Shooting has begun in Tacoma on Jesus 4 Less, a feature-length film by writer/director Aaron Flett and produced by Entertain U. The movie is a satire about two twentysomething atheists who work at a downtown Tacoma Christian bookstore, Jesus 4 Less, that is in competition with a cross-town Bible bookstore. A Jimmy Swaggart-type anti-hero as well as a midget figure in this parable, which is about (among other things) the evils of religious hypocrisy. The two young men (also romantic rivals) navigate the deep waters of “fundamentalism, love, lust, greed, and marijuana” in a dark comedy sure to spur conversation.
Flett received a Spaceworks Tacoma Creative Enterprise award which enables the film project to shoot for three months in a downtown storefront at 906 Broadway, for free. A nationally recognized stand-up comic, he began writing the story in February during a downtick in the local comedy scene, and soon came up with a finished script. We caught up with him as he was going into the movie’s first week of filming:
Spaceworks Tacoma: How did you learn to make a film?
Aaron Flett: I don’t think I ever learned to make a film, I’m just doing it. I watch a lot of DVD extras [commentaries]. I also have friends that either make films or went to film school, so I use them as much as possible.
Actors Adam Boyd and Sean Anderson
ST: Why is Tacoma a good location for this film?
AF: I was a big fan of Renton until I moved to Tacoma. I love it here. It has re-shaped my life. I used to be scared to come to Tacoma. When I started doing stand-up comedy in 2004, I learned Tacoma is a beautiful city full of great people….Most of the people we cast for the movie are from here and I want to show what Tacoma has to offer.
ST: Is there anything about the film
making process that will provide fodder for your comedy?
AF: I’m sure there is, but I’ve been too busy to write anything so far. I think it would make an interesting story, though. Some people find it funny that I live in a house that is owned by a church. I find it funny that a church owns rental properties.
Vanessa Cobbs on the set
ST: Jesus 4 Less is a satire about religious fundamentalism. Does it include any non-parody Christian characters or plot lines?
AF: It does, but most of them fly under the radar. Quite a few of the people involved with the production are [from] some form of Christian faith; they get the jokes, and why they are funny. We don’t really talk about people’s faith in general, in the film. We don’t care what your beliefs are as long as you don’t care what ours are. The religious characters that get spotlighted are the “Do as I say, not as I do” Ted Haggard-, Jimmy Swaggart-, Jim- and Tammy Faye Baker-types.
ST: What would you say to those who are offended by the film without seeing it?
AF: If you are offended without seeing it you will probably be very offended by seeing it. Chances are you are the type of person we make fun of in the film. I will say this, though: They are just jokes. Some may not be funny, some may be in bad taste, but none of them cause physical harm. I wrote a comedy, not a Bible. If you need a Bible, go to Dightman’s Bible Store on 38th…I stopped in there, [and] I must say, they make Christianity look awesome. The kid behind the counter was probably one of the happiest and nicest people I’ve ever met in retail.
ST: What would you say are the redemptive qualities of life, from the point of view of the film?
AF: It shows that no matter what your religious views are, you can be a good or bad person. Religion shouldn’t define your morals. I guess I’d say Jesus 4 Less is a story of “what goes around comes around.” And that isn’t always a bad thing. “Do unto others…” I think the Bible got that one right.
The Jesus 4 Less film set at 906 Broadway will be partially open to visitors at the Spaceworks Tacoma Block Party, July 29, 5-8p.m. Drop by for a look at how a feature-length movie is made – and meet-and-greet other Tacoma artists throughout the neighborhood at this free event! Find out more about the movie at http://www.Jesus4Less.com.