By SHELBY FLYNN
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — A new independent film has made its way to Warrensburg.
“A Strange Brand of Happy,” directed by Brad Wise, made its debut on Sept. 13. Warrensburg was one of only 38 cities in the US to receive the film in theaters. The film was produced by Rebel Pilgrim Productions, a small start-up company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Our hope is to tell stories that spark hope and action,” Wise said. “The goal is to impact culture with the most powerful tool on the planet: story.”
“A Strange Brand of Happy” was written by Wise and business partner, Joe Boyd, who also produces and stars as the leading character in the film. Wise describes it as a “quirky, faith-friendly, indie rom-com”, calling it Rebel Pilgrim’s biggest project to date.
“We wanted to tell a story of hope during a time when a lot of our friends were losing their jobs and going through some major life transitions.” Boyd said, discussing what gave he and Wise inspiration to write the film. As both the lead actor and producer, Boyd certainly had his hands full.
“I love acting, but I think I’m a producer first now. [Both jobs] are challenging in their own ways, and I plan on continuing to do them both,” Boyd said. “I will say that I won’t be doing the leading role in another movie I’m producing anytime soon—that was too much.”
Boyd has also starred in and directed Rebel Pilgrim’s 2010 film, “Hitting the Nuts.” And like Wise, he too has high hopes for this film. “Hopefully, it is a little boost of positive energy for all who see it. I want it to be seen by people who are ready to laugh and believe that there is hope for the future.”
Rebel Pilgrim has produced five films that have built a solid fan base in their area, but is hoping to gain interest in other regions upon this film’s release. While their films have had fairly decent success in the past, showing in festivals and even being on TV, “A Strange Brand of Happy” is the first one to ever be released in theaters.
As far as the state of Missouri, Warrensburg is the only city that is showing the film, which was a decision that Wise did not make himself.
“Our theatrical distributor made that call,” Wise said. “We’re hoping that with the support of UCM’s students, we can prove that the country is ready for fresh new films that don’t easily fit into boxes and types.”
Hunter Frederick, a personal publicist for both Wise and Boyd and does public relations work for Rebel Pilgrim, has worked hard to promote the film.
“Promoting this film posed some unique challenges. Convincing mainstream Hollywood that a faith-film deserved their time can be tricky.” Frederick said.
He also says that as far as the public relations angle, it helped to have both Christian/Grammy Award-winning singer, Rebecca St. James, and Oscar-winner Shirley Jones as stars in the film.
“I had two separate press releases in every market we screened in,” Frederick said. “I had a mainstream one that focused on Shirley Jones and her Oscar-winning performance, and then I had one that was more geared toward Christian media. I also had personalized press releases in each market to try to find a more local angle. I was able to find newsworthiness in those demographics.”
Wise and the rest of the Rebel Pilgrim team are excited to see how “Happy” will fare in a theater setting.
“We never thought we’d get this far with this film, but here we are,” Wise sid. “I think we are living proof that anything is possible when you and your friends are willing to work hard together and not quit.”
“A Strange Brand of Happy” (rated PG-13) is currently showing at Carmike 10 at 386 Hawthorne Blvd. Read more about the film and Rebel Pilgrim Productions, and see the film’s trailer at www.StrangeHappyMovie.com.