First, introduce yourself and your role with “Crossroad”.
My name is Shervin Youssefian and I’m the writer, director, producer, editor of “Crossroad”. I think I bought all the hats in store for that one.
Where did you get the idea for “Crossroad”?
Interconnections of our lives, how one of my actions can affect another person’s life without either one of us being aware of it. Everything happens for a reason is the main theme of the movie and we develop the storyline around the verse Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” It was a personal desire of mine to reveal God’s will in our lives – to show there is purpose even in things that we may not immediately understand. How long did it take from initial idea to movie premiere? About 2 years. When you’re working on a smaller budget, you can’t expect your crew and other vendors to put you on the top of their priority list. There’s a saying in the production industry. Cheap, Fast, Good, pick two! If you want it to be fast and good, it’s not going to be cheap. If you want it cheap and fast, it’s going to have poor-quality. For “Crossroad”, we wanted to make sure it was cost-effective and extremely high-quality and for that, we were willing to delay the process a bit. The end result is something we can all be very proud of.
Where was “Crossroad” filmed?
Glendale and Burbank and Sun Valley, California. 80% of the film takes place inside a very small diner. We scouted over 20 locations, but when I walked into this small, almost claustrophobic, diner – it was love at first site. The challenge of creating a fully fleshed out story in such small space was a thrill for me – and I think we’ve achieved that. Many people have said that the flow of the film is like rapid fire which is a great compliment.
How did you select your actors?
We took our time. A good movie is all about story and actors. When you have yourself the right script and find professional, talented, humble actors who show up on set prepared you got your work cut out for you. For “Crossroad”, we held auditions for nearly 3 months and met with over 1000 actors to find just the right pieces of this ensemble piece. While you may recognize many of them from popular TV shows, none would be considered celebrities quite yet. But knowing what I know about them and having seen them work, I’m certain it won’t take long before you see the majority of the cast members on the big screen.
What was the greatest challenge you faced while filming?
Keeping my focus on God and allowing his spirit to lead. Knowing that regardless of challenges that may arise, the project is in His hands and if reminding myself that if He has brought us this far, He will take us all the way. When you hit a wall and have no other recourse, instead of beating yourself up, just stand still and see what your God can do.
What was it like filming primarily in one location?
It was like a puzzle where Geoff Reisner (DP) and I had to figure out different blocking combinations with the actors, while making sure they were not repeated and at the same time made sense with the beats and pacing of the story. Doing this with 1-2 actors is easy, we had at one point 13 actors! Not to mention about 10 or so crew members all jammed into a tiny space. When you’re filming in such tight quarters with so many people and are doing an intense drama, tensions could generally be quite high, but in this case, despite one small disagreement between crew members, God blessed us with a smooth production flow.
What do you think distinguishes “Crossroad” from other Christian movies?
It’s a thriller, it has guns and a little violence while it’s never gratuitous. It’s a Christian film that doesn’t just cater to the believers, but was produced to reach beyond just the Christian market. You see, I haven’t been a Christian all my life – it was only 8 years ago that I discovered Jesus and he saved me and gave my life meaningful purpose. I made this film to call out to that young man who didn’t have Christ in his heart, I know his sensibilities and I didn’t want to make a movie that would turn him off by sounding too preachy. The gospel is clear and it’s strong in the film, but it’s woven into the fabric of the storyline. The goal of “Crossroad” was to allow Christians to invite their non-Christian friends over for a movie night and share a really entertaining film with a message of redemption.
How did you build up such an incredible following for the movie even prior to its official release?
Facebook advertising allows you to target users who have already liked other Christian films. Back then, it cost 3 cents for every click – our challenge was to keep posting interesting content to build up and maintain our fan group.
Tell us a little about your bus banner contest and how that worked.
We purchased 14 banners on local buses to promote the local theatrical opening of Crossroad at the Americana in the city of Glendale. To bring more attention to it, we asked our local fans to take pictures of Crossroad banners and post it on their facebook page for 1 raffle ticket. If they posted 2 photos of 2 different buses, that would be 2 raffle tickets, etc. This allowed their friends to see the banners and started a fun competition online that encouraged some to go hunt down the “Crossroad buses” to win a Barnes & Noble gift card.
Tell us about your artwork by fans.
I wanted so much for Crossroad to be successful that I actually created a photoshoped image of a skyscraper with the Crossroad poster on the side. I think it was exciting for me to envision a small Christian film on the same large billboards as worldly blockbusters. But obviously, the image was a fake and I didn’t want to mislead anyone, so I put that photo in a category called “artwork by fans.” Soon, the actual subscribers of the page started sending in their own mock-ups of the Crossroad poster on benches, side walls,street kiosks and billboards. It was surprising and extremely encouraging to see so many people who also wanted this small Christian film to succeed and permeate our society with a message of faith.
What is your goal for the movie?
To touch hearts, to glorify God, to do His will and to allow me to make more Christian films. Can you give us a few details about your next project? It’s going to be a film about the Homeless which will revolve around Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”