“I saw the faith I love being used to hurt the people I cared about, and I couldn’t stand by and do nothing.”
The words of 17-year old Steve Bellafiore, the lead character in Pass the Light, also speak to the perspective of the film’s writer, Victor Hawks. A Christian who grew up attending church with plenty of gay folks — not to mention singing alsongside the gay kids who were often at his home to rehearse with his theater-director mother — Hawks hates seeing people “throwing darts” at one another. Like his fictional leading man Bellafiore, he believes God’s love is for everyone.
That’s why he partnered with his friend Malcolm Goodwin to create Pass the Light, which opened this month and has screenings scheduled through Thursday in select theaters around the country. The film follows good-hearted Christian teen Steve as he gets fed up with his congressman, who happens to be up for reelection, who uses religion as a way to divide people.
Feeling called to “protect his faith,” Steve runs a symbolic campaign to encourage people to support him as a write-in candidate, even though he’s too young to actually hold the office. In the process, he engages many of his peers in doing good deeds and making their community better. Another catalyst for the film was Hawks’s niece saying there weren’t films for her, about young people doing good things.
“I wanted the juxtaposition of Steve …working really hard to bring people together” and uniting people with love and kindness to contrast politicians who use divisive language, Hawks says.
Hawks, the film’s writer and producer, took just over a week to write the script.
“And I loved it. It’s what I stand for… in life and as a person,” says Goodwin, the film’s director. Morally and ethically, he says, he stands for being good to one another and talking about our differences without hostility.
Script in hand, Goodwin shot the film in 17 days. It seemed like they were ready for the big screen, but there was a hitch. Deals they had made or expected to close fell through because the film includes two gay characters. The storyline includes protagonist Steve discovering the two men are a couple and processing that information. He struggles to understand, but with his good heart and kind nature, he wants to build bridges rather than judge.
They kept the gay characters and Steve’s assertion that people should at least be “up for the conversation” about LGBT people. At one Kansas screening of the film, they sat near an exit in case their critics were proven right. What if audiences reacted horribly to the positive portrayal of two gay men and the message of inclusion?
As it turned out, Goodwin says, those fears were unfounded: “The response was a standing ovation.”
Hawks says he doesn’t expect the film to change people’s beliefs, but it could help change the way they communicate. He hopes it will compel them to have “an ounce of openness” and to come from a place of love when it comes to subjects such as LGBT inclusion.
For more information about Pass the Light, including a list of theaters where the film is showing, go to PassTheLightMovie.com. Watch the trailer below.