Tessa Hall played a speech contestant in Providence. Although you can’t hear her, she was sharing about hew passion for writing and how she became a published author at such a young age. Now I’m excited to get to share her story with others.
Tell us about your early interest in writing.
I fell in love with telling stories when I was 3-years-old. At first, I would dictate stories for my mom, and she would write them down for me. Eventually, I begged her to teach me how to read and write so that I could pen my own stories instead.
I loved the fact that I could use a pencil and paper to create practically anything that I wanted! That’s how I entertained myself throughout my childhood. I would sit down at the dining room table with a stack of computer paper, crayons, and spend hours penning story after story. I found joy (and still do!) in becoming another person by “day-dreaming” through my pencil.
Tell us about your novel, Purple Moon.
Purple Moon follows the journey of 16-year-old Selena as she stays at her cousin’s lake house during the summer while her mom is in rehab. Selena’s committed to giving up her “bad habits” as well, and she hopes that this summer will mark the new beginning both of them have been longing for.
What has been the response to Purple Moon?
I was not expecting the feedback I’ve received from readers—teens and adults alike! I guess in an effort to protect myself, I prepared for the worst feedback, especially since I wrote the book when I was 16-years-old. (Many people aren’t supportive of teen authors.)
However, as I wrote the book, I prayed that God would use it to touch the lives of everyone who read it. I wanted teens to see themselves in the character, Selena, and for God to show them that He is able to heal the scares caused from their past. My number one desire was to hear that God used the book as a vehicle to someone’s salvation. You can imagine my excitement when I received letters from teens who said that they accepted Christ because of Purple Moon!
I don’t take any of the credit for that, because I know God was simply answering the prayers I prayed throughout writing the book. Still, I’m amazed at how He continues to use the story to minister to others—especially since I was not prepared for that at all.
When did you first develop a love for acting?
When I was really young, my two older sisters were involved in theater productions. I think my desire to act was birthed through watching them. The earliest memory I have of acting is when my sisters, cousins, and I would put on Christmas skits for our families. My friends and I also wrote several skits together and would film ourselves acting them out. I can remember begging my mom to “put me on a TV commercial”, haha =) Similar to writing, I loved the freedom acting gave me to become someone else and transport myself into another time/location.
When I was seven, I started taking acting classes taught by my mom. It was also then when I began to participate in a kid’s theater as well. In fourth grade, I joined Christian Youth Theater, where I had the chance to take acting classes and be apart of several theater productions until I was 16.
What was your first acting role?
Aside from the skits I was involved in through church and school, the role I was casted as in my first CYT theater production—Dr. Dolittle—was a Joliginki Guard. =)
What films have you been involved in?
In high school, I worked as an extra on set of The Blind Side and Get Low. Both were incredible experiences for me, because I had the chance to see what it was like to act on-camera as opposed to on-stage. When I was 16, I was cast as a teen mom in a short student film through Carolina Film Institute. Providence was the first full-length film that I’ve had the chance to be featured in. =)
What do you do when you’re not writing or acting?
This might sound silly, but I love making lattes! I can spend hours in the kitchen trying to discover a new organic and low-carb latte recipe. I love to bake healthy desserts as well. In the evenings, I try to carve out time to read a book or watch a movie. (I’m not much of a TV-watcher.)
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue to write YA inspirational fiction and non-fiction articles/devotions for teens. I’d like to venture into screenwriting as well. I also love teaching creative writing to kids and teens through workshops/conferences, my blog (Christ is Write), and my virtual writing mentoring program, Write Now.
Another passion of mine is speaking to teens and encouraging them to make the most of their youth and pursue God’s calling for their lives. I hope to have more opportunities to do that as well. I’m planning to launch a clean magazine for teens soon, too, which will also encourage them to live to their greatest potential and pursue their passions.
When I was in high school, I decided to enroll in an online school so I could pursue both writing and acting. Since writing took off sooner than acting, I’ve devoted the past 5+ years into that dream instead. However, now that I’ve created a career from writing, I would now love to launch an acting career as well—especially within the Christian film industry.
Even though I’m a firm believer in dreaming big, I’ve learned to hold these plans loosely. The future I have in store for my life isn’t always the one God has in store—but I’m excited to see where the journey takes me!
If you’d like to stay updated with my projects, be sure to connect with me online! I love meeting others who are involved within the Christian entertainment field.
My book: http://lighthousepublishingofthecarolinas.com/tessa-hall/
Thanks so much for having me! =)
Anita Cordell is a beautiful and talented actress who has also tackled a number of jobs behind the camera. We got to work together when she played the role of bridesmaid in Providence. Her sweet spirit is evident both onscreen and off camera.
