The Christiano Brothers Story
On October 25, 2002, the Christiano Brothers released their first theatrical film called Time Changer to selected theaters nationwide. This lifelong goal began 25 years earlier. Here is their story.
In 1977, twin brothers Dave and Rich Christiano left their hometown of Waterloo, New York and drove out to Hollywood, California with high hopes and big dreams. Rich had written a high school script called The Valedictorian and was hoping this would lead to beginning a career in Hollywood. After negotiations with a few producers and one contract offer, Rich never signed and the movie was never produced. Then something happened that changed the whole direction of the Christiano Brothers lives.
"In 1979 I was attending Arkansas State University and I met a girl," says Dave. "We started dating and very early in our relationship she asked me if I had ever asked Jesus Christ into my life. She told me the gospel, that Christ died for my sins, was buried and rose again. At the time I had no idea what she was talking about. She gave me a little book entitled, So What's the Difference? This book showed me the different religions of the world and compared them to the Bible. I saw how important the spiritual aspect of life was and began to check into things."
"I became a Christian in March of '79 at the age of 22 and received Jesus Christ into my life as Lord and Savior," says Dave. " This changed the whole direction of my life."
Dave then shared his newfound faith with his brother Rich, who also began to search the Scriptures. As a result, Rich became a Christian some 14 months later. Both brothers then saw the need to make Christ the priority in life, and the important call to tell others about Him.
Dave and Rich moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, in the fall of 1981 and entered the Mass Communications Masters program at Arkansas State University. Their plan was to study for a teaching job and pursue filmmaking on the side.
In the fall of 1983, Dave got a job at San Antonio Junior College teaching entry level classes in broadcasting. While there, he began to study filmmaking. "I learned on an old 16mm Bolex camera shooting silent film," says Dave. "A cinematographer from the area, Michael Smith, was a great help in answering questions and helping me learn about the craft."
At age 28, in the summer of 1985, Dave wrote, produced and directed his first film called The Daylight Zone. It was a Christian version of the old TV series, The Twilight Zone. Rich co-financed the project. Filmed in south Texas, the movie was shot on 16mm film and released by Christiano Brothers Films in the spring of 1986.
Prior to the release of The Daylight Zone, Dave moved back to Arkansas and rejoined his brother Rich. They set up an office in Jonesboro and began to distribute their new movie.
The Daylight Zone was distributed throughout the United States and selected parts of the world. It was seen by church groups, Christian schools, and camps. Dave recalls, "I had only been studying film making for one year when we started this movie. I filmed for 5 days and then looked at all we shot. None of it was in focus and I had mis-read feet for meters on the camera lens so we threw it all away. A month later, we started again and shot the 26-minute movie in 8 days." Dave also served as director of photography, editor and even did the music score for this film.
In 1987, Dave wrote and directed his second film, a 39-minute youth film called The Pretender. Filmed in Jonesboro, Dave and Rich co-produced this project. Dave also served as cinematographer and editor. The movie was released in late summer of that year and played in many youth groups all across America.
"The majority of films coming out in the Christian film industry during the 80's were youth films," said Dave. "Churches were renting films and showing them on a very regular basis. The Pretender did really well for us, and one reason I think is that the film gave a youth pastor a lot of topics he could discuss after showing it."
In 1988, the Christiano Brothers shot and released their third film, Crime of the Age. Dave wrote the original story and the screenplay was co-written with his brother. They both produced and Dave directed the 32-minute comedy/mystery.
Filmed in Arkansas, "Crime of the Age was as difficult as any script we worked on," said Dave. "It's a short film that is shot fairly simple, but to figure out how to make all of this work with six suspects and each one seeing another person as a suspect, took some brainstorming," he added. Rich further commented, "we were also trying to write this in a way where you could not figure out the ending."
After the release of Crime of the Age, the brothers decided to set up two separate production companies for their future projects (Dave Christiano Films and Rich Christiano Films). The first three films were released under the name of Christiano Brothers Films. The name of Rich Christiano Films was later changed to Christiano Film Group in 1998.
In 1990, Rich started shooting The Appointment, a film he wrote, produced and directed. The film was released in the summer of 1991. This 39-minute suspenseful evangelistic drama had a very powerful presentation of the gospel and did really well with response upon its release.
Also in 1990, Dave started filming two movies simultaneously that he wrote: a sequel to The Pretender called The Pretender Strikes Again and a second episode of The Daylight Zone entitled Kingdom Vision. Unfortunately, disaster struck, and after 9 days of filming the quality of work was going so poorly that production was stopped on both films and never completed.
In 1991, Dave re-grouped and started work on his 57-minute drama, Pamela's Prayer, which was filmed in Colorado. This movie took 7 years to complete. It took 52 days of filming over 16 months just to shoot the film as Dave had scenes in all four seasons. There were many delays and trials producing this film which added to the length of time it took to finally finish it. For Pamela's Prayer Dave wrote, produced, directed, edited and shot as cinematographer.
Pamela's Prayer was released on Mother's Day weekend in 1998. It premiered at a movie theater in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and was distributed under the name Dave Christiano Films.
In 1992, Rich took a story written by Danny Carrales and co-wrote Second Glance. Rich also produced and directed the movie, which features the first major role for actor David White. The 50-minute drama was released on New Year's Eve night as it premiered in numerous churches across the country. It was distributed under Rich Christiano Films but later changed to Christiano Film Group when it was released on video.
During 1990's, the whole Christian film industry changed in that films were not released on 16mm anymore but rather came out straight to video. This allowed Christian movies to come directly into homes and also saw more movies air on television. The first five films from the Christiano Brothers were initially released on 16mm film, prior to being released on video.
