Canaan Land: The Feature Film
ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE
L to R: Director Richard Rossi (53), his son Josh (25), daughter Karis (27), & his wife of 32 years, Sherrie.
A Word From the Director:
CANAAN LAND STORY & MY 7 PROMISES TO YOU
Hi, I'm Richard Rossi, director of "Canaan Land." All donations are tax-deductible, & there's great perks for you for participating. Thanks for taking a moment to check it out. I'm enthused to share with you the story of my journey to make Canaan Land, and to make 7 promises to you.
Canaan Land is about a consummate charismatic con man named "Brother Billy," played by me, meeting "Sister Sara," a faith healing evangelist who is a truly anointed prayer intercessor.
Here's an animated promo of the contrast between Sister Sara & Brother Gantry: WHERE DOES THE NAME COME FROM?Have you ever taken a leap of faith? The biblical journey of faith was to Canaan Land, the Promised Land, a land of milk and honey. Canaan means "new land," or "new life." My wife Sherrie Rossi, 2 children and I moved 3,000 miles from my hometown of Pittsburgh to her native California. We felt like the Israelites, a mobile family on a journey to a new land.
Working as a minister in PA., I discovered telling stories touches people. I made a documentary, exploring the role of prayer in healing. We were graced with miracles during our healing services and explored this in a film. While editing that film, I met a director from India named Amin Chaudhri. He stoked my interest in filmmaking. He made films at his studio in PA. with actors like Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Patrick Swayze, & Forrest Whitaker. Between films, he lived in L.A. as a neighbor to Marlon Brando & Jack Nicholson. He told me "If you ever move to California kid, look me up."
After our cross-country move, I played the role of Elmer Gantry in a play about the fictional evangelist. It was a part that came to me easily, having been a healing evangelist myself. Amin saw me perform the role on stage Hollywood & Long Beach. Amin wanted to direct me in a new film about an Elmer Gantryish evangelist. The news was in Variety & Hollywood Reporter but I backed out. I felt too green to do it, much to the disappointment of Chaudhri. I got a call a while later that he'd passed away Looking back on my years as a healing evangelist, I never did anything fraudulent to fake healings. I prayed to heal people, & refused to report healings without medical verification. I was honest when people weren't healed and up front about the suffering we go through.
However, my time in that world allowed me to see tricks some big names do. They fake miracles, such as a gold dust stunt... a trick they claim is angel feathers & gold flakes from Heaven. This hoax helped turn a church into the mecca for the charismatic movement. They merchandised gifts of the Spirit, charging thousands of dollars to allegedly teach others to prophesy & heal.
When you watch our new movie, "Canaan Land," you'll see will how some churches con people. Here's a clip of some of the footage from rough cut of our film of me playing Brother Billy, the Elmer Gantryish con man preacher teaching televangelist trade secrets to two con man friends (played by Joe Gonzalez and Craig Zucchero):
The project's stirred up controversy among faith-healers, before the film's been shot. To read article about the controversy , click HERE: http://catholicnewswire.blogspot.com/2016/02/rossis-controversial-new-film-exposes.htmlThis updated portrayal of televangelists will show the toxic aspects of religion, contrasted with sincere faith. Brother Billy’s focus on offerings is the antithesis of Sister Sara's hunger for God.
The film's not an attack on religion. It's my intention in exposing the counterfeit to show the search for that which is pure, lovely, true. Defensive believers may say we shouldn't expose the counterfeit, but a counterfeit testifies that there is a truth sets us free. You'll find this film is a needed expose, based on my past experiences in the world of evangelism. We'll dramatize how frauds deceive followers into believing pastors who claim to be prophets & miracle workers worthy of donations. Some abuse the most vulnerable by implying healing is tied to giving money.
My film is fiction and will change names. There's a redemptive ending, in which even the narcissistic evangelist running the con is confronted by unconditional love. God loves those who start out with pure hearts and get seduced by money, power, and fame. He wants them to come back to their first love.
