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FIRST SUNDAY

About The Production
"You see, it was no mistake how those two boys landed in our church. They're just like Saul before he became Paul. They wasn't all bad, just a hundred and eighty degrees from good. They just needed a change in direction.” —Momma T, First Sunday

Writer and director David E. Talbert recalls conceiving the idea for First Sunday, his feature film debut, after attending a function at a Baltimore church. "My friends and I went across the street to get something to eat. As I was sitting there looking back at the droves of people emptying out of the church, as well as the people that were in the café, I thought about what would happen if someone plotted to rob the church,” he says.

Talbert, the creative force behind more than a dozen award-winning plays, shared the concept with his manager and producer David McIlvain. "That's how I work. I'll tell a few people about it and see if their eyes light up,” says Talbert. 

"David had pitched the story to me several years ago and it stayed with me,” says McIlvain, whose producing credits include The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the upcoming Tim Allen comedy, The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. "About a year later, I called him up and said ‘I've been thinking about your idea. I'd like to get Tim Story involved.'” 

Tim Story, an A-list Hollywood producer and director, first made a name for himself with the comedy hit Barbershop. He was in Canada directing Fantastic Four when he got the call from McIlvain. "He gave me a one-sentence pitch,” says Story. "I was already familiar with David E. Talbert's previous work. I was sold immediately because it was in the same vein as Uptown Saturday Night, Soul Food and Barbershop. I love those stories.” 

So does Talbert. "Those Poitier-Cosby films were my favorites,” he says. "I always wanted to make a new version of Uptown Saturday Night where a straight man and a funny one are thrust into the most unthinkable caper that they then have to pull off.” 

The idea of setting the film in a church made Story laugh out loud. "I grew up in the church, and I know there was always this building fund that they just kept raising money for. At some point you go, ‘okay, they've got to have $2 billion by now.' It made sense to me as soon as he said it, for guys to think that they could rob the building fund.” 

The church setting was a natural for Talbert, a "PK” (pastor's kid) whose great grandmother, grandmother, mother, father and uncle were all preachers. "The church experience is a part of the fiber of who I am,” he says. "I wanted to honor the legacy of the millions of people raised in storefront churches, and the colorful characters who inhabit them today.” 

Against this backdrop, Talbert created a second, more serious story. "I also wanted this film to be about a father and son,” says Talbert. "How far would a father go to protect his child and keep him near him? We explore that notion with Durell and Durell Jr. I grew up in inner city Black America in a lineage of fatherless households. So I thought it was very important to show a father taking responsibility and willing to fight for his son, although a little misguidedly, as Durell does in the film.” 

The producers quickly put together a team of experts to guide the first-time filmmaker through his transition from stage to screen. "In David's case, we had somebody who had never really been in the movie business,” says McIlvain. "What he brought to the table that makes him effective as a director is experience in working with actors and doing live theater for twelve years. It was necessary for him to get people to help transform him from a playwright to screenwriter.” 

Talbert is grateful for the seasoned film professionals who helped him put together a first-rate film. "I really had talented, experienced associates to help raise this story,” says Talbert. "David McI

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