Actor comes to Aurora church to help promote new independent film
By Linda Girardi For Sun-Times Media October 11, 2013 1:02PM
CFO Steven Camp of Desert Wind Films and actor Daniel Samonas talk about the upcoming release of Brother's Keeper at Randall 15 theaters in Batavia to an audience at First Christian Church in Aurora on Wednesday. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:27AM
Daniel Samonas is as approachable and likeable in real life as he was in the Disney Channel’s teen sitcom “Wizards of Waverly Place,” but in a few weeks he will be recognizable for his acting in the independent faith-based movie “Brother’s Keeper.”
Desert Wind Films, whose chief financial officer is from Aurora, has announced it will release the movie in selected theaters Nov. 1, including Randall 15 IMAX in Batavia. The movie will debut Nov. 1 with show times to be announced. The movie is rated PG-13.
Samonas, 23, came to First Christian Church in Aurora recently to talk about the film and meet with the teenagers who remember seeing him on television, as well as with members of the congregation supportive of the film company’s CFO Steven Camp and the project.
“Brother’s Keeper” is a story of orphaned twin brothers growing up in a small community in southwest Georgia in 1957. One brother has plans to marry his high school sweetheart and become a preacher, while the other twin wants nothing to do with God.
The brothers get caught in a cruel plot after a rival, portrayed by Samonas, tries to win the girlfriend’s heart and his wealthy family tries to hide the truth. The story’s message is that “forgiveness is the transforming gift of God.”
Camp said “Brother’s Keeper,” filmed in 2010 in Bainbridge, Ga., incurred a financial setback but they were able to raise the financing for an initial “sneak-peak” release in 12 selected cities across the country.
Camp said Desert Wind Studios chose to release “Brother’s Keeper” through a new movie ticket reservation platform and film distribution company called Seatzy. The company allows moviegoers to participate in the process of supporting films by reserving tickets and at the same time allows film studios to measure the level of support in markets.
Camp said they’ve reached out to pastors of churches like First Christian.
“Nearly 1,400 people in the Aurora area have reserved tickets for our film’s opening weekend. We hope the cinema and others nationwide will extend us,” he said.
Samonas said he accepted the role as Gordon LeeMaster because of the movie’s powerful message of forgiveness and the potential impact it has to change the lives of others. “It was low budget and seemed like it would be a real push,” Samonas told his audience.
Samonas said he chose to pursue the acting role, even though most people in Hollywood likely would shun the part, because he believed it was the right path for him.
“I was emotionally moved by the movie and I was in it. My hope is eventually the message will get out and people will open their minds up. Film is a powerful tool,” he said.
Samonas, who started acting at age 5, has had numerous roles on television shows, including “Hannah Montana” that starred Miley Cyrus.
“I actually ended up being her first boyfriend on the show,” Samonas said.
Samonas also had a role in NBC’s medical drama “ER” with actor John Stamos.
“There is an opinion of what Hollywood is like, but really there are great people who give generously of their time and finances to support causes and messages like ours. I am proud to be part of this film,” Samonas said.