Is this film an indictment of everyone who is a devotee of sketchy TV evangelists or megachurches selling sensationalism? No. There are spiritual people who glean good from bad. How is this possible? Because of the sincerity of their hearts, some are touched even from unhealthy ministries. Our film will deal with the question of how when a person has sincere faith they can get healed even if the preacher's a fraud. But it's unhealthy to drink a chocolate milkshake if there's dog-poop mixed in.
There are 30,000 denominations yet too few do what Jesus said to do: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and fallen (Matthew 25), judge not lest ye be judged (Matthew 7:1), and go into a closet to pray (Matthew 6:6).
As you view this film, you'll ponder questions like: Who am I following? Am I following someone real? Are they walking the walk or just talking the talk? What is the difference between rigid religion & a healthy concept of the gospel?
I'm ready to make this film now to communicate love to millions. I made 2 prior films about famed female evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. I never could've done those films alone without the cast, crew, & supporters who gave so generously of their time, talent, & treasure. Two of Hollywood's Royal Families starred in "Sister Aimee." Director/Actor Ron Howard (aka "Opie" on the Andy Griffith Show & "Richie" on Happy Days) got in the business because of his actor-father Rance Howard who play's Aimee's father in the film. (In the trailer below he's on the horse talking to her.)
The second member of Hollywood Royalty starring in the film is Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter Kiera Chaplin. Here's the trailer from my film "Sister Aimee": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvBovQ6Hczc
I've been blessed with wonderful collaborators and publicity on those films & on my last film on my childhood hero Roberto Clemente. Here's the trailer from"Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories" starring two-time Olympian Jamie Nieto as Roberto, Project Runway Winner Marilinda Rivera as his wife, & yours truly as the scout "Birddog", watch HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p22ueAmYRk8
I was Academy Award-considered for my first film on Aimee. I received a letter from Pope Francis because of my movie on Clemente. The Clemente film was made through $15,000 raised online through crowdfunding by Eternal Grace, our 501c3 non profit organization. Here's the letter from the Pope:I also received a commendation from the Governor of Pennsylvania for my Roberto Clemente film:CANAAN LAND will use money raised through crowdfunding on Go Fund Me to make this feature. We're shooting Fall 2016 through Spring 2017. Crowdfunding is used by creative people to finance their projects including musician Neil Young, filmmaker Spike Lee, & actors James Franco & Lavar Burton. Crowdfunding was even used towards finishing the last film of Hollywood's greatest director, Orson Welles.
Movies cost money & without big backers, a filmmaker needs to raise funds. I want to have final cut & maintain my vision. I don't want to lose control of the creativity, originality, & spiritual quality supporters of my work expect, & that I expect from myself. Making this movie is a labor of love. Though challenged by making films without studio budgets, I've gained experience, & grown psychologically, spiritually, & technically with each film. Your generosity keeps the flame burning like a pillar of fire to lead us to Canaan Land.
I'm making a movie about faith on faith. I've seen faith create my movies out of nothing before, and I believe that come hell or high water, this new film, "Canaan Land" will make it to the New World. I need your faith too, that the right people, resources, & circumstances will coalesce together to move the movie through production, & post production. I'm talking about a healthy faith that brings together many people working together in creativity.
MEET TEAM MEMBERS:
Actor DANN MEAD will be playing the part of Jonathan, Sister Sara Sunday's loyal assistant. ISAAC BAR-JONAH, playing the role of Jerome "Laz" Watkins, a man Brother Billy raises from the dead. Actress-model LINDSAY HUNDLEY in the role of Magdalene, a beauty with a heart for the homeless. CRAIG ZUCCHERO, playing the part of "Binzini," a con doing time who meets Brother Billy meets when Billy preaches in prison. Craig has numerous film & TV credits, including The Sopranos & J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood. (Craig pictured below with Clint who praised Craig's acting in the film)DAWNA LEE HEISING, former Ms. World & Miss Galactic, actress/director playing the role of Connie, Brother Billy's Beverly Hills girlfriend at the beginning of our story who sets him on his journey by kicking him out of her house.
