Trust God in the midst of your struggles. Filmmaker/Director Jason North discusses about how God's plan is always better than ours.
Joining me on the podcast this week is film and media expert, Jason North. Jason works for Iron Deep as our head of media and does a lot of the behind the scenes work with podcast, videos, and all things Iron Deep. In today's episode we talk about why God's plan is better than ours! Jason tells his story of how he got to where he is and how God's hand was in every step of the way. Listen in as we talk about startups, entrepreneurship, and trusting God in the midst of struggle and grief.
Jason North is a filmmaker/director from Marion, Indiana. Jason had a passion for the arts from a young age, especially acting/theater. He decided instead of selling out in Hollywood; he would use his talents to further the kingdom of God. He attended Taylor University where he majored in film and had several opportunities to work on documentaries that were near and dear to his heart. Jason works for Iron Deep as their head of media while living in Indianapolis. He is happily married to his wife Ashley and had two kids.
A lot of people use the saying "God's plan." The phrase was so popular that rapper Drake even made a song titled that. How many people actually mean that they are trusting in God's plan, though? In today's podcast episode, I talk with filmmaker and director Jason North, who is part of the team at Iron Deep, about how God's plan is always better than ours. Jason tells his story of how he got to where he is and how God's hand was with him every step of the way. Listen in as we talk about startups, entrepreneurship, and trusting God in the midst of struggle and grief.
I got a good friend on this particular episode with me. He is working with our organization of Iron Deep. A lot of times he's behind the camera or he's creating the creatives, the graphics, the film edits for the YouTube channel. All the cool stuff that you guys are seeing on YouTube, on the Iron Deep channel Jason North is creating.
I'm interviewing Jason North. He's more than all that. He's a great friend. He's a man of God. He is helping me create the vision of Iron Deep. He's been a great sounding board, so I get to pick his brain and have a little bit of a deeper conversation with him. He's also been an entrepreneur for many years of his life.
He's a great father and great husband to his wife Ashley, and he's got two young kids. If you guys are a father to young kids, and entrepreneurs, trying to have a startup grow consistently, this is a great interview for you with Jason North. I want you guys to stop right now, and if you haven't been over to our website yet at IronDeep.com, I want you guys to go over and check that out to see what we are doing. I talk at the end of this particular episode about Iron Deep who is it for and what is about. I want to make you guys hear the invitation that we are offering to you. Go to Iron Deep, and check it out. We have some events coming up here in 2023. We are going to have some more things going on.
We are envisioning what God's doing. We know that we are going to be building a community of men who want to go all in for Christ and these are businessmen. I’m not saying they are living, leaving their businesses, and going and being pastors, but they are businessmen. They are going all in the business world, as fathers, as husbands, as men, they are raising. We are rising in our God-given gifts. Then giving all the glory to Him and humbly, exalting Him and not ourselves. That is who Iron Deep is. Go over to IronDeep.com and check that out.
Also, Jason North is helping create a lot of the videos behind the scenes and on our YouTube channel. Go over and check that out. We got some awesome ones. We came out with one called The Identity Crisis, so make sure you check out Iron Deep on YouTube. The Identity Crisis video came out and a pretty awesome video there. I love you guys. I hope you guys are doing well as you sit back and read the interview of Mr. Jason North. What's going on, man?
I’m living the dream. This is my dream come true being on this show. You are making it happen.
Sometimes, people have dreams and they say, “I want to travel the world,” or, “I want to have a private jet.” Sometimes entrepreneurs want to have a private jet, and then before the private jet is, “I'd love to be on the show.” Thanks, Jason. I'm glad I can make your dreams come true.
I'm glad you can too. It’s good to be here.
I'm super excited to have Jason North on a show with these guys. I already introduced him to who Jason is and what he does. He's been a part of the Iron Deep Team now for what, is it two years?
Yes, a little. Probably two and a quarter or something.
Jason is part of the Iron Deep Team. I want to have him on this particular episode because he's been behind the scenes on what we have been doing. He's helped with the vision, a lot of the creatives, and even this process of this show. He has been the hands and feet behind this and the production quality. He is an amazing creative filmmaker. He does a lot of the videos for Iron Deep. He's also done a lot of freelance videos in The Bahamas and other mission trips, and other videos as well. Thanks again for being on the show. I’m super excited to be here with you. I always love talking to you. You never are short for words.
That's true. I'm kidding. It's a 30-minute show, and I said, you got to be careful what you ask me and how long I go.
I was kidding about that.
I'm not. I know I can go along sometimes.
