The story of Newman iMotion starts with the story of Paul Newman, the founder. He gave his heart to God in Walvis Bay, South West Africa (now Namibia), at age 5. This was after watching the 1972 movie A Thief In The Night by director Donald W. Thompson. Paul recalls that memorable night: “Faced with the hypothetical choice between being raptured into heaven or left behind, I knew for certain I wanted God to rescue me. I asked my Mom to pray with me, inviting Jesus Christ into my heart.”
Despite being raised by Christian parents, and witnessing a healing miracle in his youth, seeing so much pain and suffering in the world caused disillusionment. In 1987, as a fine-arts student at the height of spiritual rebellion, Paul reluctantly transported his brother to church one Sunday. Not keen on the long sit in the car, he joined the church service. The pastor announced a husband and wife couple being released into missionary field, and that someone else was being called by God, waiting for the candidate to step forward. No one came forward, while the pastor stubbornly refused to proceed with the service. While determinedly remaining seated, resisting this inner challenge, God pulled Paul from his chair to stand upfront weeping. There he experienced his very thoughts answered one after the other by God through the mouth of the pastor. That was the day God called him into a ministry involving “the whole world.”
A few years later Paul sought to hear God’s voice just like the people of faith did in the Bible. At the time he was dodging military service by studying at University. The first command God gave him was to “go and do your military service.” Paul’s brazen reply was: “Tell me why, and I’ll go.” God’s gracious answer inspired him: “There are people I want you to meet.” Following intense prayer during basic training in the South African Air Force, he was miraculously stationed at SAAFTV where he received training in television production. He ended up as video editor, enjoying the solitude of the 2nd-floor edit suite and boardroom. This was 1992, the same year he got married.
God again spoke, revealing his calling in filmmaking. To Paul, it seemed highly unlikely that a severe introvert could direct people to make movies, so he challenged God: “If You want me to make movies, please change my personality.” The next day his shyness was gone.
After SAAFTV he started doing 3D animation from his apartment in Pretoria, on a Commodore Amiga. In 1995 the Newman iMotion corporation was registered by Paul and his wife Aurelí. Their first animation customer called from Mozambique without them having marketed their services.
Paul relates that in those early days he saw divine visions of future film production technologies: “In around 1994, I saw a vision of virtual 3D film production hardware and software which allowed a filmmaker to be immersed in the 3D scene in real-time. I could move the virtual camera and film the shot by gliding my hand through the air between the 3D buildings in a virtual town. I could walk onto the set at any scale and review modeling and texturing progress made by numerous artists working simultaneously. Since I saw this future technology, I naturally thought of developing it. However, God told me He would lead others to build it, that I had to learn production instead. Today we see real-time virtual interactive 3D technology realized and rapidly advancing. Today film directors stand on virtual sets, making hand gestures.”
Over the years, Newman iMotion was a vehicle for a varied media career with a focus on animation, editing, and visual effects. Art, graphic design, writing, web development and video production was also part of the mix. Commercial work was done for television stations, TV programs, adverts, music videos, product visualizations and more, providing rich experience.
It wasn’t glamorous: “Over the past few years commercial work has been both good and bad. I learned production, business, persistence, and patience. For years I had pushed hard, hoping it would one day enable us financially to make movies. However, the harder I pushed the more I got burned out. Both me and my time were spent, leaving me dry. Relationships suffered. I felt like a failure. However, my calling still burns bright inside of me each day as if I had received it from God this morning. Despite having no reserves, a large family to sustain, and many challenges, I gave up commercial work in order to focus full-time on my God-given media calling. It’s now or never—all in—past the point of no return. We’re blessed to have the support of gracious people around us.”
As digital film tools have advanced, Paul’s vision is becoming reality.
“We’re now a team working in faith on books, movies, animated series, and interactive titles to edify people worldwide. I imagine them eternally touched by our media productions, just like I was at the age of five.”