CARL CREW, Carl is playing the Ringmaster at scenes shot at his iconic NoHo club, C.I.A. aka Chinatown East. Carl is star of the cult classic "Blood Diner," and played the lead role in the biopic "Jeffrey Dahmer."
GLORIA MUSCARELLA, Role of Puppeteer and Production Designer. Gloria has worked for Paramount & shows like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.UMOJA BUTLER, Role of L.C.. Umoja is a talented soul singer & composer & former football star. (Pictured below with his daughter Grace) MELISSA STAKER, Role of Bethany Temple Choir.
MEET TEAM MEMBER: Snowball, starring as Connie's Beverly Hills dog.
MEET TEAM MEMBER: JO ANN GILBERT RIVAS, playing the role of Sister Jo Ann.
MEET TEAM MEMBER: JOSEPH GONZALEZ, playing role of Berrick who helps Brother Billy run cons.
CAROL-ANN POTORSKI as Sister Vicki Carol Anne.
CALISTA BESS in role of Evelyn, a girl in wheelchair at homeless shelter.
ANDRE BAUTISTA as Steven, a boy in wheelchair at homeless shelter.
MARTYN HALE playing a Boy at homeless shelter.
RAYMOND AND CHERI MERRITT in roles of Brother George and Woman at Party.
Actress ANDREA MEJIA as Sister Jane.
REBECCA RIVAS, MARIO E. CHAVEZ, JULIA LAND, & KAYLEE LAND as Partygoers.
BRUCE NAHIN, Associate Producer, Business Affairs. Thrilled to welcome the legendary Bruce Nahin, who has an interesting life journey from co-founder of Chippendales male dance troupe (he thought of the name based on furniture in his club), practicing entertainment law, and producing film and TV.
ZEPHRYN AVILA, Guitarist
DIANA DEVILLE, Line Producer, UPM. Multi-talented Diana has an interesting background: She works for Dreamworks, was a popular on-air host of rock and roll show, and worked for heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio.
JESUS PAD, Camera Operator, Sound Recordist.
BILL LEE BROWN - Associate Producer. Bill is one of the few actors fortunate enough to have studied in Marlon Brando's acting class along with Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Edward James Olmos, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Dean Stanton and more.
MARY CHIN, Post Production Consultant. Mary was post-production supervisor on Richard's last film Baseball's Last Hero. She's worked editing for Oprah's network, BBC, and TV shows like Port Protection, Behind the Mask, Ladies of London, Breaking Pointe, Life Below Zero, and Lovetown, USA. SARA FARZADFARD, Visual Effects, Production Design. Sara is an innovative filmmaker, having directed movies, music videos, & shows for children in which she created her unique visual world. Sara earned awards and a Master's in film in her home country. She is bringing her talents to help create some of the surreal and spiritual moments of Canaan Land into reality.RICHARD KRAUSE, Production & Post-Production. Richard is a talented filmmaker & editor who has signed on to help wherever needed in filming & editing to help Canaan Land be a great film. He was assistant editor and also film and lighting crew on Baseball's Last Hero.
FAVIOLA RIVAS, Assistant Director, Casting Associate. (On the left in pic below with director Mike Rosenberg)
LEYLA NEJAD, set design, wardrobe, make up. Leyla is a gifted filmmaker who made a movie about a woman fleeing religious oppression. "What Richard sees and shows in Canaan Land about the dangers of fundamentalism, I have seen in my culture."
SORINA SAMBULA, Associate Producer. Sorina has produced various projects & knows the frauds of some false evangelists firsthand, bringing her production knowledge and experience with the pros and cons of revivalism to help make Canaan Land a great film.