I want to go deeper into this particular episode because I know that we can joke around and be sarcastic. You have a cool sarcastic dry sense of humor, but I still go back to when I moved to Fort Wayne a few years ago. We had that going away party. We were having this conversation about, what I wanted to do or what God wanted me to do, what he was calling me to do.
I started this vision of I have no idea. All I knew was that I wanted to serve people, I wanted to serve Him, and then I wanted to serve men. I have no idea what that looks like. He talked into my life at that particular moment. Then here we are. You have worked with us for a couple of years and you have been a great partner sounding board for me. Tell us a little bit before we get started, who is Jason North?
I was thinking about that and I had to ponder on it. The best thing I can say is a child of God and loved by God. That's the most important thing to keep in focus on this journey. It's the best short answer I can give you. I'm a father and a husband to my wife Ashley. We have been married for years. Two kids, Anna and Nathan, and I love them. The greatest treasures I could ask for. There are a lot of things I do and have my hands in, but want to follow where the Lord leads in a lot of random places.
Before you stepped on the Iron Deep train, you were a freelance entrepreneur and owned your own business, you did that for a while. You did some work for a real estate company as well. Let's take it a step before your journey of entrepreneurship. Let's take a step back. You were a great storyteller. Where did that come from?
There was always something I was gifted with from a very young age. Even in school, I remember teachers commenting and even talking to my parents. The stories for any writing projects or anything are the imagination is beyond what we would expect. I always had a love for the dramatic for acting and filmmaking even from a young age making stupid videos as a kid and for projects for school and stuff. A lot of it is natural. You can get better as a storyteller with a lot of things with practice. Over the years with more projects and more experiences, I feel I have been able to hone in on that more.
Were you ever in any plays? Were you in theater drama?
I did. Sometimes for school things during elementary, but especially when I got to middle school and high school. I was Rooster and Annie in middle school. Through high school did the plays and musicals. The year after I graduated, I was a lead as James Dean for Warner Brothers had the 50th anniversary since his death, and they had this whole shebang with Dennis Hopper and other actors and people in Marion and where you grew up.
I'm from the same place where James Dean grew up. I got the lead in that. I have worked with a writer and an actor who has worked with a lot of A-list people in Hollywood. I learned a lot from him during that time and was about to head out there. He was going to introduce me to his agents, and about a couple of weeks before going out, the Lord stopped me. I had some honest conversations at a young age and realized it would be destructive for me. I decided not to go.
You went to film school. You have been in film, creative, behind the camera, or creative storytelling for many years. For someone in your position, your dream would be to go out West to produce a movie. Maybe a TV show or something like that. That's typically the dream to make it big. You had that opportunity, you were going to go down that path and you were going to do that, but you decided not to, like you said, “No.” Can you talk to us about that a little bit more about what were some of the conversations that you had with the Lord on that?
I have had a few opportunities I feel that I have had to say no to. At that point, I graduated top of my class, but I didn't want to go to college. I was top five. I didn't want to do a dead end. I knew my passion was in filmmaking, acting, writing, and those things. The next year I worked with helping grow a school of the arts with a lot of different programs, and at the same time learned how to screen write from this mentor at the time. I did some acting, but that was rough. I was still young and I was only about a year or two before the Lord called me out in my faith.
I grew up in a Christian home, but it called me out. I realized that it would be destructive at that point. I was asking, “What do I do if I'm not going out there?” Taylor University kept popping up and they were beginning a very strong film program, which is incredible. I would recommend it highly to anyone. It started right at the same time I decided not to go. I had a friend of mine and we have done a lot of projects together. He's worked a lot in Hollywood. He's worked a lot of network TV shows and different films, Netflix and Hallmark, and all types of things. We'd done a lot of projects together. He was like, “We are starting this. You should check it out.”
I did. That was a good path. Later, while I was in school, my friend and I, his name is Tim, raised about $33,000 to do a documentary, not as a school project, as on our own during the summers. We filmed on location, The Bahamas, and then when that was in one of the film festivals I was at, there was a producer, his name was Hank Levine. He's produced some big films. City of God is one of the best-known ones. That was 2002, nominated for a few Academy Awards. He was talking about bringing me on for some future projects, which I was like, “Okay, cool. This could be good.” He was a nice guy and I liked some of the work he worked on, but I saw his next project was about a homosexual man trying to fight for adoption rights.
Not that I'm prejudiced against people, but from my convictions and beliefs. I felt that it was not a project I could work on, so I had to take my hat out of the ring on that. There have been some things where I know my walk with the Lord and my faith is the most important thing. That's everything. Whether I can work on huge films or not, again, it can be fun, but I want to work on stories that matter.
