By Donald James Parker
I recently ran across an advertisement for a movie called The Genius Club and was immediately fascinated, to the point of emailing the Director (and Author). Much to my surprise, I received a very warm email in return. A few days later, I came on board with The Christian Pulse and needed to interview someone in the film industry. There was no doubt in my mind of who my first candidate would be. The most impressive thing about Tim is that despite having been schooled at some of the most prestigious institutions, he is a nice guy! Hope you enjoy him as much as I do.
Tim Chey’s Bio:
He was educated at Harvard University, USC Film School, and Boston University School of Law. Chey's work has been seen on E! Entertainment, The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times, VIBE TV, MTV, Daily Variety, Hollywood Reporter, TNT, USA Networks, the Dove Awards, MovieGuide Awards, People Magazine, and the New York Times.
Chey was the recipient of the prestigious ‘Spirit of the Independent’ award for Best Director. He served as Chairman of the Student Awards committee at the Director’s Guild of America.
Chey has written and directed four feature films, including ‘The Genius Club’ which stars Carol Abney, Stephen Baldwin, Jacob Bonnema, Tricia Helfer, Matt Medrano, Philip Moon, Paula Jai Parker, Huntley Ritter, Jack Scalia, and Tom Sizemore.
TCP: What do you see in the future of Christian movies in general?
Tim: You know, if you look at motion picture history since it began in 1899, only a handful of Christian films were ever made until the 1990’s. Then, a ton of them got made in the last decade; so I have great hope for the future.
TCP: Can you tell us what River Rain will be working on over the next couple of years – the Lord willing – or this topic secret?
Tim: We’ll be making and producing several Christian films in the next decade if the Lord tarries. It’s all about doing God’s will and not running ahead. We also have to be careful we’re not competing with any other Christian filmmakers, but helping them.
TCP: What kind of role does prayer play in the writing, directing, and producing of your films?
Tim: Prayer is everything. Because the Lord will guide you to the right project and you have peace about it. I’m becoming a firm Believer that if the Lord is not with you on the project, you could have the entire Ocean’s 11 cast and it will not succeed from a Christian point of view.
TCP: How hard is it to put your ego off to the side, let the Lord work through you and let constructive criticism help you to improve the quality of your movies?
Tim: It’s been very hard to be honest. No other occupation on this planet gets more scrutinized than a filmmaker’s occupation. The hardest part is getting stabbed in the back by pseudo-Christians. Almost every Christian leader gets attacked these days on the internet, not from the secular community, but from its own. I read an article where this ‘Christian’ producer who’s made big studio movies said to the effect that Christians shouldn’t make movies that evangelize. Of course, the ministry completely agreed with him and honored this man. I couldn’t help but think what he’ll say when he stands before God – “Yes, you gave me this talent and ability and I used it to make ‘Halloween’. Show me my rewards!”
TCP: What answer do you have to the accusation that Christian movies are sub-standard?
Tim: What I find laughable is these accusers have never made a movie, period. It’s so easy to be an arm-chair quarterback until you actually play the game. I was listening to Jay Schroder, the former Christian NFL quarterback, speak about how hard it was to see sports reporters rip him in the papers and they never wore a jock-strap their entire life! I went to USC Film School and no one teaches you how to make a bad movie or encourages it. And especially as a Christian filmmaker, it’s hard to purposefully set out to make a bad or sub-standard movie for Christ. Having said that, our films could never compete with Hollywood’s standard because we don’t have their budget. This would be similar to what the Apostle Paul was saying about lacking in eloquence, but delivering the message. I was repeatedly attacked for my second film, ‘Gone’, by this knucklehead on the internet who kept finding ways to include my name, but not his. He calls himself a Christian, but when you read into him more carefully, you realize what he’s about. He wishes Stephen Baldwin would go back to his ‘foul-mouth’ self than star in Christian films. These were his words. Yet, people don’t see that – they see a ‘Christian’ guy bad mouthing ‘Gone’ and they get lured into the gossip. It’s Satan’s bait to bring down a film that has changed lives. One church emailed me to tell me after screening ‘Gone’, 7 young people came up to accept the Lord. The Christian filmmaking community is very small, so I know most of the filmmakers – Rich Christiano, Joe Goodman, Andre Van Heerden, Jerry and Dallas Jenkins, Steve McGonigle, etc. And, not one of them wants to make a bad film that would tarnish the name of Jesus Christ; not one of them. So, until these ‘Christian lite accusers raise a few million dollars, fend off greedy lawyers, coddle insecure actors, shoot in the snow and rain, listen to hundreds of music composers, edit the movie until 3 am, keep within the budget, work 14 hours a day, pray for quiet on the set, and still keep a smiling face for the crew, they should do what James in the Bible says and keep quiet.
TCP: How do you select one actor to play a role when hundreds of good actors audition?
Tim: Wonderful question! We had 6,000 actors apply for ‘The Genius Club’. I picked them not just on their acting performance, but also on their understanding of the script and their enthusiasm to do a good job. You also want to work with people you like. Life is too short to work with temperamental actors. Maybe it’s because I’m temperamental myself – something the Lord is still helping me deal with.
Stephen Baldwin is a great example of an actor who is both a great person on the set, but off the set as well. He really changed when he accepted the Lord in 2001.
TCP: How can you get non-believers interested in watching a Christian film?
Tim: A good example is ‘The Genius Club’. I’ve had all sorts of people email me from all parts of the world. When we released the film theatrically in Dallas, a lot of secular people came up to me to tell me how the film made them think about God. We were also at the Cannes Film Festival and a lot of countries were sold around the world, including one company in Mexico City. I just got back from there and it was #4 at the box office and the #1 independent film over the weekend out of 40 films.
TCP: When will The Genius Club pre-release DVD's ship?
Tim: The DVD will be released in January 2008!
TCP: Thank you so much, Tim. We will be revisiting The Genius Club in a few months and following Tim’s success in serving the Lord. You can visit now at http://www.thegeniusclubmovie.com/ and find out more. You can even pre-order the DVD. I did!
About the author: Donald James Parker is a novelist and computer programmer who resides in Puyallup, Washington. You can check out his website at www.donaldjamesparker.com?tcp