David A.R. White didn’t grow up dreaming about a movie career.
He grew up in Meade, the son of a Mennonite pastor.
“We didn’t even do plays at the high school back then,” White said in a phone interview earlier this year. “And being Mennonite, I didn’t see many movies. By the time I turned 18, I had only seen one movie in a movie theater. And I had to go to Dodge City to see that.”
Fast forward to today and White is cofounder of Pure Flix, a faith-based movie production company that will release 24 films this year.
White compares the Christian movie industry to the Christian music industry.
“We’re doing similar things, but the movie side is about 20 years behind the music side,” he said.
One of White’s biggest and newest projects, “Brother White,” is a full-length feature film that White produced and stars in.
Going to Hollywood
White left Meade when he graduated from high school and moved to Chicago to attend Bible college. After his first year, he called his father to tell him he’d decided to go to Hollywood and try his luck at getting into the movies.
“You can imagine how I worried about that phone call,” White said. “And I didn’t tell anyone but Dad – I guess I thought there would be fewer people to explain it to if I didn’t make it.”
White ended up living in Venice Beach, something of a culture shock to the 19-year-old. He hit the pavement and started learning as much as he could about movies.
“I landed a one-line part on ‘Evening Shade,’ with Burt Reynolds,” White said. “They needed to write in a friend for Burt’s son in the show, so I got the part.”
White’s “Evening Shade” role kept him busy for nearly four years. And the parade of guest stars on the show introduced him to the best in the industry – Emmy, Tony and Academy Award winners.
Having been cast as a young man, when White reached his mid-20s it was hard for casting directors to think of him as an adult. “So I had some time on my hands for a few years,” White said.
He got together with a few buddies and started producing films.
His first project was a film called “Moment After,” which White made for only $87,000 in 1999.
“From there, we formed Pure Flix and just kept going,” White said.
“Brother White,” which was released on DVD May 15, is based on an experience White had shortly after moving to Los Angeles.
“I moved in with a black family, which was another culture shock, but a lot of comedy and some of the story line from the film came from that experience,” he said.
The story follows James White, one of dozens of associate pastors at a huge mega-church in southern California. When he gets the opportunity to become pastor of his own church, James uproots his family and moves to Atlanta.
His new church turns out to be a dying church in a black neighborhood.
Determined to turn things around, James struggles with an unhappy family, doubtful parishioners and a banker who wants to foreclose.
To make the mortgage payment, they decide to hold a fundraising concert. Through some people he’s met in the neighborhood, James is able to promise that the great gospel singer Bebe Winans will sing at the concert.
The result is a new trust and a new faith between the White family and the congregation.
David White also completed the movie “Jerusalem Countdown” this year.
“It’s an apocalyptic story with a lot of echoes in today’s news,” White said.
Due in September is “Encounter: Paradise Lost,” which is a sequel to his earlier film “The Encounter.”
“It’s a very interesting story — you take Jesus and put him is Bangkok and surround him with drug lords,” White said. “It’s bound to be interesting.”
And Sony has just re-released White’s first film, “Moment After.”
For information about White and his movies, visit www.pureflix.com.