A family-friendly feature film made largely by homeschool graduates will be coming to hundreds of theaters next week, possibly breaking the record for the largest on-demand theatrical opening.
“Beyond the Mask” is a $4 million production scheduled to open in theaters April 6. Starring Andrew Chaney (“Seasons of Gray“), Kara Killmer (“Chicago Fire“), and John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), the movie presents a faith-filled adventure set in the midst of the Revolutionary War.
“I love history, and there’s a lot of shared history that America and Britain have,” Rhys-Davies, a Welsh actor, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s an exciting story with wonderful historical elements.”
Unlike most major film productions, “Beyond the Mask“ was largely produced by a team of 400 homeschoolers who volunteered as workers, actors, and extras for the film. Rhys-Davies said he “really liked working” with the homeschool team, whom he described as both moral and enthusiastic.
“I sort of like mavericks who challenge the Hollywood studio system,” he explained. “There are many subcultures in the U.S., and they always defy my expectations, and I welcome homeschoolers. I find them keen and enthusiastic, with a moral code and impressive integrity. I really liked working with them—and they made a jolly good romp of a film.”
“Beyond the Mask”’s plot centers around an assassin for the British East India Company who seeks to redeem his life by defusing a plot against the American Colonies. Above all, the film celebrates the true freedom that can only be found in Christ.
Chad Burns, the movie’s director, told the Christian Post that “Beyond the Mask“ will carry the legacy of a quality Christian film, while at the same time pioneering novel cinematic techniques.
“There’s been a series of good, theologically solid faith films,” Burns stated. “We really want to be carrying that legacy forward.”
Using an extensive set of props and over 800 visual effects, Burns says the film compellingly conveys the message that true fulfillment can only be found in Jesus Christ.
“We live in a Facebook culture that is obsessed with identity—with every post and every Tweet,” he said. “People build these elaborate masks. People want to be seen as a successful student or a successful magazine editor or a successful mother—whatever the category. Jesus said that unless we’re finding our identity in Him, unless we’re resting in His finished work, we’re never going to find that satisfaction and fulfillment we’re looking for.”
“Beyond the Mask” will be coming to theaters on an on-demand basis, where the number of showings depends on online ticket sales. According to reports, the film may open in over 1,000 theaters by April 6, which would set a record for the largest on-demand theatrical opening.
The homeschool movie team say they are grateful by the progress thus far and excited for what will happen in the weeks ahead.
“We are so grateful for the Lord’s blessing on this journey,” Aaron Burns wrote on the film’s blog. “He has been faithful to give us the grace to accomplish what He called us to do. And we couldn’t be more excited about the film we have to release to you.”