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|Ray plans first feature-length film|
Local film-maker Rodney Ray expects shooting for his first feature-length film to begin in October.
R-Squared Productions, located on Louisville Avenue in Monroe, has almost wrapped up the casting process for its next film.
Actors from all across northeast Louisiana, Texas and even New York traveled to Monroe to audition for the project, called, "Flag of My Father."
The movie is about a young woman who served in the U.S. military in Iraq. She is the youngest of five children. Her closest bond is with her father, a Vietnam veteran.
When her father passes away, she desires to possess the American Flag that covered his casket. She is the only sibling who followed her father's footsteps and joined the military.
"But with her being the youngest, she is the last in the peaking order to receive the flag," Ray said. "She and her dad were very close because they shared the war experience and he opened up to her about his experiences since they were both veterans.
"This quest of who should have the flag sets off a chain of events as they try to figure out who should rightly get it."
Flag of My Father is the third film by R-Squared Productions, an independent faith-based film production company.
"As a faith-based film company, we are trying to examine those issues from a Christian perspective but also in a realistic manner," Ray said. "Just because you are a Christian doesn't make you perfect. In fact, we probably struggle more than others sometimes. All of those issues come to light."
The movie will showcase flashbacks of the woman's experiences in Iraq, which Ray said will be one of the more challenging aspects in film production.
Ray said he came up with the idea for the story during a recent funeral where a flag was presented to survivors.
"When the honor guard went to present the flag, he didn't know who to give it to," Ray explained. "When they held the flag out, five sets of hands went for it because everybody wanted it. That immediately spurred a thought in my head that my dad is a World War II veteran and my mom has passed on, so there will be similar scenario. I am the youngest and I have the least rights to it, but I am also the only veteran in the family.
"I talked to my brother and my father about it and told them if they were agreeable I would want it at his funeral. That planted the seed in my mind for a great movie."
Ray said his movies are drawn from his own experiences or from a compelling story someone has told him.
"Our desire is to produce movies that have a message, but we don't want cheesy Christian films or an in-your-face or pushy film," he said. "I am not out to tell people that they may die and go to hell. I just want to tell them what power they can have with a relationship with Christ. Our heart is to change lives through film.
"One of the underlying themes in this movie is peace. What really is peace? Most people think peace is the lack of conflict. That's not really what peace is because you never have a lack of conflict. The truth is to be content while in conflict and if you know you will be victorious in the end, it makes it easier."
To promote the movie next year, Ray wants to shoot a documentary with several veterans discussing what the flag means to them. He also wants to conduct interviews with family members who have received the flag.
Ray hopes to have the film released within the first quarter of next year.