When did you first develop an interest in film acting?
I started getting interested in film acting in about 2006. I come from stage, so it was an interesting switch, but I LOVE it and have been very busy in commercial work as well as film work.
What was your first role?
My first role was a one liner, playing a waitress. My line was, “How may I help you?” A funny story about this project started when I saw the casting call. I had not yet engrossed myself into the ‘hustle’ of finding roles yet, so this was my first one. The casting call asked for a male and female in their upper 60’s-mid 70’s, if I remember correctly. I am not that, but wanted to delve into this industry. So, I reached out to the director and asked him if there were any other parts. He invited me to the casting call, and of course, I did not fit the bit for what they were looking for. But, he saw my passion and cast me as the waiter. And, just so you know, my husband laid the foundation early on by supporting this role. We even left our family vacation early so that he could get me to the set on time because he knew it was important for me to begin this journey. Even though the part was small, AND volunteer, my husband showed me that he was a BIG fan, and he’s never changed his support for me.
What faith-based films have you been in?
My most recent one was having the honor of being a part of the silent film Providence. I’ve also been in Jim Stovall’s The Lamp, Three Blind Saints (w/ Stelio Savante), September Skies (w/ Jenn Gotzon), Works in Progress. I played the lead in Bad Neighborhood, and one of the leads in Pitching Hope (W/ Timothy Perez and Joni Adahl) and a few others are Freedom of Silence, and Last Ounce of Courage.
What led to you getting involved behind the camera as crew?
To be honest, I was on the set in 2010 of September Skies in Washington with Jenn Gotzon. Jenn and I were brain storming of ways to get me more involved with the 168 speed competition out of LA. Due to logistics, I wasn’t able to get to LA for the big casting day with the teams participating in that city, and I knew that many of the teams did not have a budget for flying actors in to be on their teams. I learned real quick this is a passion competition and all involved volunteer their time and resources, but yet, I just KNEW I was supposed to be a part of it. So, Jenn said, “Anita, why don’t you produce a team and that way, you can act in it and still compete?” She encouraged me based upon my connections, that I should be able to pull it off. I left the set, went home and pulled a team together to produce my first film, a speed competition. Yes. It was quite exhilarating and stressful, all at the same time. The short film was called Living Waters, directed by Brad Burrow. Since then, Brad and I have worked on several other projects, including another 168 film competition where Francine Locke (Nashville) and I worked together as ‘Thelma and Louis’ type characters.
What different crew positions have you held?
I’ve mostly worked as a Producer and a Casting Director, but have also worked as a Craft Supervisor, Location Supervisor, Script Supervisor and a PA. I also want to Direct this coming year, and possibly assist on camera eventually.
Which do you prefer – behind the camera or in front of the camera?
I much prefer in front of the camera, but in this industry, creating your own work, or helping to create your own work seems to be helpful in keeping actors on the set more. I think it’s important to be versatile while learning more of the aspects to film making. I truly enjoy Producing on the Pre-Production side while also having a team for Post-Production, like I had arranged with my short film Charismata. Joni Adahl and I worked together on that. She was amazing at the Production work with the Post Production aspects of Administrative responsibilities and kept that little film alive MUCH longer than I did. I absolutely believe it’s important to have a GREAT team of people around me and I’m grateful for those God puts in my path.
Tell us about some of your more recent film work.
I recently wrapped a feature film called Lottawana. And, before that, I was recently on the set of ‘So Broken Up’ (with the Vetter Brothers), as well as Providence (with Faith flix), and we just finished our first episode of STAY – a pilot series starring Eleanor Brown (Courageous). I was also the lead in a short film called House Mother, which is a part of a series of shorts that will expose some of the horrors of human trafficking in America. House Mother is my most recent project that I produced as well, and recently won the Silver Award at Kingdomwood.
What upcoming projects do you have?
First, we are hoping for more episodes with STAY in the upcoming year, so please stay tuned. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Eleanor and the team, and look forward to some exciting announcements in the works with this (hopefully) ongoing project. ALSO – in the commercial world, I am still the current Spokespeople for a company called ‘Slim 4 Life/Quick Weight Loss’. The commercial campaign is airing in the Florida region, Texas, Missouri and Kansas. I have also been notified that my commercial with Toucan Can Opener has been airing Nationally. Many of my friends keep texting me letting me know they’ve seen in in their market. That includes Las Vegas, AL, FL, Los Angelas, Washington, MO and KS.
I have also been cast in MOMO (Directed by Kevin Kraft), Kidnapped Runaway (Produced by Aaron Allen), and several more projects still waiting for announcements.
