Why do you believe what you believe? If a person stands on a podium in fine suits and a microphone, is what he or she says automatically factual? What power do they really possess? Society is less likely to research facts and takes people at their word. It begs the question. Have we lost our ability to think for ourselves?
Riot Studios will release a parody on religious scandals in “Believe Me” due in theaters next year that will surely ruffle religious feathers. But, Riot doesn’t mind controversy. They already challenged movie goers with the documentary “One Nation Under God” in 2009 that encourages believers to ask questions pertaining to faith.
Director Will Bakke and Co-Producer/Writer Michael Allen base the script on four college students who realize that people will follow anyone with a platform. When unscrupulous college senior Sam Atwell runs out of money to pay his tuition bill, threatening his law school career—a bogus charity is born. Played by Australian actor Alex Russell (Carrie)–Sam moves the masses with charming charismatic messages, a ministry tour, and fraud.
“It holds up a mirror for viewers to see themselves and their assumptions from a new perspective,” says Allen who is a fan of using comedy to provoke discussions.
Some cast members echo Allen’s and Bakke’s belief that the subject matter will spark debates among Christian circles.
“It will ruffle some feathers, but I hope people are gracious, especially Christians,” says hip hop artist Lecrae (Darnell Malmquist). “If Christians are to be pictures of grace then I would hope they would be gracious towards a lot of things that are happening and what’s trying to be done here and show support.”
If you can’t ask questions of your youth and church leaders, you are going to go somewhere else says “CSI: Miami and Criminal Minds” and “Paranormal Activity 3” actress Johanna Braddy.
Braddy plays Callie Edwards, Sam’s love interest.
“I feel that today that kid’s are being introduced to so many different cultures at such a young age with social media,” she says during a 20-day production schedule in Austin, TX. “For me, I know being raised in the church if you had any questions or views going against the church and what you are being told, you didn’t feel comfortable talking about it at all. I think this movie is a great opportunity to start conversations [and] that they’re healthy to have.”
Glee’s Max Adler is Baker Johnson, playing one of the college imposters invading the church world with a fictional charity selling merchandise, and building a rapid fan base. There seems to be parallels between reality television stars and the story.
“This film is very timely because we live in a culture of instant fame where people from reality shows or E [have] blown up real quick, becoming famous and earning a lot of money real quick without having to earn it,” says Adler. “And it takes away from the people who busted their butts for a lifetime to get where they’re at.”
Humor doesn’t hurt, according to Alex Russell.
Russell was watching television with his dad in Queensland when he started laughing while thumbing through the script. When everything comes full circle, including the arc that Sam goes through—“The Chronicle” star was hooked.
“Everything is authentic. The conflict with the characters and the inner conflict with the characters [are] really raw and strong.”
Zachary Knighton (Gabriel), Sinqua Walls (Tyler Kelly) Miles Fisher (Pierce Klovens), and Christopher McDonald (Ken Hopkins) complete the cast.
“Believe Me” is slated for 2014 release.