With so many new movies being produced every day, it’s hard to keep up with all of them. Today I interview David Powers about his new movie Shooting the Prodigal. David is one of the co-writers (along with Deborah Hocutt and Greg Womble) and the director. He also serves as founding president of the non-profit, 501c3 production company, Belltower Pictures.
What is your filmmaking education and background?
My background is primarily in television. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in radio/television/film production, I worked in broadcast TV news for a couple of years. Then, sensing God’s call to serve through media in the church, I moved to Texas and enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After graduating, I served local churches as a media minister… the last 20 of those as Associate Pastor for Communication at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. For seven years, I served the Baptist International Mission Board, traveling and working in twenty five countries on five continents and throughout the United States producing documentaries and music videos. I directed two evangelistic feature films overseas, La Solution in Cote d’Ivoire, and Di Gaan Toobi in Suriname. I produced more than 1,000 hours of local television programming, including 120 hours of live telecasts. I produced and directed two hour-long Christmas music specials that aired in prime time on Richmond’s ABC and NBC affiliates.
Tell us about some of your previous film and television projects.
The Prodigal Project (as I have called it) was born in 2010 during a sabbatical while I served FBC Richmond. We had enjoyed great success with the television ministry, and especially with the documentaries and Christmas musical specials we’d produced. But I sensed God calling us to something else. I had been reading about and observing the decline of “institutional religion” in the United States. The Barna Group did some research that showed many folks view the church as hypocritical, judgmental, homophobic, too focused on money and politics, and unwilling to adapt to change. I looked around my church… and looked in the mirror… and saw that the perceptions were not entirely false. As I read the Gospels, I kept coming home to Jesus’ exhortation to “love one another.” My personal experience of God’s unfailing love resonated as I thought about how Jesus practiced love. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to tell a story that depicts God’s love and acceptance? And wouldn’t it be nice to do it in a non-preachy, approachable way that folks outside the church could enjoy… not a heavy-handed, “preaching to the choir” kind of faith-based movie. Maybe, in doing that kind of movie, we could place proper emphasis on the love imperative of the gospel, not so much on the rules and institutional baggage we seem to have accumulated over 2,000 years.
What was your inspiration for the script for Shooting the Prodigal?
What better way to accomplish this than through a comedy? And what better story to use as the basis for the film than the best story ever told by the best storyteller who ever lived – the Parable of the Prodigal Son as told by Jesus and recorded in Luke 15:11-32? And so was born Shooting the Prodigal – a movie about a church making a movie about the prodigal son.
We established Belltower Pictures in late 2012 as an independent production company, focused on producing, promoting and distributing high quality faith-themed films, television and web projects. Our mission is to entertain and inspire, telling great stories that reveal spiritual truth. Shooting the Prodigal is our first project. As a non-profit company, we will reinvest all revenue into future projects.
Shotting the Prodigal is the story of Josh Blume, a brash young Jewish filmmaker from New York who tries to help Brother Bob Cross, an overly-zealous Baptist preacher in South Alabama make a movie about the Prodigal Son. In the process they both learn about the love and acceptance of the Prodigal’s father.
Tell us about your cast and crew.
The cast is led by Paul Wilson as Brother Bob Cross, and Sterling Hurst as Josh Blume. Paul appears opposite Jenna Elfman in the Adrianna Trigiani film Big Stone Gap which opens in theaters nationwide October 9. Tim Reid (known for his television work in Sister, Sister and WKRP in Cincinnati) and his wife Daphne Maxwell Reid (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) make cameo appearances. Other principals include Julie Moss as Esther Cross, Christie Osterhus as Emily Cross, and Joseph Gray (Princess Cut, Alone Yet Not Alone) as Noah Thatcher.
Richard Blankenship (Lincoln, Captain Phillips, Turn – Washington’s Spies, Killing Kennedy) is the Production Designer. Eric Hurt (Wish You Well, Coming Through the Rye, Field of Lost Shoes) is Director of Photography. Producers are Ken Roy and Heather Waters.
Now that the film is shot, what are your plans for the movie?
We are currently in post-production and hope to complete the film by late fall. We are producing a parallel web series and other audience engagement strategies that we hope will build buzz for the film. We hope to successfully negotiate a theatrical distribution deal, but also plan to distribute digitally.
More info about the company and the film:
I’m a big fan pf young entrepreneurs. My husband started buying and selling cars when he was just fourteen and our daughter bought and sold antiques when she was six and did websites for clients when she was fourteen. So when I saw fifteen-year-old Josiah Stendel posting about his filmmaking and video production company, I knew I wanted to interview him. I’m glad I did because I just love his story of how he got into the business. Such a well spoken and obviously talented young man, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him.
