TONIGHT, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, Christian music fans the country over will have the opportunity to experience Winter Jam—one of the largest, most attended, longest running, and record breaking touring shows ever—with the cinematic debut This Is Winter Jam. (Click “play” button above to watch official trailer, CLICK HERE to by tickets!)
INFO / TICKETS, ETC. | Presented by Fathom Events and WORD Entertainment, moviegoers will get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the world’s largest annual Christian concert tour. This one-night event captures the life-transforming ministry of the blockbuster tour as never seen before. This Is Winter Jam showcases unforgettable performances from Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, for KING & COUNTRY, NewSong, Family Force 5, Building 429 and many more, and gives moviegoers unprecedented backstage access, and interviews with Winter Jam artists past and present, along with an exclusive world premiere of for KING & COUNTRY’s “Priceless” music video, which features a first look at scenes from the group’s own upcoming feature film.
Tickets for This Is Winter Jam can be purchased online (Fathom Events, or at JamTour.com) or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in more than 400 movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations visit FathomEvents.com (theaters and participants are subject to change).
EDDIE CARSWELL INTERVIEW | On the heels of another exciting Christian cinema launch, CCM Magazine sits down with one of NewSong‘s front men, Eddie Carswell, to talk about their tour-turned-movie coming TOMORROW night to theatres across the nation, This Is Winter Jam. Already a legendary touring “spectacular” (as they accurately describe it), Winter Jam will now become both a must-see live show event and blockbuster-attempting cinematic experience all before its twenty-first birthday.
To Carswell and the band, the opportunity to invade the cinema space wasn’t as much about putting their brand-stamp on the burgeoning faith based feature film market as quickly as possible, it was about continuing to share the love of Christ to as many people as possible. Coming from a ministry oriented outfit, that sounds simple enough—but the seasoned industry veterans know when God is moving, and with the machinery of one of America’s largest annual road shows behind it, the timing couldn’t have been sweeter to emanate the joy and camaraderie that is Winter Jam from the stage to the silver screen.
CCM Magazine: For the Christian music super-fan who has been to a Winter Jam show, why urge them now to go experience this film?
Eddie Carswell: It’s another way to experience Winter Jam, for one thing. It gives someone a chance to experience it in a much different way, we’ve captured some awesome concert footage—I think it’s all really well done. Probably half of the film is actual concert footage. What’s really interesting about it, however, is we pulled back the curtain and take everyone back stage with us, kind of a 360-degree look as to what goes on back there at Winter Jam. All 150-160 guys and gals that travel together, what they do to keep themselves fed [spiritually], and everything in between. I think people will be really interested in seeing what happens, and I also think they’ll be able to appreciate Winter Jam just a little bit more. Next time they go [to a live show], they’’ll have an even bigger picture of what the whole thing is all about.
CCM: How would you appeal to a casual fan, or even someone who might not know much about this type of music or experience?
EC: It’s a great night of ministry and fun. Obviously, if you like Christian music, some of this will be your favorite. I think every Winter Jam has something that’s more to you’re liking than others, but together, all of it is really great. But it’s also just a great ministry moment. In the movie, we don’t shy away from what Winter Jam is all about—loving the people, making this happen so that everyone can experience all of these bands together, and of course the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think we wrapped the movie experience up in a really sweet way in how we convey to the audience about what it really means to have a relationship with Him. Just when you think the movie is over, Tony [Nolan], who speaks on a lot of Winter Jam‘s, steps right out and speaks to the people in the theatre seats and says something like, “Hey, we hope you had fun tonight…here’s how you can know Jesus.” To me, that’s the exclamation point on the whole night. If you have a ministry heart and you’re concerned about your neighbors or your friends and their relationship with God, it’s a great opportunity to just take them to the movies. They’ll enjoy the songs, the lights—all the fun things that happen back stage—but then there’s just that sweet, subtle moment where we get to make sure they’re on the same page with us. It’s delivered very well and inviting.
CCM: Going back to some of the more fun or human moments of the film, would you agree that this movie does a good job at showing the world that being a Christian isn’t necessarily about being polarizing or choosing sides—that it’s real life, it can be enjoyable, etc.?
EC: I think it does. The movie shows people doing life together—not just doing stage, or doing work, even though for us a lot of this is what we do—but a lot of this is, “Hey, this is real life, and we’re real people,” and you do see kindness, the love, the giving and I think that can break through a lot of the barriers and maybe some of the polarizing thoughts about Christians and Christianity. This is a very, “We love you and want the best for you,” while expressing that we also have fun doing what we get to do. This even makes me think that I want some of my relatives to go see this, because I do know that it’s going to warm them up to whats really happening in the arenas and with the people who come to see the tour. But I also think it’s a great place to get back into what we were talking about earlier—just a really great way to softly present the gospel. I’m confident that the movie covers a lot of the bases that we wanted it to cover—God saw us through that, not that we were so smart—but the message will reach out to people [through this film]. You will be glad that you brought someone, or encouraged them to go and check it out on Tuesday night, April 19!
