The Covenant Eyes Podcast

Exploring the Intersection of Faith and Science Fiction with Filmmaker Brock Heasley

December 11, 2023 Covenant Eyes, Angel Studios, The Shift Season 2 Episode 65
The Covenant Eyes Podcast
Exploring the Intersection of Faith and Science Fiction with Filmmaker Brock Heasley
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this exclusive interview, we dive into the world of 'The Shift,' a powerful and thought-provoking film directed by Brock Heasley. Learn about the journey behind the movie, its connection to the book of Job, and the unique blend of sci-fi and faith. Discover how Angel Studios and crowdfunding played a pivotal role in bringing this feature film to life.

Watch 'The Shift': https://www.angel.com/theshift
Explore more from Brock Heasley:
X/Twitter : https://twitter.com/brockheasley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerbrock/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directorbrock/

If you enjoyed the interview, don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more engaging content. Join the conversation in the comments below!

#TheShiftMovie #SciFiFaith #BrockHeasleyInterview #AngelStudios #FaithFilm #SciFi

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Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

Hi everybody, welcome back to the Covenant Eyes podcast. Karen, here one of the hosts, and we are just so excited to have you joining us today. We have a really special episode. We know our audience is always really interested in finding clean and fun, engaging entertainment and we have got a topic and a guest that's going to talk all about something really exciting that's coming out into theaters. But of course, we can't get started without introducing my co-host, rob Stoddard. Hey, rob.

Rob Stoddard, Church Outreach:

Hey, Karen. As you said, I'm Rob Stoddard and Karen, we do have an amazing guest today lined up. We're really excited about this. Our guest today is Brock Heasley. Brock is a writer, director, award-winning film director, and he really has a passion for telling stories that really have hope attached to him. His current film is the Shift is done by Angel Studios. It was released just last Friday, December 1st, and so we're going to have a chance to talk a little bit about that. So, Brock, welcome to the show.

Brock Heasley, Director:

Oh, thank you. Thank you, I'm glad to be here, rob and Karen. Good to see you both.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

You as well, so tell us a little bit about how you got to this place where you are releasing this amazing movie with Angel Studios. I'm sure there was a journey and a story involved in all of that, so share with our listeners a little bit about how you got here.

Brock Heasley, Director:

Yeah, so it has been an eight-year journey for me to get to this point. It started with job loss. Within 24 hours of each other, my wife and I would both lost our jobs and I'd had a 15-year career as a graphic designer up until that point and I thought that's what I was going to do with my life and, after trying very hard and failing to secure a new job, after a lot of prayer, made the decision to pivot into the film industry and to make zero money, because when you join the film industry, there is not a clear path to money. But it was something that we very much felt led to do and thank goodness that we did. Within a year, I was writing and directing my first short film, called the Shift, about a man who has an encounter with a mysterious stranger and involves. It's a sci-fi film called the Multiverse, in more of a metaphorical, allegorical way and ends with a moment of prayer. That audience is found to be pretty powerful, and Angel Studios found it to be pretty powerful too, and when they saw it a couple years later, they said hey, do you have more to this story? Because, if you do, we'd like to help you turn it into a feature film through crowdfunding investment. And here we are, here we are and the movie's actually. It's real, it came out, it happened. So it's been an incredible, difficult, but incredible journey.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

That's awesome, and crowdfunding is like a new way that you know. I mean, angel Studios is really doing a great job with this, but it's a really great way for the audience to contribute to the kind of films that get developed right. I mean, is that how that works? Yeah, that's awesome, yeah that's exactly it.

Brock Heasley, Director:

It's about putting it in front of the audience and asking them what do you want to see? And if they want to see it, then they'll invest in it. And you know, usually the way movies get made is it's a bunch of guys in very nice suits determining what the public should see. And Angel Studios says that's not really the best model. Why don't we ask people what they want to see? And with Angel Studios, of course, what they're specifically putting in front of people are stories that amplify light, and that could mean stories of faith, but it could mean other stories as well, just as long as they fit that criteria, if they're putting some good out into the world. And so they felt very strongly the shift fit into that category and the audience did like don't see any change.

