Hurray for ‘Holywood’: Central Florida gives birth to Christian film industry
Churches with ‘Fireproof’ dreams and state incentive money may make Florida the home of faith-based films
which reminds me of another potential center for Christian film: Manistee, Michigan…
Besides Stephen Baldwin and Kirk Cameron, my favorite two Christian film personalities are actor/writer/director/producer David A.R. White and actor/writer/producer/director Kevin Downes… They’re responsible for a whole slew of movies, sometimes writing/directing/acting together…
Kevin Downes is a California native. He grew up in Visalia, just 3 hours north of Los Angeles where most of the Christian films he and his friends and co-workers have made were shot. Before writing and producing The Moment After, Kevin worked with David White on The Crossing and The End of the Harvest. He produced the award-winning Warner Bros. short film/music video for Clay Walker, Chain of Love. He also produced Mercy Streets – released in theaters nationwide in 2000, and executive-produced Lay It Down. He produced the theatrically released Time Changer for Trinity Broadcasting Network and was writer/producer/director on Six: The Mark Unleashed.
Kevin lives in Visalia, California with his wife Catherine and dog Darby.
David A.R. White:
David White comes from a small town outside of Dodge City, Kansas. He moved to L.A. when he was 19 to pursue his acting career. His first professional job was the line, “Hi, may I take your order?” in a McDonalds commercial. Six months after moving to L.A., David landed a recurring role, playing the best friend of Burt Reynolds son on the hit CBS series “Evening Shade” for three years. David then went on to guest appearances on such shows as: Coach, Saved by the Bell, Sisters, Melrose Place and many others. In February 1999, David helped create, produce, and play the lead in the feature length film, “The Moment After”. In 2000, David produced and played the lead dual roles in “Mercy Streets”. In 2004 he produced and acted in “SIX: The Mark Unleashed” and the 20th Century Fox film “The Visitation”. In 2005 David produced and played the lead roles in “Hidden Secrets” and “The Moment After 2…the Awakening”. In 2007, David produced “The Wager” and also wrote, produced, directed and starred in “Holyman Undercover”, which was based on his one man comedy show.
The initals stand for Andrew Roy.
Upcoming films worked on by Kevin & David:
To the Wall… aka: Faith of our Fathers
acting by Kevin Downes and David A.R. White
acting by Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure, Rebecca St. James
producing, directing, writing, and acting by David A.R. White
acting by Clint Howard, Fred Willard, Edie McClurg, John Schneider, Staci Keanan, Jennifer Lyons
producing, acting by David A.R. White
acting by Jeff Fahey, Victoria Jackson, Reginald VelJohnson
There are three final movies from David A.R. White which bring us back to Manistee, Michigan because they were all filmed there for David’s production/distribution company called Pure Flix Entertainment…
acting by David A.R. White
acting by Randy Travis, Lee Majors, Jaci Velasquez, Stacy Keach
Here are a few articles about Manistee and these final three movies:
Country Music Superstar Films in Downtown Manistee, Michigan
You never know who you’re going to run into these days in Manistee, Michigan. The sleepy little town is quickly becoming a Mecca in the Michigan movie industry, drawing big-name stars to work on big-screen pictures.
Talented stars including Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules”), Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man”), and Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) have been spotted locally as they pass through town to work on various films.
Filming for the upcoming Pureflix Entertainment movie Jerusalem Countdown continued Thursday in downtown Manistee, with crews shooting scenes involving country music super star Randy Travis. The scenes were shot in a large, empty downtown storefront.
The film is based on a book by the same name, written by John Hagee. The movie version features a plot full of romance and a lot of action. It is the fourth movie to be filmed in Manistee.
A scene was shot earlier this week in a downtown Manistee coffee shop with actors Carey Scott and Jaci Velasquez. Scott has played roles in many television shows and has also written and directed two feature films, Hidden Secrets (2006) and To the Wall (2009); Velasquez is best known for her success as a singer, having garnered honors including two Latin Grammy nominations, three Grammy nominations, five Latin Billboard Award nominations, and Latin Billboard’s Female Pop Album of the Year.
