MEMORIAL DAY: Flag film comes to TV
MONROE, La. (BP)--On the heels of its top prize win at the GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C., "Flag of My Father" will air on Memorial Day, May 30, on the Legacy Television Network.
The TV debut of the faith-based film produced by R-Squared Productions in Louisiana -- which touts the values of family, country and moral character -- also follows its national/international release through Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The DVD is on sale at LifeWay Christian Stores and online at r2films.net.
Flag of My Father was honored as the Best Narrative Film of 2011 at the GI Film Festival on May 18. One of the film's stars, Hollywood actor William Devane, was presented the Choice Award earlier during the weeklong festival for his portrayal of Vietnam veteran Jake in the feature-length film.
"To go and actually win was indescribable," said writer/director Rodney Ray, a member at First Baptist Church of West Monroe, La., and owner of R-Squared Productions, who hadn't known what to expect in the 31-film competition.
"For a totally secular audience to love this film was totally awesome," Ray said with a wide grin.
The making of Flag of My Father, as well as a developing faith-based film industry in northern Louisiana and the connection with the growing Legacy Television Network -- all with a strong Southern Baptist component -- are more signs of an expanding film media outreach to a lost and dying world.
"Our main goal is to make movies that change lives," Ray said. "That's what we want to do, and sometimes, to give a job to a guy, too."
Jim West, a Baptist layman in New Port Richey, Fla., is president of Legacy Television Network, which airs on about 190 low-power broadcast stations across the nation, reaching about 37 million homes. Low-power stations typically are accessed with over-the-air antennas; many LP stations, however, have obtained cable carriage in their markets, and some have acquired retransmission rights to have their station carried on DirecTV and DISH Network in their markets, West explained.
"Legacy TV is a new national television network designed to fill a void in American television," said West, an adult Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in New Port Richey. "Legacy TV has a wide range of family and faith programming for the large percentage of American families who support traditional values, believe in absolute truths and who desire freedom to live their lives under Judeo-Christian principles."
Flag of My Father's TV premiere is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern on Memorial Day on Legacy TV. Two hours earlier, Legacy TV will present R-Squared Production's documentary "We Call Them Heroes," about 20 Vietnam veterans' experiences from the time of their enlistment to the present.
"Legacy contacted us," Ray said. "Being a Christian broadcasting network they have a lot of interest in our work."
Jerry Price, director of missions for Northeast Louisiana Baptist Association, said he is impressed with the excellence of the Flag of My Father script and the quality of the production.
"The storyline is real, the special effects are incredible and the acting is intriguing," Price said after the April 2010 premiere at First Baptist Church in West Monroe. "The message of the film centers on the values of sacrifice, commitment and honor."
Flag of My Father is the story of Judith, a former Army nurse played by Gigi Erneta of "Friday Night Lights" fame who has a special bond with her Vietnam veteran dad played by Devane. Her four stepbrothers, including Daniel, played by John Schneider of "Dukes of Hazzard" fame, are jealous, not knowing the roots of that bond stem from Judith's own post-traumatic stress syndrome.
"Vietnam veterans paid a price that will never be paid again, and that price is that they were vilified upon their return home," Ray said. "We learned as a country not to blame war on our military personnel.... They're just serving their country and doing what they're called to do."
While particularly meaningful to those who lived through the Vietnam era -- and to the families of those who didn't live through it -- We Call Them Heroes is not directly a faith-based film, Ray said. "Coming home was hard for them [Vietnam veterans] because they weren't welcomed," he said. "This film is very healing for them."
In addition to the two films, Legacy TV will fill its 7-11 p.m. Memorial Day block with behind-the-scenes footage drawn from the different styles of filmmaking.
"We're very pleased to be partnered with R-Squared Productions to honor our veterans around the world," West said. "I just feel it's my calling to use the power of the television medium to proclaim the Good News to Christians and non-Christians.
"It's a way to get people engaged in the Christian worldview," he said. "We also want to remind our viewers of the principles on which our nation was founded."
Legacy TV receives programming from about 100 sources and packages it for stations that don't have the time or resources to do it on a daily basis, West explained. "A lot of our prime-time programs look at the nation's foundation -- where we came from and the values of our forefathers -- and we also examine current events through the lens of the Christian worldview.
"Saturdays we do outdoor programming," he added. "We hope by all means to win some."
For Ray, R-Squared Productions' next film veers into a new direction: teen suicide.
"It's about giving young people hope," Ray said. "We are all wonderfully and fearfully made, and we have value. Satan may whisper in our ear that we don't have value, but that's a lie....
"We also want to encourage parents to understand the power of the spoken word," Ray continued. "We're all guilty as parents of not encouraging our kids. As the body of Christ we are commanded to build each other up, and Satan likes to tear us down. It's a dark thing, suicide is; there's so much guilt that goes with it."
Shooting is to take place in June and July in the Monroe/West Monroe area with mostly local talent. "We're trying to encourage the movie-making industry in our community," Ray said. "One way to do that is to create a workforce."
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. For more information about R-Squared Productions, visit www.r2films.net or call 318-323-6900. For more information about Legacy Television Network, visit www.legacytv.com or call 727-375-2500.