Indie film seeks local actors, extras

Debbie Preston's idea for a Christmas movie came to her while she slept.

She dreamed of a young man struggling with life who masks his pain by throwing himself into his work, and the little sister who comes to his aid and helps him heal.

When she awoke, the Medford resident began typing. Two months and 105 pages later, Preston, a health care worker who had never attempted to write a screenplay before, had finished the rough draft. The story's journey didn't stop there: Preston's movie, "By God's Grace," is set to start filming in the Rogue Valley Jan. 4.

"It's really important for me to have this story told," Preston said. "I love Christmas movies. I'm kind of a sucker for them. I just felt like this was a story that I was supposed to tell."

A brief synopsis, given on the film's Facebook page, says it is "a faith-based holiday film that tells the story of a young man full of anger who is shown a new perspective on his empty life by his little sister."

Shooting locations will include Jacksonville, areas near the Medford airport and several local residences.

"When you're shooting an independent film, it's always nice to have the luxury of those locations," said producer Susan Bernhardt. "It definitely gives a more real feeling to it."

Bernhardt added that crews are "praying for snow" during shoots. They hope to finish by Jan. 20.

"We're going to be cranking out about eight pages a day," Bernhardt said. "Indie movies are shot in three weeks all the time."

Producers also are looking for home-grown talent to be in front of the camera for principal and extra roles in the film. An open casting call will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at the offices of IMD, a Medford talent agency, at 1257 N. Riverside Ave., No. 10. The production company is looking for youth actors, ages 3 and up, and adults.

There are several important principal roles for men and women between the ages of 30 and 50. Extras are also needed for key scenes. Actors wanting to be considered should bring a photo and a resume, if possible.

"I think there's a lot of hidden talent here," Preston said.

Already cast in the film are Preston Bailey of "Dexter," Jillian Clare of "Days of Our Lives," and Savannah McReynolds of "The Private Practice," who will play Grace, of the film's title. Preston's son, Robert, also an actor who performed in the Stephen King miniseries "Rose Red," will help produce the movie.

Bernhardt said the goal is to distribute the film digitally through streaming services like Netflix.

Preston said the screenplay won't be her last attempt at storytelling. She's already concocted some new story lines.

"I absolutely want to do it again," she said. "I've kind of had to fight myself not to write because I've really wanted to focus on completing this."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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