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Reel to Heal

$30,465 of $500k goal

Raised by 42 people in 7 days
BP
Belltower Pictures
on behalf of Belltower Pictures
 RICHMOND, VA
Hate is UN-AMERICAN, but Love is UNIVERSAL

In a nation whose divisions have been laid bare by a contentious political season, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, Muslims and others who help make up the diverse category known as “Americans” now find themselves under attack by their own neighbors.

While others take up the political fight, Belltower Pictures was created to use the power of film and popular culture to help heal these divides and demonstrate how our differences can be the very thing that unites us all -- not only as Americans, but as citizens in a global community. Entertaining people with fun, laughter, poignant stories and enlightening productions is our core mission, delivering engaging film and television projects with an underlying message that the elements that make us all unique are also what make us strong.

We are a unique contributor to the entertainment community, created as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation whose goal is not to line our pockets, but rather, generate revenue through our productions so we may craft new ones -- all with the unifying themes of love, fellowship and community.

The Problem

One does not need to be a 24/7 cable news viewer to comprehend that we have some serious problems facing us as a nation. When neighbors are pitted against neighbors over issues of race and religion.

These are generational problems, and will require generational solutions. That is why Belltower Pictures has taken the approach of using popular culture to influence people to view diversity in our society as a strength, and not a weakness. For decades, researchers have studied how popular culture influences people, both positively and negatively, with the general conclusion being that what we watch on television, in movies and experience in video games have a direct connection to changes in societal mores.

As the civil rights movement was born in the 1960s, television and popular culture stepped up with its own versions of the evolution toward a diverse society. Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, famously insisted on having a Russian, an Asian and an African-American woman serve as bridge officers on the iconic starship Enterprise. The same era saw Diahann Carroll star in the title role of a TV series called Julia, the first time a woman of color was the star of a TV show. As the decades passed, we saw Billy Crystal portray the first openly gay character of a primetime TV show in Soap, which paved the way for Will & Grace -- primed to return to television in 2017 -- two decades later. We don’t believe it’s a coincidence that same-sex marriage is now the law in the United States, after we watched decades of film and television entertainment that went from portraying gay characters as comic relief to modern hardworking, conscientious Americans.

We firmly believe that pop culture can be part of the solution to the problems facing our desire for fellowship and brotherhood, which is why we want to continue providing entertainment that exemplifies those ideals.

How We Got Here

This is not how we envisioned marketing ourselves. We learned the hard way how difficult it is to espouse diversity in the current social and political climate. The movie trailer shown above is new, but the movie it depicts is not. It was filmed in 2015 and released in 2016 under the title Shooting the Prodigal. We envisioned it as a “faith-based” film, as it was about a small church making a movie retelling the Biblical parable of the prodigal son.

Our writer/director and Belltower Pictures Founder David E. Powers -- himself an associate pastor at a large Richmond, VA Baptist Church for more than 20 years -- believed the film would appeal to other pastors and Christian churchgoers. It took him years to bring the project to fruition, and when it was done, he reached out to hundreds of representatives from churches around the country to help distribute the film, hold screenings and promote the movie’s message to their congregants.

With few exceptions, we were greeted by a chorus of crickets. Our target audience was rejecting our film because of its inclusion of Muslim characters, a gay character and people of color in pivotal roles. It was a shocking revelation that forced us to reconsider our mission and our marketing. Through the help of a new marketing team, we were convinced that we should retitle and remarket the film as secular entertainment, but still remaining adamant about Belltower’s core mission statement: telling great stories that have a positive impact on people's lives; training and encouraging the next generation of filmmakers; bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, working together and making a difference in the world.

How You Can Help

We are asking for your help to meet our budget needs for 2017, so we may produce more films and television shows with the goal of highlighting different cultures, a variety of faiths and the world of diversity that graces our country.

For those who donate $20 or more, we will send you a DVD of our retitled film -- now called By The Grace of Bob -- as both an example of the work we do, as well as to say thank you for the support. Please remember to provide your address along with your donation, so we know where to send the DVDs. We encourage you to watch the DVD, or give it to friends, or maybe even offer it to others who may benefit from seeing a film with brotherhood and fellowship as its primary themes.

For donations of $40, we’ll send two DVDs, with $60 donations receiving three DVDs, and so on. Of course, we’ll accept any level donation toward our goal, but offering our work as thanks is the best way we can think of to move the needle on our financial goals as well as our inspirational goals.

About By The Grace of Bob

When his youth pastor sells him on the virtues of making a movie that will help grow his congregation and the collection plates, Brother Bob risks his standing with Church Elders, and his father's legacy, to roll cameras. The cast and crew are a motley mash up that includes a gay costume designer, an African-American cameraman, Muslim actors and homeless extras. Through it all, though, Brother Bob and his cohorts discover that the play is NOT the thing. The community of diverse people from all backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities is the real reward, teaching Brother Bob and his church a more valuable lesson -- above all, love one another.

With a cast featuring Paul Wilson (Big Stone Gap, Citizen Verdict), Sterling Hurst (Nashville, Murder Calls), Joseph Gray (Killing Kennedy, The Originals) and TV favorites Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati, Sister Sister, That 70s Show) and Daphne Reid (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). By The Grace of Bob is a light-hearted, family-friendly tale of diversity and fellowship.

Coming Soon

Belltower Pictures is developing three new properties for film and television, which is where much of the funding we raise here will be used.

One is a television serial documentary series in which we will travel to religious landmarks around the country, highlighting holy places from different faiths and the legendary stories behind them. We believe that these stories will demonstrate that there is far more that unites the faithful of the world than divides us.

Another is a film about how a neighborhood rallies around a feisty widow who’s been conned out of her life savings. Set in the late 1960s in a mid-sized southern town, the story revolves around a quirky, energetic 78-year-old widow, her family & friends. It is a heartwarming drama with plenty of comic relief.

Finally, we are developing a TV series based on our fictional hero -- a high powered female ad executive who decides to get out of the business when she realizes her ads have promoted a false idea of women’s beauty, a dangerous ideal that fuels eating disorders and generational self-esteem issues. On the night when she wins the highest award in her profession, she trashes her own work in a media interview, a scorched Earth method of publicly quitting her job. Her new mission -- create an agency that speaks truthfully and inspirationally to women.

Please click our donate button to help us make these projects a reality. And thank you!
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$30,465 of $500k goal

Raised by 42 people in 7 days
Created April 19, 2017
BP
Belltower Pictures  
on behalf of Belltower Pictures
$10
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