ADAN HIGGINS, D.P. Adan finished his film degree at Valley College and has been accepted into the UCLA film program. "I relate to the story of Canaan Land, because I come from an evangelical background."AL DOSHNA, Associate Producer. Al is a talented producer and actor. He produced one of director Richard Rossi's favorite films, "The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr." He is also author of new biography on Hollywood actor Richard Anderson, star of Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man. You've heard of the BATMOBILE? Al Doshna designed FAITHMOBILE car for Brother Billy. (2 Pics below)
JAY T. GILLILAND, Assoc. Producer, Locations Manager. Jay currently works for Turner Broadcasting and has worked in many capacities in film including director, producer, UPM, and still photographer. Jay relates to the theme of the film in his own life. "I was raised Mormon and my own journey of questioning and assessing what I was taught in the church makes me connect with the Canaan Land story in a very personal way," Jay said.
JEFF GRIFFITH, Crew where needed - Camera, lights, sound. Jeff has faithfully worked on Richard's past projects including the Elmer Gantry plays, Sister Aimee, and Baseball's Last Hero.
STEPHANIE SULLIVAN, Dance Choreographer.
JANESSA BETH, Dance Choreographer.
STEVEN ATHA, Assistant Camera
ELIZABETH ROSSI, Associate Producer. Elizabeth has been a producer on several films, and sold her horror screenplay "All Saint's Eve," now a finished film available everywhere.
ERNIE JAMES PARIS, Associate Producer. Ernie's produced several films and was a rock bassist in several popular "hair bands" back in the day.
MELINA BRIDGEMAN has done some of our camera work, shooting on the Black Magic camera.
Making this picture by raising money on Go Fund Me is a tall order, but not an impossible dream. Besides, I’ve chased such dreams before making "Sister Aimee" & "Baseball's Last Hero." Those pictures succeeded enough to give me faith to carry on & make Canan Land, which will be my 3rd dramatic feature. Thanks for your faith in this dream to support me with a tax deductible donation & share this campaign on your social media. 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' (Mark 9:23)
We use some terms TV evangelists use like "seed-sowing," a bit tongue-in-cheek. Unlike the televangelist, I won't tell you that you owe me ten percent of your income or you're robbing God. The Elmer Gantry characters also promise you health, wealth, & a life free of problems for a donation. We make no false promises.
What do we promise? The following 7 Promises:
1. We promise we will start shooting in Fall 2016 & finish this film, working towards our goal of excellence.
2. We promise we will put every dime you give up on that screen.
3. We promise we will expose the false prophets of our day who harm others.
4. We promise "Canaan Land" will contrast the false with those who truly care for & pray for healing for the sick, poor, & the disadvantaged children.
5. We promise the film will be done to the best of our ability in an artistic way.
6. We promise the film will be distributed internationally.
7. We promise to share a healthy concept of God, unconditional love, & that love will reverberate to people throughout the world who see the film.
How can you spread the word? Share this campaign on social media platforms to help us spread the word. Tweet the project on Twitter, share the link on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, & tell a friend in person or via text, call, or email.
We have 2 stretch goals:
$500,000: This will allow us to get extras for revival scenes, editing equipment set up at a facility to have footage edited immediately after shooting by post-production team, a couple name actors, & a bigger company in order to be more efficient with our time. We've been successful at accomplishing filmmaking on a shoestring but a larger budget would help us a great deal. We like to be as productive & efficient as possible without cutting corners on quality.
$2,000,000: If we make it to this! Wow! We will be able to get what we need without having to barter as much for freebies for locations, cast, & crew. (this has been a dream of ours). Post-production sound correction and color correction can be accomplished to really do things with excellence. Plus, we'd have marketing money to screen & advertise the film worldwide.
Here's the details on various levels of cash giving & the rewards for each. Check out the rewards below and thank you for your consideration. The first level is just $5, for just the price of taking a friend to coffee or a fast food lunch, you can be an important part of this film and be thanked in the credits and get your own IMDB page.
This film will be GREAT. You last film about Clemente was loved by Pope Francis and it touched me. It changed me. I now live a good life, helping meet needs of others. You have a supportive team and God will bring power through all who give and work on this film.