Writer/Director Tim Chey Aims for Quality in Christian Films

By Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor, The Dove Foundation

Tim Chey
Tim Chey

Tim Chey, the writer and director of the critically acclaimed The Genius Club and the forthcoming film Suing the Devil, spoke with The Dove Foundation by phone recently and his enthusiasm and passion for making quality Christian films could not be suppressed.

Dove: This film, Suing the Devil, is a quality film Tim, and what a great thing in getting Malcolm McDowell to play the devil.

Tim: “I’m just so excited about how God has been moving. It’s funny because my wife was trying to evangelize him and he kept saying, ‘Look, I’m playing the devil!’ (Obviously he was trying to stay in character!) ‘Maybe another time!’

Dove: What inspired you to write this story, Tim? Tim: “My mom had just died of cancer; I was really feeling despondent. I was taking a nice drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and I remember I was at a stop light and I just sort of said, ‘Satan, if you were right here I would shoot you!’ That’s when it sort of hit me; it was like the Holy Spirit just said, ‘Bam! This is going to be a green-lit movie.’ I was like, ‘You got to be kidding!’ So then I immediately pitched friends of mine and I just said, ‘Look, do you think this is a movie here?’ Every one of them said, ‘Yeah. It’s like Screwtape Letters’ they kept telling me. ‘You got to go for it.’

Tim realized they were right and that a lot of people came to Christ because of The Screwtape Letters.

Tim: “That’s when I just said, ‘Ok, let’s do it’ and then just a few months later we’re filming in Sydney, Australia, so it’s amazing how God can work.”

Dove: It sounds like you knew you wanted to direct it too?

Tim: “Yeah, I actually don’t like the directing process. If I could just write on an island I would do it, like John on Patmos.”

Dove: Is the premiere in August?

Tim: “We are definitely set to go nation-wide August 26. It’s going to be a blast. We have theaters lined up; we’re going to be all up and down the seaboard throughout the Midwest, L.A. and New York. We’re really excited about it. God is good.”

Dove: How about the casting process? Did you have Malcolm McDowell in mind right away or did it just work out that way?

Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell

Tim: “Well you know what was interesting Ed, we had 20,000 actors submit and I never knew that many actors wanted to play in a movie! (Tim chuckled heartily). It was about a three-month audition process. And I always respect your critiques Ed because you’re right; the bad knock on Christian films is the acting. I always have that in the forefront. Because of your critiques, Ed (The Dove Foundation), I really became a better filmmaker. Because I’m like, you know what, that’s right, we got to get the acting better, we got to shore up the story points, etc. So let’s get casting directors involved. Now, to play Satan, you would never believe the name actors that we had, I wish I could tell you but we had “A” or “A minus“ list actors who at least wanted to have lunch. My big, big number one actor was always Malcolm. I’ve always been a huge fan of his. I really felt this was his time. When you look at who has played the devil in the past, Al Pacino has, Bob De Niro, Jack Nicholson, but Malcolm, who is considered one of the four or five top living actors right now he actually never played the devil. He did a spectacular job.”

Bart Bronson
Bart Bronson

Tim related that he was touched to recently visit Malcolm and see a picture of Jesus in his home and, in addition, Corbin Bernsen, the former L.A. Law actor, has a huge wooden cross on his front door and he told Tim that the show brought him wealth but no lasting happiness but he accepted Christ and now he has great joy. Tim’s enthusiasm in relating these stories was contagious. Tim went on to brag on the rest of the cast of Suing the Devil including Bart Bronson who plays a pivotal role as Luke O’Brien.

Tim: “He’s one of the up and coming actors in Sydney, Australia,” said Tim, referring to Bronson. “He beat out hundreds of people” he said. Tim went on to say the actor reminded him of Jesus as he is a gentle and kind man. Tim decided to have Luke’s mother killed by a drunk driver in the film, thereby setting up the plot. “If I could have done it over again I would have made the world problems more greater on this poor guy. He’s so world-weary.” Rebecca St. James also acts in the movie, and Tim said, “She’s very talented, multi-talented, and I just love her.”

Rebecca St. James
Rebecca St. James

Dove: What challenges did you face in getting the film made, Tim?

Tim: “There were so many challenges. First, our camera was stolen which was a prototype camera. We were stuck and that was the weekend before our shooting and God blessed us with two more of those same cameras! So it was stolen but we got blessed because we got two more. I love Romans 8:28. That was my Mom’s favorite verse. It really did work together for good.”

Tim mentioned the need for a courthouse as they approached filming the weekend before it was to begin and that was provided as well. People got sick on the set but everything kept turning around for the good. He said he was told he was in a spiritual battle with the devil who did not want to be exposed but God kept turning things around for his good. “His greatest lie is that he doesn’t exist,” said Tim.

Dove: Can you name a few rewarding aspects, Tim?

Tim: “When I saw 70 people go up to accept Christ at a recent screening…the pastor didn’t even have to make an altar call. At the end of the credits he just asked, ‘How many want to accept Christ?’ and 70 people came forward. That’s when I knew it was worth it. I don’t even care if we make money, I just glad those souls were saved, those precious souls. Just last Sunday four people accepted Christ and if it was just four I would still be cheering.”

In addition, Tim is receiving a ton of comments on Facebook and people are saying the film is opening their eyes to the spiritual battle that we face.

Tim: “As you know 1 Corinthians says, ‘Do not be ignorant of the schemes of the devil.’ And yet according to a recent poll 65% of American Christians don’t believe the devil exists. And that’s why pastors of all denominations have embraced it. We’ve shown this to conservative southern Baptists all the way to the charismatics.” Tim said they are all saying their eyes are open to the tactics of the enemy and the spiritual warfare they are faced with. “About 98% of the people coming out of the theaters are saying, ‘This is the best film I have ever seen.’ It’s not me at all, it’s Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit using us like tools to show the spiritual battles are real. You know how ‘The Passion of the Christ’ really showed the love of Christ and what he went through and was tortured for, and this film shows how the devil manipulates everything so it’s like the antithesis of that.”

Tim’s background includes USC Film School but he no doubt never could have dreamed the impact his films are beginning to make. In closing we asked Tim how many screens the film will debut on in August.

Tim: “We’re aiming for at least five hundred to a thousand screens. Our one goal in mind is for this film to really seep into the consciousness of every single Christian and the best way to do that is to get it into the theaters for a national release.

If enthusiasm gets it done, as well as talent and the Holy Spirit, Tim Chey’s film Suing the Devil is going to make a great impact on the public and, in fact, already has. Check out the link below for The Dove Foundation’s five-star review of this movie.


Suing the DevilRead Dove’s Review of “Suing the Devil”