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History is Alive at "Beyond the Mask's" Red Carpet Premiere
History is Alive at "Beyond the Mask's" Red Carpet Premiere

History is Alive at "Beyond the Mask's" Red Carpet Premiere

By Michelle Cox

The film Beyond the Mask features the story of Will Reynolds, the leading mercenary of the British East India Company. After being double-crossed, Will is on the run in the American colonies. Working to restore his name and to win the woman who’s captured his affections, Will hides behind a new mask as he seeks to foil his former employer. But as his past life intrudes, Will’s challenge is to gain the help and trust of Charlotte Holloway (and Ben Franklin) as he works to neutralize a plot of historical proportions.

In Beyond the Mask, Director Chad Burns and Producer Aaron Burns provide a new action-adventure film that the whole family can enjoy. The script was co-written by Stephen Kendrick (Courageous and Fireproof) and Paul McCusker (Adventures in Odyssey), and the music (which is amazing!) was composed by Jurgen Beck. While providing fun entertainment, the film also brings history to life and celebrates “grace, liberty and the true freedom that can only be found in Christ.”

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A Red Carpet World Premiere

Have you ever wondered what it’s like when a movie premieres? I got to experience a bit of that last week when I traveled to Detroit as part of the press junket for the red carpet world premiere of Beyond the Mask, and I’m delighted to share some of those moments with you. The excitement was contagious, both from the producers and stars, and from the large crowd dressed in their glamorous best.

Some of my favorite moments happened on the red carpet as the producer and director and many of the stars shared about their experiences with the film and about their faith. I loved the tears in their eyes and the passion in their voices as they shared what God had accomplished during their time working on the movie.

The cast and crew and many of the 400+ volunteers waited with great anticipation for the screening of the movie to begin. This was the first time that many of the stars had seen the final result of their hard work. There were tender and laugh-out-loud moments during the film, and rousing applause filled the theater as the credits began to roll on the screen. 

A highlight of the evening was the after-party at the castle where many of the scenes from the movie had been filmed. The reception was held outdoors, with the white tents, twinkling lights, and servers in period costumes providing an almost fairy-tale atmosphere. Guests were allowed to tour the castle, enjoying breathtaking hand-painted ceilings, ornate rooms, and displays of props and gorgeous period costumes from the movie.           

Behind the Scenes and the Story Behind the Film

Producer Aaron Burns and Director Chad Burns had both been on a spiritual adventure prior to making Beyond the Mask. They knew they wanted to make a movie about “finding our identity in Christ.” Chad says, “God wants our hearts and not just our hands. Your hands will follow your heart.”

Aaron Burns added, “This movie is for families. It’s fun, with a strong message of redemption.” The cousins hope that when viewers leave the theater, the characters will continue to live with them.

There were many challenges in making the movie. Chad says, “It wasn’t a mountain, it was a mountain range. There were so many steps and pieces, with fundraising, the story, and dealing with period pieces.” The cousins were surprised and touched by the 400+ people who volunteered. That was just one more area where God provided. And one of the big moments came as an answer to fervent prayer. They had set a deadline to raise the funding. On the date of the deadline, the exact amount they needed came in. It was a huge faith moment for all involved.    

Sometimes it’s also interesting to hear about the unexpected things that happen on set. Kara Killmer (Charlotte Holloway in the movie) shared several humorous moments that happened during filming. She tells about one of the segments where she and Andrew Cheney (who plays William Reynolds) were doing a scene in the water. Kara says, “I went to lift him up by his period costume, but it was made out of wool, and once it became wet, it was so heavy that I had trouble pulling him up.” She also told how it was so cold one day for the water scene shoot that they had to chew ice cubes to keep their breath from steaming.

The entire experience of making the film impacted the cast and crew. Ade M’Cormack (Joshua Brand in the movie) says, “I’m proud of everyone’s work. Seeing the finished product and the special effects makes me realize I was part of something special.”   

Meet the Director and Producer

Producer Aaron Burns and Director Chad Burns are cousins. Both were homeschooled, and using their deep pool of family talent, they did their first film, Quest for Glory, as a family/school project.

They moved into the action adventure arena with their second film, Pendragon, which won awards and played nationally. With the addition of Beyond the Mask, the two have staked their claim on the action-adventure landscape for faith and family films. 

Whether their films occur during the Civil War, Colonial America, or Old England time- frames, Burns Family Studios has one goal, “We are committed to producing quality, Christ-centered action adventure films, because we believe stories can touch hearts, and Christ can change lives. Our goal is to reach as many individuals, families and churches as we can with a message that will quicken the spirit, fire the imagination and inspire the family.”  

