A local man’s passionate efforts to inspire teenagers with a Christian message has produced his first feature film, which opens to the public Sept. 7.
Pastor Joseph Curry premiered “Locker Room the Movie” to an enthusiastic audience Aug. 17 at St. Clair 10 Cine in Fairview Heights. Now it will run for one week at Edge 5 Theaters in Belleville.
Curry said the response has been overwhelming.
“It has been so unbelievable. The premier was sold out. Everyone enjoyed it and had a great time. I’m pretty happy!” he said.
Many people cite the Christian message in their praise of the film, he said.
“Everyone tells me it’s the message — that no matter what your situation is in life, God is still there,” he said. “It’s a great, universal message. It’s about changing your attitude from anger to helpful.”
In addition, audience members told him they liked that praying and scripture are included in the film.
“Locker Room the Movie” addresses loss, change, bullying and atheism.
Curry, who wrote and directed, focused on a young basketball player who loses his father, and then loses interest in basketball. He has trouble adapting to a new life and new school. He becomes a very rebellious teen.
Curry, who lives in O’Fallon, started the script in 2015, and spent time in 2017 and this year filming it.
He made the leap to filmmaking after writing six inspirational books. His wife, Shamika, inspired him.
“I wanted to make it relevant, that you can turn your dreams into reality, that you can do it. My wife said young people today are a sight and sound generation. So that’s why I decided my next project would be a film. My purpose is to encourage,” he said.
More than 20 young people were involved in the movie. Auditions were held in the metro-east.
The film became a family project. His wife was assistant first director, and both a son and daughter were in the cast.
“My wife helped me out a lot. So did my good friend Donta Moore. He helped with editing, and did a phenomenal job with everything,” he said.
They shot the film in the area — local parks, school, and other locations.
During the process, he learned patience, and that things don’t always go as planned.
“Timing is everything,” he said, with a laugh.
Another thing he learned is how to coax performances from a cast.
“I learned how to bring out characters, how to bring people out of their shells,” he said. “It made me into a better writer and director.”
With one film down, he is ready to start another one. In fact, the script is ready — “Chess on the Ground.” It has a Christian message and is about a young chess player who gives his life over to God, but first must help his sister out, he said.
Curry is going to film it in Atlanta and has permission to use the Tyler Perry Studios. He is scouting locations in preparation for the shoot.
“I made some contacts with people who work at the Tyler Perry Studios,” he said.
The film projects fit in with his ministry and mentorship. He is the pastor of World Harvest Faith Church, which is in Fairview Heights;
Curry grew up in East St. Louis and is a graduate of Lincoln High School. He moved away to Jacksonville, Fla., for a time, but returned to the area.
He is also writing a book based on “Locker Room — The Movie,” but is committed to pursuing film as well.
“I definitely want to do more film,” he said.
For more information about the show times of “Locker Room — The Movie,” visit www.edge5theatres.com. The theater is located at 701 South Belt West in Belleville.
Curry plans to be there on opening night.
“I encourage everyone to take a look at the movie,” he said. “I am not going to pat myself on the back just yet, but I am very happy the response has been so positive.”
“Locker Room — The Movie” has a Facebook page. His church website is www.worldharvestfaith.org.