The Great Recession has made it tough for independent films and companies to get mainstream distribution and exposure, such as the case with The Least Among You, but it remains important to keep hope alive and have faith. The DVD stars William Devane (Knots Landing, 24), Lauren Holly (NCIS, Picket Fences, All My Children), Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Stargate SG-1), and rising young actor Cedric Sanders as the lead character, Richard Kelly.
“This guy is a really good actor” said the film’s writer/director Mark Young. “These are all respected actors, but they got 15 or so actors that are considered box office.”
In this case, The Book of Eli with Oscar winner Denzel Washington and The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock, where she won the Best Actress Oscar for her real-life portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy, whose family adopted NFL defensive player Michael Oher. Another is Tyler Perry, who has produced, written, directed, created, and co-starred in some of his hit plays, movies, and the TV shows House of Payne and spin-off Meet the Browns.
Like The Blind Side, The Least Among You is based on the true story of the Rev. Charles Marks, whom Mark first heard back in 1993, and the two hit it off as friends. After listening to Charles’ story, Mark thought it’d be a great idea for a film. At the same time, Mark was a vice president in marketing, but when the company he worked for filed for bankruptcy, he started to take classes, and keep on writing on the script over the next decade and a half.
Taking place during the height of the civil rights movement in 1965 Watts, Richard Kelly had dreams of getting a good job, but his mother wanted him to be a preacher. When he was sentenced to jail for the assault of a police officer, he was given the choice of jail or probation at an all-white seminary school. “It is a young man’s journey through a test of fire” Mark said. “Charles never wanted to be a pastor; he wanted to be a businessman. He wanted to make money and take care of people. It was up to him to decide who he becomes: was he a businessman or was he a pastor?”
The Least Among You, Mark continues, references a double meaning: the gardener Samuel (Gossett), who becomes a mentor to Richard, who is also referenced to the title, as he faces classic underdog obstacles that includes racism and prejudice and his hesitation to face his inner demons, letting God into his heart, and struggling with his true calling. “Jesus doesn’t measure the power or the success; he measures our spirit, our greatness, and our forgiveness” Mark comments. “If you make a film about people, it doesn’t matter what color. We’re just trying to get the word out.”
More on The Least Among You can be found at the film’s website at www.theleastamongyou.com