New film "SOUTHERN GOSPEL" is coming to theaters nationwide beginning March 10, 2023. Starring Max Ehrich ("The Young and the Restless," "Under the Dome"), Katelyn Nacon ("The Walking Dead," LINOLEUM), J. Alphonse Nicholson ("P-Valley," JUST MERCY, "Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker") and Emma Myers ("Wednesday," GIRL IN THE BASEMENT), SOUTHERN GOSPEL will inspire and encourage audiences across the country to never surrender their dreams.
SOUTHERN GOSPEL is the story of a man overcoming brokenness and never surrendering the dream on his journey to find the gospel... Southern Gospel. Samuel Allen, a 1960's rockstar, finds himself in jail after struggling with years of anger and blame toward organized religion that has led him down a road of rebellion. In a moment of divine intervention, the judge dismisses drug charges against him under the pretense that Samuel speaks to local schools and churches about the dangers of drugs. Given a second chance, he follows in his father's footsteps to become a preacher, overcoming the influence of a powerful church leader with a personal vendetta against his family.
We are honored to be able to catch up with the film's director Jeffrey A. Smith for this exclusive interview.
Q: Jeffrey, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with your latest movie SOUTHERN GOSPEL, can you briefly tell us what this film is about?
Southern Gospel is a journey of becoming. There are over 115,000 churches in America and every one of them has a story. This is my parents' story and it shows a grittier, more visceral look at the road to starting a church than we would typically imagine. It shows a pretty accurate depiction of the churches I grew up in. The culture and the music in the film reveal a unique piece of Americana that set the backdrop for the film.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
My favorite scene is when Joe and young Samuel share a meal together. Joe is encouraging his son and Samuel is very vulnerable because he feels responsible for his mothers death. As Joe reassures Sam I sometimes forget I'm watching a movie and I get caught up in the power of that moment between a dad and his son. I also love every musical sequence in the film.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect in the making of this movie for you?
The most rewarding thing about making this film is the opportunity to tell a heartfelt story and to do it artistically using the gifts and talents of hundreds of incredibly talented people. As a filmmaker my greatest goal would be to make something honest that shows failure, brokenness, beauty, and redemption. I feel like we did that with Southern Gospel.
Q: What is the most challenging part in directing SOUTHERN GOSPEL?
I think the most difficult part of directing Southern Gospel was not simply directing my first feature film with a significant budget and large crew, it was doing so during the height of the pandemic in 2020. We were one of the only major films in production during the time. The protocols were unprecedented and because of so many restrictions our team had many more challenges to overcome to interact creatively. I believe we handled it well. We made a film that was very collaborative in nature and had not a single positive test for COVID. I've been told my next film will feel like a walk in the park compared to what we went through. I look forward to it.
Q: What are some take home messages from this film?
You never want to tell an audience what to take away from art, but I believe we certainly can learn that you should never give up on a dream, even when it truly seems impossible. Also, bluegrass music is really, really good.
Q: What's next for you?
We have over a dozen films ready to go. But honestly I just want to keep making a positive impact in whatever I'm doing in my life; if it's making films or spending time with my family and friends. I want to lift others. That's what's truly next.
FILM'S WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA:
Truth Social: https://truthsocial.com/@SouthernGospelMovie
JEFFREY'S SOCIAL MEDIA: