• Thomas Bonifield

"Play the Flute" Finds its Audience

A strong cast and Christian message help this film address the challenges of an unusual distribution scheme.

Brett Varvel and Fred Grandy in a scene from "Play the Flute."

From veteran faith-based film writer/director Rich Christiano, Play the Flute tells the tale of a new youth pastor trying to motivate his apathetic charges to get serious about their Christian faith. That is obviously a relevant message in the Body today, and Christiano has assembled a good cast to help to deliver it.


Brett Varvel plays the aforementioned youth pastor brought into a church headed by a pastor played by Fred Grandy, one-time star of the TV sitcom The Love Boat. Other veteran actors with some name recognition include Loretta Swit (MASH) and Clint Howard, brother of actor/director Ron Howard. The rest of the cast is made up primarily of young actors who form the youth group.


As one would expect from a Christiano picture, this one has a strong Gospel message that is delivered very directly. A clip in the trailer of Varvel's character addressing the teenagers gives a sense.

"Like the Jews of old, we, too, have become indifferent. The Lord Jesus is looking for followers who realize they are sinners and need a savior."

Though it has been out since January, you may not have heard of Play the Flute. That's because Christiano has eschewed the traditional model of mass distribution in theaters, choosing instead a sponsorship/private showing approach. Basically, the film plays in theaters or local churches after an individual or organizational sponsor requests a showing; there is then a revenue sharing arrangement between said sponsor and the filmmakers.


Christian Film Blog has not yet seen the movie, but it seems to have done well, bringing in $120,000 thus far, according to Box Office Mojo. There are no numbers publicly available for the production budget, but we'd guess somewhere in the $200,000 to $300,000 ballpark. According to the film's website, showings are already booked into August, so it seems likely revenue will ultimately surpass the budget. Besides, Christiano has been at this for a long time and knows the ropes.


If you're interested in seeing the movie, check this link to the website for Play the Flute to peruse showing locations or contact information so you can organize a showing of your own. You can also take a look a the trailer below to get a flavor for the film.



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