Holiday season is the time to sit cozy at home, and watch the numerous Christmas & Holiday Classics, new & old, with family, or alone. And there is a huge faith-based market, which loves these films even more. You can add another name to that list now, Billy Dickson's BELIEVE.
Billy Dickson ASC, is no newbie to the industry. With over 40 years in the industry, he has played several roles behind the camera, and has been part of several successful projects. He is an established cinematographer, who's member of the esteemed ASC (American Society of Cinematographers. He's also been nominated for multiple Emmy Awards for the famous TV show "Ally Mcbeal". "Believe" is his first feature film, which he has written and directed. Art Shrian talked to the wonderfully talented Billy Dickson, who's a very kind and intelligent man. Here are the excerpts:
Art Shrian: Congratulations on your first feature film. What inspired you to make 'this' film?
Billy Dickson: I was inspired by my sister, who was dying of cancer. She would say, “Embrace each day”, “be thankful for every moment you are here on this earth”. Her prayers of how to live life became an inspiration to us all. I wanted to write a story about a little boy that had that undeniable faith, that his belief in God and to answer prayers was as natural to him as breathing. Even though they might not be answered the way he wants, they are always answered.
AS: How was the writing process for this film?
BD: I began writing this movie about 20 years ago. I had already written several other unpublished screenplays and pilots. I learned a lot over the years from reading so many scripts from good and bad writers. I took my screenplays around with my agents or managers, and their response was that the content was too soft, not edgy enough. I knew I had a taste for family movies. I felt there had to be others with that same feeling. I wanted to write for those people who wanted movies to have a good clean message, that you could take your children and grandparents to go see. It wasn’t until I met Ryan O'Quinn and his likemindedness to partner up and say - Lets make this movie. Lets see who we can get to finance this. Go! It was also the right timing for this film. I believe that with all this country is going through and with all the division, I could speak into a story that resonated with a lot of people right now.
AS: How did you assemble this wonderful cast? Specially Danielle and the wonderful boy star Issac.
BD: This cast was a blessing. Ryan O'Quinn did a fabulous job as Matthew Peyton. We hired Beverly Holloway as our casting director, and she guided us along with Kevin Sizemore to some faces that were not the “Usual Suspects” in these type of films. I didn’t want this to be the regular cast of Hallmark or Christian films. Each one of these actors embraced the script and brought something unique. Danielle Nicolet was my first choice for Sharon. And thankfully she said yes to our small film. Issac Ryan Brown is a special find. His attitude and abilities were beyond our dreams. When he walked out the door of casting we prayed he wouldn’t go far so we could offer him the role. It was his. He even told his mom and mangers he wanted to do this film and would turn down other things to do it.
AS: What's your message for up & coming filmmakers & storytellers?
BD: Stay true to yourselves and don’t get distracted by the glamour and fame. Those things don’t make you happy. What makes you happy is hard work and perseverance. Keep your core values intact no matter what. Be successful for who you are and what you have to offer. Work hard and don’t give up.
AS: Final question - What's your most favorite & least favorite thing about New York?
BD: I often romanticize about New York. I have never lived in any major city, but when I come to NY there is a certain charm and air that I say to myself - Maybe if I had a second run at life, I would love to live here. It’s an amazing place with so much energy. My least favorite thing about NY is the fact that its so far away from where I live now. I don’t get a chance to work or visit as much as I would like.
AS: Congratulations again on the wonderful film, and Good Luck!
The upcoming holiday film BELIEVE is releasing in select theatres on December 2nd through Smith Global Media and Power of 3 Entertainment. Harry Smith, (younger brother of Will), heads Smith Global Media in partnership with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE), with creative and infrastructure support provided by Overbrook Entertainment. The film was exclusively announced by Variety [in late October here].
Written, directed and produced by Billy Dickson, ASC (“One Tree Hill,” “Ally McBeal”), BELIEVE is filled with powerful performances by an ensemble cast that includes Ryan O’Quinn (“Dad Dudes,” “Alias”), Shawnee Smith (“Anger Management,” “Grace Unplugged,”), Danielle Nicolet (“Central Intelligence,” “The Flash”), David DeLuise (“Wizards of Waverly Place,” “3rd Rock from the Sun”), Kevin Sizemore (“Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462,” “Woodlawn”) and Issac Ryan Brown (“Blackish”) who makes his theatrical film debut.