Vengeance to forgiveness
Faith-based film makers from A&M announce long-awaited release
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 23:09
Three years ago, the work seemed almost over for Aggie filmmaker Joshua Mills, but he will finally see his first feature film, “Brother’s Keeper,” hit the big screen in November.
The movie, set in Georgia during 1957, is inspired by Christian values and depicts a story of revenge and forgiveness. Mills, Class of 1998, said the process has been full of challenges and changes.
He said one of the more obvious alterations might be the title change of the film from “Fishers of Men” to “Brother’s Keeper.”
“The way it was first put together was with the brothers as fishermen,” Mills said. “There were some similarities in the New Testament in the book of Matthew, for people who know who Peter and Andrew are, since this is a faith-based film. However, we began to realize that it didn’t quite match what the story was doing. Over time, ‘Brother’s Keeper’ thematically fit the story much better.”
While Mills calls his movie a faith-based film, he said he doesn’t want the movie to be branded with others in the genre.
“Faith-based content, over time, has unfortunately adopted a negative stereotype,” Mills said. “Bad acting, bad editing, bad directing and bad story lines are distracting to an audience. They collapse the fourth wall and bring the audience back into reality. The audience is no longer engaged as an emotional participant.”
Mills said his team was not content to allow this to be a possibility.
“We wanted to raise the bar on faith-based films,” Mills said. “We wanted the audience to realize that as soon as they sat down. We wanted to tell a story, a beautiful story that would resonate with the audience.”
Alex Miller plays the movie’s lead, Pete Goodwyn. “Brother’s Keeper” was his first feature-length film to star in, and he said he regarded the experience as a personal milestone.
“I don’t want to sound cliché, but it really did grow me as an individual,” Alex said. “Something very cool about being my character is that he’s a generally good and truly compassionate person. He’s very admirable. He has horrible things happen to him and the way he deals with it all is very noble.”
“Brother’s Keeper” was filmed in Bainbridge, Ga., a town heavily influenced by the Flint River that flows on the western side of the town.
“Bainbridge is no longer really a barge town,” Mills said. “It’s more focused on agriculture and crops now, but as we walked around the town, we began to realize that it hasn’t changed since 1955. From the filmmaker’s standpoint it was fantastic, because we didn’t have to do any set-dressing.”
Alex said being in Bainbridge felt like stepping back in time. Fellow actor and stuntman, Andrew Miller, said he was similarly affected by the experience.
“The film is definitely a period piece, from the classic cars to the wardrobe, to just the way people behave,” Andrew said. “When you take it back that many years, there are definitely significant differences in behaviors, even in the way men and women treat each other, and of course the racial aspect. There’s a lot to take in if you want to represent that time period correctly.”
Andrew said to acquaint himself with the culture he would spend time at the local Wal-Mart to hear the accents.
Actors can sometimes spend weeks or even months living and breathing a film, but when filming wrapped, Mills and the rest of the crew were the ones to put on the finishing touches.
“We edited, and we edited, and we edited and it’s almost like Tetris,” he said, laughing. “The film was originally 2:25, and we got it down to 1:55. It’s really difficult to cut half an hour out of your film, because you’re personally attached — you don’t want to lose that,”
The process was an uphill battle, Mills said, but the final product was worth it.
“Honestly, it’s been a long road,” Mills said. “We’ve had to persevere through many kinds of obstacles, but it’s truly the beginning for us. This is our baby, our flagship project. If it wasn’t a labor of love, I would’ve given up forever ago. But I knew there was so much more that the film could offer, so I held on and gave it time.”
“Brother’s Keeper” will hit select theaters Nov. 1.