Director- Daniel Knudsen
Writer- Mark Knudsen
Alex Shelby- Jared Withrow
John Grame- Tim Kaiser
Kayla Long- Kristina Kaylen
Clay Dorcette- Nathan Jacobson
Michelle Long- Jessica Koloian
This is the beginning of a slightly different type of review that I’ll be doing every so often on the blog called “Backscreen”. Much like a backstage tour of a show or play, this will be a Backscreen look at films to give you a new point of view for how you watch movies. WARNING! These post will be quite a bit longer than my average reviews because I want you to real get to know the film and those who made it possible. “Rather to be Chosen” is Daniel Knudsen’s fourth film, to be released February 2017. I’m not supposed to give any spoilers in this review or I shall incur the wrath of the director. So, let me just give you a taste of what it will be like and a personal perspective from the actors as we step behind the screen.
First off, this man is incredibly talented and a really great guy to hang around with. I was able to talk with him for quite some time last week and really enjoyed our conversation. I asked him some things about his upcoming release R2BC, (“Rather to be Chosen”), being as ambiguous as possible, of course. Daniel is the director, however, he acts in the movie as well.
Me: I know this film is named after a verse, but did the movie come from the name or was it named after you had created the story?
Daniel: The title is from Proverbs 22:1 but the story idea for “Rather to be Chosen” actually came first. We got the idea for an undercover boss, romantic drama and as we developed the theme we decided on the title.Me: Do you act in all of your films?
Daniel: I try to do a little Alfred Hitchcock cameo in every movie. With all the responsibilities of directing, this opportunity to play a small role was perfect.
Daniel is an 11 year veteran of filmmaking. With this kind of experience, I wanted to know why he started making films to begin with.
Me: What first inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Daniel: I believe it was a dream God planted in my heart because I always wanted to do it.
Me: What is something you’ve always wanted to be asked, but never have been?
Daniel: QUESTION: What is the best way for filmmakers to nurture their stamina to complete the daunting race of making a feature film? ANSWER: Journal. Keep a written record of the journey God has brought you on. That way you have something to refer back to when you go through the highs and lows. A friend encouraged me to do this while I was working on Creed of Gold and looking back I am so glad they did. I’ve seen answers to prayer and other important details of God’s handiwork in my life that I otherwise might have missed.
You may remember Nathan from last week’s review of a film he directed, “Wanted”. With Nathan being as active in this industry as he is, I don’t think I can avoid frequenting him in these reviews. However, I will try to use a different picture of him every time. Not only is he a skilled director, but this man is a dedicated actor. I was able to gain some insight into his character for this film in an interview with Nathan.
Nathan: Something I did to portray Clay’s character arc was visually depicting his mental and emotional state through his wardrobe. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that he progressively becomes more and more disheveled; he loses the jacket, then the vest, then the tie, and so forth. He only wears a jacket and tie in court because it’s mandatory, but still keeps it loose and unkempt. Doing things like that is more effective than having a character express themselves directly through words, so I was grateful that Daniel gave me the liberty to play with that. It also helped me make each scene feel more distinct and told me much of what my character was supposed to be feeling at any particular point in the story.
I had to ask if the freehandedness of Knudsen’s directing was more of a blessing or a curse to the film at-large. Nathan had some thought provoking comments on that line.
Nathan: Well, there’s no yes or no answer to that. It’s a case-by-case basis with any actor, because every person is different, and therefore should be directed to match them individually. What you’re asking about is a whole conversation in itself that involves a pretty enormous amount of filmmaking perspective and philosophy, and every director and actor probably looks at it differently.
Me: Would you say that actors are like children and directors are like parents? Or would you say that actors are like horses, powerful and independent, but directors are like husbandmen who reign the horses in and keep them under control?
Nathan: That is a very interesting question. I would say neither. There’s an immense variety in what you can find between one actor and the next, and one director and the next. Each relationship will have different dynamics. I think the key is remembering who has what responsibility, then owning and delivering on that responsibility.
Kristina is actually Daniel’s sister and a co-founder of Crystal Creek Media. She and Daniel make a powerful team on whatever project they set their minds to; “Rather to be Chosen”, is no exception to that. Kristina was a major part of this film, not only as an actress, but as a BTS photographer and makeup artist. This review, to me was all about the actors and actresses’ relationships with the characters; so, I asked Kristina how she related to her character, Kayla, in this film.
