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CMC #110 – “Beyond the Farthest Star” in West Monroe

Christian Movie Connect had a unique connection to the recent screening of “Beyond the Farthest Star” in West Monroe, LA. CMC founder and host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, was the “Theater Captain” responsible for this special one night event at her local cinema. Writer/Director Andrew Librizzi & Executive Producer Benjamin Dane came in from Dallas to join her at the Tinseltown 17, making this an extra special premier and the perfect opportunity for Christian Movie Connect to be in a unique position to be a part of the action. Librizzi & Dane brought along the Kinkade painting inspired by the film, movie posters they autographed and spent time chatting with audience members.

“Star” is about a twist of fate that brings the national spotlight to a forgotten Texas town and a once famous preacher has an opportunity to either regain his former glory or seize one last chance to restore his fractured family. Is Adam Wells, a minister driven by the prospect of achieving greatness as the next nationally-syndicated TV Evangelist, willing to lay down his opportunity at “celebrity” and, even his own life, in order to become something even greater… a loving husband and father? “Beyond The Farthest Star” cast includes Renee O’Connor (“Xena”, “Ark”), Todd Terry (“Breaking Bad”, “Arlington Road”), Barry Corbin (“No Country for Old Men”, “War Games”), William McNamara (“Copycat”, “Chasers”), Andrew Prine (“The Miracle Worker”, “Gettysburg”) and Cherami Leigh (“Temple Grandlin”, “Fairy Tails”).

“Beyond the Farthest Star” is one of the many independent films using Gathr, a full-service film distribution company that specializes in Theatrical On Demand℠ distribution (aka TOD℠), a groundbreaking platform enabling fans to bring films that are not in wide distribution to a local theater.
Many independent films have a core fan base wanting to experience the movie with family and friends on a big screen , so TOD brings the film to the fans. To find out how to bring a screening to your theater, go to

CMC #109 – “Faith of our Fathers” red carpet premiere

CMC was on the red carpet when “Faith of Our Fathers” made a final stop in West Monroe, LA on July 5th as part of their tour honoring veterans. This film, starring David A.R. White, Kevin Downes, Stephen Baldwin, and Candace Cameron Bure and featuring West Monroe’s own “Uncle Si” Robertson, is the story of 2 sons of Vietnam War vets who travel to the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. It is more than a journey to learn more about their dads, but also to find peace and closure in their own lives. The film does have a powerful statement to make, but is not without its light-hearted moments. The camaraderie between Downes and White is second nature to them after 20+ years of working together on numerous films, plus Rebecca St James has a completely out of character role and the audience loved Uncle Si.

More interviews will be coming, but we did want to give you the highlights of the excitement of the evening with the film stars, producer Bobby Downes, singer/songwriter Amber Brooke Taylor (here singing “Some Gave All” with Uncle Si), movie attendees, and, of course, local veterans. The night was filled with fun and the perfect ending for a Fourth of July holiday weekend.

“Faith of Our Fathers,” written and directed by Carey Scott, is currently in theaters nationwide. For more information on the film, visit the website at

CMC #108 – Chad Gundersen

Producer Chad Gundersen of Gundersen Entertainment talked with CMC’s Cheryl Ariaz Wicker after a meeting of the Dallas chapter of Christian Media Association. Chad had several projects he was working on at the time. “The Redemption of Henry Myers” has been shown on the Hallmark Channel many times and is now available on DVD in several retail outlets. This film stars Drew Waters and Erin Bethea.

“Owlegories” is an animated series based on the popular Owlegories interactive storybook app. Owlegories helps kids learn about God using allegories, analogies and metaphors using both the Bible and things found in nature. You can watch “Owlegories” online at

Chad is also a producer for “Hoovey,” a film currently being shown in congregations around the US. The film starring Patrick Warburton, Lauren Holly, and Cody Linley as high school basketball player Eric “Hoovey” Elliott. The movie is based on a real family whose life is turned upside down when the son is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and is ultimately a tale of triumph over adversity. The Elliot family learn that God can see them safely through anything.

“Unlimited” with Fred Thompson and Robert Amaya is one of the next movies due to be released. To find out more of Chad’s past, present, and future projects, you can like the Gundersen Entertainment Facebook page and check out his website at

CMC #107 – David Mullins

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker spoke with producer David Mullins in 2014 before the release of the film about his brother, Christian musician Rich Mullins. “Ragamuffin” (Color Green Films with Kid Brothers of St. Frank Co), written by Ashley Phillips and writer/director David Schultz, stars Michael Koch as Rich. The film is not a strict biography, but is based on Mullin’s life and has a compilation of several relevant events that give the viewer a glimpse into this brilliant, yet troubled, artist. A nonconformist and rebel in many ways, Mullins embraced that Jesus loved all of him, even the broken parts. The title of the film, as well as Rich’s band, was inspired by a book by Brennan Manning, “The Ragamuffin Gospel.” As a side note, David Schultz currently has a movie about Brennan Manning in development.

