We sat down with Alan Powell, co-star in THE SONG, the story of aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King (Powell), whose life and marriage suffer when the song he writes for his wife propels him to stardom.
You’re a singer/songwriter with the band Anthem Lights. Yet in the lead role of Jed King in the film The Song, you displayed some obvious acting chops. Had you acted before?
No, this was my first acting job. I’ve always had a passion for film and been fascinated by acting; it’s something I felt I hopefully could do. I believe you can do anything if you work hard enough. So I’ve been preparing myself for this opportunity long before I even knew there would be an opportunity!
If you hadn’t acted before, how did you get cast for the lead role?
I like to say I got the part the regular way. I went to the initial audition and then got a call back and auditioned for Richard Ramsey, the director, and he cast me after that. Richard, who was both the writer and the director on the film, was fantastic. He worked patiently with me, helping me learn the technical things I needed to learn. But at the same time, he allowed me the freedom to create the character of Jed.
I do think there’s some carryover from being a musician, however. I’m used to people watching what I do. Certainly there are differences between film and music, but I think I was able to draw from one experience to the other.
I understand the music you perform in the film is not really your style. How did you manage that?
I do mostly pop music with Anthem Lights, and the music for the film is more of an Americana genre. So for a few weeks before we recorded the music for the film, I engulfed myself in the the kind of artists I thought my character, Jed, would listen to — such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. I hoped some of that sunk in deep enough. I give a lot of credit to The Song’s music director, Vince Emmett, who helped me find Jed musically. He and the whole team did a fantastic job leading me . . . and eventually, we stumbled on it.
Too often Christian films end up low-budget affairs with poor production values and even in-your-face sermonizing. Yet this film avoids that. Were you ever concerned about how this project would turn out?
Oh, always — and quite honestly, it was because of me. I believed in the script and its message, but obviously I was playing the lead character and I’d never acted before. I felt the weight of that. I was always concerned I would fall short and undermine the story, that I would do such a bad job that the project wouldn’t get off the ground. I’m my toughest critic, and it was difficult to be objective about myself. I just hoped I could rise to the challenge.
What drew you to this film?
What excited me most about the project was how moved I was by the script. The story impacted me, and I certainly hope that when other people see The Song, they’ll be impacted as well.
What about the script moved you?
To see the things Jed put himself through – even though he had a loving wife and a beautiful boy. To see him leave them, to not prioritize them in the way even he would have wanted to – that made me want to cherish my family, to be aware of the blessing they are to me.
I hear that on a few occasions your wife stepped into the role of Rose, your film wife.
Yes! To the filmmaker’s credit, we realized it didn’t make sense to ask the lead actor in a movie about prioritizing marriage to not prioritize his marriage. I’m a married man, and in the film, Jed is a married man who has an affair. So how do we film that without compromising my relationship? We came up with some guidelines, and one of them was that I wouldn’t kiss anyone but my wife. Fortunately, if you light her correctly, my wife can pass for Ali Faulkner, the actress who plays Rose. There’s only one scene in the movie where Jed kisses anyone, so we used my wife as a stand-in for that moment. We did up to 18 takes because I messed up a lot so I could keep redoing the scene! [Chuckles.] There’s also a scene where Jed’s lying in bed with Rose, and that’s also my wife standing in for Ali. Again, I credit the filmmakers for that. I’ve been to a few screenings with my wife and have to be able to sit there with her and know we didn’t compromise our marriage to make the film. I’m very grateful for that.
What do you hope is the marriage takeaway of The Song?
That our marriage, our family, is the most incredible gift we’re given in this life. The movie’s based on the life of Solomon, and just like Solomon, my character, Jed, tries to find fulfillment in every way possible. But in the end he realizes that all that other stuff was meaningless, that he just needed to be with his family. I hope The Song shows people this truth in a new way — even perhaps for the first time. I believe the most important thing is to prioritize your family above all else this side of heaven. That’s certainly my belief.
Are there any a-ha! moments from this project that resonated with you?
Jed is a professional musician who spends a lot of time on the road trying to build his career. I’m also a musician and I have to travel sometimes. But now I find myself literally turning down shows because I don’t want to be gone that much from my family. I think a large part of this came from being Jed for a while and learning from him.
What do you and your wife do together to keep your marriage strong?
Well, we have a four-year-old daughter, a 19-month-old daughter, and a baby on the way.
Kids can take up a large part of your life — and if you let them, they can take over your life! So we hire a babysitter from time to time so we can go out and let it be just us. It’s important that we never stop dating. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. Also, I’m not very good at sharing details. If you ask me how my day is going, I’ll say fine, and that’s the extent of it. So I’ve learned I need to be willing to go above and beyond that, to be intentional about letting my wife into my world by sharing details. It makes her feel connected. It’s all about being intentional with each other, about caring for your relationship and finding ways to grow it, to keep it alive.
What about growing your marriage spiritually?
We’re constantly in communication about what God is teaching us, whether it’s from random situations, or church on Sunday, or the Bible, or something else we’re reading. God is all around us, attempting to teach us things if we open our eyes and see what he’s doing. My wife is the person I talk to about these intimate things God’s showing me. She’s the one person I tell everything to, the one person to whom I reveal what I’m wrestling with, about what truths I’m trying to unpack about what God’s trying to teach me each day.
What is God teaching you these days?
Right now God’s teaching about me the value of humanity, regardless of who we are or what we do, regardless of our mistakes or situations. I’ve always known this, but for whatever reason, right now God’s showing me how he values each person — including me. He values each of us equally and infinitely. This truth certainly is changing the way I see people and the way I treat them. It’s been a really cool learning time for me
Do you have any other film projects coming up?
I recently did a film called Produce, a beautiful story about a man who forms a relationship with a Down syndrome child simply from going to the grocery store. I’m excited about that one. Then I did another project called Out of Ashes, about a man whose wife and son were killed in a car accident. He has to learn to live and love again. It’s about him finding his faith and the motivation to do just that. That role was an acting challenge but the story moved me. I was excited to bring that to life.
Sounds like soon you’ll have a dual career – singer/songwriter and actor!
Well, we’ll see. I’ll keep walking through the doors that open. I’m blessed to be able to do this.
Is there any final message you’d like to give our readers?
The Song basically says that ultimately, without God, life is meaningless. That’s a truth we all have to wrestle with, regardless of where we land on the issue. But in the end, that truth dictates how we act in any given moment, and how we live. I hope people resonant with that.
Copyright © 2014 Growthtrac Ministries.