MOTION PICTURE NEWS AND PERSONALITIES
FAITH CONFRONTS FEAR IN 'A MURDER OF INNOCENCE'
Above, actors Frank Chiesurin and Rachel MacMillan play Albert and Aimee Anderson in a motion picture based on a true story. Originally published July 22, 2019.
▶ BY KEVIN SCOTT COLLIER
A Murder of Innocence, a different type of Christian film that presents a dramatic representation of a real life incident, presents a clash between fear and faith. The tale is based on the book Broken, Yet Triumphant, by Aimee Anderson.
The motion picture, produced by Justice Pictures and distributed by Vision Films, is available to rent on various streaming video platforms, as well as for purchase on DVD. The picture, directed by Shawn Justice, is written by Justice, with Aimee Anderson, who lived through the actual event.
The story reveals a community rocked by the double-homicide of a prominent couple and the struggle of local police to find the killer. As a darkness settles over the town, Albert Anderson, the new resident pastor, must help his church and family overcome the aftershocks brought on by the tragedy. Providing stability, healing and hope, the pastor’s wife, Aimee, must come to grips with her own fear by turning to faith.
Producer Shawn Justice found consideration for the project a bit contrary to his perspective as a Christian fiction producer. Justice routinely shied away from reality-based stories, as he imagined they were “too limiting” and “could run the risk of upsetting a few people” if the screenplay strayed too far from the book.
“There were things in Aimee's book that I had to compress time-wise, but I tried to stay true to the heart of who Aimee was,” Shawn Justice conveyed to CM. “That's very different than a fictional movie where you can write pretty much what you want and no-one is going to get upset.”
Justice kept Aimee not only in the loop, but actively involved, naming her a co-producer. Quite a promotion for the fine lady, who is in her eighties.
“It's her legacy," Justice said. "It also helped that she believed in me to do this."
A Murder of Innocence isn’t the typical “feel good” Christian film that plays it safe. While everyone desires to live in the Hallmark world, true challenges strike believers.
“Jesus wasn't 'safe' in his own parables, so I guess I'm in good company,” he said. “I have to be careful in being critical, but I think as a Christian community we've put an unhealthy amount of value on feeling 'safe' and 'comforted.'"
Justice explained that there is nothing wrong with that, but when "it clouds out the realities of a real walk with Jesus," like what Albert and Aimee Anderson went through, "we don't know what to do.”
“Paul, in the New Testament, was constantly challenging Jesus’ followers in how they walked their walk and encouraging them to go deeper, to be like deep roots planted,” Justice explained. “So when the storms come we are able to stand. I see my films as doing the same.”
A Murder of Innocence presents the conflict between faith and fear. Perhaps a fear for Justice was leaving movie patrons unsatisfied with the outcome of the drama. But such is the real life story, aspects remain unresolved. Actual events don’t always conclude with a neatly tied bow.
The movie stars Frank Chiesurin and Rachel MacMillan in the roles of pastor Albert Anderson and his wife Aimee. The lead actors are also real-life husband and wife.
Chiesurin, whose career before joining the Christian entertainment industry included mainstream roles in the films Resident Evil: Apocalypse and The Prize Winner of Defiance, conveyed A Murder of Innocence was the couple’s onscreen debut together.
“This was the first project Rachel and I collaborated on,” he told CM. “Watching her work on set was a delight for me. She’s a very giving actor and is always striving to better herself in her craft and as a person.”
Chiesurin explained that what drew he and his wife to the film was that “it was a Kingdom project” presenting the opportunity to share the screen together. It didn’t hurt that they are both “fans of a good murder-mystery.”
The element of fear and faith in the motion picture didn’t frighten the actor, but it did provide insight into the meaning of both.
“Fear doesn’t come from God, but if we let Him, He will be right there with us in the middle of it,” Chiesurin said. “He’ll find a way to use it to teach us something about ourselves. We just have to be willing to listen and stop trying to carry the load on our own.”
The actor said that working on the motion picture together offered strength to their marriage.
