"Believe Me," a feature film about four college friends who start a fake Christian charity, examines the power of platforms and charismatic personalities, specifically among young Christians -- and parodies the religious scandals that oft-times hit faith communities.
The movie, which hits theaters nationwide September 26, focuses on main character Sam Atwell, played by actor Alex Russell, who is smart and cunning and who uses Christian rhetoric to strategically catch the attention of adoring followers who willingly donate their money to him.
But there's only one problem: Atwell is deceiving his fans, as he doesn't believe the messages he's preaching.
Image source: BelieveMeFilm.com
In fact, he only turned to his fake charity in an effort to pay his massive tuition bill, convincing his roommates to join him in an effort to travel the nation and collect fast cash.
<Eventually, Atwell is forced to decide what he really believes.
While the fictional film is intended to spawn laughter in audiences, director Will Bakke told TheBlaze this week that it deals with some very serious subjects, mainly "questions about the power of platforms" and why people believe someone simply because he or she is "on a stage wearing a mic."
Watch the "Believe Me" trailer below:
And read TheBlaze's question-and-answer with Bakke:
TheBlaze: What was your motivation behind making "Believe Me?"
Bakke: Simply put, my motivation was to tell a good story. We wanted to see what would happen if four outsiders got thrown into today’s Christian culture. On film, it’s easy to paint religion from extreme ends of the spectrum. And while faith is usually taken pretty seriously, there are a lot of funny things that believers of all religions do. We wanted to hold up a mirror to those funny things.
TheBlaze: Who is your intended audience?
Bakke: The subject matter is directed towards young people, but the truths are applicable to all ages. Everyone has had an experience with religion, whether good or bad, so the subject matter is relatable to most people. Because the emotions in the movie are so genuine, "Believe Me" could create a common ground for people from different belief systems; the crossover of audiences that connect with this story will surprise people.
TheBlaze: What are you hoping audiences will take away from the film?
Bakke: I hope they’ll challenge their beliefs, and ask themselves question of, "Why do you believe what you believe?"
Image via Imstagram/"Believe Me"
TheBlaze: Will you be marketing to Christians and people of faith? If so, how will they react to the plot?
Bakke: Of course! The Christian demographic is huge, and recent religious films like "God's Not Dead," "Heaven is For Real" and "Noah" have outperformed box office expectations because of their religious fan bases. But to be clear, "Believe Me" is not a Christian movie. Christianity is the backdrop to the story, but there’s no hidden agenda or altar call at the end of it.
TheBlaze: What are the film's strongest messages?
Bakke: The movie raises a lot of questions about the power of platforms. Why believe somebody just because he’s on stage wearing a mic? It's intellectually irresponsible to take someone at their word without investigating their claims, and Christians are just as much at fault of that as anyone else. So the question, “Why do you believe what you believe?” certainly comes into play here.
TheBlaze: How will atheists and non-believers feel about the movie?
Bakke: I think atheists and non-believers will see themselves in this film as much as Christians will. We don’t hold back on the struggles of faith, no matter which side of the fence you’re on. It takes as much faith to not believe in God as it does to believe in Him. I hope people will feel that we were fair to both sides of the discussion.
Find out more about "Believe Me" here.