Film Producers Choose the Gulf Coast Because of Its Many Parallels to Southern California, Including Its Beaches, to Film Jesus Revolution
Mobile and Baldwin Counties have recently hosted a number of motion picture projects, and there are many reasons for this. One reason is that the State of Alabama provides tax incentives to the production companies who bring their crews here. There are certainly other reasons, among them costs in general – costs of labor and lodging, for example.
Stephen Savage, a local professional photographer, filmmaker, and location scout, has observed that the Gulf Coast region provides many visual parallels to California – the beaches, for example – and can stand in for west coast sites very easily. “The movie people are comfortable here, and they keep coming back for that reason,” he says. “Right now, there is a faith-based film, Jesus Revolution, being filmed in the area. The production company is Kingdom Story Company, in partnership with the studio Lionsgate. It is set in the 1970s and has some big names in the cast.” Kingdom Story Company is an entertainment content company run by Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin, Kevin Downes, and Tony Young that endeavors to bring wholesome, hope-filled content to audiences around the globe. Lionsgate is a publicly-traded company whose world-class motion picture and television studio operations bring a varied portfolio of entertainment to consumers around the world.
Monique Sondag, an entertainment marketing executive with Nashville-based Troops & Allies, a company that focuses on the film and entertainment industry, said in a press release in February that Jesus Revolution is “based on a true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origin within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California.” The hero is modeled on Greg Laurie, a minister who grew from an idealistic youth and went on to start Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest churches in America.
Joel Courtney has been cast as Laurie and is joined by Kelsey Grammer as Chuck Smith, the real-life pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa CA, who opened his church to a generation of hippies and seekers, launching a great spiritual revival. “Grammer has a proven ability to connect with audiences in a real, vulnerable way, which will make him a tremendous presence in this film,” says John Erwin of Lionsgate, who co-wrote the script and is directing the production. Others in the cast include Anna Grace Barlow, Jonathan Roumie, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Ally Ioannides, Julia Campbell, Nic Bishop and Jolie Jenkins.
When filming on Jesus Revolution or any other film is taking place in the area, locals are in evidence – watching, trying to spot stars, taking in the sense of excitement. They are also participating in any number of ways, as extras, providing services such as catering, and even seeing their own homes being filmed. The “movie people,” whether the ones in front of the cameras, or the many more behind the scenes, bring excitement and glamor to the area, indeed, but they also bring jobs, publicity, and untold economic benefits to the Gulf Coast.