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Sharing the Story: Anthony Hackett Writes, Directs, & Stars in Thrilling "Catastasis"
Sharing the Story: Anthony Hackett Writes, Directs, & Stars in Thrilling "Catastasis"

Sharing the Story: Anthony Hackett Writes, Directs, & Stars in Thrilling "Catastasis"

By Jacob Sahms

ChristianCinema.com caught up with Catastasis' first-time filmmaker Anthony Hackett while he was getting his oil changed. The founder of SONSet Friday Entertainment has a ministerial background but his talents are definitely in storytelling department. In his first film, he tackles the struggle of a pastor trapped inside his own home by a mysterious caller bent on revenge.

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I went looking for more of Anthony Hackett and SONSet Friday Entertainment and found some tongue-in-cheek comedy about Seventh Day Adventists. How did you get from those skits to Catastasis?

[Laughs] I’m just about Godly, Christian entertainment – comedy, thriller, drama. It’s my calling and gift, so I don’t put any limits on that. I believe I have a gift to touch people and share the good news.

What is your background?

I went to school for ministry at Columbia Union College. I served as a youth pastor and ministry leader. Ministry is definitely the foundation. But my experience is in entertainment. This is my feature film.

Why pick a pastor as your lead character?

God just kind of put that on my spirit. It wasn’t with intent but it told a good story. Having a pastor experience all of this sort of puts a more realistic, attainable, spin on understanding pastors. They’re real people, but if they could go through this, anyone could go through it.

You’re writer, director, and main actor. What made you decide to fill all of those roles?

Budget. Budget forced me to dive into those roles. So we did some funding but the budget didn’t allow for more. I want to direct, I want to produce, I want to act. So it allowed me to try all of those things.

How did you go about casting the other actors?

The actors were cast based on people I knew in the acting scene in Maryland who agreed to work for an affordable rate.

Was it harder or easier to create the film outside of the Hollywood scene with different resources?

It was easier to get the film made, at least in my experience. We were able to dive into an indie filmmaking journey. A lot of actors and crew people outside of Hollywood are in it for the art, the networking, and the building of the career. Sometimes inside the Hollywood circle, the focus shifts toward the moneymaking and the praise. Just dealing with the people in this area made it easier.

Your film seems like it must be low budget because of its simplicity but the production values in cinematography, editing, everything else is high class. How did you pull that off?

I spent a lot of time before I put pen to paper in prayer and in research. I researched what I would be doing before I did it. Before I directed, I researched directing. I worked on a faith-based film before, Badge of Faith (originally Kicked by Grace) by StoneTable Films and just watched how things were done.

Some of your film is shot inside a prison. How did you get permission for that?

[Laughs] God Almighty! We shot at the Jessup Penitentiary of the Maryland State Correctional Institution. I called multiple jailhouses and on about the seventh call, they said yes. I have no idea why they approved it, but they did, and we had a day to shoot there.

What’s next?

We’re promoting this one and we’ll begin working on funding for our next film. I want to start filming this summer. We’re going to go the full-blown comedy route. In regard to filmmaking, I’m really big on realism and not corny stuff. When you’re dealing with real stuff, it just makes it more relatable. That’s why I think it’s important to be real and tell a great story.

The comedic scene in Catastasis was written in but the couple (Leshe Shari and Derek Bridges) performed it really well. They’re a real couple, and Leshe is someone I work with all of the time. Derek has never acted on that level, but he did an amazing job.

If I could write you a blank check to produce the movie of your choice, one original and one remake, what would it be?

The easy answer is I don’t know what original movie I’d make right now because I would pray, and allow God to give it to me. When I wrote Catastasis, I don’t remember anything about the writing process. I really try to make God at the center of it. If we had a budget, I’d be praying hard!

Loving the Bad Man is an independent movie. Stephen Baldwin is one of the lead characters. It’s one of the most amazing Christian movies I’ve ever seen from a storytelling perspective. But it’s not top quality production though, and it needs redone! [Laughs] But the message is amazing.

I still have to come back to Catastasis: few movies ever hook me the way yours did. I’m hard to fool, and this was just … awesome.

If someone is caught of guard with anything in life, it sticks with them. We intentionally wanted to make sure that the audience believed one thing through the catastasis, and built that up, and then we switched it on them. It hits them hard. 

Check out the review here.

This is a film intended for mature audiences. It has a PG-13 rating for themes and violence, that is certainly justified. It releases April 3! 


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