When did you first decide you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Well, when I was younger I often made little home movies with a point-and-shoot camera with some of my friends. They really weren’t anything special, but I enjoyed putting together a little script and organizing the short films.
What led you to starting your own video production business?
Actually, a few years ago, a world-renowned ministry held a conference in our city. I was really excited about it, and just for fun I made a promotional video for them. Well, “made” is a funny word – I downloaded their old promotional videos off of YouTube, chopped them up, and edited them into my own video. Just for fun. Apparently, it got passed around and the director of the ministry got a hold of it. After seeing it, he actually contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in editing their official promotional video. They’d filmed it over the past summer and were just looking for someone to edit it. So after doing that video, I realized that I really enjoyed this. The ministry has been a return customer – hiring me to edit videos occasionally – so about two years ago, I decided to make it official and started www.menlolights.com!
What types of projects do you specialize in?
Although I started by doing only promotional videos, my business has expanded to doing all sorts of client based projects (music videos, promo videos, family history videos, house tours, etc.) as well as narrative projects like short films! When I make videos, I focus on story – whether it’s a short film or a house tour. Each video has a message.
What are some of the projects that you’ve worked on?
I’ve worked on a variety of projects through the last few years. My first short film, Every Man’s Pryce, has won multiple awards including Best Filmmaker Under 17 at the Best Shorts Films Festival. In April, I completed my second short film, What You See, as a part of the world’s largest short film contest. My film placed third out of 244 action films from filmmakers all around the world! As I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of client based projects. I’ve done videos for dance studios, conference centers, and businesses! Right now I’m even working with a product demonstrator to make a video for Yamaha!
What is your strength as a videographer or filmmaker?
I hope I don’t come across as pretentious by saying this, but I think that I have an eye for filmmaking – what looks good, where to place people, how to place the camera – it just comes naturally to me. When doing videos for clients, what makes me unique is the way I communicate with them. From beginning to end I keep them involved. It’s their story being told and I want to keep it that way. I’m just there to help them tell it.
Tell us about Every Man’s Pryce.
Every Man’s Pryce is about a gifted pickpocket whose life is radically changed when he finds a Bible in the pocket of one of the people he tried to rob. It’s an incredible story about grace, redemption, and transformation that you will never forget. Although this was my first film, I think in many ways it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s the story that really sets this film apart. it’s a powerful story. I’ve had many people contact me and tell me that this film really touched them, even changed their lives. One guy contacted me and told me that a neighbor friend of his that he’s been trying to tell about Jesus for many years saw this film and was absolutely wrecked. You can see the film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxmpos9Vfl4&feature=youtu.be.
What are your goals for the future?
I do have a few films in the works right now – hopefully we’ll be releasing some updates about that within the next few months. As for the future, we’ll see where God takes me! I’ll keep telling the stories He puts on my heart, and we’ll see what happens! Even just one life touched makes it all worth it.
Just an encouragement to any young filmmakers out there: just make films! Nowadays even iPhones have decent video quality. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The worst thing a filmmaker can do is not making films. Your first one doesn’t have to be great, but you know what? If you keep doing it, you’ll get better and better. Challenge yourself by making short films with no dialogue or with only a limited amount of dialogue, and just focus on telling stories! You can do it.
Check out Josiah’s website and social media.
www.menlolights.com/portfolio (past work)
www.youtube.com/user/RoyaltyInCode (Youtube Channel)
I’m always on the lookout for helpful resources for filmmakers and actors. I love industry news, reviews, helpful articles, and discussion. Backstage Magazine has all that and more. I’m excited today to get to interview Melinda Loewenstein, the managing casting editor at Backstage. She’s worked on thousands of casting notices, connecting filmmakers and actors, and she’s offering a special limited time only opportunity just for Faith Flix readers.
What led to your interest in casting?
I’ve always been very interested in film and television. I participated in all the arts programs my community offered. I always loved writing. In grade school, when one of my first stories was published in the local paper, I knew I wanted to pursue writing. I studied scriptwriting and moved out to Los Angeles to learn how the business worked. From my internship at a talent management company I learned how to read breakdowns and identify which clients would be right for which role. I moved on to Baseline StudioSystems where I focused on researching and tracking television development. While I gained a lot more industry knowledge and learned who the players were, I really wanted to be writing. So when the opportunity to work at Backstage Magazine came up I thought it would be the ideal fit for me. The position combines all aspects of entertainment from the early stages of casting to writing about the exciting projects that are cast on Backstage.com. Through my years at Backstage, I have an even greater appreciation of all the work that goes into casting and what a pivotal element it is in the success of a project.
How does Backstage help filmmakers?