Rob Stoddard, Church Outreach:

That's wonderful. I think people are just longing for something positive in the entertainment field, and certainly Christians are for sure. So tell us a little bit more about the shift. I understand it's based on the book of Job. Is that correct? How does that work into this story?

Brock Heasley, Director:

Yeah, I like to say it's inspired by the book of Job. I think Job is a story, it's one of the oldest books in the Bible as we understand it and I think it has so much to say about the experience that we have here in this life, the struggle that we have and why we have this struggle and what are the two forces that are fighting for us within that struggle, whether it's the adversary or God. And so, in crafting this story and expanding this story from the short film into a feature film, I really thought about Job and about how Job is somebody who, at the beginning of his story, he's a believer. He's somebody who has a degree of righteousness, so much so that God has confidence in him that he will be able to face down the trials that come to him. But that's a very unusual story. We don't really know too much about Job before that. We don't know what caused him to be so faithful. I know from my experience that my faith, the strength of my faith, comes from some really difficult things and challenges that I've had to deal with and I've had to overcome through the strength that I am able to receive from my Savior. And so Kevin, our protagonist here in the shift. He has this profound experience in the first act of the film, where he recognizes the reality of God and from there he has a Job-like experience where God seems to pull away and he's left on his own and he's trying to figure out what to do within that and why, in the world, as a believer, is somebody who's doing the right thing and has proven himself to a degree. Why is he going through all this? And I think that's what Job is asking and I think that's what a lot of us are asking why is life so hard, even though we're doing the best we can?

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

That's so true, absolutely something that our listeners can really relate to, and, I think, the general populace as well. So the movie's been out and what has the reception been? Among you know, not just Christians, but the population in general. What are people saying and how are they receiving this film?

Brock Heasley, Director:

You know, this film is provoking a lot of conversation and that was really what I wanted to do. I'm not interested in watching and I'm not interested in making stories that tell people. This is how you should feel and think about this. This is the answer. Certainly, there are some answers within this. There's questions posed and there's some ideas that are thrown out there, but what I am so encouraged by is how people are warmly receiving the conversation that this film is provoking, that I've had many people say to me or say to others don't go alone to this movie, because as soon as the movie's over, you're going to want to turn to the person next to you, so there better be somebody there because you're going to want to talk to them. I've heard about people having conversations the next day and three days after and then going back again because they feel like there's more to dig into. And what I'm also encouraged by is people having just such a profound emotional and spiritual experience with this film. It's really having a powerful effect on people and that is as a storyteller, as a filmmaker. That's so encouraging and it tells me that, at least for a lot of people, we kind of accomplished what we were setting out to do.

Rob Stoddard, Church Outreach:

Yeah, that's so cool. So I love the genre of this, the science fiction background, the multi-universe have you one? Have you always been kind of drawn to that? And but then how, how hard is it, I guess, to draw on that spiritual side? I saw an interview you did where you called it theo fiction. I love that word. So you know how hard is it to combine those two. And have you always loved science fiction?

Brock Heasley, Director:

Well, I have always loved science fiction. Science fiction is my favorite genre and, honestly, it's the world's favorite genre. Of the top 10 films of all time, seven of them are science fiction films. So these are the types of movies that and the types of stories that that we crave, and certainly for me. I mean, I'm a sci-fi geek going from way back, but also, throughout my entire life, my faith has been very, very important to me, and since science fiction is such a great vehicle for tackling all sorts of subjects, you know, I mean you look at Star Trek in the way that you know the social issues of the day are often brought forward in Star Trek episodes. In these, you know these futuristic settings, in a way that everybody gets to come to the table, no matter their political leaning or how they, how they feel about the issues. We get to come to the table that Star Trek has set and we get to see these things in a different way and in a different light. And so I've always just wondered, like, why isn't anybody really talking about faith within the genre of science fiction, since science fiction is so malleable? So, for me, combining the two, bringing faith and talking about my faith within this science fiction setting. It really made a lot of sense to me and it never it didn't. Yeah, like they just naturally fit together. Now I say all that and I know there's people listening right now who are like my God is not fictional, how dare you, how dare you, you know, bring science fiction and, you know, bring God into science fiction. That doesn't make any sense. And I get that because it's new and it's different and it hasn't really been done. But I would invite people to check out the film. I think those who check out the film, those, if there is a concern there, it quickly goes away because they understand what we're doing. And with this movie we're using allegory and metaphor that's available to us in science fiction to express truth and principles and it's and it's very clear how we're doing that.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

That's incredible, and you know you worked with some pretty incredible actors and actresses for this film. Yeah, how was that working with some really top of class, like you know, profiles? I mean, this is kind of incredible.

