Kevin Downes is a California native. He grew up in Visalia, just 3 hours north of Los Angeles where many of the Christian films he has made were shot. Before writing and producing The Moment After, Kevin worked with David A.R. White on The Crossing and The End of the Harvest. He produced the award-winning Warner Bros. short film/music video for Clay Walker, Chain of Love. He also produced Mercy Streets - released in theaters nationwide in 2000, and executive-produced Lay It Down. He produced the theatrically released Time Changer for Trinity Broadcasting Network and was writer/producer/director on Six: The Mark Unleashed.
Kevin has worked in Hollywood for 15 years as an actor and producer. His vision is to produce quality motion pictures to share strong messages of hope, faith and love that come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I managed to catch Kevin in the conference room of the ChristianCinema.com offices on a Tuesday night. He had just finished booking a midnight flight to Dallas, TX, and had a few minutes before he needed to get on the road to the airport.
CC: You started Christian Cinema with your brother Bobby, and you've produced several projects together. How did that partnership begin?
Kevin: We started the website (ChristianCinema.com) in 1999 because we were making "The Moment After" and knew we needed an outlet for our projects. It literally took us just 3 minutes to come up with the name, and we had only two films on the site to sell. The first shipment went out of my spare bedroom in Glendale, CA. Bobby built the website on a computer in the closet of the guesthouse he was renting, and it grew from there.
Then we started learning about distribution - it's not enough to make a great movie - you have to know how to get revenue in return so you can do other projects. And, it's a cumulative business - the more projects you do, the more people become aware of your work, and the more work you're able to do.
We're both very aware that opportunities come from all around, and that it's important to be ready to take an opportunity when it presents itself. We want to continually grow as filmmakers, and create credible partnerships with other filmmakers along the way. We've worked hard to develop a solid track record so people feel confident working with us.
CC: Tell us about your first film projects together?
Kevin: Our first film was "The Moment After" It was painful, but we got it done. In fact, our second movie (Mercy Streets) was more painful, but we learned so much from those experiences. It feels a little like going to war when you start making a movie, and when you're ultimately responsible for it, the war is very personal - it hits close to home. But we wouldn't trade that for anything, because we can look back and know that any success we have came from the blood and sweat we put in from the beginning.
I try to embrace that because trials, along with failure and pain, are a real necessity in life. God can use all of it for His glory. My goal is not to live continuously in the same trial.
CC: What does it mean to be a Christian filmmaker? How does your faith affect your work?
Kevin: It's who I am. Most people know my faith - it comes with me. Being a filmmaker doesn't define me - being a Christian defines me and everything I do. It's like someone who is a Christian who is also a banker, or a teacher, or a bus driver. There are Christians who run banks and there are non-Christians who run banks. There are Christian producers in Hollywood, and there are non-Christian producers in Hollywood.
I have to ask myself: "Ultimately, is God glorified in what I do?" To be fulfilled as a filmmaker, I don't necessarily have to make evangelical movies, but I do have to make movies that are expanding His kingdom.
What's exciting to me is to hear things like "The Moment After" being the first Christian movie to air on Pakistani TV in their language. "Six: The Mark Unleashed" was played on HBO in Asia too - so you know that millions of people heard the Gospel.
CC: What advice do you have for someone who might be interested in filmmaking?
Kevin: Find someone who is doing what you want to and learn everything possible from them. When we were making "The Moment After", I think I called Rich Christiano every night for 6 months. I could ask him anything, and he was so generous with his time. This last year when we made "The Visitation", Ralph Winter (X-Men) had signed on as executive producer, and he gave so much of his time to help us. He's an incredibly generous man - I don't know how he does it.
I want to be that person for other people coming up in the business. They cared enough about me to help me out - I want to do the same for others.
CC: "What have you been working on recently?"
Kevin: "This has probably been the busiest past 12 months of my life!. I flew to Poland at the end of last year to appear in the upcoming film "Thr3e", based on the Ted Dekker novel. It was a very intense role that left me physically exhausted at the end of each day, probably the most challenging role I've ever done. But to be involved in making a feature film in Europe has been a dream I've since I started acting. I really enjoyed that... working with people in a different culture.
After that, I went to North Carolina to produce "The List", based on the Robert Whitlow novel. That was such a great experience... The people of Wilmington are so wonderful to work with! The film is still in post production and comes out next year. People are going to really love this film... it's visually stunning with a really talented and incredible cast.
Then my wife and I drove back to CA, and along the way stopped in the middle of the country to produce another film, a feature length version of "Midnight Clear", based on the Jerry B Jenkins short story, and directed by Dallas Jenkins. Dallas is a really fun director to work with. I think people will really enjoy this film as well, it's a great character piece starring Stephen Baldwin and will be out next year as well."
CC: "What's next?"
Kevin: "I don't have any productions planned for the rest of the year. We'll finish the films we have in post production. Then we release "The Moment After 2", coming to churches this October and DVD on January 30th, 2007. We also are distributing a new film, "The Theory of Everything", which will be out on November 28th, 2006. Never before have there been so many choices in filmed entertainment for Christians than what is coming up... it's very exciting!"