Backstage places an emphasis on education for both actors and filmmakers. Our editorial content consists largely of advice for actors and filmmakers and is supplemented with actor/writer/director profiles and news stories. Additionally, we have an entire section of the magazine and website dedicated to casting and we have a casting specialist who goes to speak with classes of filmmakers about the casting process to help new filmmakers understand the importance of casting and help guide them through what can seem like an overwhelming process. Most of the Backstage staff comes from an entertainment industry background, so we’re all quite familiar with what it takes to get a film made and how expensive it is. Backstage offers an affordable alternative for casting when a producer/director can’t afford to hire a casting director. We post casting notices for all types of projects (theater, film, television, digital, etc.) and all levels of talent (lead vs. extra, union vs. nonunion) so filmmakers can gain access to the talent that best fits their project. We also have a publication called Call Sheet which offers a ton of resources to filmmakers. We have a list of film festivals, production companies, agents, casting directors, and more. These listings can help filmmakers find the people and the companies they need to contact to make their film a success.
How does Backstage help actors?
As mentioned above we provide a great deal of educational editorial content to help actors. The casting side of the website is of particular interest to actors because it helps them to find great projects to audition for. We post both open calls and calls for submissions. As a national publication, actors living anywhere in the United States can find great opportunities in their area. Our casting editors vet all the projects posted on Backstage.com to ensure that they are legit and safe acting opportunities. In addition to the casting notices which provide work opportunities for actors, Call Sheet also provides a lot of resources for actors such as production charts so actors can be aware of what productions are gearing up and who is casting what. We provide a wide variety of casting notices so that no matter what type of acting or what level of acting an actor is looking for they’ll be able to find something. The site offers actors the opportunity to submit themselves to projects rather than relying on an agent or manager. However, represented actors do go through their agents to book the work.
What do you think is the greatest challenge for casting directors?
Casting directors frequently have to work in a very short amount of time. I think the job can be especially challenging for casting directors working on projects that are unable to pay actors or have very low pay rates. This is one of the advantages to Backstage because there are a lot of recent theater and film school grads using Backstage who are often willing to work on lower budget projects in order to build up their reels.
How important is it, do you think, that Christian roles be played by Christian actors?
I don’t think you need to be Christian to play a Christian role. But I think that an actor should always feel comfortable in any role he or she takes on. So having some understanding or respect for the religion or views in the film would be important in order for the actor to connect to the role and be believable in playing it. Trained actors do their research, so as long as an actor is willing to research whatever is necessary to play the role, I think that the most important thing is finding an actor who is right for the role.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors who want to be cast?
Read. I have talked to hundreds of casting directors who use Backstage and the advice I hear over and over again is that actors need to read the casting notice and follow the directions. While you don’t necessary have to fit the physical description perfectly, it is very important to follow the submission instructions. Filmmakers casting through Backstage have also expressed the importance of an actor wanting to be a part of their project and including a cover letter telling the filmmaker why the actor is a good fit or why they are interested in the project.
Backstage is always striving to find more quality projects for actors using Backstage to work on and we would love to help connect the actors using our website to the Christian filmmakers creating this content so we’re offering Christian filmmakers using this site free access to our casting tools for the next 90 days. To take advantage of the offer just visit www.backstage.com/findtalent and use the access code FAITHFLIXFREE.
I’m excited to introduce a new series of articles where I share advice from award winning writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers, and other filmmaking individuals. We kick off with four screenwriters offering the best advice they ever received. Here’s what Doc Benson, Keith Perna, Anthony Hackett, and Sean Paul Murphy had to say.
Early on, a film teacher named Dov SS Simens gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me. He said “The greatest shortcoming of first-timers is their inability to tell the difference between a good script and a great script.” There are many good scripts written every year, but frankly good is not good enough. Your job is to craft a GREAT script: something new, or at least a fun twist on an old theme with several subplots and emotional arcs that take the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotion.
Do you want to know if your screenplay is potentially great? Give it the “Head Test”. Hand it off to a trusted reviewer to read in person (preferably not a close friend), and watch their head movements. If they are drawn into the story and are excited about what might come next, their head and eyes will drop down the page quickly. If the story is a chore to review, the head and eyes will tend to scan left to right over and over as they weed their way through the page. Pass the Head Test and you just might have a page turner worthy of production.
Doc Benson – Seven Deadly Words, The Publication
I have two if that’s okay.
1. This is more a general piece of writing advice that I’ve heard from multiple sources. Make sure you have a unified message throughout your screenplay. My screenplays tend to have more than one message but there’s always one primary message that the whole script revolves around.
