Pastor Farnsworth Coleman Sr. laughed when he said he always knew there were good actors in his congregation at New Birth Outreach Church. They are the couples who fight on Saturday and come to the Sun-day service holding hands and smiling while pretending that nothing happened, he said. “They are real good actors,” Cole-man said. Several of his New Birth congregants, including Coleman, have acting roles in a new hourlong film “The Turning Point,” which was produced by the church in association with Creative Minority Entertainment, an independent faith-based production company. The pastor said the congregation showed enthusiasm for the project. There was a full house at the Sunday service when filming took place. The premiere of the film is 7 p.m. March 15 at New Birth, 10107 Veterans Parkway. The event is open to the public, and it is free. DVDs will be for sale, and they’ll later be available on the church website. The story is about post-traumatic stress disorder and how it affects an Army sergeant and his family.
“PTSD creates unbelievable challenges for soldiers, their spouses, friends and family on a daily basis,” film writer and director Ty Manns said. “I just pray that those who see the film will leave knowing it is possible for them to find relief in the church.”
A former major and a veteran of more than 23 years in the Army, Manns lives in Phenix City with his wife and two children. At Fort Benning, he was chief of the Soldier Systems Division. He is now director for a manufacturing company Tactical Assault Gear.
He said the title of the film comes from that of a sermon given one Sun-day by Coleman. It was after hearing that Manns began writing.
An earlier meeting with a soldier inspired the story, although the soldier’s story is not the one told.
Manns and the soldier knew each other from Manns’ service days and met occasionally throughout the years. One meeting left an impression on Manns when the soldier, who was always friendly, didn’t seem to recognize him.
“He was just completely different,” Manns said. “He just stared.” Manns was told that the soldier had three times been involved in explosions caused by an improvised explosive device.
“I could tell he was suffering and needed help,” Manns said.
Manns said his father, a Vietnam veteran who later became a pastor, suffered from PTSD.
Manns said the film does not blame anyone. It just tries to inform people about PTSD.
“I want people to turn to the church for help, but I don’t want people thinking that the church is a cure for PTSD,” he said. “It is a place to find relief, not a cure. I know it did a lot for my father and saved my family.”
In the film, the soldier returns home from the war and struggles to find work. He can’t focus, and his anger is unpredictable. Not being able to fit back into normal life, he begins slipping into the life of crime he left behind years ago. Faith in God shows him another way.
The Turning Point is the first film Manns has written and directed, He has previously worked on “The Fifth Quarter,” directed by Rick Bieber.
“It was administrative work, but I learned a lot from Rick,” he said. “I saw how things are done.”
When Manns decided to make this movie, he sought funding and Coleman was eager to help as long as the film contained faith. He said Coleman was impressed by other movies with church connections.
“I told him if it was Bible-based, then we could probably support it,” Cole-man said.
He likes what was made.
“It is a film that deals with the reality of life. It is a truthful film that makes a statement,” Coleman said.
Though most of the cast is from the church, the lead actors, Micah Andrews and Gwen Rodgers, are professionals from out of town. Professionals handled the camera work and sound, while church members worked behind the scenes.
David Britt, a church administrator, served as assistant director.
“It was a great experience. Everyone worked hard,” Britt said.
The film was shot in five days in different parts of town during October 2011, Britt said.
“They were long 18-20 hour days,” Manns said. “Work was being done at 2 and 3 in the morning.”
There had previously been six weeks of rehearsal.
Manns said he wants to make more films locally, and Britt said the church might get involved depending on the response to “The Turning Point.”
It has been up to small independent filmmakers to produce these religious movies, Manns said, but big studios have taken notice because of the success Sherwood Pictures, a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., has had with films such as “Fireproof,” “Courageous” and “Facing the Giants.”
Britt believes “The Turning Point” is a film people need to view.
“It is one thing to hear talk about PTSD,” he said. “It is another to really see the situation like you do in a movie.”