Economic Downturn = Salvation for Gospel Movie Producer

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DESSELB Productions, The Gospel Movie Company, finds that while the economic downturn put a freeze on distribution deals, it created the opportunity to network with churches, bypass middlemen, and bring their movie to an audience hungry for christian-themed family entertainment.

We knew there was a market for the type movie that we'd made, and we were gratified Maverick had the foresight to recognize the market potential for 'A Shepherd of Pure Heart'.

"Gospel Romantic Comedy" may not come to mind when you hear the term "indie movie", but the majority of family films come from independent producers carried by smaller distributors. You may not see them at your local cineplex but they dominate the shelves of Blockbuster and Wal-Mart, the rental catalogue of Netflix and the virtual shelves of many on-line retailers.

Gospel movie pioneers DESSELB Productions had a sleeper direct-to-DVD hit with "A Shepherd of Pure Heart". The story of an up-and-coming pastor and his attempt to reach out to at-risk youth in his community, it was the flagship feature on Maverick Entertainment Group's new "Spirit" label in 2005. The movie continues to be among the movie distributor's stronger sellers. "It was a good deal for a first-time producer such DESSELB," writer/director Keith Garside says of that initial deal. "We knew there was a market for the type movie that we'd made, and we were gratified Maverick had the foresight to recognize the market potential for 'A Shepherd of Pure Heart'."

Fast forward to 2008, DESSELB has a new Gospel Romantic Comedy, "Sister Sonya's Prayer Group", a movie about what happens when an attractive single father joins an all women's prayer group. "Sister Sonya's Prayer Group" is a story of reconciliation, understanding, truth and compassion which alludes to the tradition of David Talbert and Tyler Perry. Sparks fly, traditions fall, love blossoms and everybody gets their groove back as a group of friends deal with relationships, children, and a predatory preacher. Boasting 1970's Black Cinema icon Antonio Fargas, best known for his role as "Huggy Bear" in the TV series Starsky and Hutch, DESSELB seemed on track for a second deal with Maverick with a bigger and better product.

"The collapse of the commercial credit market left movie distributors without the resources to license new movies. Based on the response to 'A Shepherd of Pure Heart', we knew there was a strong market for 'Sister Sonya's Prayer Group', and we had to satisfy that need, whether the distributors were able or not."

"Knowing our primary market were church people, we used our church connections to take distribution into our own hands and go directly to the audience, selling the movie at screenings in churches and venues in different states, e-tailing the DVD on Amazon and Filmbaby. We're like farmers taking our produce to the farmers' market."

"Sister Sonya's Prayer Group" is available on Amazon.com and Filmbaby.com. Interested retailers should contact DESSELB Productions for wholesale information.

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Keith Garside

Calvin Thomas

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