Kristina: One aspect of Kayla’s character that I really liked was her genuine love for her sister. Since I have sisters, I felt that I could really relate to Kayla’s character in that way. It was neat to play a role that had a strong sisterly bond in the story. Even though Kayla and Michelle’s viewpoints were different, they both were on the same team.
Kristina had a personal relationship with her character. She knew Kayla like she knew herself, making it easy to translate her character to the audience.
Me: If there was one thing about your character, (a line, a scene, or a character trait), that you would want the viewers to remember, what would it be?
Kristina: Kayla is jaded from life’s troubles and it plays into her personality. Ron talks about how people can build you up or tear you down. This is essentially what Kayla is struggling with the entire time: her identity and letting life’s circumstances determine her character and personality. We have to find our identity in something greater than people’s opinions of us.
Tim has several film credits to his name, though he did not become active in the Christian film world until 2010. Tim plays the role of John Grame in this film, spiritual, father-figure to Alex Shelby.
Tim: There wasn’t a backstory in the script for my character of John Grame so I invented one. I envisioned that John and Mr. Shelby (Alex’s Dad) were the best of friends from their freshman year of college. With the death of his close friends it was his mission to mentor Alex. Also, John is very strong in his faith and has strong moral convictions.
After learning that he essentially built his character from scratch, I ask Tim what he took away from this character: what part of John Grame had become part of Tim Kaiser.
Tim: I was blessed to study Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is Rather to be Chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” I did some “soul searching” and connected with John in his quest to leave his mark on Alex. I think that this desire is true for all of us: to encourage others in our world, to be a blessing.Me: What was your favorite scene in the film?Tim: I have a scene with Alex (Jared Withrow) at his apartment that was a great filming experience for me. Also, just acting with Patricia Mauceri; she did daytime TV for many years, so just being on set with her was an amazing blessing.
Tim: QUESTION: Have you enjoyed the journey and are you having fun? ANSWER: YES, walking with God on the actor’s road has been AMAZING! “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.“ Proverbs 3:5-6
When I heard Jared Withrow say that he had been acting in films since 2008 I was not surprised. His acting bespeaks experience and a well developed method for depecting characters. But, when he told me that this film was his first appearence in a lead role for a feature, I was blown away. For his first time in the spotlight of a feature film, he excelled. I talked with Jared for a while; there were some things I had to know.
Me: What was special about the character of Alex to you? What area of his life and personality could you relate to most?Jared: Alex Shelby is a young guy with the weight of the world thrust upon his shoulders and he has to figure everything out as quickly as possible or lose everthing. The important lesson to be learned from that situation is who he surrounds himself with and who he decides to listen to for wisdom.I canrelate to Alex in the sense that he would rather be focusing on his art work than running a business. I grew up doodling and drawing on anything I could and that’s what I tapped into for this role.Me: What is something you personally learned from playing this character?Jared: He puts everything on the line to defend a person he believes to be innocent; which ultimately brings him the success he needs, and I think that’s another principle that carries over into real life. Treat people right and everything else will fall into place.
Me: What was your relationship with your support cast and how did that effect Alex’s relationships with their characters?Jared: I thoroughly enjoyed working with the actors on this film. I had worked with Tim before in an acting class and we had been wanting to work on a project together so this provided that opportunity, and it added an ease in the relationship his character had with mine. I met Nathan for the first time after filming had already started and we clicked right away. Our first day together on set we had a strong camaraderie and were goofing off as if we’d been friends for years.
Jared: My goal is to be a part of storytelling that impacts the viewer in a positive way. I want to grow and keep learning how to bring a character to life and portray such characters in a way that will resonate and endure with audiences.
These characters aren’t just names to the actors, they are real people, with real lives, and the dedication of these actors is what brings this story to life. Tim Kaiser made a character out of practically nothing but a script. Nathan Jacobson developed a personality and transformation for his character with imagery and wardobe. Kristina Kaylen pulled from her personal experience to create a truly believable character. Jared Withrow melded his own personality into the essence of his character and lived through Alex Shelby. These actors are more than actors, they are artist who have created immortal characters. Props to the team behind this film. The locations were spot-on, the cinematography was brilliant, and the score moved the story where it needed to go. Applause is due to Daniel Knudsen for bringing it all together and sticking it out with this project to the end. I endorse this film and it’s creators. I stand behind it’s message and encourage you to go and see it whenever it becomes available. Be keeping up with “Rather to be Chosen” and Crystal Creek Media on Facebook for more updates on the release date for this film and infomation about future projects from this film team. Also, be sure to visit CCM’s website by clicking here for more information about their other film projects.