The latest Christian film is coming to Grand Lake.
The 2019 release, 'Play the Flute', stars Brent Varvel as Brandon Cobb, a youth pastor who has the daunting task of taking on an apathetic youth group. Varvel's character also has his own internal struggle that has to be resolved in the film.
"Playing [Brandon] was very interesting," said Varvel. "He takes over this youth group and really doesn't have anything but hope in the Lord to turn things around."
When Varvel was really getting to know the character of Brandon, he talked with writer, director and producer Christiano about a potential struggle in questioning the call to be a youth minister for the character.
"One of the things that Rich was really insistent upon after I realized his vision I really got behind full force was that Brandon is a guy that knows what the Lord has called him to do, even in the face of very unlikely circumstances he is committed to stay faithful," said Varvel.
Varvel said that playing Brandon was very refreshing for him.
"A lot of times in our lives we get so distracted when things don't go our way. Whereas playing Brandon, he's a guy who doesn't give up, the persistence and the perseverance is a very strong aspect of who he is, but he is also a guy who loves people. That was the big thing that I took away from the movie was his ability to love people in the face of tough circumstances. That was inspiring to me and I try to model that in my own life," said Varvel.
At the young age of 5 years old, Varvel fell in love with filmmaking and became infatuated with movies.
"Any major role I've ever landed, I didn't audition for. It's just been kind of an interesting journey for me," said Varvel. "Acting is not the main part of my career, it's just one component of what I do."
Varvel owns his own production company, House of Grace Films, producing 'The Board' in 2008 and 'The War Within' in 2014. Varvel wrote, directed, produced and starred in both films.
"It's a non-profit film company. Our main focus is feature films, but at the same time we inevitably do a lot of smaller projects for ministries, for companies that need promotional work, music videos and everything in between. The sky is the limit," said Varvel. "I find myself shooting, directing, editing most of the time."
Education-wise, Varvel was self taught throughout high school before attending Ball State University to study film and video production, graduating in 2008.
Varvel says that he has found himself a part of at least one feature film in recent years. As Brandon Cobb in 'Play the Flute', Varvel said that it was enjoyable to only be responsible for his acting performance.
"It was phenomenal to be able to just show up, focus on acting and then go home," said Varvel.
The professionalism on the set of 'Play the Flute' impressed Varvel, who has been on sets where multiple people were responsible for multiple roles.
"I was so blown away by the high-end professional aspect on set. Everybody was not just fully equipped to do their job, but they brought everybody else's game to the next level. It was almost a family type experience on set," said Varvel.
The impact that 'Play the Flute' has had on viewers started in production.
"I knew when we were on set that this was more than just a movie," said Varvel. "Multiple crew members and cast members were being impacted on the set. I could see their lives changing right there in front of me."
Varvel said that portraying Brandon had an effect on him as well. Most memorable for Varvel was during the autograph portion of a showing in Los Angeles. Varvel recalls a shy young girl approached him.
"[She was] still kind of processing the movie and she told me that she had surrendered her life to Jesus Christ after watching the movie," said Varvel. "Just right there on the spot."
But that one instance is not the only impact the movie has had.
"The response has just been overwhelming," said Varvel. "People are being inspired to be more serious about the way that they live their lives for God."
On Wednesday, October 23, Varvel will be speaking at Grove First Baptist Church.
"I have chosen the topic of identity. It's a topic that I believe everyone struggles with in life at some point or another. It's something that I've really wrestled with over the last few years. In some ways it's a personal story, but it's also a challenge to people who may be struggling with what they feel their purpose is in life or what the meaning of life is or those deep questions we tend to struggle with from time to time," said Varvel.
Although only in town for two days, Varvel is excited to visit Grand Lake.
"I'm excited to see the people of Grove Oklahoma and to hang out for a few days," said Varvel.
There are two showings of 'Play the Flute', Monday and Tuesday, October 21 and 22. Both showings are at 6:30 p.m. Varvel will speak at Grove's First Baptist Church on Wednesday, October 23. For more information, contact the church at 918-786-4419.
Know Before You Go
• Monday, October 21: 'Play the Flute' showing at the Grove Cinema 7 at 6:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, October 22: 'Play the Flute' showing at the Grove Cinema 7 at 6:30 p.m. Brent Varvel will be in attendance.
• Wednesday, October 23: Brent Varvel will speak at First Baptist in Grove.