“Portraying the love that Aimee and Albert [Anderson] shared gave us some insight into our own relationship,” he explained. “They were a strength for one another and they truly covered each other’s blind spots. It gave us something to strive to emulate.”
Frank and Rachel have a simple motto for life.
“Put God first, and focus on people, and the rest will follow,” Chiesurin said. “We came away from this project with several amazing relationships that have only grown over the last two years. God is good that way. He brings people together for a reason. Sure, in this instance, it was to honor the Andersons and help tell their story, but in the end, every person who worked on the project touched us and remains with us, in one way or another. I love that.”
Patrons will be touched by, and love the power, felt in this movie.
“If the film leaves people with a stronger sense of God working in their lives, and a better grasp of their own fears, then mission accomplished,” Chiesurin concluded.
Talented actors A Murder of Innocence include Xander Steel, Katie O’Grady, Marc Steele, Scott Galbraith, Jeremy McLaughlin, Lily Haug, Ella Cortese, Cody Leo, Ava Petruna, Brenda McGinnis, Rich Peterson, Dan Russell and others. Music by Zachary Leffew.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING FOR MICHAEL J. PATTERSON
Michael J. Patterson portrait (by Barry Morgenstein), posters of his latest movies and filming a dining scene for Timbertown. Originally published July 16, 2019.
▶ BY KEVIN SCOTT COLLIER
Michael J. Patterson announces that he has just accepted a role in a movie project that will undoubtedly be the biggest opportunity of his career. But due to signing a non-disclosure agreement, Patterson cannot reveal what it is. The only hint CM was able to shake out was that Patterson “will be doing some detective work alongside another lead."
"This would be a major SAG project being filmed in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area,” Patterson conveyed. “I've been cast as one of the leads in this Sci-Fi feature film."
Patterson told CM that he’ll be receiving the script shortly and learn more details himself, including the project’s title.
"I do remember the audition process and how many folks were in the room with me,” Patterson said. “It was kind of intimidating but I brought my best and they were impressed. Usually, when you do good at an audition in front of many people, you don't get that type of response. Yet, I did! God is good!”
Patterson received positive follow-ups from key players via telephone.
“I was at work and received a call on my way to lunch from the director and producer,” he said. “I was told how impressed they were with my audition and they also followed the films I had roles in."
He told Patterson he had landed a part in the film, but not just a bit role. It would be a lead role with “a lot” of dialogue.
“I told the director/producer that I will be more than ready,” Patterson explained. “So you can only imagine how I felt after the call!"
And it doesn’t end there on the way up….
"I landed another amazing acting opportunity from my agent, who is working directly with production on their casting, as an agent in this big budget film,” Patterson said. However, readers will have to be patient for details. “Again, I apologize for the secretive stuff, but I have to play by the (NDA) rules.”
Motion pictures recently completed and under the actor’s belt include Timbertown (Adam and Jacob Dufour), First Lady (Nina May), and the short films Salute (Anthony Hackett), Elevator Pitch (Nina May), Re-naissance (Nina May) and The Reunion (Cheryl Felicia Rhoads).
Rhoads is Patterson’s acting coach and a close friend.
“There is a lot to be so thankful for,” Patterson said. “And I'm giving Jesus Christ all the glory.”
CM suspects Jesus knows the titles and content of Patterson’s secretive film projects. But He’s not revealing anything … the secret’s safe with Him.
CHANDLER/KNUDSEN shoot MOVIE PITCH TRAILER
Jenn Gotzon Chandler and Daniel Knudsen in Michigan, July 26. Inset box: movie poster for Chandler's "The Farmer and The Belle." Originally published July 26, 2019.
▶ BY KRISTEN COLLIER
Award-winning actress, Jenn Gotzon Chandler (Frost/Nixon, My Daddy Is In Heaven), was in Michigan Friday, July 26, to film the pitch trailer for John Wayne Bosley's Angels Among Us.
