Source - Press release
Filmmakers John Ward and Todd Zeile have announced they are donating 1,000 free movie church screenings of their new Christian film I Am. The decision to offer free church site licensing comes on the heels of securing a distribution deal with studio giant 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The innovative direct-to-church release schedule offers churches across the country to become a busy movie theater for 1 to 4 nights in October.
Exclusive Church Release Safe Way to Begin Dialogue
About the Filmmakers
"Everywhere we go, we hear how churches are struggling. Too many seats are empty. People are hurting, and they are inundated by a cynical world telling them to run from the God who's so angry he only wants you to feel guilty – if he even exists at all," said John Ward, the film's writer and director who also appears as one of the primary characters. "Nearly all churches have a screen of some sort, and churches themselves are essentially theaters – they hold a service every week. Why should we ask pastors to drive people from their churches, into movie theaters, when we can equip them with the same movie that they can use, to invite people inside their churches? Through offering free screenings we are giving a gift to help churches fill the empty seats."
Exclusive Church Release
I Am will release exclusively in churches nationwide in October, 2010. The feature film has been often described as a "Christian Crash" both by Hollywood executives and Christian pastors. I Am is a modern parable in which ten strangers in Los Angeles see their lives intersect and collapse through a plot which follows the Ten Commandments, one by one. As the characters struggle with their various personal demons, each is sustained by their private conversations with the same mysterious stranger: a man they ultimately come to know as I Am.
I Am is not a film that pretends to show the perfect model for a perfect life. It is a tale of suffering and brokenness – a story of this spiderweb of a world in which we all live, and the struggle to break free of its sticky entanglements. Only at the movie's conclusion do we see that this mysterious I Am -- who is there regardless how terrible the decisions of a character may be -- is the quiet, steady source of redemption and peace for those who listen… and left brokenhearted for those who turn away.
Safe Way to Begin Dialogue
"Everyone has a friend, co-worker, or family member with whom they have a serious religious disagreement. I Am gives those people a safe way to engage in that dialogue, and churches an historic opportunity to host it," said co-filmmaker Todd Zeile. Ziele, who helped co-produce and acts in the faith-based feature film, was drawn to the movie due to the movie's story which is inspirational, but not preachy. Although producing films has been a primary focus for Zeile since the conclusion of his 16-year Major League Baseball career, this is his first feature faith-based film.
Ward and Zeile put their money where their mouth is. Not only did they finance the film, but they are financing the giveaway. "It's about doing the right thing," Ward said. When asked about fears that giving the movie away will hurt their ability to get their money back, Ward replied, "We believe strongly that if we reach out to help the church now, others will reach back and buy I Am later. In these difficult economic times, churches need help. Having the first look at a big movie helps them draw a crowd, so the least we could do is give that to them."
The offer of free church screenings of I Am is available to the first 1,000 churches in the United States through the film's website. More information can also be found at the I Am Facebook page. Plans for International direct-to-church site licensing are in the works, it is recommend those interested connect with I Am through their page on Facebook.
About the Filmmakers
I Am is presented by Upper Room Multimedia through Hollywood filmmaker duo John Ward and Todd Ziele, and pastor Jeff Pries. Ward and Zeile have been close friends since Zeile's final season with the New York Mets in 2004. They were introduced by Jeff Pries, Zeile's baseball teammate at UCLA who went on to become a pastor at Mariners Church in Orange Country, CA.
From the beginning, Ward and Zeile committed to break the mold of faith-based movies. While this is their first feature, faith-based filmmaking is nothing new for them. Working with Pries and Mariners Church, they created the seven-part Liquid DVD-based Bible study curriculum released through Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson Publishing in Nashville, TN. After making eight films they decided it was time to go to the next level and make full-length movies.