I want to tell stories that move people to the deepest depths that can change them so that God can reach them and heal their hearts and more for kingdom purposes. I have friends in LA who work on a lot of big films or big shows, but they have said, “I feel I'm dying inside because it's all fake and there's nothing redemptive about it.”
You have had some amazing opportunities. I feel you as one, you prayerfully consider your options. I feel that with you. You are moved by the spirit. That's one of the things with Iron Deep, we want to have spirit-led wisdom and you represent that. You have had some of these opportunities, but you have decided you want to do stories that matter. What are some of your favorite stories that you have been able to film and have been able to tell?
The one that's nearest and dearest to my heart is The Bahamas documentary that we worked on. That was a labor of love. It's been years on that and a lot of hours and blood, sweat, and tears. It was called the Walk of Redemption. The short of that is, my best friend, I had met at Taylor. His name was Mark Beckford. He was a gang leader before he gave his life to the Lord. Then he worked with leading a lot of youth out of gang life. I randomly befriended him as I felt the Lord nudge me to go talk to him. I saw he was a foreigner and he was a little older and didn't know a lot of people there.
Then my friend Tim had a speaking class with him, heard some of his stories, and he was like, “We have to tell a story.” We talked with him and he was like, “Yes, I'm up for that.” We raised some money. We went down, we were going to do a short documentary. After we were there, we realized this was a lot bigger than we thought. We had to raise some more money. It became a lot bigger project to be a future length.
During that process, you got to see a lot of the youth he worked with, and he got shot. Towards the last year that we were filming. We filmed him and a shooter reconciling and praying together. His shooter is trying to step out of gang life too. It was powerful. There's a lot more to it, but that’s probably the nearest and dearest to my heart.
I know you have talked a lot about that. When you are shooting a story like that and you see your friend has chosen this life. I feel the older I get, we talk a lot as entrepreneurs, we want to be around people that we want to be like or surround ourselves with the five people. You are going to be the average of them. That is said a lot in the leadership and in the entrepreneur world. The more I think about the people that I want to be a little bit more Christ, and then I start to see people. It's not even the highest successful guys that have millions of dollars.
It's the guys that have chosen with their hearts that maybe could have gone that direction, but they have chosen to serve. I said that we were getting ready to go to Guatemala together. We are getting ready to shoot down there, so that's awesome. Another fellow friend is Pablo, and he runs an organization called Transforming Futures in Guatemala. We are having our pre-trip Zoom call.
What I think about what I told him, I was like, “When I think about the people that I want to surround myself with, I think about people that have a heart 1) For God, and 2) For serving people. What does that do for you because your angle is a little bit different? You are shooting this and stuff that. Maybe you are not as able to be as engaged, but what does that mean to you and how does that come because it's transformed you and somewhat being a part of these stories?
That's the fun thing about filmmaking. There's always a new story to tell. There's always something new to learn. It's an always continual learning situation about different subjects, natural curiosity. It's finding something that's gripping too. That touches someone in a unique way. It's important. There are a lot of people who are in the highest positions and have a lot of money or fame, and sometimes they are the worst human beings on earth. I have been around some. Some are cool and then some are jerks, and I could care less about doing anything for you. A lot of the most unique stories are those hidden gems and the people are hidden.
Even when it comes to the Christian world, there are some big-name pastors and people, but sometimes you don't know what these people are doing when they go home and the cameras aren't on. In my experience too, some of the most powerful people of God, the people who have the best love relationships that I have seen the most spiritual depth and maturity with are hidden people. People that nobody would know. Their prayer life is amazing. You see their prayers answered in powerful ways. There are so many things. It is about finding what the world can't see. Partly, it's a man who has his wisdom, but God knows. Following the spirit to see here's what looks foolish to the world, but it's going to turn people on their heads because I'm going to do something profound through it.
Amen. That could be a good documentary series there called The Hidden People. You have been working with us for a couple of years now, and we were starting to have this conversation. I came to you and I started to talk about some things that I was thinking about. It evolved since then. We both wanted to tell stories. We both wanted to impact people's lives for the kingdom. That was the whole-hearted posture behind it. How are we going to do that? What's the guy going to do with it? We don't know and we still don't have all the pieces figured out. It's always the entrepreneur's and leader's journey. We never quite finish until we see Christ face to face.
You decided, you always say the quote, “I will throw my hat in the ring with you.” Let's talk about that a little bit. You have decided to come alongside Iron Deep, not knowing, and you have been there casting vision, how many vision meetings we have had said, “What does God want? Where's the spirit leading us in this?” Talk to us about what's your experience with that. What's some of the thinking behind you, why you wanted to be part of this organization?
