November 2013 – Ted Murphy was stunned when standing for his values threatened his business, his family and his friendships. It sent his life into a tailspin and tested his faith when he failed to understand that his conservative values were not politically correct. And when he signed a petition supporting traditional marriage, he unleashed a flood of venom and intolerance from gay activists in his hometown.
Ted is the lead character in Accidental Activist, a one-hour film written by AFA Journal staff writer Ed Vitagliano and produced by American Family Association last year. A November 12 simulcast on American Family Radio will feature the project.
“I tried to portray Ted as an ordinary Christian who reacts in a very human way to his trials,” Vitagliano said. “The message throughout the film is that at some point, a Christian has to trust in the sovereignty of God.”
In the film, Ted and his wife Lynn own a custom T-shirt shop in a quiet neighborhood. Next door is a trendy coffee shop run by Ted’s good friend Ron, a homosexual. Despite their differences, their friendship is based on mutual respect.
But that friendship is strained to the breaking point by Ron’s initial angry reaction to Ted’s petition signature; he takes it as a personal attack on his choice of lifestyle. Add to that a series of phone threats against Ted’s family, vandalism and angry picketers at his store, and his landlord’s lack of support – and Ted is almost overwhelmed.
Actors Larry Bukovey and Kristin Wollett play Ted and Lynn Murphy. Both actors are Christians, but not everyone on the set was. AFA looks for the most talented cast and crew available and sees the set as an opportunity to demonstrate Christian faith and witness to non-believers working on the project. American Family Studios head Jeff Chamblee said that has happened on each AFA film, and non-Christians often say they want to work with AFA again.
“As an actor,” said Bukovey, “it was a great blessing and an honor for me not only to be in the film, but also to be doing something that I have a passion for in a film that has a message.”
Wollett said, “To me, it was about what the story represented, what the film was trying to convey as a whole. And I think the relationship between Ted and Ron is absolutely beautiful. Regardless of their conflict, it was through the love of Christ that Ted was able to [maintain his friendship with Ron].”
Neither Wollett nor Bukovey believes that work on a film that upholds traditional marriage is a risk for an actor. Bukovey said the way the film portrays the friendship between his character and Ron is a positive thing illustrating the fact that most Christians are not bigots.
“The way it was written,” he said, “it shows love, kindness and tolerance coming from the Christians.”
“A lot of times when [gay marriage] is brought up, there’s a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of anger,” said Wollett. “But the way it was discussed on set was honestly out of love and interest in somebody else’s view.”
Bukovey said, “I think it can have an impact on the culture. People love movies, and Christians love to see good wholesome faith-based films that have meaning. This one has a great message about love and forgiveness, about faith and trusting God.”
American Family Studios will host a November 12 simulcast with actor Larry Bukovey, scriptwriter Ed Vitagliano and Liberty Council’s Mat Staver talking about Accidental Activist and the issues the film raises. To order visit afastore.afa.net or call 877-927-4917.