He grew up a preacher’s son, a country boy in West Virginia.
Ty Manns never followed in his father’s footsteps. He says preaching is a calling, one he never received.
But the Phenix City man spreads his Christian faith in his own way and reaches more people than his father could ever have imagined.
A 55-year-old retired U.S. Army major, Manns is a film producer, director and writer.
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His new screenplay, “A Question of Faith,” has just opened in theaters nationwide. It is being distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment, which also did “God’s Not Dead.”
The drama tells the story of three families from different cultures who live in the same community but are strangers. A tragic texting and driving accident brings them together and puts them on converging paths of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.
“They learn how to trust God again,” Manns said.
The film stars some familiar actors.
C. Thomas Howell has appeared in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Amazing Spider Man” and “The Outsiders.”
Richard T. Jones was a regular on “Hawaii Five-O” and has appeared in films such as “Godzilla,” “ Event Horizon” and “Why Did I Get a Married?”
Kim Fields was a regular on the hit television series “Facts of Life” and “Living Single.” She has appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.”
“It is a good cast,” said Manns, who also wrote and directed “The Turning Point” and “The Wish.” “I try to take on a social issue in each film.”
“The Turning Point” focused on post-traumatic stress disorder and “The Wish” looked at organ transplants.
Not only does he work on his own scripts, but producers also hire Manns to fix ones written by others.
Manns said he likes working in the faith genre.
“It is not that crowded,” he said, smiling.
And the audience for faith-based films is growing.
“I enjoy writing them,” he said.
He has written more than 20 scripts in different genres but it is the ones on faith with which he has had success.
A graduate of Wright State University, he has been married for 25 years to Mia Manns, a former Army nurse. Their two sons, Delone and Matthew, are in college.
He served 24 years in the Army, and his last years, 1997-2003, were spent at Fort Benning.
Manns worked in the corporate world for several years following military service serving as managing director for a U.S. defense sector company.
He has always had an interest in writing. As a child he would read comics but replace the dialogue in the bubbles above the characters with his own.
But he has never had any interest in writing a book.
“Writing a good book is one of the hardest things to do,” he said. “With screenplays, you don’t have to add as much detail.”
He said screenplays “fit my personality.”
Manns got his start in film through a friendship with film director Rick Bieber, a former president of HBO pictures.
“He let me read a lot of scripts. He taught me a lot,” Manns said.
In 2008, he joined Bieber working on the film, “The Fifth Quarter,” and his career moved on from there.
Though the story takes place in a small town, “A Question of Faith” was filmed in Atlanta. Manns believes people will be entertained and inspired by what they see.
He said it was shown to members of the U.S. Congress and got a good response.
Some church leaders have also gotten a look at the film.
Neil Ellis, the presiding bishop of the Global United Fellowship called it “awesome” and “a moving experience of the demonstration of the power of faith, forgiveness and focus for the future.”
Manns hopes many Columbus churches will bring groups to see the film. He believes they will be glad they did.
“I feel like I am just getting started in this business,” he said. “I am learning more all the time and have a lot of ideas. I am very proud of ‘A Question of Faith.’”