We have changed a lot along the way from when we started. Maybe I should start with how we started a little bit. You called me. You weren't even trying to recruit me or anything. You had some questions as you were trying to start a venture yourself. Where I was, it happened to be God doing something. To back up my business, COVID hit, and all the contracts I was about to sign got cut off because places were freezing all their funds. I'm like, “I'm not working.” I was helping one of my friends who has a nonprofit in Haiti do a lot of stuff that summer. He stayed with me that summer.
I was helping him in the meantime, still working, not getting paid, but for the Lord. The reward comes. The funny thing was my wife got laid off from her job two weeks after we found out we were pregnant too. We both had no income coming in at the time. She said, “This would be sad if it weren't funny.” We knew this was a God thing. We could fear, but we know he's in the midst of a transition for us. When it did come time I needed to start bringing something in. I was praying with my spiritual mom the night before you had called me and just like, “Lord, what do you have next for me in this? I know it's time for something new. What is it?”
You called the next day, and so you were telling me and sharing what you were up to in your transition, stepping out of your real estate business more and wanting to focus on Kingdom stuff. A lot of it had to do with media and you were asking questions. That's when I said, “I'm in this transition too.” We talked a lot that week. We prayed a lot that week and it made sense to come on board. I have been through the years too, the Lord's placed me in growing organizations throughout the year. I have helped small businesses grow and through their growing pains in the early stages of the School of Arts I was at. I helped grow from 30 to 230 students in a year.
I have been uniquely placed in all these growing programs, businesses, and organizations for a long time as well. I have learned a lot. I know that's been good to understand the flexibility. It takes as you are growing a business and see how visions change. You have to know that what you set out to do, there might be changes along the way for your business model or how the Lord leads. One of my life verses has been from Hebrews. It's chapter eleven. It says about Abraham. It says, “He went without knowing where he was going.”
The Lord called him out. It's like, “Okay. Now go here and then now go here.” You don't know that it's a walk by faith and you only know the next step a lot of the time. We need to apply that to our faith walk, but we also need to apply that to everything we do even a business. We might have if the Lord says, “Now do this.” We need to be flexible and willing to change because He knows better than us what is going to be fruitful and successful.
I don't know if I even knew all the ins and outs of your story even to this day before I called. I knew that you were in a little bit of a transition, but I didn't know. I knew Ashley, your wife, had transitioned out of her job, but I didn't know all the ins and outs. That's cool that God did that. I want to speak to a lot of entrepreneurs who are reading this particular show. We always are starting things. Maybe they are starting something or are in this starting phase.
They don't have a huge team. They are trying to do everything themselves or maybe they have a couple of people working with them. What's been your feedback or advice since you have been a part of a growing startup, growing organizations, and even Iron Deep, which is still a startup and extremely young? I would say the first couple of years were rocky for us. You had a lot of different things going on, having kids, stuff like that. I was transitioning out of real estate and I still own that business. What's your feedback or advice to entrepreneurs out there that they are starting? The question that sometimes comes up is, “Should I keep going? Should I keep going? Should I keep doing this?”
You are right. We even had that at one point. A lot of things were changing for you and you are getting more overwhelmed and busy. I said this to you on one of our calls. It was like, “We can do what we are doing right now, but it's going to fizzle out pretty soon if we don't.” I tried to take a few leading steps too for some new things, which ignited you then to be able to come back in and take the reins a little bit more.
You mentioned in your last question about showing up, and that's a big part of it. There are days that you can feel on top of the world when you have big successes and there are days you feel everything is going to crash down. Maybe you feel you have wasted time, strength, and energy showing up for anything. There's no manual for being a parent. You show up and that's over half the job.
I have mentored a lot of youth through the years and sometimes I have had no clue the Lord said, “Go and do this,” and you learn along the way, but you show up. That's why we are asked to show up. If you know you have something for a business or any endeavor that's worth doing, it's going to feel shaky at times, but you have to show up. You have got to find what's the vision. What's the heart behind it of what's going to make a difference?
That was always one of the biggest things that I would ask any team that I was a part of. I want you guys to show up. Be there and show up each and every day. What's it meant for you to be part of an organization that is a kingdom organization that we can be real? I know you have had an extremely difficult year.
We have had many conversations, some with health and death. You have had your family and your kids into sleeping and young kids. I know you have had an extremely difficult year. What's it been to have a kingdom business to come to with this extreme year? Has that been impactful for you? Talk to us about that.
