Native St. Louis will be the spirit of the holiday as the director of the lifelong “Kirk Franklin Gospel Christmas” | Entertainment

By Kevin C. Johnson | Post-Dispatch Pop Music Critic

Erica Sutherin is always open to possibilities, but directing a Christmas movie for a lifetime has never been the option she had ever thought of.

However, from St. Louis, she made her television directorial debut on “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas,” which airs as part of the cable channel holiday lineup.

“It’s all great, fun and scary,” she says. The film’s executive producers are gospel music superstars Franklin and Tracy “Twinkie” Bird. Produced by Swirl Films and Big Dreams Entertainment.

After graduating from Kirkwood High School, Erica Sutherin will oversee “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas,” which will air on December 4th.

Courtesy of Erica Sutherin

“Gospel Christmas” is centered around a young minister (Demetria McKinney) who was tasked with preparing the church choir for a holiday performance. In typical lifelong fashion, she may find love along the way. The film also features Chazlamer Shepherd and Jen Harper.

Franklin is the music director of the project and will also appear on the screen. Sutherlin is excited about his reaction to the finished product.

But she’s also excited to see it.

“I’m ready to share this gift with people,” she says. “I really make movies for the audience. I’m a filmmaker and I don’t make movies for other filmmakers. I make it for people to enjoy watching.”

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After graduating from Kirkwood High School, Sutherlin attended Harris Storr State University and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, where she earned an MFA for film and television production at the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts Library in 2020.

She was the co-author of “Voodoo Macbeth” at the recent St. Louis International Film Festival.

Sutherlin is on the path of acting, with early performances at the Black Rep and Hot City Theater. However, the switch to director allowed her to use other talents.

She grew up watching her life and was always part of the Christmas movie. She praises how the channel’s content has evolved, taking women’s programming one step further, creating colored women’s content, and hiring those women behind the scenes. ..

“I think the world understands the market power of black women, uses those stories, and understands how rich and meaningful they are,” she says. “And it’s not just seen by black and brown women. Everyone sees it.”

From left: Regina Belle, Erica Sutherin, Tracy “Twinkie” Bird, With Chazlamer Shepherd Demetria McKinney (seat) in “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas”

Courtesy of LIfetime

This job opportunity came when she wasn’t sure if she would continue to direct.

“I felt very inadequate about things,” she says.

She just graduated from USC and was acquainted with executive producer Bird (casting director of “Voodoo Macbeth”).

Bird invited Michael Chin, the manager of Lifetime’s original film, to the screening of “Voodoo Macbeth.”

“I see hundreds of people, and in the middle of the room I see this big and beautiful black man, and I think,” Oh my, who is this? I ask him You need to know, “says Sutherin without knowing his qualifications. Bird introduced me and later met for lunch.

“I’m good at building relationships,” says Sutherin. “He said,’I believe in you. I believe in your art.” He said, “I got you.” But I do this every day. I’m listening. This is Hollywood. “

Later, a pandemic broke out, forcing him to return to St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I decided to send him a text message every month to check in,” she says. “I was interested in his happiness and his family.”

About a year ago, he told Sutherin about his lifetime shadowing program. She was selected to shadow director Seth Garrett in her lifelong thriller “Death Saved My Life.”

This offer continued to oversee “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas.”

“I was sitting in the bathroom when the phone rang, only Erica,” says Sutherin. “I took on the job on the spot. I knew Michael, and he’s a great creative. I wanted to do that project. He doesn’t have to say anything about it. was.”

She shot a 96-page script and nine songs in 15 days. After three weeks of preparation, including a search for a filming location, the production took place in Atlanta last summer.

Erica Sutherin "Kirk Franklin's Gospel Christmas"

Erica Sutherlin, director of “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas”

Lifelong courtesy

“There’s a lot to be achieved by taking a script, shooting it, and listening to 300 questions a day dealing with multiple personalities,” she says. But she learned to create without confusion. “I’m not a big guy on the set. I don’t think it’s productive or facilitating. I wanted to make a movie without that intensity and behavior. And we succeeded.”

“Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas” follows her director and co-authored “Stratosphere” (2016). The project led to her decision to attend graduate school.

In retrospect, the “stratosphere” is “not scary. My biggest point was to understand the importance of working with someone else’s money when it comes to filmmaking. You are not your money. Sometimes I have a different understanding of how a business works. “

She celebrates her latest project with friends and family at a private watch party in St. Louis.

“The way Lifetime does the Christmas season, they don’t do a big premiere,” says Sutherin. “So, as you see, we can see it. I decided to go home and see it with my 88-year-old mother.

“I didn’t give her a baby, so I gave her a movie.”

what “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Christmas” • when December 4, 7:00 pm • where lifetime • More information mylifetime.com/movies/a-gospel-christmas

Kevin C. Johnson • 314-340-8191

Pop music critic

Twitter @kevincjohnson


Instagram @kevincjohnson

Native St. Louis will be the spirit of the holiday as the director of the lifelong “Kirk Franklin Gospel Christmas” | Entertainment

Source link Native St. Louis will be the spirit of the holiday as the director of the lifelong “Kirk Franklin Gospel Christmas” | Entertainment

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