Driving Fast, Saving Lives

On community service due to a speed-related infraction, 17-year-old Hailey Nobles joins La Mirada Mayor John Lewis for some triple-digit driving instruction with MotorGospel Ministries hosted by 4-time champion Aaron Schwartzbart.


Aaron Schwartzbart left the space program in 2012 after 28 years as a rocket scientist to devote full time to the ministry. With degrees in physics and theology, Schwartzbart is a four-time champion race car driver and an ordained minister. MotorGospel Ministries works in cooperation with the Los Angeles Police Department, LA City Councilmember John Lee and La Mirada Mayor John Lewis to address community issues such as gangs, drugs and illegal street racing. It is our pleasure to interview Aaron Schwartzbart for Chicago Movie Magazine. His project was recently an official selection of the Chicago Indie Film Awards.



What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?

I have had life-changing encounters in darkened theaters that have impacted me to this day. (eg. American Graffiti at around 11 years old) I discovered early on that I could produce strong emotions in my classmates by combining compelling imagery and heart-pounding music. I have nurtured that love of making people feel alive through film for about 50 years now.

Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. I am completely self-taught and critically-acclaimed. Others either need the process spelled out for them through film school or they simply enjoy the experience of film school whether they need it or not. I have heard wonderful choirs that would be completely lost without sheet music and I have heard wonderful choirs make equally beautiful harmonies without a written language. There is a place for both. One qualifier though; a substantial portion of my success for the last 15 years has come from my long-time partnership with cinematographer Neil Newman who has formal education.

What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?

Eye contact, timing and music.

Did you choose a certain directing style for making your film based on the script?

I never start with a script! I am probably in the minority where this is concerned but I start with who it is that is going to be on camera. Everything follows from that. If Neil is filming Queen Latifah and Jackie Chan sitting at the Norm's Restaurant drinking coffee all night, the script is going to be pretty different than if he's filming Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein in the exact same setting doing the exact same thing.

How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film? Please tell us more about the production of the film.

On community service due to a speed-related infraction, 17-year-old Hailey Nobles joins La Mirada Mayor John Lewis for some triple-digit driving instruction with MotorGospel Ministries hosted by 4-time champion Aaron Schwartzbart.

https://www.prweb.com/releases/motorgospel_ministries_presents_driving_fast_saving_lives_a_safer_legal_alternative_to_illegal_street_racing/prweb17634086.htm

How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this indie film?

I left the space program in 2012 after 28 years as a rocket scientist to devote full time to the ministry. Recently, some friends asked me to help them get back to the moon. I don't believe God wants me to quit the ministry so I am consulting part time. The added income is helping with projects like "Driving Fast, Saving Lives". It is a really good balance.


Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?

I'm indie at least for now and possibly forever. I am SO passionate about this stuff I'm not sure I could work with a "big" studio. The most difficult thing is the lack of money. I am thrilled to crank out critically-acclaimed content on my micro-budget without any unrighteous compromise but I have very solidly-formed dreams of what I would do with a $30M budget. It is probable that some of those dreams will not happen in my lifetime.

What is the distribution plan for your film?

Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. :D I recognize that may not be what you want to hear. It is perhaps not the most professional distribution plan but I have faithfully planted and watered in my community primarily through Facebook and Youtube and I have received fairly abundant and growing recognition through my faithful and sustainable social media efforts since founding MotorGospel Ministries in 2001.

What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?

My near-term goal is a relatively experimental feature-length drama that Neil and I have in the works. It has some very specific goals about which I am VERY excited but about which I can't speak right now. A stretch or maybe impossible goal would be a blockbuster with a much larger budget that would be as attention-getting as the first Fast & Furious but with an unambiguously anti-street-racing message.

What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?

I would like to achieve a 25% reduction in street-racing-related fatalities at least in America if not internationally through my films. It is not reasonable to think that we can save everybody. I think 25% is a healthy goal.

Watch trailer:


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