2. This is for us as Christian writer’s and it’s straight out of the Bible. I need to remind myself of this just as much as anyone. Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. This of course applies to all areas of life and no less our call to write screenplays. So as I’m writing and making changes and polishing what I have I always have to ask myself “does this represent God and can he work through this?” If I can’t honestly answer yes to that the script isn’t ready. I’m always seeking him in prayer on that as I go as well.
Keith Perna – Christmas Grace
A powerful message can be lost if shared through a weak story, so make sure your story is just as powerful as your message. If you water down one or the other then you’ve lost the impact you could have on your audience.
Anthony Hackett – Catastasis, Love Different
I once saw something written on a manager’s website. It said: “Screenwriters have very short careers because after they achieve some success they refuse to make changes.” So true. That’s why I always make the changes.
Sean Paul Murphy – The Encounter, Marriage Retreat, Revelation Road series, Sarah’s Choice, Holyman Undercover, Brother White, Hidden Secrets
Do you have screenwriting advice to share? We’d love to hear it in the comments section. Thanks!
We were blessed to have Juli Tapken play the leading role of Rachel in Providence. She truly brought to life Rachel’s struggles as a single woman dealing with work, dating, and her relationship with her mother. She’s transparent and real and her compassionate and sensitive spirit that shows up on screen is equally evident behind the scenes when the cameras aren’t rolling.
When did you first discover a love for acting?
As early as I can remember, I loved entertaining my family and making them smile and laugh. As the youngest of four children in a somewhat tumultuous home situation at times, there was never a shortage of moments that needed lightening. I remember acting out stories and books with my older sister Angel, as a means to escape at times, cope at others, or just to bring a giggle of hope that would seem to bless the house. So I guess I just kept that up throughout my childhood. Then God began to open doors that would train me to find creative ways to let His story be told. I am blessed to have been trained by His spirit alone, through skit ministry to children and opportunities at church to hone my tools and to discover His truth so fully that I am able to, through His Spirit when I act, simplify it and bring it to a place of relevance for every “character type” out there. I trust that through this particular gift, He is sowing seeds in me and through this vessel that will bring in a tremendous harvest for His glory. So I guess my “love for acting” stems from my love for Him. He is the creator, I am the brush, and acting is the paint that speaks to a world in need of truth. The Lord Himself used stories to impart truth, and I am so honored that He lets me work that way too.
Tell us a little about your musical theater background.
My first role I ever had was in Psalty’s Christmas Calamity at the First United Methodist Church in Braman, Oklahoma. I had a solo, “Away in a Manger”, as well as some small chorus acting moments. That was The first time I had ever experienced what an impact music and story, coupled with Truth and willingness on my part to put it out there, had on an audience. I could see the Spirit move in them as the Truth of God’s willingness to humble Himself in the form of a helpless baby, to become the atonement once for all, hit their hearts. I fell in love with that audience and wanted them to feel exactly what I was feeling. And still do to this day. I was seven years old. In junior high and high school I performed in community theater, Oklahoma Kids, county fairs, nursing homes, churches and mission trips to Venezuela. Any opportunity to connect with live people and make them feel the joy that is within and the hope for their situation, I wanted a part in it. After being out of college for a time and working with my father to learn how to paint, so I had a means to support this passion, my husband of one year, knew that we weren’t fulfilling everything God had for us in our original pond of Ponca City, Oklahoma. So we loaded up the car without jobs or a place to live and headed to Branson Missouri. To see if I had what it takes to perform there. Fifteen years later, I am blessed to have worked in the stage productions of Two from Galilee, at the Promise theater my first year, And Smoke on the Mountain for the rest ( with a brief hiatus when we got our son).
What led to the transition from theater to film?
My husband was trolling Facebook one day in late November of 2012. There was an audition notice that “randomly” came across his feed for a movie being shot here in the Ozarks. He thought I should submit for it. Now, at this time I was very happy with life as we knew it. I was on stage, our son was in school, I had loads of opportunities at church and had no updated resume, head shots, or anything very impressive to submit, so I sort of blew it off. We were in rehearsal for the Christmas program at church, and I felt that I had enough on my plate. But Jeff kept after me until I took a quick bathroom selfie and changed the dates on my twelve year old resume. He sent that in and I was contacted by Sara Kessinger, the producer of Surrender, to come and audition for the role of Candace’s mom. I did. They liked it and cast me. Funny God connection, about four months prior to the notice, we were working at painting in our church’s youth room. There was a guy there setting up all the new media for them. He mentioned he was a writer/director, I mentioned I was an actress. That man was Danny Rogers, the writer and director of Surrender. So God was moving me toward film before I ever even knew it was an option or a desire for me.I find it humorously ironic that the first film He brought me to was titled Surrender, as that is exactly what I had to do, to let go of My dream for my life and let Him develop His dream for this life. It’s been a whirlwind ride ever since!
