‘Faith Based’ producer, actor Tanner Thomason slated for Cinema’s Meet the Filmmaker


Spoof movies parodying specific genres have been made for years. “Spaceballs” for space operas, “Scary Movie” for horror films, and even “Shrek,” a parody of Disney movies and fairytales. 

At 6:15 p.m. Sunday, July 25 at Chautauqua Cinema, the next Meet the Filmmaker will be with Tanner Thomason, who starred in and produced the 2020 film “Faith Based.” A regular admission fee will be required to attend. The film follows two friends without a lot of direction in life until they find out that religion-centered movies always make a lot of money, no matter the actual quality of the film. 

To get rich quick, they set out to make the first religious movie in space. Of course, things do not go according to plan — they have to actually learn how to make a movie, as well as how to practice religion. Thomason has a personal connection to Chautauqua Cinema, and owner Billy Schmidt was happy to screen the film and have Thomason speak about the process of not only making this film, but the process of independent films themselves.

“I hope (audiences are) entertained,” Schmidt said. “I hope they have a deepened appreciation. As always with Meet the Filmmakers, people have no idea. The simplest thing is so much work. … You have to assemble teams of the right people — there are hundreds of relationships that go into making these (films), thousands of hours. I know for my audiences, getting someone in front of them in the flesh that they’re seeing on the screen really pulls that around.”

Thomason, Luke Barnett (co-star, writer and producer of the film) and director Vincent Masciale had been creative collaborators previously, making movies for other people and comedic shorts for the TV company Funny or Die.

“The three of us came up with a story together, and we were all raised in sort of churchy households,” Thomason said. “A lot of the stuff dealing with the church are just things that we knew from growing up in that environment, and so we all came up with a story together, and then Luke banged out a version of the script.”

Rest assured, this film is not intended to poke fun at religion or religious movies, but rather point out that virtually anyone can make a film centered on religion without having any real ties to it. 

“You can call something a faith-based film, make it for very cheap, … and still make a lot of money just because they come off as a religious film, and nothing behind the making of the film, or none of the intentions behind it, line up with sort of that belief system,” Thomason said.

Thomason grew up in southeast Oklahoma and split his time between the Methodist and the Southern Baptist Church. His maternal grandfather is the last living original charter member of his church.

“He literally built the church with his hands, and so I certainly grew up in a very pro-church environment, and I know the other guys did as well,” Thomason said.

Thomason hopes that Chautauquans laugh but also realize that people are not always who they present themselves to be. Most of all, he wants people to come if they want to make a movie on their own. 

“I live in LA, and I understand what it’s like to want to be creative and do creative things, and it’s a struggle, and it’s hard,” Thomason said. “It took years and years for our little team to get to a point where we can pull this movie off. If there’s anyone in Chautauqua who wants to make a short film or they want to make a movie, then they need to come see this, because this is what’s possible if you stick with your friends, and don’t give up.”

Tags : 2021billy schmidtChautauqua CinemaFaith Basedmeet the filmmakerTanner Thomason
David Kwiatkowski

The author David Kwiatkowski