WASHINGTON WATCH: Russ Parr Takes A Look At The Drama In The Church In New Film "The Undershepherd" (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: Russ Parr Takes A Look At The Drama In The Church In New Film “The Undershepherd” (VIDEO)

The black church has supported the African-American community since we were brought here as slaves. But, regardless of all the good it does, life behind the scenes at the church often reflects life outside the church.

Radio personality and motion picture writer and director Russ Parr takes a look at the drama in the Church in his new film “The Undershepherd.”

MR. MARTIN: Welcome back.

The black church has supported the African-American community since we were brought here as slaves. But, regardless of all the good it does, life behind the scenes at the church often reflects life outside the church.

Radio personality and motion picture writer and director Russ Parr takes a look at the drama in the Church in his new film “The Undershepherd.”

Take a look.

[BEGIN FILM CLIP. A WORSHIP SERVICE.]

PASTOR: It’s like some of the people you work with. “They smile in your face, and all the time, they tryin’ to take your place.” They’re the backstabbers.

CONGREGANT: Hallelujah!

PASTOR: [Laughs.] Pastor, tell ’em! Tell ’em, Pastor! Tell ’em!

PASTOR: Y’all don’t hear me? [Unintelligible] – give in the world to live! You want change? I’ll bring a change. You want change? I’ll bring a change.

[APPLAUSE, CHEERING.]

PASTOR: If we can stop yelling in the hallway and just tell me what the problem is, because I really don’t know what the prob- —

[IN A CHURCH OFFICE, A MAN WITH A BATON OF SOME SORT STRONGARMS THE PASTOR, PUSHING HIM AGAINST A TABLE.]

PASTOR: What – pl- —

OFF CAMERA: How dare you – [crosstalk] –

OFF CAMERA: Now, wait!

OFF CAMERA: How dare you come into – [crosstalk]- —

MAN: I want something done about this young man, and I want something done now!

[CUT TO A HALLWAY SCENE. THE PASTOR IS SPEAKING WITH AN ATTRACTIVE, YOUNG WOMAN.]

PASTOR: Sister Roberts, you look absolutely breathtaking today. How are you doing?

MS. ROBERTS: [Taken aback.] I’m fine.

[END OF FILM CLIP.]

MR. MARTIN: Good stuff, huh?

We’re joined now Russ Parr.

Russ, welcome back to the show.

MR. RUSS PARR: It’s great to be here.

MR. MARTIN: Man, well, first of all … you’ve done other movies. What led you to say, “I really want to look at the drama in the black church”?

MR. PARR: Well, I think it probably started when I was, you know, very young and couldn’t do anything about it. You know, my mom had me in the Church, and she felt I was kind of losing myself because after a while, I started seeing that, you know, things didn’t seem quite right. There were things that – I felt that, you know, the interpretation of the Bible was in question. And when I became smart enough to realize, “Wait a minute! That can be taken another way,” then I started looking at that pastor, that person that was preaching. Like, “Wait a minute. This is their personal opinion, and people make life decisions based on what this individual says.”

But I think one of the things that really made me write this movie – it was after the 2004 election, and I had heard rumors about how the Republican Party was going around the country buying off, you know, pastors in the swing states – black pastors. Some of the pastors put the money –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. PARR: — into the church. Some of them put [it] in their pocket.

And then I actually had a friend of mine who said, “I was one of the people that was assigned to do it.”

And he started naming off names, and I’m like, “You’re kidding me!”

So, that just got in my craw.

Then I was watching something on TV one day where this lady – she’s like, you know, has a candle on in her house. And she’s, like, tithing her last dollars to an individual that, you know, was rolling in a BMW and living quite well. And I don’t quite understand how you could take that individual’s money. And so it made me start looking at some of these pastors. Because this is not an indictment of all pastor.

MR. MARTIN: Right. I mean –

MR. PARR: This is an indictment –

MR. MARTIN: — bottom line –

MR. PARR: — there’re some people out there –

MR. MARTIN: — this is a movie –

MR. PARR: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: — and so you’ve had pastors who’ve gotten in trouble. You’ve had a lot of churches who do a lot of great stuff.

MR. PARR: Right.

MR. MARTIN: I mean at the end of the day, I mean it’s a movie. I mean that’s what it is.

MR. PARR: Exactly.

MR. MARTIN: And so it’s a reflection from your point of view.

Now, you’ve taken this movie to film festivals all across the country –

MR. PARR: Right.

MR. MARTIN: — and have gotten a great reaction from –

MR. PARR: Yeah.

MR. MARTIN: — folks who saw it.

MR. PARR: Yeah, I mean we kind of swept a lot of awards in a lot of these film festivals; but I had some pushback from Hollywood, you know, ’cause they didn’t really want to deal with either – either they didn’t like the movie, or they just didn’t want to deal with the subject matter.

MR. MARTIN: But you also had some pushback from some pastors

MR. PARR: Yeah, I had a few that –

MR. MARTIN: — who you showed it to.

MR. PARR: — yeah. I actually invited some to my home, and they were literally almost cussin’ me out of my house because they felt this was a “bad time to show this movie,” and, “You’re just trying to make money.”

I’m not making any money off this movie. As a matter of fact, I took a[n] “L.”

MR. MARTIN: Well, you[’ve] also got one hell of a cast.

MR. PARR: Yeah. You know, to get Isaiah Washington was incredible, the way he tapped into the character. I found myself the first day shooting him watching him and forgetting to direct everybody else –

MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]

MR. PARR: — ’cause he was phenomenal. I mean I –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. PARR: — I’m biased because, you know, this man took my words and just took it to another level.

MR. MARTIN: So, you got Isaiah, Elise Neal –

MR. PARR: Yeah, Lou Gossett, Jr.; Bill Cobbs; Malinda Williams, who won Best Actress at the ABFF in Miami. I’ve got Vanessa Bell Calloway. Just really strong performances. Clifton Powell – you know, people that you see in comedies and –

MR. MARTIN: Yeah, a lot of folk we know.

MR. PARR: — yeah. You know, it’s like I had something on all of them.

MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]

MR. PARR: I had pictures of them with animals and stuff, but — no! But I think when Isaiah got on the set –

MR. MARTIN: Right.

MR. PARR: — he set the tone, ’cause everybody like, “Do you see what’s going on here?” People were coming back to me during breaks. “[Unintelligible] – let’s go back over the script here” –

MR. MARTIN: Gotcha.

MR. PARR: — because his performance – he was so tapped in, it just blew everybody away.

MR. MARTIN: Okay. Well, we look forward to it, Russ. Man, we appreciate it.

MR. PARR: Right.

MR. MARTIN: And, folks, also tune in to the world premiere of “The Undershepherd” on Saturday, March 30th, at 8 p.m. Eastern, right here on TV One. We[’ve] got a bunch of stuff that night. Of course, we’re going to be airing “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” from Bishop T.D. Jakes at five o’clock. At seven, we have a “Washington Watch” special called “Amazing Grace: Drama in the Church,” and we’ll profile three pastors who have faced crisis in their ministries and survived to be even stronger on the other side.

So, it’ll be a powerful evening. You don’t want to miss it. “Amazing Grace” at seven and “The Undershepherd” at eight. Trust me. You don’t want to miss it.

Russ, we appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.

MR. PARR: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.