What faith-based films have you been a part of?
God has truly blessed me with the most amazing roles in these incredible films over the past couple of years:
Surrender (2014) Principal role of Candice’s Mom. A small youth group gets held hostage in their church, but who is truly the hostage? With Michael Joiner and Stephen Brian Sutherland. Written and Directed by Danny Rogers. Released on DVD.
Colors of Emily (2014) Principal role of Dr Grace Johansen. An emotionally fragile art critic encounters a gifted, albeit blind, young artist, but which one is truly blind? With Jenn Gotzon and Brittany Mann. Directed by Chip Rosetti. Written and produced by Michael Arnold. In post production.
Providence (2015) Lead role of Adult Rachel. Two souls woven through time,only to find it’s Gods perfect timing that will tie them together for life. With Rich Swingle and Juli Tapken. Written and Directed by Sharon Wilharm. Post production, Premieres November 8, 2015.
Mission Improbable (2015) Lead role of Susan. A woman struggling with addiction and abuse finds solace and salvation at Victory Bible Mission in Crossville, Tennessee. With Collin Brown, Mike Tinker, and Juli Tapken. Directed by Mathew Perdie. Written and produced by Donald James Parker. In post production. Set to premiere late 2015.
The Reins Maker (2015) Strong Supporting role of Jane Foster. A young girl struggles through early adversity to follow her dream of racing horses, but discovers a much bigger dream, and the reasons behind her struggle. With Samatha Katelynn, George Lakos, Jim Chandler, and Juli Tapken. Written and produced by Michael Arnold. Currently in production.
What has been your favorite role so far?
My favorite role is wife to Jeff and mother to Lain. To play myself as I am, with all of my fears and all of my frailties. To allow God to use me daily, in my word choices, and behavior patterns. To own the parts that aren’t so lovely or fit for public consumption, but to let Him work in and direct me through it. To be real with those around me, and represent my Savior in a way that makes others say, “I want to live like that.” To Let God use every single part of every emotion, every hidden sin, every triumph, and every tear to show them how very very much He loves us in spite of ourselves, and continues to will to use us in spite of our failures. To be myself is the most challenging, most frightening, most rewarding role I have ever had. Hopefully, we have a long run, and everyday I get the opportunity to perfect it as I affect whatever audience He brings before me today.
What do you find most challenging as a film actress?
Lighting and framing!! On stage I have all the room I want and need, and the spotlight follows. On film you have a very tight frame and light pool. I’ve had to learn that every small eye movement translates volumes. So to pull back emotionally, and stay in the light.
What do you find most satisfying as an actress?
To represent! I am expressly blessed to portray the oft times “unseen”. Those single mama’s, those lost and searching, those disillusioned by life’s circumstances, those who struggle and those who triumph. I am allowed to tell their story, and to shed a light on their plight. To be the voice for the voiceless, and be the voice that speaks His Truth. I can’t imagine anything being more satisfying than that.
What are your goals or dreams for the future?
My one goal for the future is to one day finally go Home to the arms of my Father, to look upon the face of my Savior and to hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful daughter. Enter into the joy of your reward!”
I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see what, if anything else! What, if anything else He has planned. What, if anything else, we can learn. What, if anything else we can give. Tomorrow is but a promise. Today is the day of salvation!
Thanks so much for these very insightful questions, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and my mission. God is so Good!!
I had never heard of Sean Paul Murphy until earlier this year when I received a copy of his memoir. I’m not a big fan of memoirs, but i fell in love with Sean’s easygoing, conversational style of writing. Then I started looking into his other work and discovered he was the writer and/or editor of many of my favorite movies. He’s just an all around interesting guy and I’m excited to get to interview him and learn even more about his career.
What was your career goal when you were growing up?
I always loved the movies. I wanted to make movies, and, after reading a script to a Marx Brothers film, my interest was focused on writing them. However, it never seemed to be a realistic goal for a kid from Baltimore. I originally planned to be a journalist, but I became disillusioned with journalism. I switched over to Mass Communications but I never honestly expected to work in the film business. I was also taking computer science classes and suspected that I would spend the rest of my life working as a programmer for the Social Security Administration.
How did you break into the movie business?
That depends what you consider the movie business. After college I got a job at Smith Burke & Azzam, an advertising agency. I started in the mail room but quickly ended up in the broadcast department where I helped make thirty second movies. At the agency I eventually specialized in post production while I began writing spec scripts. I left my full time job to work as a freelance film editor around the same time I was signed by the late Stu Robinson at Robinson Weintraub and Gross (later Paradigm) as a screenwriter.
