There’s an unspoken, sometimes spoken, pressure on a preacher’s son, especially the eldest: He, too, will stand in a pulpit and deliver God’s word.
To follow the film online, go to www.facebook.com/dominionmovie or watch a sneak peak at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bid2lhMhbu8.
Jason Gourdine felt that pressure.
His father, Sam Gourdine, is pastor of Abiding Word Family Ministries, a growing church in Moncks Corner.
Everyone in the family plays a role there: Gourdine’s mother is co-pastor, his sister a minister and his brother a drummer and creative mastermind.
Gourdine was music minister, and he, too, felt called to serve. Just not in the pulpit.
His ministry is in film.
Gourdine’s first full-length film, produced by the company he created, Crown Vision Media, aims to inspire but not alienate audiences turned off by heavy doses of Christian evangelization.
It’s the difference between Christian films and films made by Christians, he says.
“My generation, we don’t like being preached to,” says the 29-year-old Gourdine about faith-based media. “So we’re not being overt at all in this film.”
The Berkeley High School graduate paid for the film himself with support from an all-volunteer cast and crew that supported its message.
The film, “Dominion: Media Matters” is in final editing stages. Gourdine is eyeing an Oct. 19 release date. That’s his 30th birthday. And the film is his ultimate birthday gift: to himself, his church, his community and anyone else inspired by it.
“This is my pulpit,” he says.
From idea to film
The project began as an Easter play that Gourdine directed in 2011 with a group at Abiding Word, a church his father built from their Pinopolis home in 1996 to a growing church of 300 worshippers each Sunday today.
Gourdine and the group redid the Easter play the following year.
But he felt frustrated working all year on something seen only by those on hand for one day.
What if they put it on film? Then, people could watch it in theaters, on DVD and online whenever it suited them.
“I want to reach people who are never going to set foot in a church,” Gourdine says.
He also noticed a trend.
In Hollywood, film production companies were partnering with faith groups to make films, ones that have surprised industry watchers. Turns out, audiences will flock to inspirational movies, including Christian ones.
For instance, mega-church pastor and media giant T.D. Jakes and his company teamed up with Our Stories Film to produce “Jumping the Broom” in 2011. The film starred Angela Bassett and was picked up by Sony Pictures.
Why not try that locally?
The idea sparked Gourdine’s passions both to uplift people and to work in film.
He had attended Morris College as a broadcast major but switched to business administration for practical reasons. After college, he worked for a car company, using his extra money to invest in real estate and save profits.
The money was good. But he wasn’t happy.
His love was film and broadcast.
So, he moved to a radio station where he could learn about the industry and sales and also take classes. He graduated last year with a master’s in business entertainment.
In the meantime, he was writing. He created a script about a man named Jonathan Zander, a media giant known for his cut-throat approach to business.
After a shady deal draws unwanted attention, Zander lures in Sheldon Marcus, a socially inept yet talented man who leaves a life of mediocrity to find fortune under Zander’s tutelage.
Success and wealth working on Zander’s social media site leaves Marcus facing an age-old choice when he realizes his boss is corrupt: Challenge a man who could destroy him in the name of what is right? Or, feed his ego and wallet and live with the moral failure the choice demands?
“You can relate to the characters and see yourself. It draws us to look at ourselves and ask, ‘How can we do better?’ ” Pastor Sam Gourdine says.
Words into action
Once the script was complete, Gourdine didn’t need to leave home to cast the inspirational thriller or to find sets and scenery.
He began with an open casting call in North Charleston, expecting a dozen or so people. Instead, about 60 actors auditioned and another 50 or so sent in tapes.
Meanwhile, Gourdine searched all over for a cinema photographer, and found his top choice living right across the street from him. Geno Dimaria had moved to town from Arizona.
They started filming in November.
The cast and crew, dedicated to the concept, weren’t paid. They shot 14-to 16-hour days at times through the end of May.
“We told them what we were trying to do here,” Gourdine recalls. “They liked the message and loved the art of acting.”
Gourdine’s family and church members also pitched in time and talents. His brother, Nicholas, plays main character Sheldon Marcus. His father even makes an appearance.
Local up-and-coming makeup and costume students hopped on board.
Then, in the middle of shooting, the actor who played the main character called to say he was leaving the project. He was the star, the most experienced actor involved.
Gourdine spent several days in despair.
Then, the team regrouped.
And Dylan Christian came on board, a move that changed much about the film. A younger actor who also models, Christian became the new face — and tone — of the project.
Gourdine realized the change would better attract the younger audiences he wanted to reach.
“It worked out perfectly. The whole feeling of the film changed,” Gourdine recalls. “It was one of those providential things.”
Gourdine feverishly rebuilt the script. First, he switched the film’s setting from an office to a club. Then, he reworked dialogue and other foundations.
“That was an intense time,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to lose the momentum.”
They returned to filming a month later.
This summer has been nonstop for Gourdine and promises to remain so.
Gourdine married his new wife, Dontrell, last month. They traveled to Paris and returned to their home in Pinopolis this month to put final touches on editing while Dontrell started a nonprofit called Push 4 Change to raise funds for a school in Ghana.
The couple’s wedding registry included school supplies to send to the school.
In early August, the “Dominion” cast will shoot a promotional trailer and public service announcements about the film and its theme of “awakening your greatness.”
They hope to air them on local TV and radio in mid-September.
Then, on to the premiere.
Gourdine wants “Dominion” to open in Charleston, hopefully at a local theater. Then, he’ll hit the festival circuit and try to find a distributor.
“It will all be worth it if our film can inspire the lives of our audience and bring more attention to Charleston’s film community,” cast member Eric Lee Galloway says.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.
The film slate from “Dominion: Media Matters.”×
Nicholas Gourdine stars in “Dominion: Media Matters,” an upcoming film about difficult moral choices.×
Jason Gourdine of Pinopolis created his own film company and partnered with a Moncks Corner church to create the new film, “Dominion: Media Matters” due to premiere in October.×
A scene from the inspirational thriller “Dominion: Media Matters,” which is set to premiere in October.×
Actor Dylan Christian plays media giant Jonathan Zander, a shady but powerful media mogul in the film “Dominion: Media Matters.”×
Jason Gourdine has created his own film company and partnered with a Moncks Corner church to produce a new inspirational film, “Dominion: Media Matters.”×
Jason Gourdine has created his own film company and partnered with a Moncks Corner church to produce a new inspirational film, “Dominion.”×