I want to encourage all of those actors out there who have a desire to work more in this industry. No matter where you live, make the world around you thrive by living out your passion. I love what I do and can’t wait to work on more film projects in the upcoming years. There are several things that I want to leave you with along with putting God first:
- FRIENDS: Make sure that you surround yourself with those who will encourage you and support you – NO MATTER how high they get in their exposure. This industry ebbs and flows. Make sure you are around those that you trust and that will be there for you through thick and thin.
- 2. ACTING CODE: I also encourage each of you to develop, BEFORE you get on set, what your individual ‘acting code’ is going to be for you and your family. If you develop this early on, you will walk onto each set knowing your boundaries that will tie your faith, your family, your mission and your life all together for the purpose God has for you.
- 3. MARKET: Do not be discouraged if you live in a smaller market. I’ve had to preach this to myself SO MANY TIMES. But, you CAN stay busy in other cities outside of Atlanta and LA. And, if you have to hire someone to help you market yourself – do it! Lots of people do. In reality, some of the people who are ‘out there’ more aren’t any better at acting than you. They just might be marketing themselves more strategically. I always say to myself – ‘Ever learn. Always grow’.
As the year ends, we get ready to make the anticipated announcement of Faith Flix Favorites. This year we’re excited to make a slight change by announcing the top ten finalists in advance.
Here’s how it works. Faith Flix Favorites are based on which interviews/articles have the most page hits during 2015. The finalists are those pages which have had the most hits thus far for the year. To vote for your favorites, all you have to do is click on the photo caption and go to the page. To further help your pages get more hits, share them via facebook, twitter, or personal messages to your friends. The top three winners in each category will be announced 1/1/2016.
Faith Flix Favorites Finalists
Filmmakers (Directors and Producers)
Young Actors, Actresses, and Filmmakers
Film Folks – Other
Remember, all you have to do to vote for your favorites is to click on the photo caption and go to that page. Winners are based on number of page hits for 2015.
We have been blessed to meet and work with some amazing, multitalented young actors. One of those is Brianna Hope Beaton, a Florida-based actress, writer, and reporter who plays a speech contestant in Providence.
When did you first develop an interest in acting?
I was about 9 years old. I was asked to do a PSA. It supported the organization, Give A Kid A Backpack. This PSA aired in the Epic Theaters across Florida right before all feature presentations on a one year run. You can say I started on the big screen. From this experience, I knew I wanted to continue acting.
What was your first Film/TV role?
First film role is that of a middle school student in the film Snap. It’s a short film about bullying.
What Movie/TV projects have you been involved in?
Film projects include Providence, North Charleston Fire Museum, Snap, Time and Lemonade Stand. TV projects include The Outsiders Club, 24Flix, HDNet Movies and voice over work for Sea World.
Tell us about your experiences with being a reporter for Kids First.
KIDS FIRST! is an amazing organization that promotes healthy children’s media. I’ve been so fortunate to have an involvement in this organization for going on four years and absolutely love it. I wanted to get involved as I thought it would be a great experience. I was looking to enhance my writing and on camera presentation skills. To have the opportunity to interview directors, producers, celebrities, and other talent involved in the TV/Film industry would help me with my shyness and nervousness. Needless to say, I was able to improve all of this and so much more. Having the ability to warn parents and children about film content from a kid’s point of view is so valuable. It gives them the ability to make right choices. I’ve gotten so much from being a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. It has provided me with skill sets that will last a life time. Ms. Ranny who is the Founder of KIDS FIRST is my mentor and I’ve have made so many friends around the country. Who knew from being a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, I would have one of my quotes on the back of the DVD Mom’s Night Out, having the chance to appear on the National Syndicate TV show, The Daily Buzz, interview so many great celebrities, and host a radio show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions, the #1 rated weekly radio show on the Voice America Kids Channel with more than 100,000 listeners monthly. I absolutely enjoy being with this organization and very grateful for the opportunity.
Tell us about your work with 24 Flix.
Working with 24Flix has also been amazing. 24Flix is the home of wholesome entertainment and news. With 24/7 live Television, On Demand Movies, Documentaries and TV Shows and the latest in news, sports and entertainment. I just started working with them almost one year and I co-host the monthly/yearly music countdown. In addition, I get the chance to volunteer at the yearly International Christian Film Festival. This is one of the largest Christian Film Festivals in the world. Their goal is to help filmmakers get to the next level. The festival is the premier choice for faith-based, family-friendly films and documentaries. I thoroughly enjoyed it earlier this year and looking forward to it next year.