I have written fourteen produced features films including the faith-based favorites Hidden Secrets, Sarah’s Choice, The Encounter and the Revelation Road series. I have edited a number of television programs including Two for Tonight, PBS; Love’s A Trip, Style; World Sports, Zoom; and the USDAA Dog Agility Shows, Animal Planet. Lately, I have been doing a great deal of work for Discovery Communications where I have worked on the “reloads” of a number of shows for TLC network including 19 Kids and Counting, The Little Couple, Little People Big World and Love Lust or Run.
You seem to split your time pretty evenly between writing and film/TV editing. Which is your first love?
Editing is my vocation. Writing is my avocation. I am very blessed to love them both. My editing has taken me many places — from advertising to television networks to national political campaigns. It has been very rewarding. That said, I prefer writing. As an editor, I help make other people’s vision a reality. As a writer, I get to express my own.
First, let me tell you that no screenwriter is ever completely happy with any adaptation of a script. I know that sounds ungrateful, but the film can never be what you saw in your head. Not that it’s all disappointing by any means. I have often been delighted by an unexpected spark an actor or actress brings to one of the roles. It is amazing to watch a performer really invest themselves emotionally in something you wrote. It has been a great process overall and different films are favorites to me for different reasons. I like my first film, an innovative mystery called 21 Eyes, because it is closest to the original script. Hidden Secrets is perhaps my most entertaining film. I think Sarah’s Choice works best as a narrative, and I remain totally awed by the life-changing effect The Encounter films have had on people. That said, I am most proud of my recently published memoir The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God — a story of first faith and first love and how the two became almost fatally intertwined. The book gave me the opportunity to address themes and thoughts that I was only able to hint at in the context of my films. It’s pure me, undiliuted through actors, producers and directors.
Do you ever see yourself writing, directing and editing your own film?
I have written and edited films, but I do not have a real hunger to direct. I enjoy the more solitary pursuits of writing and editing. When you direct, you have too many people asking you too many questions too much of the time. And you have to wake up earlier. I certainly believe I could have done a better job than some of my directors, but I must admit that most of them did a better job than I would have done. To me, the needs of the film always trumps ego. I would never want to direct simply for control. I would only want to direct if I feel I have a special insight into the characters or story. I have written a few scripts that fall into that category, but I am not pursuing them at this time.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Lord willing, I will be doing what I’m doing now. Writing and editing. It is my goal to write more books, but I still have a few screenplays to get out of my system.
This past spring I heard from a college friend we hadn’t seen in many years. Turns out his daughter is going to Belmont this year and will be minoring in film. I discovered Caroline George is a talented young woman who has already authored two published books and is going to college to learn the publishing field as well as screenwriting and film. I’m excited to share about the exciting things she’s already accomplished and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing in the future.
Caroline, when did you first discover you had a talent for writing?
Storytelling is the gift and calling God’s bestowed upon me. Ever since I learned to speak, I’ve been telling stories. Before I could hold a pencil, my mom would write down my stories and let me illustrate the little novels. I spent my childhood with my nose in books, mainly Nancy Drew and The Chronicles of Narnia. I was and am madly in love with stories and their incredible ability to paint emotions, pictures, and people in the minds of readers.
Because of my story-obsession, I found writing to be a way for me to share my plots and characters with others. It wasn’t so much of a talent, but more of an inextinguishable passion. I loved writing so much, I practiced until I could tell my stories in the most vivid, relatable way possible. I’m still learning.
What was your first big writing project?
In middle school, I began writing complete short-stories and books based on The Chronicles of Narnia. All were about the Pevensie children’s adventures in Narnia and during World War II but with an added character—an American girl named Caroline. After I had written two fan-fiction novels and published sixty short-stories online about my adventures in Narnia, I gave my work to my English teacher, thinking I’d publish the books and become a millionaire. My English teacher, without telling me that the publishing industry isn’t as easy as I assumed, encouraged me to write a wholly original work. Her suggestion led to the creation of my first book, The Prime Way Program: Be The Victor.
How old were you when your first book released?
My goal was to be published by age sixteen. There were times I didn’t believe the goal to be attainable, but God, the most successful author of all time, was working as my writing hands, agent, editor, publicist, and publisher. He placed people in my life to encourage, support, and provide aid while I chased after publication.
Tell us about The Prime Way trilogy.
When the Prime Way Program is shut down and a majority of its recruits are locked away, Kyle Chase and Cora Kingston, both genetically modified soldiers who managed to escape the initial imprisonment, try to adapt to normal, civilian life. They live with Cora’s aunt, brother, and cousins in a bungalow on the beach. And for a while, everything seems to be going great. Kyle surfs. Cora learns how to cook. They’re happy. But when their covers are blown and tragedy strikes, Kyle and Cora must return to their aggressive world of deception and mutation, and wage war against a strengthening enemy.
