Homegrown talent shines on the big screen

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

In a heartwarming tale of faith, redemption, and the enduring power of hope, the recently released sci-fi drama “The Shift” has not only made its mark on the silver screen but has profoundly touched the lives of four Crenshaw County natives.

Released on Dec. 1 and now available for streaming, Marika Thompson, Kamelia Bowlan, and Presley Bowlan, all of Luverne, can be seen on screen during the movie, with Presley’s role being a vital part of the storyline. 

Presley,  the six-year-old daughter of Samuel and Kamelia Bowlan, played the daughter of the main characters Kevin and Molly and said that being involved in the movie, directed by Brock Heasley, brought her closer to God and gave her the chance to share God’s love with others. 

“I hope everybody that watches the movie knows God loves them, and it makes them feel better like it did Moma,” Presley said. “You can always turn to Jesus. It’s easy peasy, and we shouldn’t be afraid of the silly devil because we can scare him like Kevin scared him if we have God and Jesus on our side and we pray.”

“The Shift” was more than a film for Presley’s mother, Kamelia; it became a lifeline that pulled her from a dark emotional space haunted by past traumas. The movie’s theme of faith and redemption deeply resonated with her, offering solace and renewal.

“Being on set with people who weren’t afraid to speak about Jesus, God, and their own personal experiences, was one of the best things to ever happen to me and Presley,” Kamelia said. “The experience was life-changing and confirmed to me that there is hope after trauma and a plan for us all.”

Michael Wyrosdick, a Luverne Native with deep roots in the area, contributed significantly to bringing the film to life, serving as Associate Producer and Extras Casting Director. Wyrosdick’s journey to “The Shift” was a profound one, marked by personal loss and a quest for healing. He initially declined the opportunity due to his, at the time, still raw grief from losing his mother to cancer and his subsequent emotional withdrawal, stating that the movie was “too close to home.”

However, Wyrosdick could not ignore the synchronicity of being in Ephesus, Turkey, a place his mother always dreamed of going, when he got the call about the movie, or the uncanny parallels between his own struggles and the film’s narrative. Receiving the call during the most emotional part of this healing journey that took him across 20 countries, added a profound layer to his decision to join the project.

“My Mom always wanted to visit Ephesus, for which the name of the book of Ephesians comes, along with Israel and the Holy Land,” Wyrosick said. “And something kept pulling at me to re-read the script. I don’t know if you call it a sign, but I’ve learned over the years to not let things like that fall to the wayside. I knew the movie ended on a good note and that it would be a good thing for me. I just didn’t realize how big of a part it would play in my healing and my life.”

For Wyrosdick, the experience was transformative, both professionally and personally, proving to be a catalyst for him to overcome emotional struggles and emerge from a difficult place, ultimately embracing the project and finding solace and healing throughout its production.

Loosely based on the Book of Job, the film follows Kevin, played by Kristoffer Polaha, as he grapples with loss and turmoil. Kevin encounters a mysterious figure known as “the benefactor,” who tempts him with wealth and power. This encounter prompts Kevin to question morality and faith, setting the stage for a journey filled with spiritual introspection.

Playing the benafactor is one of America’s most recognized actors, Neal McDonough. McDonough expressed pride in being part of the film, highlighting its family-friendly nature. 

“It is one of those great films that the whole family can go see together,” McDonough said in a Dec. 21 interview with Fox News. “At the premiere I looked down the aisle and could see our five kids just engrossed in the film. How often do I get to do that? I can’t get them to sit and watch “Yellowstone” or “Justified” with me, but to have a show where we can actually have a discussion after watching it about faith and God and talk about how we can be better as ourselves. It was just one of those great, very powerful films that I am very fortunate to be part of.”

McDonough, who plays the enigmatic character representing the Devil, said that having to go through darkness is where everyone, regardless of background, finds true light. 

“We all have to go through our darkness,” McDonough said in an interview with The Christian Post. “We all get beaten up in life. We’re also all sinners. We have our flaws, we fall down, we trip all over ourselves, but it’s how we get up that dictates what kind of men and women we are for Him, not for us, but for Him.”

“The Shift” continues to resonate with audiences, inspiring hope and encouraging viewers to contemplate their faith. The film’s goal is to prompt deep reflection on how God interacts with the world, encouraging viewers to hold on to hope and faith during the trials of life, serving as a powerful reminder that, even in our darkest moments, God is always present and that there is purpose in our suffering.

Wyrosdick encourages viewers to approach the film with an open mind, assuring them that its diverse theme will touch each viewer uniquely. He sends wishes of encouragement to viewers and beyond, stating that in order to persevere one must believe in themselves and embrace the messages that the universe presents along the journey of life.