In 1998, Rich again teamed with David White for his 54-minute drama called End of the Harvest. It was a college based story that he wrote, produced and directed. The film premiered in early December at a movie theater in Jonesboro, Arkansas. End of the Harvest was distributed under Christiano Film Group.
In February 2000, Dave started work on Late One Night, his 5th movie that he wrote, produced and directed. Filmed in North Carolina, this motion picture started shooting 9 years later (to the very day) from when he started filming Pamela's Prayer. Dave brought in Philip Hurn as director of photography for the project. Philip would also be director of photography for the next six Christiano Brothers films. Late One Night premiered on March 3, 2001 with a world television premiere over The Inspirational Network. It was released under Dave Christiano Films.
In October 2001, Rich wrote and directed Time Changer, his first feature length movie. Rich teamed with Kevin Downes who co-produced the project and Dave served as his story consultant/script editor. The film featured actors D. David Morin and Gavin MacLeod in the lead roles. A novel version was released in January 2002. The movie came out in October 2002 and the Christiano Brothers formed a new distribution company, Five & Two Pictures, which released Time Changer. The movie eventually played in 310 theaters. This was a major production effort and step up for the Christiano Brothers. "I always wanted to make a time travel movie," said Rich, "and I feel this movie has an important message for the church today."
In 2004, Dave turned his attention to television and started work on a project entitled, 7th Street Theater, which was to be the first ever prime time Christian dramatic TV series in the history of broadcasting. The series premiered March 3rd, 2007 on TBN, the world's largest Faith-Based Television Network. The series now airs on several Christian Networks. It has 24 episodes in Season One, 20 episodes in Season Two, and 20 episodes in Season Three. There are a total of 64 episodes in the three Seasons for the series. It took Dave 9 years total to do this project. 7th Street Theater TV Series Website
In May of 2005, Rich wrote, co-produced, and directed Unidentified, his second feature length movie. The subject of the film dealt with UFO's and how they could possibly play into the end times. Dave served as his creative consultant. It was released in theaters in April 2006 under Five & Two Pictures and played on 85 screens.
In June of 2006, Dave wrote, produced, and directed his first feature length movie, a love story, entitled Me & You, Us, Forever. It was based on a true story about a 47 year old man, on the other side of an unwanted divorce, who reminisced about his lost first love of 30 years ago. The movie was released by Five & Two Pictures in 83 theaters on February 15th, 2008.
Production began in summer 2007 on Rich's third feature, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, with Gavin MacLeod in the lead role. It was eventually released in theaters on September 18, 2009 and played in a total of 313 nationwide. Set in the summer of 1970, it's the story of a 75 year old man and how he influences three 12 year old boys for the Lord. Dave co-wrote the screenplay with Rich on this project. Rich traveled back to his growing up days in upstate New York to film this movie. "The Sperry movie was a difficult project but a labor of love," Rich states. "We wanted to make a movie that was touching and had heart."
In 2011, both brothers worked on the screenplay for Amazing Love which was a co-production they did with another producer and director. The original story was written by Greg Mitchell, who had penned the novel version of Time Changer. With Sean Astin in the lead role, this movie was based on the story of Hosea and was partially shot on location in Israel. Rich served as supervising producer and Dave was the film's editor.
Instead of going the theater route with this film for distribution, Amazing Love was released under Five & Two Pictures for church rental in the summer of 2012 and then on DVD in November of that year. The Brothers' goal was to try and get more churches to start showing films again to their congregation, like they did back in the 80's.
In May 2013, Rich produced his next feature film project entitled A Matter of Faith. Rich directed, Dave edited, and both brothers wrote the script. It's the story of a Christian girl who attends college her freshman year and is influenced by her evolutionist Biology Professor. It features Jordan Trovillion, Jay Pickett, Harry Anderson and Clarence Gillyard in the lead roles. This film was first released in selected theaters on September 19, 2014 and played almost 200 of them stretching into 2015.
In July 2015, Dave started production on a movie he wrote, produced, directed and edited entitled Remember The Goal, an inspirational drama about a high school cross country team at an all girls' Christian school. A new female coach takes over the program and attempts to lead them to their first ever state title. This movie features a talented young cast with Allee-Sutton Hethcoat (Miss Tennessee USA 2017) in the lead role. It was released in selected theaters on Aug 26, 2016 and played in exactly 100 theaters.
Backing up a bit in time, in January 2014, Dave wrote, directed and co-produced Power Of The Air, a drama which features actors Nicholas X. Parsons, Patty Duke, Michael Gross, Karyn Williams and Tracy Goode in the lead roles. This movie deals with the power of Hollywood films and the negative influence they have on viewers. He had the movie half way edited but then put it on hold, shot and released Remember The Goal, and then came back to finish Power Of The Air. It was released on October 2, 2018 for single night theater showings and church showings.
In September 2017, Rich shot Play the Flute, a movie about a new Youth Director who takes over an indifferent, lukewarm youth group in hopes of getting them serious about the Bible and their relationship with the Lord. Brett Varvel, Sean Ormond, Loretta Swit, Fred Grandy and Clint Howard head the cast for this movie. It was released on October 15, 2018 for single night theater showings and church showings.
In July 2018, Dave wrote a follow up movie to Remember The Goal entitled The Perfect Race. Allee-Sutton Hethcoat reprises her role as Coach Courtney Smith-Donnelly and takes her coaching wisdom to the track. She works with a female athlete at a small Christian college who tries to overcome long odds and win a national title in the 800 meter run. This movie will premiere on October 14th, 2019.
The goal for the Christiano Brothers remains as it did from day one, and that's to produce movies and projects presenting messages for Jesus Christ. And with that purpose in mind, it makes all the difference.