The Prime Way Trilogy delves into the themes of sacrifice, honor, and choosing to be different when it’s easier to succumb to normalcy. The trilogy blurs genres and dares to have a unique structure and character voices, which makes it stand out in a sea of novels.
Each book represents a milestone in my life and shows a glimpse of who I was as an early teenager. I’m both excited and sad to bring the series to a close.
What has been the response to your books?
I’ve been overwhelmed by people’s positive response to my books. Never in a million years would I have expected people of all ages to truly love my work. In the past few years, I’ve gained readership worldwide, loyal fans who continue to shock me with their support, and amazing reviews. I was rated number five on Goodreads list of YA undiscovered talent. Both of my books were nominated the Georgia Author of the Year Award.
I am in awe of all that God continues to do with my meager passion for storytelling.
How has being homeschooled played a role in your writing career?
Being homeschooled allowed me to have time to pursue God’s vision for my life. If I had gone to a more traditional school, I wouldn’t have been able to write and publish at such a young age. The “homeschooler academy” I did attend, not only provided me with a flexible schedule, but also introduced me to several people who helped me become an author.
What led to your interest in writing for film?
I want to be able to tell my stories in multiple forms. Film allows me the chance to visually portray my stories and also share my work with people who might not enjoy reading. I also believe that some stories are geared more for the screen than a page. I want the flexibility.
What do you hope to learn while at Belmont?
Belmont is a terrific university that offers countless opportunities. While there, I hope to grow in my knowledge of the publishing industry, learn how to write for the screen, and also be instructed on how to be a productive, professional adult.
What are your goals for the next ten years?
One of my goals for the next ten years includes contracting and publishing my latest book with a traditional publishing house. I’m traveling to New York City next week to pitch my latest book to agents. Please keep me in your prayers!
My other goals include finishing school and The Prime Way Trilogy, finding work as a literary agent, and seeing major development in my writing career. I’m excited to see how God works and experience the adventures He has in store for me.
This past NRB convention we met Eric Hovind, a young filmmaker from Florida. His dad had a creation museum that we used to go to back when Brittany was little. Now Eric along with other creation experts and filmmakers are producing a feature length documentary that includes stunning 3D special effects. It’s been endorsed by leading filmmakers and experts including Ken Ham, Alex Kendrick, and Kirk Cameron.
They just released the official trailer. To watch the trailer as well as keep up with updates and their theatrical release, follow them on Facebook.
I first learned of Patterns of Evidence Exodus last summer at he Pan Pacific Film Festival. We met filmmaker Timothy Mahoney at the Stellae Awards ceremony where the film won Best Feature Documentary. I didn’t get a chance to watch the documentary at the festival, so I was glad to be given a DVD to watch and review.
Patterns of Evidence Exodus is a first person account of filmmaker Timothy Mahoney’s quest to determine “Is the Bible just a myth, or did the archaeologists get it wrong?” He tackles this issue wit a deliberate scientific approach. After examining the details in the biblical text, he journeys across the globe to search for patterns of evidence firsthand. The result is the most in-depth archaeological investigation into the Exodus from Egypt ever captured on film. This scientific documentary’s goal is to communicate the TRUTH of the Bible and help equip believers with defending their faith and the Bible.
I’m not a documentary person, preferring instead a good story. But I enjoy documentaries like this that incorporate storytelling techniques. Just as the protagonist in a narrative story goes on a journey to get what he wants, so does Timothy Mahoney. He travels across the globe talking to a wide assortment of experts on the subject. He does a great job of keeping the story moving with plenty of conflict and tension, and, of course, useful information.
Patterns of Evidence Exodus is a great resource for homeschoolers, youth groups, or anyone else grappling with the truth of the Bible’s account of Moses and the Israelites. Comment below and tell why you’d like to watch the documentary and you can be registered to get your own dvd copy.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
One of the things I enjoy most about Faith Flix is being introduced to new folks and getting to share their unique stories with other. Pat Patterson is one of those interesting stories.
In 1992, Pat Patterson formed Fleetwood Stage in New Rochelle, N. Y., which had an 11-season run producing four main stage productions per year, along with children’s theatre and Shakespeare in the Park. As a member of the Board of New York’s acclaimed T. Schreiber Studio, she spearheaded the creation of the studio’s first year-long conservatory. While living in LA, she served on the Board of the Blank Theatre Company, which was founded by Noah Wyle. Her most recent projects include having produced and appeared in the award-winning short film, A Younger Man which played the 2012 Festival Circuit and has been used to train staff at the Hospice of the Chesapeake; and the award-winning feature film Junction, which has won 17 major festival awards, was named as one of Indiewire’s “Top 5 Best First Features,” and stars Michael O’Keefe, Anthony Rapp, and David Zayas. Her upcoming projects include the faith-based feature film, Play Ball, which has been adapted from a 2013 Kairos Award Winning screenplay; and the new media parody, Encino SCI.
