The youth-led, Pentecostal-flavored Jesus Movement that began in the late 1960s in California hippie subculture brought a wave of conversions to Christianity that soon spread nationwide.
Jesus Revolution, a Hollywood feature film from Lionsgate about prominent Jesus Movement leaders, is co-directed by filmmaker Brent McCorkle, and set for release Feb. 22 in 2,800 theaters.
In Jesus Revolution, McCorkle directs actors who have become household names: Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus in the hit streaming television series The Chosen, and five-time Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer, who starred in hit TV shows. Additionally, McCorkle wrote the musical score.
“A lot of people are talking about what a revival of this magnitude would look like today,” McCorkle says.
McCorkle, 50, is the elder son of AG pastor Jim McCorkle, who for more than a decade headed the Fellowship’s national Youth Ministries. Brent grew up in a home and church that embraced the humanities, competing in Fine Arts Festival before studying music and film. After serving as a church music and drama director, he set out in Dallas to launch a feature film career.
He charted his own path to use film to tell redemptive stories of Christian faith. “The best way to succeed was to learn all departments,” McCorkle says. “I had to teach myself to do it.”
And teach himself he did — every aspect of filmmaking, from writing scripts to composing musical scores. While Jesus Revolution is the latest in a line of faith-based feature films in which he’s been involved over the past decade, McCorkle began honing his craft by creating short projects that he entered in a lot of film festivals.
His feature film directorial debut occurred in 2012 for the biographical drama Unconditional, for which he wrote, edited, directed, and co-composed the score. That film received a nomination for best picture at the NAACP Image Awards 2012. McCorkle worked as an editor and composer for the 2015 Universal Pictures sports drama Woodlawn, which starred Sean Astin (Samwise in the 2001-03 Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Academy Award-nominated actor Jon Voight. Woodlawn won best picture at the 2016 Attic Film Fest, which showcases redemptive, faith-based motion pictures.
McCorkle co-wrote, co-edited, composed the score, and served as second unit director for I Can Only Imagine, the 2018 Lionsgate biographical drama starring Dennis Quaid. It has been the filmmaker’s most successful movie at the box office, grossing $86 million worldwide.
McCorkle filmed Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) promotional videos in the mid-2000s, as Rob M. Price became director for the school’s new digital media arts program. The two filmmakers learned from each other, loaning each other equipment and discovering what works and what doesn’t in making movies.
“It’s hard to get your first break,” McCorkle says. “I want to help lift people and give other people a leg up.”
Among AG institutions that have benefited from McCorkle’s desire to give back is SAGU’s digital media arts department, where he routinely shows his films, including Jesus Revolution. Following the screening, McCorkle met with SAGU digital media arts students, answering questions about his creative style, cinematic choices, and personal motivations behind his art.
“I stood there amazed at the energy and light in Brent's eye as he shared,” says Price, director of the school’s communications arts digital media arts program. “He genuinely cares about students and continues to have a special place in his heart for Southwestern.”
After the screening, student Kadley Harmon asked McCorkle questions pertinent to historical research for the film. “It meant a lot to see how willing he was to answer questions and give us a look behind the curtain,” says Harmon, 23.
Under McCorkle, SAGU students have interned, which entails spending at least 120 hours learning from the direction of a seasoned media pro. “Any time I can send him another young filmmaker, he's always said yes,” Price notes. “That's walking the walk when it comes to investing in the next generation of creatives.”
“Working with those students was a great experience for me,” McCorkle says. “Rob really tries to impart excellence and high-quality to his students. It’s amazing to see a full film program at an Assemblies of God university.”
Another AG connection to the film is publicist Jason P. Noble, who is promoting the movie while also working as co-lead pastor of Hope City Church in White City, Oregon. Noble served as pastor of First Assembly Church in St. Peters, Missouri, in 2015, when teenage congregant John Smith came back to life after drowning. The event is depicted in the 2019 feature film Breakthrough.
TOP PHOTO: Jonathan Roumie (left) has a prominent role in the new film co-directed by Brent McCorkle.
LOWER PHOTO: Actor Kelsey Grammer (left) is a star in the movie.