We had our 11th funeral and these have been people that have been pretty close to either me or my wife or both of us. My closest brother I did the documentary on I told you about. He passed away a week after my uncle who was a great mentor for me. They passed away within a week of each other. It's been a rough year with those losses. It caused a lot of health stuff and I felt like my wife and I didn't sleep all year for various reasons.
Some days it was hard even to come. I didn't feel I had 100%, but I was going to give the best I could. It was helpful. It's been nice. I know we try to say something we are thankful for, each day, and seems when one of us is down, the other one can give encouragement. Being able to pray for each other. There are times we have prayed for each other and that's been impactful and it's made the difference. It's helpful in the fact when you sometimes feel you can't do much, it can give you hope sometimes too. In the midst of loss or despair. Sometimes work can be a distraction in a bad way or a good way.
Sometimes it can be a distraction and not deal with what you need to deal with, but another way, sometimes you need something to focus on. You need something to feel you can get a win on or bear fruit in. There's been a lot of that too in working with Iron Deep in a kingdom business to see, even though other parts of life are very stressful or hardships. There's been a lot of good things from this that can be an encouragement, working with a team of people who can pray with me and for me, encourage me in that way, hear what I'm going through, and care.
There are a lot of places you can work where I can be a lot colder. If you are not going to show up, you get a few sick days for your leave. They could care less whether you come in. That's what I do love about these types of situations. You care about one another and you can utilize your giftings a lot more. It's been great to be part of a kingdom business and see the fruit that's come from some of the events we have been doing and the content we have been making.
Jason has been one of the masterminds behind some of the videos that we have been putting out on YouTube. Make sure you guys go check those out on our Iron Deep channel. We had The Men's Awakening event that Jason, because of his health, wasn't able to attend, but he helped produce a lot of the content from that as well. Make sure you guys check that at IronDeep.com. We are coming up with some other events. We are a young organization. We are putting this together. I want to say that I feel God is giving us clarity. He is giving us some direction in 2023, is this a transformational and transitional year for us?
We have had one event and a lot of the response has been awesome from these men and the invitation. We are building a community of entrepreneurial men who typically are business owners/high-level business leaders. People say, “What's the difference between maybe you and other organizations or other communities?” I would say the difference would be that the invitation into our community is going to be that if you are willing to surrender your life, your business, your family, your organization, your health, and everything unto the Lord. Glorify Him and everything that you are everything that you do. You want to live that out, live that with your identity, putting Christ first and through Him. Living your purpose through Christ, and then living your lasting legacy through Christ.
That's the invitation and that's the difference between us and other organizations. I would encourage you guys if you are reading Iron Deep, that's where we are going. I'm not saying that we are perfect. We are still messy and broken individuals because we are flawed and we are humans, but our desire is to live that out in our lives. Jason, I will give you one last question. Saying that feedback, where do you see Iron Deep going and why would someone be interested in it?
It’s been hard because we have been growing, transitioning, and finding our sweet spot to explain exactly what we are, but our identity is getting solidified. You are right. It's different than what people are used to. People look at the business world and the corporate world, and then they separate other faith things a lot or if it is mixed. It's about Christians in the workplace.
I know a lot of people who are parts of things Truth at Work or things that have good elements. This is about a man's identity as deep as his core. A person's identity and the father, as a family man, and as a businessman. That's what you are called to be and you are gifted in. It's about a deeper faith walk and understanding who you are and what your giftings are too. How can we utilize what God has given us to impact the kingdom?
Let's be impacted personally to grow deeper in our walk with God and brothers in Christ, which are hard to find deep brothers in Christ. We have a lot of friends who are Christians and stuff, but when you are going deeper with people, there is a stirring and a place to build those deeper relationships that are very important. That's unique in and of itself. We are finding those opportunities in how we utilize our gifts and talents for the kingdom in deeper ways than maybe what we have been doing in our business. What else would God be leading in for leaving an impactful legacy?
Amen. You said it well and that's what the community is. If you guys are interested in that, you are reading, go to IronDeep.com. Apply for it. I will reach out to you individually. We are looking for men who are business owners, and business leaders who do want to accept that invitation to live with their complete identity through Christ wherever you are going. You have that desire to live your identity through Christ, live your purpose, and leave that lasting legacy through Christ. That's the invitation. That's who we are looking for. Jason, it's been awesome. Thanks for being on the show. I appreciate you.
I’m glad to be here. I didn't do too bad with keeping answers short enough. I have got a lot more I want to say, but another time.
That's episode number two for Jason North.
That's right. I will be back.
Make sure you guys again, go to our YouTube channel, Iron Deep. Check out IronDeep.com and see what we are doing on there. We have a lot of stuff coming out in 2023, so see you guys next time.