February 18, 2021 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Nearly five years after its premiere through television in 2016, “God’s Compass,” the third feature film produced in cooperation with Liberty University’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center, will be released to over 300 movie theaters nationwide on Feb. 25 and 26.
The faith-based film, released by Fathom Events and financed and distributed by Working Title Agency, first debuted on the TV One channel on Easter weekend 2016 and continued to air through June of that year. In the years since, it has found popularity in DVD sales and streaming on PureFlix since 2018.
“In terms of awareness, it’s probably the most significant film we’ve done in the program, and it’s been the No. 1 or close to No. 1 most watched film on PureFlix for years,” said Stephan Schultze, executive director of cinematic arts and the film’s writer/director. “Because the movie theaters are struggling right now (due to COVID-19) they had a greater opportunity to market films into the theaters and they were looking for movies that have the kind of traction to get behind, and this one keeps gaining traction. It’s a film that has a very evergreen sensibility about it.”
“God’s Compass” has garnered awards, including a win for Best Screenplay and nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Actor at the 2016 International Christian Film Festival (ICFF).
Preceded by the program’s first two feature projects, “77 Chances” and “Altar Egos,” this film marked the third major opportunity for Liberty’s cinematic arts students to gain invaluable experience on a professional film set and acquire the skills that will help them in industry careers after graduation. In recent years, students have worked on 2017’s “Extraordinary” and 2018’s “The Trump Prophecy,” which both received theatrical releases.
“Our department creates entertaining content with the students in a real-world model,” Schultze said. “Students are working on these films, and the films are getting into theaters, getting onto television. While they’re in school getting an education in the filmmaking process, they’re actually applying that with the skill sets that make them employable when they graduate.”
“God’s Compass” tells the story of a recently retired high school principal, played by Karen Abercrombie (“War Room”), who takes in a delinquent boy and discovers a miraculous connection that brings her and her son’s family together through healing and a renewed faith journey.
“I think it’s a story that shows a family that struggles with things that lots of other families struggle with,” Schultze said. “People want to know that hope is there, and I think this film really points to that. As a faith-based movie, it wrestles with a lot of real issues that I think are glossed over a lot of times in faith-based movies, and I think it has a little stronger base and is closer to reality (because of that).”
The cast features other familiar faces from recent faith-based and family films, including “War Room” star T.C. Stallings (whose “God’s Compass” performances received ICFF nominations for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively), Erin Bethea (“Fireproof”), and Robert Amaya (“Courageous,” “Mom’s Night Out”).
Looking ahead, Liberty students will begin filming a new feature titled “Mulligan” in late March and throughout April, marking the second full-length feature Liberty has made through a partnership with ReelWorks Studios owner and producer Rick Eldridge.
“Mulligan,” which tells the story of a father with a passion for golf who is offered the opportunity to have a “do-over” with his son, was originally scheduled to begin filming in late March 2020 but was delayed due to the widespread halt on travel and the movie industry caused by COVID-19. Throughout the production schedule in Toccoa, Ga., Schultze said the set will adhere to mandated protocols like social distancing and mask wearing to keep the filmmaking process safe.
“To have it back on the calendar is quite a relief, and now we’re glad it’s getting going and that things are starting to move forward in the entertainment industry,” Schultze said. “(Eldridge) stayed onboard the whole time and continues to be a stalwart supporter of what we’re trying to do here, and we owe him a great gratitude.”