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Christian Living

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The Song a Sexy Movie with a Redemptive Message

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

When it was learned that City on a Hill Productions was making a movie based on the sometimes racy Old Testament book Song of Solomon, word quickly leaked out that they were making the “sexiest Christian movie of the year”.  While the words “sexy” and “Christian” don’t seem to naturally mix, The Song, opening in theaters nationwide this weekend, does unpack a very powerful message – without God, life is meaningless.

Starring Anthem Lights frontman Alan Powell, The Song, follows the life of a world-weary musician as he strives to make a name for himself while staying true to the woman he loves.  As his character learns, this is certainly not easy in an industry that thrives on wine, women, and song.

I recently sat down with Powell and the movie’s director, Rich Ramsey, to discuss why a movie about King Solomon needs to be made at this time, whether The Song lives up to its advance billing, and how this movie will speak to Christian audiences in a positive way.

From your perspective as lead actor and director, what is the movie The Song all about?

Rich Ramsey: It’s basically a redemptive love story and a cautionary tale about the things we all pursue, love and meaning, and it’s about an aspiring singer-songwriter whose life and marriage suffer when the song he writes for his wife propels him to stardom. It’s inspired by the life and writings of King Solomon.

Alan had limited acting experience prior to this movie.  As a director, what compelled you to cast him in the lead role as Jed King in The Song?

Rich Ramsey: When you’re doing a film about a musician, you want the practical things of can they sing, can they act, can they play the instrument? But if you’re casting a musician who’s going to be famous, you’re looking for swagger. You’re looking for someone who just walks in and you just feel this kind of—someone famous just walked in, and I feel like he had that.

As someone who has been a professional musician for quite a while, do you see any similarities between you and your character, Jed King?

Alan Powell: The truth of the matter is I just am Jed King. I wanted to show up on set and read things the way that I would read them. There’s a scene in particular where Jed comes back from being on the road, I think the caption in the movie says six months later, so he’s been on the road for a while, it implies that he’s come back every now and then but he’s been gone symmetrically for a while, that scene I just remember when we were shooting that day, telling Rich, “I’ve literally said these lines.” Because I’m a musician and I travel a lot and I’m gone, or once before I’ve been gone a lot because my wife and I have certainly had those discussions and those arguments. He comes back and she’s saying, like, “I told you to do something romantic.” And I was like, “I was just trying to do something romantic.” There is just this total disconnect between husband and wife in that situation where he thinks he’s off doing the loving thing of earning a living and coming back and needing his wife’s support, and she’s going, “but I just need you.” These are things that I certainly have dealt with. So I really drew from that similarity to kind of structure Jed and those feelings to find him.

As your first movie project, do you think basing the movie on Song of Solomon was a good idea?  I confess when I was 10 or 11 years old, I’d sit in church pretty bored and that was the book to read for all the wrong reasons.

Rich Ramsey: I was approached by City on a Hill Productions because they wanted to make a movie about the Song of Solomon or at least base it on Song of Solomon.  They felt that that’s just kind of where the winds are blowing in the church and in the world right now. It seems like a lot of churches don’t tackle that book and a lot of Christians may not know why it’s in the Bible, and they just thought it was a good opportunity to tackle that subject and sort of address it.  Their mentality was if we as Christians don’t speak into this, the world is very busy speaking into it on a minute-by-minute basis, so there should be a new voice in the conversation cinematically.

What is the core and the essence of this movie?

Rich Ramsey: I would definitely say marriage and couples and paralleling the Song of Solomon is definitely a major running theme, but I would say that the controlling idea of the feature film is the Ecclesiastes question. That’s what we’re speaking into Jed’s character the whole time. This question of meaning and what brings life meaning is a much deeper issue than anything we do with life and that certainly includes love and marriage. So that was certainly the most moving aspect for me of the film. It was the Ecclesiastical portion of meaning in life and what that looks like apart from God.

This movie is being called the sexiest faith-based movie of the year. Does this make you nervous regarding possibility of backlash from Christian audiences?

Rich Ramsey: Sometimes, but I feel like we’ve had enough people come up to us and say, “Well, I love it but I just don’t know how everybody else is going to feel about it.” And I’m like, well, there’s going to be enough of you to make an audience at this point because I feel like I’ve had countless people say that. So, I think I’m worried about it, but I kind of want to preemptively say to anyone who wants to start that backlash, if we don’t talk about this who’s going to talk about it?

Alan Powell: I feel like you can hear that tagline, and maybe it’s just me, but for some reason I expect a different kind of sexy than what’s actually in the film. I mean, there’s certainly nothing inappropriate. The only time I ever even kiss someone in this movie; it’s actually my wife in real life.  I applaud the moviemakers that they didn’t ask the lead character making the film about the priority of marriage to de-prioritize his own marriage. We walked away from that experience and I know that I didn’t compromise my wife. She was there with me the whole time. We watched it together. So it’s fine if you call it that certainly, but I just wouldn’t want people to expect anything different.

We’ve just discussed the potential negatives of this film. How is The Song going to speak to the faith audience in a positive way?

Rich Ramsey: I think based on the feedback we’ve had there’s a lot of appreciation for honesty and authenticity. The relationships are messy but the film is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It really describes what life is like if we’re honest rather than how we think it should be. It’s a Christian film that when you watch it, it has very high entertaining values, so it doesn’t feel like you’re taking medicine to watch it. So all those are really positives and then I think Christians have really responded to the scriptural voiceover, the parallels to the life of Solomon. There are many clever allusions throughout the film to the original source material, but I’m also confident that there will be just general moviegoers who enjoy the redemptive love story and the cautionary tale that it presents.

If you had to pick one central message that you’re trying to convey in The Song to the audiences, what would that be and why?

Alan Powell: I am drawn back to, “Without God, life is meaningless.” From the first time I read the script through production to every time we see it now, that for me is continually the message that I take away every time, and I think ultimately this for me is what the film is really about.

What is your greatest hope for The Song?

Alan Powell: I’ve heard a couple of times that husbands when they left, they’d text their wives immediately and just told them that they love them which to me is a manifestation of just putting priorities in place for them in their own life. I think if it does that on whatever level that means for someone, whether they work out and they text their spouse or they walk out and they just kind of take stock of what’s important to them, I really think that you’ve done something pretty eternally impactful if you’re able to do that for individuals in their life as they walk out.

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