“Ragamuffin” is available on DVD and Netflix. You may also get a Movie License to show the film at your church. For more info, go the film’s website at

CMC #106 – Mark Cochran

Mark Cochran, writer/director of the short film, “First Do No Harm”, spoke with Christian Movie Connect host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, during the 2014 NRB Convention. The action in the film begins with a school shooting that is cut short due to the intervention of school janitor, Jesús Torres (Kenny Santiago Marrero), who is hailed as a hero. Torres feels he did what anyone would do to protect the lives of others. Several weeks later, circumstances lead him to the harsh truth of the abortion industry. What follows is an ethical comparison between the school shooter and the doctor who performs abortions.

“First Do No Harm” won “Best Short Film” at the GloryReelz Christian Film Festival and was awarded “Best Short Film” and the “Chairman’s Award Best of Festival” at the Mount Dora Family Film Festival. The film was also a finalist at several other film festivals, and is also a selection for the 2015 Christian Worldview Film Festival.
To learn more about the film or to purchase the DVD, go to the website at

CMC #105 – Alan Powell

Christian Movie Connect host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, had an opportunity to speak with Alan Powell earlier about his leading role in the Richard Ramsey film, “The Song”. Powell, a member of the Christian band, Anthem Lights, was a wonderful fit for a story about a musician. His previous acting experience is as a rodeo clown in comedy-adventure, “Charlie & Boots”.

In his starring role, Alan Powell is singer/songwriter Jed King in “The Song”, a film based on “Song of Solomon” from the Bible. Jed is the son of a famous musician, but wants to his talent to become his claim to fame. He reluctantly agrees to perform at a local vineyard harvest festival, where me meets and eventually marries the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose. Early in the marriage, Jed writes “The Song” for Rose which becomes a break-out hit and capitulates Jed into the spotlight. Dreams of fame and fortune come true, but bring tempation with them, causing his life and his marriage to crumble.

“The Song” will be released on DVD on Feb. 10, 2015. To find out more, visit the website at

CMC #104 – Dan Parris and David Peterka

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker interviews Dan Parris and David Peterka about their dramatic documentary, “What Matters.” The film chronicles their resolve to live in extreme poverty in a journey that included 15 countries. This feature length documentary is the experiences of the three friends who went across 3 continents while trying to live on $1.25 per day—the average wage of a person who lives in Kenya’s Kibera slum.

Dan had traveled to Kenya in 2005 and the contrast between the unpaved roads, inadequate plumbing and sewage, and poorly constructed houses made of mud, sticks, and scrap metal contrasted greatly with his own lifestyle of comfort and extravagance. Wanting to make a difference, Dan decided to rely on his passion for filmmaking to reach others. The idea was also spawned by friend Rob Lehr’s asking him why he should care about poverty in Africa. In 2007, Dan, Rob and David began fundraising and development for the documentary. All three left for Africa on July 5, 2009.
The ultimate goal was to make a film that was funny, adventurous, compelling, and thought-provoking. They want to appeal to Christians and agnostics/atheists, the activist and the apathetic viewers. It basically boils down to challenging the viewers to ask themselves 2 questions: “What breaks my heart?” and “What makes me come alive?” Then, find a way to put those things together.

To learn more of the many adventures, including surviving a plane crash, go to their website at

CMC #103 – Victoria Jackson

Victoria Jackson, who rose to fame while on Saturday Night Live, talks with Christian Movie Connect host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, earlier this year about movies, politics, and being an empty-nester.

Jackson has been active as a comedian and actress for many years, but has ventured more into Christian films in recent years. Her first was “Midnight Clear” and she lit up the screen as a marriage counselor in “Marriage Retreat”. Upcoming films include “Altar Egos” and “Marriage Material”.

Politics, however, is another passion. Known for her conservative beliefs, Jackson is passionate about sharing her views and reminding people that they need to take an active role in government. More than saying what should be done, she also sought (but was not elected) a County Commissioner seat in her hometown in Tennessee.

