As the relative new kid on the proverbial FX block, I (Liz) thought it would be fun to sit down with one of the original creators of FX, my co-writer and general FX guru, Greg – and garner a few insights on what FX looked like in the olden days.
Greg and Liz sit down, sans coffee, because the Keurig machine is out of K-Cups. It’s a sad day. But Liz commences typing anyway. What follows may or may not have actually been spoken by Greg.
So when you guys started FX, you were completely on board with the idea, right?
Actually, my neighbor Bryan Coley, who I’d worked on a few projects with, told me the director of children’s ministries at their start up church, Reggie Joiner, had this brilliant idea. He wanted to put kids and parents in the same room for an hour and keep them entertained to the point they actually connected and learned something.
I said, “It’ll never work. Let’s help him anyway.”
How did you get started?
Well, the start up, North Point Community Church, was meeting Sunday evenings in a borrowed church space. There was no room for the kids. Zero. So Reggie wanted to do something Sunday mornings for families. He’d gotten this idea watching Lion King and Nickelodeon that you could create something that engaged kids AND parents.
Where did you start meeting?
We had an elementary school lunchroom. We put up a black backdrop that said “KidStuf” and rented a sound system. We had great lighting options: “on” and “off.” I remember we hung a bunch of stuffed monkeys from the ceiling at one point and some Nerf planes another time.
Pretty high tech. I’m sure you were just as well prepared with the scripts.
We’d write it on Saturday night. Or Sunday morning. We’d go into a janitor’s closet and write stuff on envelopes like, “When I say ‘I’m at the end of my rope!’” you come in and say, ‘What’s wrong?’” And then we’d talk about faith or whatever the story and bottom line were for the day. We’d ask: What’s relevant to families? How can we equip parents to be spiritual leaders?
What’s one really stellar onstage moment you remember from those early days?
Bryan brought this little girl up onstage and asked to see her smile. She just crumpled up and started howling. But he didn’t stop. He was so determined to get a smile. And when she went back to her family and finally cheered up a little, he directed everyone’s attention straight back to her! She began bawling again.
He wasn’t a parent yet.