Chandler told CM she was, “Having fun in Michigan, gorilla-style, capturing cinematic magic in alleyways, in a cute town with delicious espresso,” to film the trailer for “the creative John Bosley.”
“The pitch trailer shoot was tough and challenging,” Bosley told CM. “The cast and crew had to push each other to bring their best talent and skill to the set.” They shot multiple scenes in multiple locations in six different cities in Michigan over a four day span.
“The cast and crew did an extraordinary job,” Bosley said, “even though we faced weather, technical and logistical problems. At the end it became clear, through multiple situations, that God was working all things out for us to achieve what He set before us.”
What was it like working with award-winning actress?
“Jenn Gotzon Chandler and the rest of the cast surpassed my expectations,” the filmmaker said. “One of the extra tasks we had was to test out the chemistry between Jenn and the child actress, Hallie Jacobs, that we were considering for her character’s daughter. I was surprised how well the two of them hit it off, so well, in a matter of minutes. You’d think they were mother/daughter in real life.”
Bosley said their goal for the pitch trailer was to show “the epic nature of how God connects complete strangers as they encounter His angels sending His messages of hope, purpose and love.” He added they are in talks with multiple investors to produce a high quality feature film “that will have the best impact on both Christians and non-Christians.”
Accompanying the accomplished actress was fellow award-winning filmmaker and founder of Crystal Creek Media, Daniel Knudsen, serving as Director of Photography for the shoot. Knudsen, whose first major network television movie will air in December (Christmas Coupon), just returned from an immensely successful trailer launch for that film on July 2, in Chennai, India. Christmas Coupon attracted “over two million social media impressions” and “numerous media articles and interviews,” according to a post from Executive Producer, G.B. Thimotheose.
Chandler, who’s been compared to Meryl Streep due to her uncanny, chameleon-like talent to become whatever role she’s in, is currently in post-production for the first movie she is producing with her husband, Jim Chandler (Lodge 49, Stranger Things, Drop Dead Diva).
Their TV movie, The Farmer and The Belle: Saving Santaland, is based partly on her true life story as a supermodel and marriage to Jim. The project also stars Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Psych). Bernsen has been in other movies with the Chandlers and has produced several Christian movies via his Home Theater Films production company. Some of Bernsen’s Christian titles include the romantic comedies Christian Mingle (which stars popular Hallmark favorite, Lacy Chabert) and In-Lawfully Yours, as well as the dramatic thriller, Rust.
Along with veteran actor Bernsen, the Chandlers shrewdly cast beloved Dukes of Hazzard star, John Schneider, playing himself in their movie. Schneider previously co-starred with Jenn in the powerfully haunting movie, Doonby (2013).
For Jim and Jenn Chandler, this project is more than just a motion picture. It is way more than just a franchise replete with books, jewelry, apparel and other merchandise in various stages of development. This hard-working, dynamic duo of Christian film production have launched a critical movement.
The objective is to create “a pathway to true beauty [#TrueBeauty] and real love based on God’s Truth through movies, books & jewelry,” according to The Farmer and the Belle Facebook page. The movement intends to help young (and presumably not-so-young) girls overcome the pernicious lie of the devil, that personal appearance equates value, teaching self-esteem and inward beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit.
As Scripture says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (I Peter 3:3-4).
CM is keeping a very close eye on the Chandlers, and Knudsen, owner of Crystal Creek Media. We know these young people–and a handful of others like them–are the future of Christian movie production.
Knudsen’s Christmas Coupon movie is also executive produced by Tel K. Ganesan, founder off Kyyba Films, and features lead actors Courtney Mathews (Bennett’s Song, Baby Bulldog) as “Alison Grant” and and Aaron Noble (Wolf Hound, The Creative Lives) as “Ivan Hall.”
HORROR FILMMAKER BILL REBANE RESTORES CHURCH
Producer and Filmmaker Bill Rebane's mission is to restore the Estonian Evangelical Martin Luther Church, in Gleason, Wisconsin. Originally published July 12, 2019.