Brock Heasley, Director:

Oh, so intimidating and so and so exciting as a first time writer, director, it's. It's a real privilege and it's a rare privilege to have actors at this caliber on my first feature film. And you know a lot of our actors Neil McDonough, sean Astin these are two actors who have a long career in Hollywood that I was very familiar with and so working with them was just absolutely intimidating and absolutely a thrill because they are Cotsman professionals, supported me well and respected, even as a first time director, respected what I brought to the table. Christopher Palaja, who plays our lead, kevin, he's somebody who's work I was also familiar with, but I didn't realize how familiar I was with his work. He had been in so many things that I had seen and he turns in a performance that is just knock your socks off great. I mean, he is the every man, he's in every scene and he just put it. I don't know that there was an emotion that Chris did not cover in this film and I think he runs more than Tom Cruise. I mean it's incredible what he does in this movie. And Elizabeth Tabish, of course we all know from the Chosen, is Mary Magdalene, and in this movie she gets to use her real accent and she gets to play a contemporary woman who's very strong, and Liz brings so much nuance and it's just. It's so great to see her and Chris work together. John Billingsley an amazing character actor from Star Trek. He plays a really, really fun character that I think people are going to be excited by when they see him. Anyways, I could keep talking about the cast forever. We just had a top notch cast no weak links. If nothing else, this movie is very well acted.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

That's awesome. Oh my goodness, now you're a dad, right? So you have a family. What did they think about dad's film being on the big screen like this? They must be super stoked.

Brock Heasley, Director:

You know my family has been so patient through this. You know you don't do this job without the support of your family and the sacrifice of your family, um, and so they have been very supportive. They've also been like, okay, dad, you're going away again, you're going to go live in Alabama for four months to make, okay, great, go ahead. Um, my wife especially, uh, erin, she is, uh, I, this movie wouldn't exist without her. But I think my favorite review of the film came from my 12 year old daughter, who saw the film for the first time, um, just last week. And she, you know, look, I've been working on this for eight years. That means she was four years old when I started. She can't really remember a time when I wasn't working on this movie and, uh, and you know, like a lot of kids, she didn't necessarily even know what I was doing or what this movie was. And so she came into this movie not really understanding what it was. She watched it. She told me afterwards. She said she cried a lot First of all. She said eight times, she cried eight times in the movie, um, and she said that, uh, it was worth all the time you spent away from us, and that was what she said to me and, uh, that brought tears to my eyes that, uh, that's everything to me, that the sacrifice that she made, that my family made, feels like it was worth it because of the story, because of the work. Um, that's everything.

Rob Stoddard, Church Outreach:

Wow, thank you for sharing that. That is really, really special and we have no idea, I'm sure, what the sacrifice and the time away and all that went into that. But yeah, congratulations on that. That is really cool. So, Brock, tell us a little bit more about how you connected with Angel Studios and more so you know. Where do you see that going? Some future films hopefully coming through that?

Brock Heasley, Director:

Yeah, so I connected with Angel through just a cold submission, you know, like everybody else's can do. I submitted my work through their website and they saw it and they loved it, and so it went in front of the crowd and they got to decide whether or not it was worthy. So I'll always be grateful to them for seeing in my. It was actually a $500 short film that's what our budget was and they saw in this $500 short film the potential for a $7 million feature film. And so here we are and, yeah, now, having made this film, I have more stories that I want to tell. I think that the shift is showing that there is a new path to other types of stories that involve faith. I have more stories dealing with science fiction and embracing faith within that. I have a script. It's ready to go. I hope I would love to work with Angel again. I you know we'll see what happens, but I think the potential is certainly there.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

I think that's great news for this audience and all of our listeners all over the globe, because we are just craving this type of entertainment and this unique like approach to bringing light and into this space that traditionally is just. You know, hollywood has really done a bad job of letting things get out of control. I mean the movies and the things that come out of Hollywood. You can't sit down with your family anymore and watch a movie and enjoy it. You have to preview it first and then you got to have the remote control handy so you can fast forward through things or just not watch it at all. So this is exciting, brock. I'm just, I'm so excited to have our listeners get out there and watch this video. Where is this? In every theater across the nation, certain theaters. How do they get their hands on tickets and where do they go?

