By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
[img_assist|nid=7335|title=Flag of My Father|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=70|height=100]MONROE – On the heels of its top prize win at the May 18 GI Film Festival in Washington DC, Flag of my Father is to air May 30, Memorial Day, on Legacy Television Network.
The television debut of the feature-length, faith-based film produced by R-Squared Productions of Monroe – which touts the values of family, country and strong moral character – also follows Flag of my Father’s May 1 national/international release on DVD through Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The DVD is on sale at LifeWay Christian Stores through the end of the month, and online at r2films.net.
On May 18, Flag of my Father was honored as the Best Narrative [feature] Film of 2011 at the GI Film Festival in Washington D.C. One of the film’s stars, Hollywood Actor William Devane, was presented the Choice Award earlier in the week-long festival for his positive portrayal of a GI character – Vietnam veteran Jake in Flag of my Father.
“To go and actually win was indescribable,” said writer/director Rodney Ray, a member at First Baptist Church of West Monroe and owner of R-Squared Productions. He hadn’t known what to expect when his faith-based film was entered into the 31-film competition, Ray added.
“For a totally secular audience to love this film was totally awesome,” Ray said with a wide grin. “We’re very excited and honored to be the winners of the GI Film Festival.”
The making of Flag of my Father, development of a faith-based film industry in northern Louisiana, and the connection with the growing Legacy Television Network – all with a strong Southern Baptist component – are more signs of the expanding use of the film media by Southern Baptists to reach out in culture-friendly ways to a lost and dying world.
“Our main goal is to make movies that change lives,” Ray said. “That’s what we want to do, and sometimes, to give a job to a guy, too.”
Jim West, a member and adult Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church, Port Richey, Fla., is president of Legacy Television Network, which airs on about 190 low-power broadcast stations across the nation, reaching about 37 million homes. Low-power stations most often are accessed using over-the-air antennas; many LP stations, however, have obtained cable carriage in their markets, and some have acquired retransmission rights to have their station carried on DirecTV and DISH Network in their markets, the television executive explained.
“Legacy TV is a new national television network designed to fill a void in American television,” West said. “Legacy TV has a wide range of family and faith programming for the large percentage of American families who support traditional values, believe in absolute truths and who desire freedom to live their lives under Judeo-Christian principles.”
Flag of my Father is set for its televised premiere at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Memorial Day, May 30, on the faith-based Legacy Television Network, Two hours earlier, at 7 p.m. Eastern on May 30, Legacy TV will present R-Squared Production’s documentary We Call Them Heroes, about 20 Vietnam war veterans’ experiences from the time of their enlistment to present day.
“Legacy contacted us,” Ray said. “Being a Christian broadcasting network they have a lot of interest in our work.”
Jerry Price, director of missions for Northeast Louisiana Baptist Association, said he was impressed not only with the quality of the production, but with the excellence of the script.
“The storyline is real, the special effects are incredible, and the acting is intriguing,” Price said after the April 2010 premiere at First Baptist Church of West Monroe. “The message of the film centers on the values of sacrifice, commitment and honor.”
Flag of my Father is the story of a former Army nurse, played by Gigi Erneta of Friday Night Lights fame, who has a special bond with her veteran dad, played by Devane. Her four stepbrothers (including John Schneider of Dukes of Hazzard fame) are jealous, not knowing the roots of that bond lie in Erneta’s post-traumatic stress syndrome.
R-Squared Production’s second full-length film, We Call Them Heroes, was released late last year. It is a documentary of 20 Vietnam veterans, from their date of enlistment to present-day.
“Vietnam veterans paid a price that will never be paid again, and that price is that they were vilified upon their return home,” Ray said. “We learned as a country not to blame war on our military personnel. … They’re just serving their country and doing what they’re called to do.”
While “extremely powerful,” especially to those who lived through the angst of Vietnam in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s – and to the families of those who didn’t live through it – We Call Them Heroes is not a faith-based film, Ray said.
“Coming home was hard for them [Vietnam veterans] because they weren’t welcomed,” Ray said. “This film is very healing for them.”
Legacy Television Network is filling a four-hour block between 7 and 11 p.m. Eastern time on the evening of Memorial Day with Flag of my Father and We Call Them Heroes, plus behind-the-scenes footage that gives insights into the development of two different styles of film-making.
“We’re very pleased to be partnered with R-Squared Productions to honor our veterans around the world,” West said. “I just feel it’s my calling to use the power of the television medium to proclaim the good news to Christians and non-Christians.
“It’s a way to get people engaged in the Christian worldview,” the television executive continued. “We also want to remind our viewers of the principles on which our nation was founded.”
Legacy receives programming from about 100 sources and packages it for stations that don’t have the time or resources to do it on a daily basis, West explained.
“A lot of our prime-time programs look at the nation’s foundation – where we came from and the values of our forefathers – and we also examine current events through the lens of the Christian world view,” West continued. “Saturdays we do outdoor programming. We hope by all means to win some.”
Filmmaker Ray concurs. His next film veers into a new direction: teen suicide.
“It’s about giving young people hope,” Ray said. “We are all wonderfully and fearfully made, and we have value. Satan may whisper in our ear that we don’t have value, but that’s a lie. …
“We also want to encourage parents to understand the power of the spoken word,” the filmmaker continued. “We’re all guilty as parents of not encouraging our kids. As the body of Christ we are commanded to build each other up, and Satan likes to tear us down. It’s a dark thing, suicide is; there’s so much guilt that goes with it.”
Shooting is to take place in June and July, in Ouachita Parish, of which Monroe/West Monroe is a part, with mostly local talent.
“We’re trying to encourage the movie-making industry in our community,” Ray said. “One way to do that is to create a workforce.”
For more information about R-Squared Productions, call 318.323.6900 or go online to www.r2films.net. For more information about Legacy Television Network, call 727.375.2500 or go online to www.legacytv.com