Who are some of the people you’ve met as a result of your work with 24 Flix and Kids First?
Wow! Being involved with KIDS FIRST! I have the opportunity to meet/interview tons of great people in person such as NBA Star Kevin Durant, Actors/Actresses, Ann Hathaway, Ester Dean, Bella Thorn, Zendaya, Debby Ryan, Austin & Ally, The McClain Sisters, Jim Belushi, Robert Belushi, Jake T. Austin (Wizard of Waverly Place), Taylor Grey, and Brandon T. Jackson. I have also interviewed COO/EVP @ Blue Sky Studio, Brian Keane and Rio 2 Producers, John C. Donkin and Bruce Anderson and also Executive Producer Don Hahn of Disney Nature Chimpanzee. With 24Flix I had the opportunity to have a sit down interview with Stephen Baldwin which was amazing!!
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to finish high school in about two years. I am aiming for the Dean’s List. In regards to my acting career, continue to grow in my craft with acting classes, learn as much as I can and learn something new every day that I do not already know. I plan to attend college for Culinary and continue with my acting. One day I will open up a successful restaurant and be an award winning actress.
I give God all the glory in everything that he has blessed me with thus far. I can truly say that with God all things are possible. Thanks to my wonderful parents, Gregory and Faith Beaton for all their love and support through this journey.
I’ve been on a roll watching movies this week, trying to study them, learn from them, grow from them. Today I watched A Man Called Peter, a title that I was very familiar with but never had much interest in. It’s about Peter Marshall as a young preacher at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. Catherine Marshall is one of my favorite authors, and I should have known that any movie based on one of her books would have to be great.
On Saturday I’m signed up for a writing seminar about how to integrate our faith in our film stories. I’m so glad I watched this movie before attending the seminar, because I feel that this movie does the best job of any I’ve seen at presenting a well told story with a Christian worldview in an artistic manner. Nothing about this movie is second rate. The writing, the acting, the production. There’s nothing to separate it from any other popular 50’s movie. And yet, it’s about a preacher and it includes multiple sermons. I was excited to read that those sermons were actual excerpts from Dr. Marshall’s sermons. No wonder he was such a popular preacher. His sermons were so inspiring.
I loved the beautiful love story of Catherine and Peter Marshall. Such a sweet romance! I loved the way the move showed the struggles that Peter faced with the older church members. My favorite scene, though, that caught me totally by surprise was the prayer that Peter prayed as the chaplain of the US Senate. The contrast between then and now really hit me and made me incredibly sad at the current state of affairs.
Generally I review new movies that are about to be released or have recently been released. Occasionally I will review an older one that comes my way. Today I’d like to review The Robe, a movie that is older than me.
The Robe is well known among serious Christian filmmakers as a brilliant movie that seamlessly integrates faith into story. Today I watched it for the first time, and although it is definitely a classic movie and quite different from modern, it stands the test of time. I can understand why it won two Oscars and was nominated for three more. It’s a masterpiece.
The Robe is the story of Marcellus, a tribune in the time of Christ. He is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Drunk, he wins Jesus’ homespun robe after the crucifixion. He is tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event. Hoping to find a way to live with what he has done, and still not believing in Jesus, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed.
Like most great movies, it starts off complex. It takes awhile to figure out who’s who and what’s going on. That’s a good thing. Slowly you get to know the characters and to love or hate them as the case may be.The characters are dimensional and relatable. They struggle. None are perfect.
The two Oscars that The Robe won were for art and costume, and those were my favorite aspects of the movie as well. It was a truly stunning movie to watch. The sets were great and visually interesting, and the costuming was exquisite. I’ve been in many a period play and made many a biblical costume, but these costumes were works of art. They were definitely the most beautiful costumes I’ve seen in a biblical production.
The movie did not end the way I expected. Yet the ending made perfect sense. It was a dramatic ending rather than a tacked on ending. I would encourage anyone looking for a classic movie with a powerful faith-based story to check out The Robe.
Saved by Grace, the latest Skipstone Pictures movie, stars Joey Lawrence and will be released this fall.
A retired police officer, despondent over the loss of his family, contemplates a dramatic decision which will change his life forever, until he meets a mysterious woman who, through her personal stories, gives him a reason to re-examine what is most important to him.
