Producer Alex Carroll learned a lesson while promoting his 2011 documentary Beware of Christians across the country. Young Americans see through agenda-driven media.
“They don’t like it and don’t respond well to it,” says Carroll, whose new film Believe Me promises to offer a more nuanced story. “They really were receptive to being authentic and honest.”
The satirical comedy Believe Me, in theaters and On Demand Sept. 26, follows a broke college student (Alex Russell) who learns he can pay his bills by pretending to be a faith-based speaker.
Believe Me isn’t an anti-faith diatribe, the kind Hollywood routinely produces. Instead, it explores spirituality, young Americans and a culture which gives credence to people lucky enough to have a microphone in front of them. The impetus for the film came from his own experiences touring the country with microphone in hand.
“When we got up on stage and had a microphone people listened to what we said, it impacted them,” he says. “We were 20 years old. We didn’t know what were talking about.”
Carroll doesn’t mind poking fun at his fellow Christians, but he stops at calling Believe Me a “Christian” film.
“Christianity is the backdrop of the story … we just wanted to tell a really funny, good story … not be message driven,” he says. Religious satire from the pews suits Carroll, and his team is virtually alone in this micro-genre.
“Yeah, we feel excited to be the first ones to attempt it … and get a major actors behind it,” he says.
Corralling actors for the project proved difficult. Some agents seem to steer their clients clear of projects with a faith-based component, he says. Plus, he and his creative team don’t have the name recognition yet to open sizable doors.
“The script sold it to the actors,” he says.
Carroll points to co-star Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame, an atheist, as someone drawn to the project for reasons other than faith. The eclectic cast, including Christian rapper Lecrae, made for a lively and respectful shoot.
“It led to a lot of great dialogues … everyone was accepting of each other’s ideas and what they believe,” he says. “We were all just in it to make good art … i believe certain things about God and the Bible … all the other actor believe different things.”
Producers want to reach as wide of an audience as possible, but Carroll sounds genuine when he says Believe Me isn’t an exercise in choir preaching.
“We want to let someone watch a movie and come to their own conclusions while also having a message that’s applicable to our faith,” he says. “No one wants to be told what to do. They want to make their own decisions.”
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