By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN A spark lit during Jeff Litfin’s Delano High School drama days blazed the path for his most prominent acting endeavor to date a major role in the movie “Prodigal.”
“Basically, the film is a modern day rendition of the prodigal son story that we have all read or heard about in church,” Litfin noted. “The movie is meant to convey several important messages about love, forgiveness, and the importance of family.”
The premier screening of “Prodigal” will be Tuesday, March 22 at the Champlin Mann Theatre in Champlin. There will be one showing at 7 p.m., and one at 9 p.m.
“Both shows are expected to sell out,” Litfin noted.
Litfin, a 1983 graduate of Delano High School, was immediately drawn to the storyline of “Prodigal,” produced by a new film company called Lost Coin Productions.
In the movie, Levi Layton is an 18-year-old who’s tired of the expectations of being a preacher’s son. Levi and his father, Steve, (played by Litfin) have grown apart through the years, and Levi is looking for a way out of his small-town life.
Armed with a $100,000 inheritance, Levi escapes to a life of fast cars, raging parties, and new friends.
A challenging role
Litfin was thrilled to be chosen as Levi’s father in the movie.
“I loved the challenge of the scenes that I had,” he said.
Litfin has done film work in industrial commercials, training videos, visitor video narration for his church (Living Word Christian Center), and other related endeavors, but this was his first full-length feature film.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Litfin said. “I loved the cast and crew.”
The film gave Litfin the opportunity to work with several film professionals in the Minneapolis area.
“The producers worked through several hundred auditions before the casting was complete,” Litfin noted. “In fact, one cast member is an actor from California who flew in from LA to record his scenes.”
The movie is considered “low budget” by Hollywood standards, Litfin said, but there was still a great deal of time, talent, and effort invested in it.
While the movie “Prodigal” was being filmed in 2009, Litfin took about a month off work. (For the past 10 years, Litfin has been the content director of cfaith [www.cfaith.com], a worldwide ministry outreach.)
Because of the size of Litfin’s role, he was at the set nearly every day.
“It was pretty intense,” he said.
Most scenes (which can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes) had to be shot four to six times.
“Very few times did we nail it on the first take,” Litfin said, explaining that even if the actors do a perfect job, there are a lot of uncontrollable variables.
“There might be a plane that flies overhead, or a camera battery that needs to be changed,” Litfin said. “It gets frustrating at times, but you just have to prepare each time, because you never know if that shot will be the one.”
During the pivotal homecoming scene, which was shot in an old-fashioned church in Elk River, the air conditioning would suddenly come on, and the sensitive microphones would pick up the sound.
“This was the hardest scene I had done in my life, not only physically because of the emotional aspect, but also because everything kept going wrong that day,” Litfin said. “We had to do take after take after take. By the end of the day, you’re just drained.”
Throughout the movie, Litfin strived to make his character as believable as possible. He’s watched individual scenes of the movie while rerecording audio, but he hasn’t seen it from start to finish yet.
Now that the movie is completed, the production company is pursuing underwriting/distribution contract opportunities. Nothing has been finalized yet, but the movie might take a similar marketing direction as the 2008 film “Fireproof,” or go straight to DVD.
People who would like to preorder a $10 ticket for the premier screening of “Prodigal” can do so by sending a check to Lost Coin Productions, 18140 Zane St. NW #306, Elk River, MN 55330 by Thursday, March 17.
Include a letter stating the number of tickets desired, the time of the show(s), name, phone number, and e-mail address.
Prepaid tickets can be picked up at the will call booth at the theatre the night of the premier.
For questions about ticket sales, call Lost Coin Productions at (763) 377-3564.
To watch the movie trailer, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6UEg2Eu07g.
It can also be viewed by going to YouTube and searching for “Prodigal trailer 2011.”