Brock Heasley, Director:

Yeah, we're in over 2400 theaters right now across the country and that's a wide release, so it should be available pretty near where you are. It shouldn't be too hard to find and you know it's, and that's a pretty remarkable thing for a film from an indie studio to get that kind of placement. So hats off to Angel Studios for that. And, of course, the more people that go and see this movie and what we are seeing the pattern that we're seeing is is that the word of mouth is spreading and this movie is actually holding on better than any other film that's out there right now. We're really holding on to our audience day to day, and so I think the word is spreading, which I mean, which increases the potential that the film will continue to be near where you are. That said, I'd say, go out and get it as soon as you can. Wonka is coming out real soon. It's going to start gobbling up some screens, but if you want to see it, if you want to find out where it's playing near you, go to angelcom, slash the shift and you can find out what the showtimes are. You can also watch the trailer there. And if you go to angelcom, slash, share the shift, you could pick up some free tickets. Angel Studios has a pay it forward program where people are able to pay prepay for somebody else's ticket and then those tickets can be claimed at angelcom slash. Share the shift. If you are somebody who just doesn't have enough means right now, you can get free tickets and then, of course, at that same URL, you can also pay it forward for somebody else.

Rob Stoddard, Church Outreach:

Now, that's incredible. It is locally, in my town. For sure I haven't had a chance to go see it, but me and my son are going to go see it this weekend, so definitely is out there, and so we're excited to go and see the whole thing. I've seen a big trailer on it, but well, that's wonderful. Brock, we were just so thankful that you had some time to spend with us today and just share a little bit about that story. Like Karen said, our audience just really is longing for really good quality entertainment that is entertaining but yet has that story and that hope in it, and so we're just so thankful that you were able to join us today. And any last words, any thoughts that you'd love to pass on to our audience?

Brock Heasley, Director:

Yeah, I would say just be prepared for a different kind of experience. If there's one thing that this film I think you can say safely about it is that there's nothing else quite like it. That's. That's something we get told over and over again and in the year where audiences have largely rejected franchises and sequels and which I believe they are looking for something new, I think we've got that for you and, as you say it is, it is clean, you know it's. It is a PG-13. It's PG-13 for it does have some violence. It's not graphic, but it's there, and it does have some heavier thematic elements. So if you're trying to figure out, you know who in your family can come and see it. Obviously that's going to depend on your children and their maturity level, but I like to say probably nine and up is pretty safe. I've definitely heard of children, even younger, coming to see it. But I very much wanted to make a film that was for adults In the true sense of the word. You know not, not not the way that Hollywood thinks of adult, because when they say adult they mean something very different. But when I say adult I mean something that has an intellectual and spiritual maturity to it, but that is also entertaining and can be enjoyed by the whole family, and without having to worry too much about you know, hitting that, that mute button or the pause button. So there's no profanity and there's no graphic violence, no sex.

Karen Potter, Director of Marketing:

That's awesome to hear. So to our audience, we're going to put all the links in the show notes so that you can, if you can't afford tickets and get those free tickets he was mentioning but you can also pay it forward get other people into the theaters to check this out. So, audience, you've got your marching orders. Let's go check out this film this weekend. Let's get out there and really make a difference and speak with our money. You know, put put some money behind where you know. We say where are we believing Like? If we want good, clean, full, some entertainment that we can go see, we've got to get out there and support people like Brock and his films. So thank you, brock, for joining us today. Thank you to Angel Studios. We are just so grateful for the work that you guys are doing over there To all of our listeners. Tune in again and we'll talk to you soon. God bless, take care.

The Shift
Science Fiction and Faith Intersection
Supporting Brock's Films