For the last fifteen years, Dr. David Evans, a Memphis optometrist and owner of Total Eye Care, P.A., has been writing, producing and directing the Passion Play at Calvary Church. This large-scale stage production involved a cast and crew of over 250 people. Calvary Church, located in Cordova, Tennessee, has long been known as a center for artistic expression. In addition, the church has a sincere desire to promote reconciliation throughout the mid-south.
Recognizing the need and demand for more quality Christian-based movies, Dr. Evans completed his first draft screenplay in January 2009 and began plans for a feature-length movie to be filmed in Memphis.
The Grace Card is the debut project of Graceworks Pictures that portrays the truths of God's love for all men and demonstrates how the love of God, through the obedience of ordinary believers, can defeat the barriers of prejudice.
This poignant story of forgiveness and grace is told through the life of Bill McDonald, a police officer embittered by the tragic death of his 5-year-old son during a police pursuit and drug arrest years earlier. This loss and the passing years have led "Mac" to build walls of prejudice with his coworkers and his community, and barriers of hopelessness with his own family.
When Mac is assigned a new partner, Sam Wright, the struggle takes front stage. Sam, who also serves as the bi-vocational pastor of a local black church congregation, contrasts Mac's despair with unrelenting encouragement and enthusiasm. Mac is forced to face his prejudice as he works alongside Sam, but repeatedly dismisses Sam's positive outlook and any suggestion that he can find renewed hope by looking to God.
In April 2009, screenwriter Howard Klausner, who is perhaps best known for the movie Space Cowboys (directed by Clint Eastwood), joined the team. A page-one rewrite of the script was completed by and filming began on October 14, 2009.
Memphis plays a starring role in The Grace Card. Police director, Larry Godwin, pledged his support for the movie and granted access to the police department name, logo, badges, precincts, and vehicles. Also, St. Francis Hospital provided the access for filming the critical emergency scenes for the movie.
To get more information about Calvary Church in Cordova, Tennessee, click here.
A native of Bentonville, Arkansas, David grew up as a preacher's kid moving around the state from Smackover to Bald Knob. Ultimately, his family settled in the northwest corner of the state in 1981. While these towns had little to offer in the way of fine arts, David did not let this stop him from having big dreams.
At the age of 12, he and his younger brother, Mark, would shoot homemade movies using their parents Super-8 camera. Then, they would find the appropriate score on a borrowed LP album and premiere their movies in a large outdoor storage building for the neighborhood kids. A white bed sheet tacked to the wall made a perfect screen for showcasing their 4-5 minute features. As a result of these early attempts at filmmaking, David was ready to give acting a try by the time he reached junior high school. Eventually, he played roles in Godspell, The Absence of a Cello, and an attorney in Night of January 16th.
David attended Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, where he continued to produce various large-scale events and productions. His involvement with student government gave him the opportunity to further his experiences in fine arts. Finally, he moved to Memphis and entered the Southern College of Optometry in 1990. Upon graduating in 1994, he recognized the need for an annual production or event at his church which would bring people together in a unified effort to share the message of the gospel with the community. Having seen multiple passion plays at many different churches over the years, David felt a calling to bring this inspirational ministry to Calvary Church. In April 1994, The Passion Play at Calvary Church was presented with a cast of 40 people, one lamb and a donkey. The brief production was well-received and plans quickly began for the next year.
In the years to follow, David developed a unique way of presenting the life of Jesus that was different than any passion play he had ever witnessed. Every year, he wrote a new, modern-day story to parallel the story of Christ. This required a new script and new characters year after year - not to mention the rebuilding of sets. Fifteen years later, the production had grown to a cast and crew of over 250 with huge sets, hydraulic lifts, computerized lighting, and exotic animals. It would take three months to assemble the staging and complete the choreography required for the performances.
In September 2008, David and his wife, Esther, joined a large group from Calvary Church to watch Fireproof on opening night. "I realized during that movie that God had been putting us through training during the fifteen years of our passion play," he says. He committed the next few months to turning his newest passion play story into a full-length screenplay. David used the "blue-print" for faith-based filmmaking created by Sherwood Pictures in Albany, Georgia. After an intense 30-day shooting schedule, Graceworks Pictures completed filming for The Grace Card on November 20, 2009.
In planning for future film projects, David continues to seek God's will for the story that He would want from Graceworks.
Esther was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Her parents came from Cuba in 1964 and always placed God at the center of their family. She attended Catholic school and danced ballet for 15 years. During her teenage years, Esther developed severe myopia (nearsightedness) and she became interested in learning more about the eye care industry. She attended City University of New York and received a degree in ophthalmic dispensing from New York City Technical College. Her ocular problems led to a strong sense of compassion towards those who suffer from vision disorders.
Now, Esther has been in the eye care business for over 25 years. She is the administrator for Total Eye Care, PA in Memphis and remains involved in making recommendations for patients that require specialty vision correction. Esther has also volunteered with the World Cataract Foundation - a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate cataract blindness in many parts of the world. She has served as a translator for surgeons on previous trips to Mexico and Cuba.
On the production side, Esther used her dancing skills to serve as the choreographer for The Passion Play at Calvary Church. She combined interpretive dance and ballet throughout the pageants to enhance many of the scenes. As an executive producer at Graceworks Pictures, she is excited to see the doors that God has opened to make this new ministry a reality.
David and Esther live in Germantown, Tennessee. They have three sons - Houston, Matthew and Garrett.