When Nathan Clarkson was looking for a location for his second film, Colorado Springs immediately came to mind.
Clarkson, the film's producer, co-lead actor, writer and co-director, is familiar with the territory: He's a Monument native and Lewis Palmer High School graduate.
Last year Clarkson produced "Confessions of a Prodigal Son," a film based on the classic biblical story, starring Kevin Sorbo of TV's "Hercules" fame.
Clarkson's new movie, "The Not So Good Samaritan," is a follow-up to that film, and is also a modern retelling of a Bible passage - the story of the Good Samaritan. The tale in the Bible (Luke 10:25-37) is of a traveler who is preyed upon and left for dead on the side of the road. The first two men who come upon him, a priest and a Levite, pass him by, but a third man stops to help - the Good Samaritan.
The movie version has been updated, but the sentiment is the same: Love thy neighbor.
"The two stories are something we use every day in our vernacular - especially today, in politics," said Clarkson, 28, who attended the New York Film Academy in New York City. "I can't believe how relevant it is to now. Really we are all trying to find truth. And I wanted to bring that to a modern setting, set in modern day. The challenge is our perception of who we think is good or bad."
A joint production of Clarkson's Lighting Dark and Beloved Entertainment Inc. production companies, the film was shot in Los Angeles and at locations in the Pikes Peak region, and features actor Eric Roberts ("Dark Knight," "The Pope of Greenwich Village," "Best of the Best"), Clarkson and many Colorado Springs actors.
While Roberts' scenes were filmed in L.A., much of the film has a Colorado Springs-area backdrop.
"It's just too beautiful not to shoot in Colorado," Clarkson said. "We've been taking tons of b-roll (supplemental footage) in the mountains, in Garden of the Gods, and filmed in Monument, Colorado Springs and Palmer Lake."
Clarkson, who is in the process of moving from New York City to L.A., attends New Life Downtown, a Christ-centered congregation of New Life Church led by Pastor Glenn Packiam in Colorado Springs.
"My faith is central to what I do, and it inspires me to treat people how I do," he said. "I'm hesitant to call any art 'Christian art.' I'm trying to use my art to plant seeds in peoples' hearts. Even Jesus went around telling stories."
Clarkson funded this film, which he describes as an indie drama, in a way that Jesus could not: Kickstarter. A campaign that he launched in late March met and surpassed its $7,000 goal in about a month. Donors who gave $1,000 or more were rewarded with a spot in the film.
"Mostly Kickstarter is the best PR people can do," Clarkson said.
Filming wrapped in about nine days over the end of July and the beginning of August. After production, the planned 90-minute film will be released on DVD and sold in places like Walmart and Amazon.com. Clarkson is hoping that, like his last movie, it gets picked up for release on Netflix.
Ruselis Aumeen Perry, a Colorado Springs actor known for his work in annual stage production of "The Thorn" at Pikes Peak Center, plays mysterious drifter "Sam" (short for the Good Samaritan) in the movie.
"He has an epiphany that his life needs to change. He's searching and desperate," Perry, 39, a Roy J. Wasson High School graduate, said of his character. "The problem is people are seeing his skin, not his soul. They need to see his inward appearance."
Clarkson plays a "young buck pastor of a little church who thinks he knows everything."
He continued, "And then this guy Sam comes in one day and challenges my preconception. And then who, but the guy I kick out of church, is there to pick me up. I hope people will see from this how we all need help, and that we all need to look further than the skin."
Roberts, an Academy Award nominee, plays the role of a bartender who dispenses sage advice along with drinks and gives new perspective to the pastor. Clarkson said he was acquainted with Roberts, who was nearly cast in his first movie, "The Prodigal Son." Fortunately this time Roberts was available, Clarkson said.
"He brings weight as far as acting to the project, and he was open to a faith-based movie," Clarkson said. "He showed up, and we had a blast."
Colorado Springs actress Meggie Maddock plays Sam's girlfriend, and local acting coach Steve Austin and actress Rachel Fenton also have roles. The cast is just four lead actors and a few supporting actors, but with many extras - some from Clarkson's church.
"People in the Springs are ready to jump on when you give them a vision," Clarkson said. "Being on set is like being at summer camp - there's a lot of people from church involved."
The film is expected to release in the fall of 2018. It is directed by Brandon Toy and executive produced by Louis J. Giovino.