Dirt track racing churns up drama in the new faith-based film CHAMPION, releasing theatrically May 19, 2017 from Brannon Pictures, produced by support from First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA. Plumbing the depths of topics such as forgiveness, fatherhood, foster parenting and the power of second chances, CHAMPION depicts race car driver Sean Weathers' journey following a tragic on-track accident that rips apart his family, leaving him vulnerable to the last person on earth who should help him.
Director Judd Brannon (WAR ROOM) sets a story of forgiveness against the backdrop of an unforgiving sport. Supported by First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia where Brannon is on staff, the church was instrumental in the making of the film. We are honored to catch up with Brannon for this exclusive interview.
Q: What first attracted you to the script of this movie?
God put this story on my heart about 5 years ago. My desire was to reach people with the love of Christ. I feel that the foundation of the Gospel is forgiveness. Before we can accept the gift of salvation we must understand that first we need to be forgiven and second God is offering to forgive us of all our sins. CHAMPION is story of being forgiven and forgiving.
Foster care is also an important part of this movie. We have been blessed to be foster parents and have witnessed the amazing power of caring for children in difficult situations. Champion illustrates how Christian families can help other families heal by living out James 1:27.
I wrote the original storyline and through a partnership with Missy Reedy and Sarah Inabnit, we developed the script.
Q: Who are some of the actors and actresses starring in this movie?
Our cast is made up of well-known actors like Andrew Cheney (BEYOND THE MASK), Gary Graham (Star Trek "Renegades", ALL THE RIGHT MOVES) and Robert Amaya (COURAGEOUS, MOM'S NIGHT OUT), and also new faces like Faith Renee Kennedy, who almost steals the show. Cameron Arnett, Isaiah Stratton, and Collin Brown are also familiar actors in the cast.
Q: What were some of the highlights for you in the making of this film?
I have been so encouraged by all the people that have supported the ministry of CHAMPION. The first step we took in this journey was to recruit a prayer team. I wanted to be sure we kept the focus on what was truly important - glorifying God throughout the whole process. Then each step of the way, God placed people in our path that provided our needs. We needed an office for production ... a ministry had a space that needed to be cleaned out, so they donated it to us during production in exchange for the clean up. We needed to house our crew ... church members opened their homes. We needed to feed the 50+ cast and crew ... local businesses donated meals every night of filming. We need extras ... the community showed up. We needed at dirt track and car races ... Dixie Speedway opened their doors and let us film live races. We need to get the movie in theaters and spread the news ... churches across the nation are buying showings and sharing with their congregations. It is so impressive to see God's hand bringing the pieces together.
It has definitely not been without difficulties though. When the challenges were so great that I thought they were insurmountable, I was reminded of the account of Gideon. Sometimes the odds are so stacked against you so that everyone can see that it was impossible without God. I have experienced that many times throughout the making of CHAMPION. I look back and have had my faith in the God that I serve strengthen greatly.
Q: What are some of the lessons you hope this movie will impress upon its viewers?
Forgiveness is something that people at every stage of their spiritual walk need to be reminded of. The lost need to recognize their need for forgiveness and know that God has His arms open wide just waiting to offer that forgiveness. Christians too often harbor unforgiveness for those that have wronged us. There are offenses that just seem unforgivable. My prayer is that CHAMPION will stir the hearts of unbelieving viewers to accept God's forgiveness for the first time and to convict Christian viewers to recommit to a spirit of forgiveness of others. My God is big, and my goals are big. I want CHAMPION to be a tool to change hearts and lives for eternity.
Q: Let's talk about yourself, you have been involved in the War Room as well as producing Avalon's video. What are some other videos and movies you have been involved with?
I have made several short films and music videos for various ministries. One in particular that I am so thankful for being able to produce was "Break My Plans" music video for the band This Hope. The music video tells the story of Nikolai Moldoveanu's imprisonment for writing songs about Jesus Christ in 1940's Romania. I have seen how a message captured by film can truly open hearts. There is power in film - film is a media that brings the message to homes, to places that non-believers are. It has longevity and can travel far away.
Q: You are also on staff in a church. Tell us your ministry there at the church.
First Baptist Church of Woodstock has been so supportive of the production of CHAMPION. Our church has such a godly leader, Johnny Hunt, that believes in using the gifts and talents of his staff to serve The Kingdom. CHAMPION would not have become a reality without the support of the church and time and effort of so many volunteers from the church membership. Almost half of the crew and cast were volunteers that shared the passion for sharing the love of Christ through media. Sunday School classes at First Baptist Church of Woodstock donated snacks and water bottles to help keep the crew energized on the hot July days on the set. Hundreds of people from the community came out to help as background cast (extras) throughout filming. It is always amazing to see the body of Christ at work. God has blessed us all with gifts, and it was a beautiful coordination of those gifts that came together to make this movie.
Q: What's next for you? Have you had your next project mapped out yet?
Honestly I haven't had much time to think about much outside of CHAMPION. I am open to whatever God has planned next. I look forward to continuing to use media to glorify Him.