Film gives Christian take on body image

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Look for more from Harriman native

By Cindy Simpson

Harriman native Daryl Hall’s first film, Fat Boys, is a comedy with a heavy message.

The longtime youth pastor, worked with a mashup of people from East Tennessee to produce his first film, a Christian comedy called Fat Boys that focuses on the image issues of obesity.

“It just came to me one night,” Hall said.  

The premise is “how a group of fat boys interact with one another.”

Hall, a longtime youth pastor who now lives in Knoxville, plans to focus on the church and youth groups in the many films he hopes to make.

He also has an acting role in Fat Boys .

“I play a youth pastor in it, and the three other guys that are the fat boys are other group leaders,” Hall said.

The characters are trying to teach the youth about healthy lifestyles, but realize they cannot be good examples unless they lose weight.

“There are scenes I think are actually pretty touching and very inspirational. I’ve been through some of these,” Hall said.

 “I’ve had kids in my  youth groups that have had eating disorders. I’ve had kids in my youth group that had self image (issues),” he said.

It’s not just about those kids, but their tormenters, as well, he said.

Hall was surprised by the level of talent he was able to get to help with the film.

“We have brought in some really quality people,” Hall said.

Courtney Lee Simpson, who plays a main character in the movie and is an associate producer, is one of them.

She joined the crew for the film that has been shot primarily in Harriman and Knoxville.

“It is a really good script,” said Simpson, who plays a mother who eventually becomes the group’s fitness instructor.

Fat Boys is the first of what Hall hopes will be a list of movies filmed in East Tennessee using local talent, including students studying film at Johnson University.

He also wants to take on tougher topics.

“Our hopes are after we finish this we’ll take on one of our more serious issues,” Hall said.Those include juvenile cancer and drug abuse in young people.

The Lion, a film in pre-production, is about addiction.

“It really is going to be dealing with the importance of society responding to the drug problem,” Hall said. “It can seem like a very hopeless endeavor. It can be worthwhile. It can change lives.”

Hall’s older brother Donnie is set to star in that film.

Hall also hopes to create a reality show following teens trying to live Christian lives. He’s already searching for six teen girls and six teen boys for the cast.

“We’ve had three key missions for our company,” Hall said. “First, we wanted to make quality family and Christian films. Second, is we really wanted to highlight East Tennessee. We have a very high commitment to the East Tennessee region. The third thing is we really want to provide opportunities for aspiring filmmakers.”
Hall has support from his friend Jeff Smith, an executive producer who now lives in the Knoxville area.

Smith’s two daughters were in Hall’s youth group in Greeneville years ago.

“We always thought he had a real calling on his life and a real ministry potential he was living up to,” Smith said. “God kind of took care of it and put it together. I come from a strong business background and provide a little grounding to the creativity.”

Mission Worx Films was founded in 2011 by Hall and Smith.  

The website missionworx.com  has more information.