Also well known for her ukelele, Victoria plays and  sings a song for us. A combination of fervent beliefs she lives daily, but also a gifted entertainer who leaves you with something to think about…and a smile. Keep up with Victoria Jackson at

CMC #102 – CMA Day 2 – Stephen Baldwin interview

Before the closing session of the CMA National Convention,  Christian Movie Connect host, Cheryl Ariaz Wicker, had an opportunity to have a sit down interview with closing session keynote speaker, Stephen Baldwin, to talk about movies and more.  A born-again Christian, Baldwin is passionate about his faith in Jesus and finding ways of reaching out to share it with others. He discussed his career, his faith and his newest humanitarian effort, Saint’s Forts.

Movies he has coming up include Tapestry, To the Wall (with Kevin Downes, David A.R. White) and Hoovey. There are also producing and directing projects Baldwin has lined up along with a new consulting company he has recently formed in wake of all of the independent faith-based films being made today, Quanception. We also talked for a minute about mutual friend, Christopher Shawn Shaw, who along with Stephen and Thor Ramsey, are working on a Christian comedy, Youth Group.

Things then became more serious when we turned to a humanitarian ministry he has become partnered with recently…Saints Forts. Baldwin is involved with those in missionary work, including those rescuing Christians from countries where they are being beheaded daily because of their faith. By providing FORTS (Fold-Out Rigid Temporary Shelters), a sturdy unit can be folded out in minutes to provide a shelter in all  types of emergency and temporary situations–from disaster relief, missions, military and other evacuation situations. For more information, go to

CMC #101 CMA National Conference Day 1

Day 1 of the Christian Media Association 1st ever convention was full of excitement, including the official launch of CAFE CONNECT by Christian Media Association!

I also had an enjoyable chat with the man who started CMA over 20 years ago, Tim Shields, along with his associate, Michael Glenn. Both of them worked together in the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) for many years. The founders of the Dallas Chapter of CMA, Bob Higley and Michael Williams, were also available, sharing their experiences of partnering with CMA. Bob really showed how to get more camera time…with the right props!

CMC #100 Christian Media Association

Christian Movie Connect was at the recent Dallas Chapter meeting of the Christian Media Association. The September meeting featured keynote speaker, June Hunt, on the topic of Integrity and Ethics in Media. Ms. Hunt then joined Michael Jay Solomon (Truli), Tracey Mitchell (Tracey Mitchell Ministries), Jimmy Swan (His Kidz United), Sherry Bronson (The Sherry Bronson Show), and Dallas Chapter leader and host, actor/producer Benjamin Dane (Beyond the Farthest Star, I am Gabriel) for a Television Experts Panel, including questions from the audience of over 100 participants.

Another highlight, though, was the introduction of several of the people who will be speaking at the 2014 Christian Media Association Convention being held in Dallas Oct. 17-18. Bob Higley, new CEO of Parables TV spoke, and then, CMA Co-Director, Tim Shields, invited the following to tell a bit about their workshops: Tracey Mitchell (Pitching to the Experts), J Loren Norris (Storytelling) and Benjamin Dane (Acting). I will be teaching a class, also, called Publicity 101. The big announcement, however, was who the keynote speaker will be: Stephen Baldwin!

25 Speakers, 50 Workshops, 2 Days!! You don’t want to miss this!
To register for CMA National Media Convention, Click HERE.

CMC #99 – Alec Rayme

Alec Rayme has always been very athletic, and played a lot of football growing up, including college at The University of Southern Mississippi and Pro Arena football in Florida. After his football career ended, he got involved in the entertainment business, starting off in the role of “Batman” in the Batman Stunt Spectacular at Six Flags in New Orleans. For 10 years he has been predominantly used for stunts, but is now stretching into acting roles…with plans for making his directorial debut soon.

“Left Behind” was filmed in New Orleans, where Rayme currently resides, so when a door opened for him to move into an acting role, he stepped through.  The character of “Hassid” is a person who is Muslim, but begins to question his beliefs as the world is in turmoil due to the recent disappearance of all Christians. Rayme was raised with a Muslim father and Christian mother, so he does have the background and insight to understand the confusion ‘Hassid’ would be going through and bring more depth to the inner struggle. As a Christian himself, Rayme is also excited to have a role in a film that is certain to stimulate a lot of conversation among both believers and unbelievers.

This blockbuster action film, starring Nicholas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, Lea Thompson, and Cassi Thomson is directed by Vic Armstrong. It is based on the book series by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, with screenplay by Paul Lalonde and John Patus. “Left Behind” is the first feature film for Lalonde’s new Stoney Lake Entertainment production company.

For the official trailer and a lot of insider info, check out