loved piano until I went to lessons and then I didn't like it anymore.

Jaclyn:

But she was like, no, you have a gift.

Jaclyn:

You need to, you know, discipline yourself and learn and whatever.

Jaclyn:

And so I said, well, put me in something else then.

Jaclyn:

Like, put me in swimming so I can learn how to save a life or something.

Jaclyn:

And she said, you could save a life with music.

Jaclyn:

Yeah.

Jaclyn:

And I kind of rolled my eyes because I was a kid, but, I've realized that actually music really can touch people and, especially in moments where they're feeling very deeply and having very difficult emotions, uh, music can just breakthrough and connect so quickly.

Jaclyn:

So yeah, I definitely can agree with you.

Jaclyn:

And I think movies too.

Jaclyn:

Movies can inspire people cause you go on an emotional journey and so it's the same thing where you can connect emotionally with someone and see what they think about a situation, you know?

Jaclyn:

And learn how to feel the way that they feel.

Jaclyn:

Which could mean that there's hope, and that's one of the things we definitely want to give to the world.

Tara:

Absolutely.

Tara:

Yeah, they do have an amazing amount of impact, and I love that.

Jaclyn:

Alright, do you have any final thoughts before we finish off this portion of our interview and then we're going to head into our members only portion where we're going to hear more about your movie and the things that you learned producing that.

Geoff:

But at least tell us about the movie now, the name, um, if there's any links associated with it and such.

Geoff:

We'll want to sure we get that in.

Tara:

Sure Thank you.

Tara:

Yeah.

Tara:

Um, yeah, this movie is so special.

Tara:

It was our first full feature.

Tara:

We had Dean Cain in it, which was a lot of fun.

Tara:

He was really great to work with.

Tara:

He was Superman in the 90s.

Tara:

and the movie is called Do Not Grow Weary, which was so perfect for us, you know, all of our cast and crew.

Tara:

We all had these testimonies of how that title spoke to us, even though we talked about changing this title like a hundred times.

Tara:

So then we were like, no, it's speaking to us.

Tara:

Let's keep it.

Tara:

It's about a young attorney who takes over his, her father's practice, um, and he passes away suddenly and she's going through her father's files and she finds some evidence that would have exonerated her father's client, but it was never presented in court.

Tara:

And so she's, gonna try to reopen this case and see what was going on here.

Tara:

And this guy has now served 10 years in prison.

Tara:

And so it kind of has a modern day Joseph story in there.

Tara:

But it's a really wonderful faith based film, and I'm excited to get it out there.

Tara:

You can find a trailer, on YouTube...

Tara:

you can just search Do Not Grow Weary Trailer.

Tara:

Or go to our website, dngwmovie.

Tara:

com.

Jaclyn:

Awesome, thank you so much.

Jaclyn:

I look forward to talking to you

Jaclyn:

more in the members only portion.

Tara:

Sounds good.

Tara:

Thank you.

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