NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Unlike so many Christian films of years past, “Miracle” doesn’t sugarcoat its message.
“A lot of Christian films you go and rent or see on Christian channels on TV imply a lot of things, but never show it,” writer-producer Randy Varner said. “They’re G-rated.
“This film is darker, more uncomfortable to watch. This one puts society’s problems right in your face,” he said
Directed by Bert Webster, “Miracle” covers topics ranging from alcohol abuse and domestic violence to what the 44-year-old North Ridgeville resident termed the aftermath of a graphic car wreck.
“Part of it deals with atheism, and through a course of events, characters discover there is a higher power,’’ he said. “It has a very positive, happy ending, but getting there is a little rough.”
Being shot in locations ranging from the church and private homes to EMH Regional Medical Center and Lorain County Community College, “Miracle” has proven to be a tedious task, as do most film productions big and small.
“We had one scene where we were shooting two lines of dialogue with an actress, and it took us about three hours,” he said.
The crew has shot some 40 hours of film so far for what will eventually be an 80-minute movie which has had the generous support of family members and The Cathedral of Life Church in North Ridgeville.
Even so, the movie has faced some of the same hassles as films with multimillion-dollar budgets.
“We’ve had a lot of cancellations (for filming) and had to move shooting dates around because someone can’t make it,’’ he said. “We wanted to have things wrapped up by the end of August but that didn’t happen.”
A 1983 North Ridgeville High grad, Varner is a veteran of commercial radio in West Virginia and WJTB in Elyria. Varner terms his radio days “way cool, but not the kind of life a married man wants to have.”
Besides, once he met his future wife, he was told to get a real job.
When he’s not working on the film, Varner stays busy at his day job as a union construction worker in the Cleveland area.
Despite the fact that he knows how trite it might sound to some people, Varner said his inspiration for the film truly came from above.
“I was at work one day and the idea popped into my head,’’ he said. “It came from the Lord.”
He first planned to write the story as a play but soon realized it was going to have “way too much dialogue for actors and actresses to remember onstage.”
That’s when the project morphed into a movie sporting a 40-plus member cast, many of whom attend or have a connection to the Jaycox Road church.
Nearly all are amateurs with no previous acting experience. No one is being paid for their work.
The movie’s principal stars include McKenzie Scott, a 17-year-old senior at North Olmsted High School; Jonathan Harnish, 22, a North Ridgeville college student; Dawn Young, a 15-year-old sophomore at North Ridgeville High School; and Jasmine Rodriguez, a 15-year-old Lorain teen.
Varner hopes “Miracle” is good enough to be accepted by the prestigious Sundance Film Festival next year.
Even if it doesn’t make the cut, the film has a much bigger goal of delivering its message of hope, faith and redemption to people whose lives are as troubled as the characters in the film.
“The goal is to change the thinking of a non-believer, to lead someone to faith and to Christ,” he said.
A trailer previewing the film is available at the church’s www.thecathedraloflife.com Web site.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.