The film is the most recent to be shot in the Manistee area since local production company 10 West Studios opened their doors this summer. 10 West Studios, capitalizing on Michigan’s film industry tax credits, has brought dozens of job opportunities to the local area through a partnership with West Shore Community College. Local residents who took film industry training courses are now employed by the movie studio, performing in such capacities as lighting and sound technicians and other behind-the-scenes jobs.
Manistee residents have also been cast as extras in all of the films, and a few lucky locals have even been cast as actual characters for at least one of the films….
MANISTEE, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) — Never mind the multimillion-dollar plans to build soundstages in Pontiac and Allen Park. The first new production studio created because of Michigan’s film tax credits launched earlier this year in the picturesque vacation spot of Manistee along the shores of Lake Michigan.
10 West Studios is geared for small-budget films that cost $15 million or less to make. The brains behind it, Harold Cronk and Matthew Tailford, had left Michigan several years ago to pursue careers in the movie industry in Los Angeles. But the two friends always wanted to return to the state they love and seized the opportunity to take their filmmaking skills to Michigan when the tax credits went into effect.
So far this year, 10 West has attracted three movies, all faith-based productions that might otherwise have gone to New Mexico or other states. Cronk and Tailford also are planning to start producing their own films in the area.
“We know what the independent filmmaker needs and wants,” Tailford said. “We’re quickly building a reputation as people who can get stuff done.”
Besides jobs for local residents, the moviemaking has helped boost business for hotels, a caterer and other businesses in tourist-dependent Manistee. West Shore Community College in nearby Scottville even offered a training course in film production.
“I’ve been very impressed with what they have been able to do here,” said Michael Scott, a Los Angeles-based managing partner at Pure Flix Entertainment who was in Manistee last month on the set of one of his company’s films. “It’s been a great experience overall.”
Studio tangible proof of tax credits at work
When it comes to making movies in Michigan, the summer tourist haven of Manistee doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But for Harold Cronk and Matthew Tailford, it’s proving to be the perfect place to create their version of Hollywood North.
In the summer of 2008, the two friends toured western Michigan, looking for the right locale to set up a new movie production company and studio. When they got to Manistee, they immediately recognized the potential: beaches and sand dunes, farm country, million-dollar homes and a Victorian-era downtown that could easily pass for a studio back lot.
Along Manistee Lake, they discovered a marina with several buildings large enough to transform into seven soundstages. Nearby, an old ironworks factory could be converted into preproduction offices for producers and others.
From this vision, 10 West Studios was born. Though much more ambitious production studios are being planned in Pontiac and Allen Park, 10 West is the first tangible evidence that Michigan’s 18-month-old film tax credits — the most generous in the nation — are doing more than just bringing movie stars to the state.
Keeping it small-scale
With so many independent movies being made, Cronk and Tailford are leveraging their film industry experience, network of business contacts and ingenuity to entice low-budget productions to Manistee. To make this plan work, they need to offer an affordable, hassle-free and enjoyable experience.
That means keeping costs low, being efficient and working closely with the community. The two friends, who met as elementary art teachers in Reed City, have invested close to $3 million in the studio, using their own savings and money from private investors in Michigan. So far, they have hired five full-time employees. […]
10 West faced its first big test in July, when filming started on the Christian family drama “What If …” starring Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, Debby Ryan and others. In addition to bringing in equipment from Detroit, Tailford and Cronk spent months lining up vendors in Manistee to meet the film crew’s needs. Particularly important: finding a good caterer who could handle a variety of food requests, often with little advance notice.
The duo also partnered with West Shore Community College in Scottville to set up a movie production training course for 30 students. For 10 West to thrive, it needs skilled local film crews, which keeps costs low for filmmakers.
These and other kinds of efforts are paying off. Just ask Michael Scott, a managing partner at Pure Flix Entertainment, which is making its third faith-based film in Manistee, thanks to 10 West.
To make the first movie, Scott flew in 30 people from Los Angeles, mistakenly thinking that Manistee lacked any film crews. For the second movie, most of these people stayed home.