▶ BY KEVIN SCOTT COLLIER
I recently had the pleasure to interview horror filmmaker Bill Rebane for a book that I published in June. But there’s more to Rebane than just ended up on celluloid during his 60 years as a producer. A tale of faith, his Lutheran roots, and restoration.
Rebane has amassed a “cult” following, for lack of a better word, for his b-movie classics Monster A - Go Go, Invasion From Inner Earth, The Capture of Bigfoot and especially The Giant Spider Invasion.
William “Bill” Rebane entered this world on February 8, 1937. His early years were, at times, like a real-life horror story.
“I was born in Latvia, and spent most of my young life traveling in a horse-drawn wagon near Russia,” Rebane conveyed.
Rebane was raised in a Christian family by his Estonian father, and Latvian mother. They were ardent worshipers and members of the Lutheran Church. Faith has remained a significant part of Rebane’s life.
“It is of considerable importance,” he said. “It got me through the hard times, very much so. My parents, my grandparents, were all very faith oriented. And without that, I don’t think we would have made it through the rough times in World War II.”
Aside from Heaven, Rebane experienced Hell at an early age.
“I moved to, and lived in, Germany the end of 1944, and went through the battle of Berlin,” he recalled. “It was near the end of the war. Hamburg, Germany was in flames.”
The notion that the filmmaker harbors affection for the horror genre cannot be further from the truth.
“There was once an article [about me] that reported on the horror movie producer who didn’t like horror. And, it’s true,” Rebane explained. “I’ve seen enough horror when I was a kid. It was a nightmare, and still haunts me.”
Rebane’s initial intentions were more lighthearted and melodic.
“Actually, I wanted to make musicals and comedies instead of sci-fi and monster movies,” he said.
True. Rebane began his involvement in entertainment first doing a little live stage acting, singing and tap dancing. Some of those efforts found inclusion in Chicago commercial television.
Rebane attended school in Germany from 1945 until 1952, when he first journeyed to the United States of America.
“I didn’t speak English fluently at the time,” he conveyed. “I was the key person to take over the Germania Broadcast, the biggest German broadcast in America. I was flying back and forth to Germany for family reasons and I was introduced to some film people there, and I got hooked up with a film producer, basically as an apprentice.”
It was Rebane’s love of American cinema that most helped him learn English.
“That was the key to me learning the language,” he said.
His love for American cinema also compelled him to become an independent filmmaker. He’s still making movies today, his latest being the documentary Silver Street: The Lotta Morgan Story.
A longtime resident of the state of Wisconsin, Rebane ran for the office of governor in 1979, and 2002, as the American Reform candidate. Making his home and office in Saxon, Wisconsin, Rebane’s current thriller is the restoration of the more-than-century-old Estonian Evangelical Martin Luther Church in nearby Gleason. His ancestors left a footprint here long before Bill Rebane stepped onto American soil.
In 1907 Reverend Hans Rebane participated in the establishment of the first Estonian Evangelical Church in America.
“He was the first pastor that initiated the building of the church,” Rebane said. “He was my great-uncle.”
The church was a weathered shell when Rebane stepped in with the notion to return it to its once heralded glory. He continues in an ongoing effort to restore the historic landmark, the Estonian Evangelical Martin Luther Church, located in Gleason, Wisconsin.
“It’s a little slow, we put a new foundation under the building and we’re waiting to get enough donations to redo the roof, replace the shingles," Rebane explained. “My Estonian friends, volunteers in Chicago, some of which don’t speak English very well, when they started working on the church they were very enthusiastic, wonderful people."
Rebane said that initial work on the church slanted it to an Estonian “club” mentality that shunned and offended the neighboring community. He desires the church to be open for all people, no matter ethnicity or denomination.
“I’ve been working to undo that the last couple of years,” Rebane said. “We’ve had 1,500 visitors from spring to summer there. It is an important, historical site.”
Bill Rebane continues his efforts to raise funds to complete the project. Those interested in lending a hand or donating financial support can call 715-893-2254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.