Tell us a little about your acting background.
As a child I never acted in a school play or a religious pageant but I always knew I wanted to be an actress. At 24 I auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, got accepted and moved to New York City. I studied there for two years, a classical Stanislavsky training with focus primarily on theatre. After that I went to HB Studios and studied with the legendary Uta Hagen and the brilliant Earle Hyman, again with a total theatre focus. I then walked away from acting as it was time to grow up.
What led to the transition from theater to film?
When I came back to acting eight years ago, the world had changed mightily and casting directors and agents wanted to see your reel. This led to doing student films, then short films, web series and eventually features and I fell in love with the storytelling power of the camera, which was totally different than theatre. There is an intimacy captured on film, the tilt of your head, a gasped breath that cannot be captured or appreciated in the same way on stage. It is smaller and more intense. Someone once said the camera is your greatest lover, it sees and appreciates everything you do.
What is the biggest challenge of film acting compared to theater?
The rehearsal process. In theatre, the actors, a script and a rehearsal space are sacred ground and allows for exploration over time of the character. In film, you work alone usually until you are on set. It is not uncommon to meet your screen husband or dying son just minutes before you are called upon to do the scene. There is a thrill and challenge in the immediacy of the film moment, not unlike diving off the high board into the pool.
What do you mean when you say, “while some dreams may have to wait, they can and do eventually come true”?
The life I live now, as an actor and producer, are in line with what I dreamed of almost four decades ago as a starry eyed young woman moving into the Big Apple. I am pursuing that dream and God has allowed me to achieve, beyond my wildest expectation, those goals. Someone sent me this “I don’t know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text will it ever read…. I Gave Up”. With God all things are possible.
Is it difficult being a Christian actress when working on secular projects?
I do not find any difficulty in working in the secular world. I have, only once turned down a project because I found it offensive. I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve, but I am always open to sharing my love of God on set. There have been roles I believe were given to me just to be there to witness to some cast or crew who needed to know God.
What led to you starting your own production company?
Control! When I came back to acting, as a “woman of a certain age” I knew I would have to create projects to smooth out the ups and downs of an actors life. Our first project of Pâté Productions was A YOUNGER MAN, based upon a short story my daughter wrote when she was fifteen for a high school writing contest. She did not win but it was such a compelling story I turned it into a film starring myself and Brian Carney. This ten-minute short, after touring the festival circuit, has been used by a hospice as part of its training program. The film deals with an older couple making the decision of how and when to die. The caseworkers find themselves confronting this on a regular basis so a bioethicist uses the film when working with hospice.
Which do you prefer – on camera or behind the camera? Why?
That is a bit like answering, which of my three children I love the most. I cannot answer it. When I am acting I am so happy and fulfilled. When I am producing, providing a nurturing environment for cast and crew where they can create the magic of film, I am ecstatic. I do know I cannot produce something and not act in it. I like to play and producing is such a grown up endeavor. I do not require a starring role, as I am designed to be a supporting actor.
Before coming back to acting I produced theatre for eleven seasons at Fleetwood Stage, an Equity Small Theatre in Westchester County, N.Y., which is right above New York City.
What upcoming project are you most excited about?
First I need to address Junction, a past project that released on VOD on July 14th of this year. It is a genre thriller about four meth addicts. Not bad people, but just young people who made bad choices. They break into a home to steal a color TV and discover the homeowner might be worse than they are and a hostage situation ensues and then the film turns on its ear. It came out of a court case in Florida the writer was following. It does have violence but no sex and not a curse word is used. I am very proud of this film. It was nominated for a Prism Award last year for films that depict substance abuse, along with Lee Daniels’ The Butler and August Osage County. This film shows what can be accomplished with talent and passion and not a lot of money.
My next project, which I have been developing, is a faith-based film, Play Ball. It is a 2013 Kairos Award-winning screenplay given by Movie Guide and The Templeton Foundation for first time screenwriters of uplifting scripts. We did a staged reading in NY in January and have been in rewrites. Dr. Ted Baehr of Movie Guide and The Christian FIlm and Television Commission, with whom I have been working, just reviewed the script and while he gave it a B+, there is still more work to be done before we start filming. Play Ball teaches us there is no need to fear the ball if you have faith in the Pitcher.
I would add that I can see God’s hand in all my endeavors, even when I am not paying attention. I have been blessed and work hard to return these many blessings.