Meet the Cast:

Andrew Cheney (Lead actor, William Reynolds)

Andrew Cheney (Rebels of the Book and Seasons of Gray) said that as a guy, it was awesome to play his role. He especially enjoyed the fight scenes and dealing with the weaponry.

Andrew hopes that viewers will have a good time as they enjoy the adventure and history, and that they will find the deeper meaning in the movie. He describes the film as “a fun escape, a fictional world based in truth.” And he desires that as viewers follow Will’s journey from evil to better, that they will see the journey, take off the masks in their own lives, and ask themselves questions.

Kara Killmer (Lead actor, Charlotte Holloway)

Kara Kilmer (If I Can Dream and Chicago Fire) read the script for Beyond the Mask and described it as “a page-turner.” She says, “I loved Pirates of the Caribbean and wanted to do that type of film—something fun with period pieces and history.” 

John Rhys-Davies (Charles Kemp)

John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Return to the Hiding Place) says that one of the things that drew him to this role was that “I love swash-and-buckle films. I also love period films that have their own strong values. I love working with young directors who really know what they’re doing. It’s an important project—just the ability to make a film that’s outside the Hollywood studio type, and it’s about important things—like how do we forgive ourselves, how do we change our lives around.”

He hopes viewers will feel that they’ve had a good evening out, that they’ve learned a little bit, or been stimulated to have a look into that period of history. He says, “It’s a film about love and redemption. How wonderful to see a film that the whole family can see.”

Ade M’Cormack (Joshua Brand)

Ade M’Cormack is an actor and producer (Captain America and Lost). When asked what drew him to the role he replies, “The script was just amazing. I thought the budget must be astronomical. It looked like a studio production. I fell in love with the character. I’d never seen a character like Joshua Brand in a movie ever. This movie was set in the 1700s and people who are African-Americans are never portrayed like this. I remember thinking that I had to do this, and I couldn’t wait to get on set and do it.”

He hopes that viewers will take away that everyone can make a change. He says, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, it’s important to know that you can change. Wake up one day and commit to being different. You can do all things through Christ.”

When asked about the challenges of his role, he laughs and says, “I didn’t realize I was going to do so many stunts. My father was very protective when I was a child and I was never allowed to climb trees.” When Ade had to zip-line on the set one day, he remembers thinking, I’m glad my dad’s not here. But he decided he’d do it—and then he couldn’t wait to do it again.

Ade was touched by the people who worked on the film, their kindness, how Christian they were. “I’ve never met people like this who were so beautiful inside and out, and that touched me so deeply.”

He continues, “One of the things that people think when they look at the film poster is that I’m very mean. Really, I’m a geek. I love reading books and watching the news. I’m a complete nerd.”

One of the things about the film that makes him extra proud is all the people who worked so hard on the movie. He says, “Seeing the finished product, I was so proud of being part of something that was so special.”

And the fact that Ade was part of something so special, wasn’t just happenstance. He shares a wonderful story. “When I graduated from the conservatory of film, my aunt and my late mother sat me in a room and said, ‘Our prayer for you is that you’ll be a shining light in Hollywood and that you’ll do roles that will glorify God.’”

Ade says, “I’m so glad they made that prayer, because through my work, I get to share the gospel.”

“Young people are going to love this film. I’ve seen it now four times, and it will appeal to kids of all ages. There is something for everyone.”    

Additional cast members include Alan Madeleine as Benjamin Franklin, Charlie Newhart as Jeremiah Flack, Michael Ellison as Abraham Wick, John Arden McClure as George Washington, Annie Kitral as Mrs. Holloway, and Carl Harry Carlson as the Continental Congress Delegate.

So what’s next for the filmmakers? Aaron and Chad Burns want to continue making adventure movies that will inspire and entertain young people.

I loved Beyond the Mask, and I hope they will—and judging by the reactions of those who have seen the movie, a lot of other people hope so as well.

Rating

Beyond the Mask is rated PG for “action, violence, and some thematic elements.”

For Additional Information

To learn more about Beyond the Mask, visit BeyondtheMaskMovie.com. Study guides, videos explaining the themes, and a church packet for pastors are also available there.

Beyond the Mask opens on June 5. Check BeyondtheMaskmovie.com for locations and show times. And don’t forget to take your family, friends, and church groups!

Michelle Cox is the creator of the Just 18 Summers® brand of parenting resources and products. Her Just 18 Summers novel is available now. Visit Michelle at her website/parenting blog at www.just18summers.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MichelleCoxInspirations, and on Twitter @michelleinspire.

Courtesy of a national publicist and Burns Family Studios, Michelle attended the red carpet world premiere as part of the press junket for Beyond the Mask.


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