When the music minister at The Bay church in Runaway Bay went looking earlier this year for someone to help him put together a production of the “Living Last Supper,” John Webster picked a winner.
Independent filmmaker Rachel Shepherd, a newcomer to Wise County, was originally drafted to help with set design. But Webster was impressed with her, as were the judges at the Vail, Colo., film festival.
Shepherd, wife of surgeon Brent Shepherd, was notified in February that her screenplay for a movie called “Let’s Kill Peter” had won second place at the Vail festival. And back at the non-denominational church at 20 Runaway Bay Dr., she ended up writing the script based upon her Biblical research and directing the production to recreate the scene from the Leonardo Da Vinci painting.
The Bay’s “Living Last Supper” is set for one performance 10 a.m. Sunday, April 1.
“We moved here in July and I was looking for a parent’s day out program,” said the mother of two young boys. “They have a real good one at The Bay. And by November, we had decided to join.
“It used to be that all the members were older, but now there are a number of younger people, and the church is doing more things in the community.”
Led by pastor Olin Collins, the church had a “high attendance” Sunday last week, putting nearly 300 worshipers in the sanctuary. Webster hopes for 400 people at the April 1 presentation.
Shepherd said she wrote a 20-minute script for the show, which will include speeches by each of the 12 disciples. The character of Jesus unveils the traitor among them and tells of the amazing sacrifice He will make.
The program is rich with contributions by Webster’s music department. Communion will be served during the play.
“That kind of forward thinking,” Shepherd said, “made us join the church.”
Church members make up the cast of “Living Last Supper.” Shepherd’s husband plays the role of Jesus, “which is funny,” she said. “He needed a lot of direction.”
The cast also includes Charles Todd, Anthony Thomas, Phil Benjamin, Cotton Roberts, Jerry St. John, Joey Arquette, Robert Moody, B.J. Opsahl, Adam Huitt, Aaron Arquette, George Parker and Neil Thomas as the apostles. Clay Dent is the narrator.
“I’m used to directing professionals,” Shepherd said, “and we’re blessed to have several members of the congregation who have done plays in the Bridgeport area.
“They all believe in what we’re trying to do, which is get the message out there and inform the community on what The Bay is.”
For more information about the “Living Last Supper,” call (940) 575-2512.
An Azle High School grad who worked in television and went to New York City to study film production at NYU, Shepherd has made one feature film and has three in development, including “Let’s Kill Peter.”
Shepherd’s first feature-length film, “Traveling,” was made on a $20,000 budget.
“I sold everything I had to make it,” she said of the picture she says is “a road movie” inspired by “Five Easy Pieces,” a 1970 Jack Nicholson vehicle.
And it paid off when she premiered it at the Dallas International Film Festival.
“It got a lot of buzz,” Shepherd said, “and I got a producer for my ‘Let’s Kill Peter’ screenplay. Now, she’s busy lining up the money we need.”
A budget of $1 million has been set for the project, which is a comedy about a woman who wants to kill her husband and fantasizes unusual ways to do it.
A million bucks doesn’t sound like much when you hear that Disney is expected to lose $200 million on its sci-fi bomb “John Carter,” but Shepherd is still firmly entrenched in the real world.
“Only 10 percent of movies make money; that’s all,” she said. “You have to bring it to investors and sell it as art. Making films is still right now an expensive hobby for me.
“My secret is I have people who support me.”
The list of supporters is growing among fellow church members. She’s hopeful the “Living Last Supper” will “end up being a tradition” at The Bay.