Saturday, June 9, 2012

The First Movie Project Supported by a Catholic Parish: A Conversation with "Five Blocks Away" Director Kevis Antonio

News is traveling fast about the production of the first full-length motion picture originating from a Catholic parish. St. Catherine of Siena has enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to help bring this picture to the big screen. The film project — with the working title "Five Blocks Away" — is spearheaded by veteran filmmaker Kevis Antonio, founder of Rising Faith Productions. Recently I interviewed Kevis regarding his faith, his passion for creating films, and the opportunity to bring both worlds together.

Have you always been Catholic? I’m a cradle Catholic. With that being said I’ve never taken my faith for granted and I always look for the opportunity to learn more about my faith and to make it part of my daily life.

The movie - Five Blocks Away - is this your first film project? This will be my first feature film project. Having made documentaries in the past, I really look forward to making a narrative film and deliver a message in a medium that grabs so many people’s attention.

How did this film idea come about? Last summer I went to see a pre-screening of one the highly anticipated Christian films, Courageous, and I was thinking to myself - wouldn’t be great if we as Catholics, and to be more specific, as a Catholic church or parish, if we produce a motion picture ourselves? This is one of those projects that gets an entire parish on fire and provides an amazing opportunity to evangelize beyond our own brick and mortar walls. As a Catholic, I saw a huge opportunity to fill a gap in our own faith and rise up to the challenge in making the first motion picture originating from a Catholic parish. I felt the need to really address the young adult audience, as they have not been talked to directly in previous Christian films. The opportunity is here now and I chose to make a difference in our society.

Tell us a little about the movie. To give you a quick synopsis, ‘Five Blocks Away’ is a story about a young man, Anthony Seton, who devotes all his energy to the success of a marketing business he runs with his three friends. He's fully invested in achieving a high salary, partying, and living the good life when his familiar, solid ground begins to crumble. New relationships, faith, lies, family turmoil and illegal events turn everything upside down and put him on a quest to find what really matters in life.
How did you decide on the title? Is the title of the movie set? The title is reflective of how close we really are in life to becoming better versions of ourselves and truly using our God given talent for His greater glory.

How did St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church get involved in a film project?
Let me first say that St. Catherine is an AMAZING parish. It is also one of the fastest growing parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We really have a great leader and shepherd with Fr. John. Early this year I connected with Fr. John, pastor at St. Catherine of Siena, and the whole concept just clicked from the start. We brought it forth to the Archdiocese, gained their support, and now here we are…launching this amazing film project.
Fr. John has been on fire about this initiative from day one. Check him out on our short pitch video on our website! Bold projects, such as Five Blocks Away, allows for the entire parish to become involved at so many different levels ...from prayer support, fundraising, marketing, and acting in the film ...just to name a few. It is truly wonderful to see our pastor so excited about this endeavor. I remember Father John telling me early this year about St. Catherine’s and how they are always on the look for projects like this. From the start, God has been guiding the path for this project. We are all instruments in His master plan.

It seems that this kind of endeavor would draw attention nationally if not internationally. This film project is a national effort and we need to rise up as Catholics as support it as such. This is the opportunity to bring the light back to our church in a positive way - in a society that looks to show a negative view of our faith. I hope that everyone gets involved in spreading the word about this film project and to really pray for the church and team that is trying to bring this project to life.

What is the audience you are trying to reach out to? We are really trying to target the young adult audience. When it comes to Christian films, most of the topics are directed at adults and so there is a big need to reach out to college age students, recent grads, and those early in their work careers. It really is something that has not been done before. It gives us the opportunity to lead the way in helping shape and form our future leaders. At the end of the day, we are hoping that this film will touch everyone. We are hoping that people walk away with a sense of purpose in life. That by watching this film they have the opportunity to truly examine themselves and discover a greater purpose to their day to day callings in life; to give them an opportunity to use their God given talents and offer them for the greater glory of God.

What do you hope to accomplish through making this film? To entertain audiences with film that will deliver a powerful message of hope and purpose in this life. One of our bigger goals is to appeal to the secular audience in such a way that brings them to re-examine their lives and want to better themselves.

We have seen many Christian based films come out lately. October Baby received rave reviews along with The Way and Courageous. How is this movie going to stack up with these releases? Well, we as Catholics need to step up to the plate and deliver something special here. If we are going to make grounds for ourselves in this business, the business of evangelizing beyond our own brick and mortar walls, now is a great time to step up to the plate. We have the opportunity to do what has not been done before by making a motion picture that originates from a Catholic Parish. We truly feel that God will bless this project - and those to come afterwards - that we may quickly gain the same recognition as those movies that you just mentioned. We are all in this together and we need to take this opportunity to challenge each other and produce content that will start turning Hollywood heads and make them think twice about passing on the opportunity to distribute our films… the films which have a real message to society and real message of Hope and Love.

How would someone go about auditioning for this film? We need people to ‘like’ us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FiveBlocksAwayMovie) and follow us on Twitter (@FiveBlocksAway) to stay up to date with details on when auditions will take place, where they will be held, how they can volunteer for the film, and other important news. Facebook and Twitter are two places to stay connected and to find out more information.

When are you set to film? We are tentatively set to start production mid September. The film takes place in Atlanta - we plan to film in various places around the metro area.

What type of funding are you needing to make this film a reality? Our goal budget is $550,000 so we can produce a professional quality film with a professional film crew.

How does someone go about donating to the cause? We are urging the community to support the project by:
1) Making monetary donations at fiveblocksawaymovie.com (we offer perks that coincide with different donation levels) But hurry, we plan to raise our budget by the end of July.
2) Signing up to volunteer (whether it be marketing or acting), and
3) "Liking" and connecting with us via social media
Thank you Kevis for your time. This is certainly history in the making! I encourage everyone to check out Kevis Antonio's website ...and to spread the word about this incredible opportunity! Don't forget to check out Five Blocks Away on Pintrest as well.

1 comment:

Heather said...

So grateful to hear about this - very excited! Thank you, Kevis, for taking this on. May God bless this project from start to finish; and may it positively effect all those involved and all those who see it.