Pure Flix could have gone to New Mexico, Arizona or Thailand to make these movies, but “it was cheaper to come here and shoot,” Scott said.
10 West is willing to do non-Christian films but hasn’t attracted any yet. Two faith-based movies are scheduled for production early next year.
Both Tailford and Cronk say that without Michigan’s film tax credits, opening a studio in Manistee would have been difficult. They, like everyone else in the industry, are hoping that the state doesn’t water down or eliminate the incentives.
“We are just trying to prove to the state that this is a viable business,” Tailford said.
…After setting up the Manistee support base, Matt and Harold hustled to bring in their first feature film. Convincing investors that Michigan was not too risky, was a challenge according to Matt Tailford. “We had to fly out the director and the producer, and convince them we’d see them through from the initial meeting with the film office, through the application process, getting it done and getting the rebate.” The end result was a contract with Pure Flix to begin producing What If in the summer of 2009.
Cronk said, “Pure Flix liked what they were getting for their dollar. They liked the services, locations and facilities that we could provide, making their lower budget films look like much, much more.” Consequently after What If, Pure Flix brought two more films to Manistee, John the Revelator and Jerusalem Countdown.
David A.R. White lead actor in Jerusalem Countdown and cofounding partner of Pure Flix explained, “Last year we made 5 films, 3 in Michigan, and we are having a good time with it. The community really supports us and we have had a great time shooting, amazing production value and great locations. It’s been all the way around terrific.”
Michael Scott partner and producer with Pure Flix gave a synopsis of Jerusalem Countdown. “It’s an action, adventure, political thriller. Two FBI agents learn about a plot where someone is trying to bring seven nuclear bombs in to destroy the USA, and we are using Manistee Michigan to double for Baltimore, Chicago, and Virginia. It’s a race against the clock to stop these bombs from coming in. “
White, Scott and Pure Flix are hoping to return in 2010 to do more films with 10 West. Scott explained, “Right now we are going to wait and see how the rebate process goes, now that we are finishing up. Make sure it all works and everything happens. There’s a lot of chatter about the incentives. Is it going to go away? Is it going to change? That makes everybody nervous.”
“It’s still hard for investors to be confident in their investment here in Michigan because of the uncertainty,” added 10 West’s Matt Tailford, who also plays a lead role in Jerusalem Countown. “I’m so glad that people like Drew Barrymore are coming here and making movies, but the risk for them is less. If they get the rebate, that’s great, but it’s not going to bury them if they don’t. The films that we are attracting just don’t have the overhead to keep out there for a long period of time. They are borrowing money to make their film, or the money has been given to them or entrusted to them and they want to be diligent and careful, so coming to Michigan seems like a scary proposition.”
10 West and Pure Flix have spent more than $1 Million and brought a host of big names around Manistee during their first three features. Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, John Ratzenberger, Debby Ryan, Lee Majors, Musettal Vander, Randy Travis, Jaci Velasquez, Nick Jameson and Carey Scott have all worked in Manistee during the past year. “It’s been exciting and a good thing for the town,” said Matt….
Downes Brothers Entertainment… Kevin’s production company
get the latest news from David at his Myspace blog
article about Jerusalem Countdown:
Muskegon County Airport serves as set for action movie
and finally: some trailers and clips from a few of my favorite Pure Flix movies and/or David/Kevin movies:
trailer for Pure Flix movie “Hidden Secrets”
starring: John Schneider, David A.R. White, Staci Keanan, Corin Nemic, Reginald VelJohnson
trailer for pro-life Pure Flix movie “Sarah’s Choice”
starring: Rebecca St. James, Dick Van Patten, and Charlene Tilton
trailer for “Six: The Mark Unleashed”
directed by Kevin Downes
written by Kevin Downes, David A.R. White
produced by David A.R. White, Kevin Downes, amongst many others
starring: Stephen Baldwin, David A.R. White, Kevin Downes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eric Roberts
the final 10 minutes from “End of the Harvest” featuring a monologue by David A.R. White which includes some talk of Bible prophecy and a Gospel message… you can also see Kevin Downes in the background…