The Good Old Days

Time cover TFADr. Theodore F. Adams  was the legendary pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church from 1936 to 1968, and president of the Baptist World Alliance from 1955 to 1960. He was on the cover of Time Magazine December 5, 1955. Almost 50 years after leaving the First Baptist pulpit, he is still revered.

The 1950’s were a booming era for churches. And those churches that also had a gifted pastor like Ted Adams were busting at the seams. I’ve heard some of the old-timers recall that all you had to do was open the doors and get out of the way. The pews were filled every Sunday.

A lot of churches that boomed in the 50’s are struggling to survive these days. With dwindling congregations, aging buildings and an unhealthy measure of nostalgia, they’re trying to figure out how to bring back “the good old days.” They point to the mega churches, the embodiment of American success and wonder, “why can’t we be like that?”

That’s the situation for the fictional Eternal Hope Baptist Church of Homer, Alabama in our film SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. They remember the good old days when the church’s founder, Brother Big Bob Cross presided over a thriving enterprise. But these days, there are lots of questions and few answers: How do we keep the young folks engaged? How are we going to keep the church doors open? And, of course, “What would Brother Big Bob do?” Continue reading The Good Old Days

Did we succeed?

First day of principal photographyWhen we started Belltower Pictures and set out to make our first film, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL, we had four goals:

  • tell a great story and do it well,
  • involve a lot of folks from around the community and give them opportunities to get to know one another as they work together on a meaningful project,
  • give hands-on learning opportunities for the next generation of filmmakers, and
  • in the process of making the film, model the values of acceptance and inclusion that were the centerpiece of the story.

The audience will ultimately decide if we were successful with the first goal.

I think I can say that we did succeed with the other goals. We had 200 volunteers from a dozen or so churches… and a number who claim no religious affiliation whatsoever. We provided opportunities for 14 interns from universities and high schools throughout Virginia to to learn and improve their skills by working alongside seasoned professionals. The participants reported an overwhelmingly positive experience… forging new friendships, strengthening old ones, learning new skills, and experiencing a positive & collaborative film set.

Continue reading Did we succeed?

SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL world premiere announced

Byrd TheatreI’m excited to announce that the world premiere of SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL will take place March 3, 2016, as the red carpet opening night feature of the Richmond International Film Festival at the historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia.

SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL is a satirical faith-based comedy set in south Alabama where a brash, young Jewish film student from New York, Josh Blume (played by Sterling Hurst) tries to help an overly zealous Baptist preacher, Brother Bob Cross (played by Paul Wilson) and his church make a movie about the prodigal son.

It is a story about acceptance and inclusion. As the preacher and his congregation try to accept the “outsiders” who gather to make the movie, they are challenged to expand their “comfortable Christian nest,” as Brother Bob learns by making new friends and re-thinking old relationships.

Trailer and additional information available on the website: www.shootingtheprodigal.com. Like our Facebook page to keep up with new developments, screenings and release dates, which we’ll announce in the coming weeks. But for now, mark the date on your calendar and join us on the red carpet for the premiere March 3. I look forward to seeing you there!