The entire movie takes place in one Thanksgiving day as Joey Lawrence and Catalina Rodriguez drive from one side of a small town to the other. Along the way they stop at a school swimming pool, a dance studio, a church, Joey’s mom’s house, and a cemetery. I had a difficult time with all the unexplained questions, the biggest being why was Catalina in the middle of nowhere on her way to her family without a car or cell phone. However, despite my issues with the plot, I enjoyed this movie. I liked the complexity of Joey’s character, that while he’s bitter and angry, he’s also polite and very funny in a dry sort of way. I also found Catalina to be an endearing actress who was very likeable. The cinematography was good. The sets and locations nice. The drone shots were a little overdone, but they were pretty. The music was great. I absolutely love the music in every single one of Skipstone Pictures’ movies. They do a great job of integrating indie music with instrumental score and making it all work with the dialogue and action. This would be a great Thanksgiving movie for anyone who’s dealing with disappointment and family discontent. Or anyone who loves a good holiday love story!
I’ve been following Like a Country Song for awhile, but today was the first time I got to actually watch it. I liked it. Nashville has become a happening place to make faith-based movies, and Like a Country Song takes advantage of the beautiful locations, incredible music, and awesome talent that’s abundant in Middle Tennessee.
Like a Country Song is about Jake Reeson, an up and coming country singer whose ego is keeping him from reaching his full potential. It’s really an ensemble cast, though, with each of the leads struggling with their own issues and each needing the forgiveness and understanding of the others in order to find peace. It’s a little gritty and shows flawed people who still struggle even after they’ve found God.
With the exception of a few weak spots, the acting is well done, very believable. The cinematography is good as is the production design. One thing that really stood out to me, though, is an aspect that is generallly overlooked with Christian movies. And that is wardrobe. Dusty Wilson did a great job of capturing a very stylized look for the actors including some fun touches. I loved the beautiful western style tops that Becca wears. I also loved all the handcrafted cross jewelry worn by the women.
Like a Country Song is a captivating look at real people struggling wtih real issues. It’s an enjoyable movie to watch and listen to.
I had the privilege of watching Where is Good? at the Faith Film Fest last month. It is a powerful movie full of twists and turns and a strong pro life message that like Ricky says, truly has you thinking and talking long after the movie is over.
What was your inspiration for the movie?
The movie was inspired by several real life events of some really close friends of mine.
What is your filmmaking background?
Where is Good? is my first feature length film, but before then I’ve done several music videos, for some urban, hip hop, and gospel artists. I’ve also done commercials and many live events.
What was the greatest challenge you faced when filming?
My greatest challenge was overcoming fear. When I was about to start Where is Good? I was scared of wasting my time and my investors money. Once I got over that, I was walking on water. And walking on water is still scary.
Where has Where is Good? screened?
It has played all over the South. It was in theaters in Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carilona, and on the west coast in California.
Tell us about the response to the screenings.
People love it. Where is Good? is the type of film people talk about and discuss after the film is over.
When will the movie release to DVD?
I think in Feb/March.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m beginning production on my next movie 3 days 3 nights.
If you have a dream, follow your dream. Walk out on Water.
One of the highlights for a filmmaker is that moment when people see your film for the first time. All those many hours of work are put to the test as you anxiously wait to find out the audience reaction to your baby. Will they catch the humor? Will they feel the emotion? Will they get what you’re trying to say? When they do, it’s magical.
This past weekend was our Red Carpet Premiere for Providence movie. We were excited to be able to hold the event at the historic Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. The theater is a beautifully restored venue perfect for special events, and the staff does a great job at doing all they can to make everything perfect.
We began the day at 3:00 with preshow red carpet photos and lots of excitement as the film family was reunited for the first time since filming. We discovered that downtown Franklin is a hopping place on Sunday afternoon so crowds gathered along the sidewalk hoping to get a glimpse of the formally attired actors posing on the red carpet.
The first screening began at 4:00 with a packed out house. From the beginning the audience got caught up in the story. A fun treat was during the scene where Grandma rose lies critical in bed and a young boy near the front yelled out, “Is Grandma dying?” The audience laughed when they were supposed to and women pulled out tissues as they cried during the emotional scenes. What more can a filmmaker ask for?
Between the two screenings local media interviewed the actors and musical artists. The media included Music City Corner, Belmont University film students, and Williamson Source. We also had both the media and several of the actors using Periscope for the first time and sharing the excitement of the red carpet festivities.
The crowd was smaller for the second screening but equally enthusiastic. A number of the crowd from the first screening stayed to watch it again and were delighted to notice things the second time that they’d failed to notice the first time.
We were honored to have fellow filmmakers Dave Christiano, Randy Rudder, Ricky Burchell, and Donald Parker attending the premiere as well as Fatima Eid from Crown Entertainment.
To see more Red Carpet photos visit the Providence Movie Facebook page.
Watch the full Music City Corner Periscope coverage of the premiere.