CCM: What makes Winter Jam so successful?
EC: Like Pastor Bobby [Joiner] said, “Winter Jam can be summed up in just one word: love. And then, joy. One word: love. And joy!” I also think it’s because its so accessible to everyone. I wish the movie could be only $10, as to keep that theme going… We try to make it so anyone can go—the heart of Winter Jam has always been, “Hey, it’s ten bucks at the door—or what ever it was at the time, I think it started off at $3—but we’ve tried to keep it so low so everyone can go, and we’ll let you in even if you don’t have the money. There’s not a big sign out front that says “free” anywhere, but that’s still the heart behind it. So, I think that’s part of it. Also, it’s all inclusive. This isn’t a Baptist event, it’s not a Pentecostal event, or even an Assembly Of God event—it’s just a God event. One thing I hope people get from the stage—that i feel this movie inherently includes—is the love, joy and the, “Glad we’ve gotten together” feeling. You don’t worry if you’re sitting in the Baptist section, or what ever section there might be, because everyone is there for one purpose—to have a great night of Christian music, ministry and fun. God has put His hand on a lot of little things, but yes, those are the major reasons.
CCM: It makes sense that people were picking up on the love and camaraderie, etc… For twenty years now, you guys have been able to huddle the whole Christian music industry together for one common purpose, and that really shines through in something like this.
EC: I think so. What a blessing to have all of these friends. Now that the movie launch is upon us, I’ve been going through my phone contacts and sending texts to remind them to go to the movie—and most of the people in my phone are from our Winter Jam experiences together. As Toby McKeehan told me recently, “I’ve got a lot of friends from Winter Jam, we still text and talk and share stories about what ever we’re going through in life.” Occasionally, I’ll look through my phone and he’s texting to ask me a question—it’s not often, maybe two or three times a year—or we’ll call each other about something. But there’s a lot of that—Michael Tait—and on, and on, and on it goes… It’s had an impact in that direction, but we’ve really built strong relationships over the years by doing this ministry together.
CCM: Now that This Is Winter Jam is a reality, can you imagine what God might have in store for NewSong or Winter Jam in the future?
EC: I really can’t. True story… While I was at the premiere the other night I thought, “I might go outside and cry,” because this is an amazing thing. Like, “What are we doing—are we really doing a movie premiere now?!” Of course, we’ve been doing all of these tours and things all these years, and now we’re doing a movie premiere, and I just don’t know what God is up to but I’m enjoying it so much. Winter Jam, you know, it’s always a 12-month conversation. It may come off as a three-month or a five-month thing, but even when we’re out [on Winter Jam] we’re thinking about what we’re going to be doing next year, what could be different, which cities should to add or take off… We’re always working on it somewhere, somehow, in some way—it’s definitely a big job. So, we’re just honored to be a part of it, what ever God has next—we’ll all be amazed again!
I mean, we played the Georgia Dome in Atlanta—who’s ever heard of such things, “A Christian music tour in the Georgia Dome?!” John Cooper [Skillet] was like, “I never thought I’d get to play here,” and went on to tell me that he thought he would never get the chance to do what some of his favorite bands have done. So, it’s just amazing what God has done to encourage us, and to open some doors for us—while also steering us in the right directions—it’s amazing. It goes back to what I was saying earlier—it’s not because other tours aren’t, that’s not what I’m saying, but we say that “this is God’s tour.” Sure, others are, too, but we’d be too silly to try and take any credit for this.
CCM: With the likes Hillsong & for KING & COUNTRY making feature films, for example, do you see more of this coming out of the Christian market in the near future? Is Winter Jam going to be getting into the movie business?
EC: For us, right now I think we kind of had a vision to just do this. It’s a hard business to be in—we had the creative model just to get through this! The Winter Jam model is there, of course, and we’re always tweaking it and working it to make sure we’re not taking it for granted—but we had to start over a little bit with this. Actually, for anyone who might have come to this year’s tour, you might have noticed that we didn’t talk about the movie all that much because there were so many other things that we already made commitments to, etc. So, I don’t think so today. Whether others will or not, you know, I’ve seen some of the Priceless movie—Joel [Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY] has been showing me some stuff back stage, and I think it’s great. I love Hillsong, they toured with us on the West Coast, and loved them a level more after going out with us—I hope we can get them to come back out with us at some point. But I don’t know, maybe some others will. I think that Christian films are getting better and better, which is really encouraging. Again, for us, I don’t see it right now—tomorrow I may tell you something different. We’re just trying to get through Tuesday right now!