The Song is a romantic drama inspired by the Song of Solomon with a modern-day setting: today’s country music scene. Written and directed by Richard Ramsey and releasing nationwide on September 26 from Samuel Goldwyn Films and City On A Hill Studio, The Song addresses themes of love, sex, and the meaning of life (it is rated PG-13).
The film is about singer-songwriter Jed King, who is desperately struggling to get away from the ubiquitous specter of his country-music legend father and finally make a mark of his own. After reluctantly accepting a little gig at a local vineyard, everything changes for Jed and he falls madly in love. He marries, and among his grand romantic gestures is writing a hit love song inspired by his love for his bride. Though Jed was determined to stay true to God, his wife, and his music, the temptations abounding in the life of a famous singer-songwriter take their toll, and Jed falls from grace, only to see the redeeming power of faith and love assert itself in his life.
Alan Powell plays Jed in The Song, and he recently spoke with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle for Catholic World Report about the film.
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle: I enjoyed the movie very much, but I have to say that there was a point during the movie when I did not like you!
Alan Powell: [Laughs] I’ve seen it a couple of times and there are a few points where I don’t like me! … But, we are humans and we make mistakes and we do dumb things. And I know that even in my real life there are many times when if there was a camera rolling on me, whoever was watching wouldn’t like me. I feel that’s real.
Cooper O’Boyle: I understand that this is your break-out lead role—what did you do to get into your character?
Powell: I think I related to him pretty quickly—he is a musician, as am I. To this day I play music and I am in a band called Anthem Lights, and so there’s that initial connection. And, on top of that, I am married myself and I have two children now. But at the time [of making the movie] my wife was pregnant, I had one and there was one on the way. There’s that deep connection. A lot of that runs into the script and in portraying Jed—his connection to his wife, and then when he is a stranger to his wife. He’s on the road a lot. I’ve been there. You know, you’re missing your kid, and what it does to your kid, being gone so much. And there’s the guilt for that, which I have personally experienced.
But then day to day, as far as getting into the character and getting ready for the scenes…there were some days—well, if you saw the film, there were a lot of days when it was heavy. … It was a serious day and Jed was going to go through some really emotional scenes and face some difficult things. So, there wasn’t a whole lot of laughter those days for me that morning or at lunch. I’m not good enough of an actor to be joking around one second and then they say, “Action,” and I’m crying the next. I wish that I could do that because it would be a lot easier. But, I would show up and tell everybody that today is a rough day and I’d kind of apologize to everybody. “I love you, you’re all great, but I’m going to be kind of in my own world for a while for the sake of the film.” So, it’s a combination of all those things.
Cooper O’Boyle: You’ve already answered this somewhat, but do you see yourself at all in Jed?
Powell: I remember reading the script and feeling a lot of connection with Jed—both of us being musicians and being gone a lot. And honestly, being gone too much at times. And being married and desiring that to work. That’s what I really like about the struggle that Jed goes through in the film. I feel like it’s really, really clear that he wants his marriage to work. [Jed] asked her [his wife] to come on the road—three times—before he falls. I mean, that’s not an excuse or [saying] that he’s justified in his actions. But I do like that it wasn’t a quick decision. He was having this struggle, this temptation, this, “Man, I’m gone too much; I’m away from my wife too much.” He asked her multiple times to come with him. All this is to say—I’ve felt that. I’ve wanted that and tried to work everything out in a way to get my family out there. Sometimes it works and sometimes it just doesn’t.
So, yes, I connect with Jed on a lot of levels. There’s a lot of me in Jed. It’s a lot of my story.
Cooper O’Boyle: You mentioned that you are the lead singer for the band Anthem Lights. Does that have anything to do with you getting involved in The Song?
Powell: Well, it’s what brought me to Nashville, initially. And I got a film agent here just because I’ve always loved film. It’s the medium that moves me the most. Then when I was reading for the part I knew there was a need for a musician, and I was drawing from that. It wasn’t like they saw me in Anthem Lights and said, “Hey, we think you’d be good for this.” It’s what had me in Nashville and something that I drew from when reading for the character.
Cooper O’Boyle: Was there a time during the filming that stands out for you in some way?
Powell: I think it’s a film that ultimately states that without God life is meaningless. I think that’s really what the film overall says, and what Solomon’s experience in Ecclesiastes says. But, it’s also on another level about prioritizing your marriage above essentially everything else that is here.
I am very proud that I didn’t have to compromise my marriage in making a film about prioritizing your marriage. I really applaud the filmmakers. If you remember, there’s only one scene where I, as Jed, kiss either my wife or the adulterer girl, and that’s actually my wife doubling in for that scene.
So that was a fun day. It was like 18 or 19 takes. I kept messing that up so we had to keep going. … [Laughs]
I don’t want to imply by any means that it’s wrong for anyone to do it differently. But, again, in a film about prioritizing your marriage—the fact that I can sit down with my wife and watch the film and feel that we have not compromised [our marriage] to tell that story works for me.
Cooper O’Boyle: What are your hopes for this movie?
Powell: I hope that people walk away just knowing that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are in life, how old you are, what your situation is—every morning when we wake up we wrestle with this statement, this truth, that without God, life is meaningless. Certainly, that’s what Jed goes through, what he puts himself through, and he comes up with this realization. I really like that the film doesn’t even say that…it just kind of shows it, asks that question, and then forces the viewer to deal with it. … And, also, for anyone who is married, I think they’re going to take away from it the beauty of their marriage and the gift of their marriage—that they are to prioritize it above all else earthly. And if that happens, I feel very proud of what we’ve been able to do.
Cooper O’Boyle: You have two feature films in post-production right now.
Powell: I have one called Out of Ashes. Films are so funny. You never know what’s going to happen with them. It was a fun story, a great story. So, we’ll see. I’ve seen the first rough, rough cut and that’s all that exists right now. And who knows what kind of partners they’ll find and that sort of thing. I’m excited about the story.
There’s another one out called Produce. I get to work with some of the same crew I worked with on The Song, so it was fun to see everybody again. It’s a great story as well. It’s about a Down syndrome kid who helps reframe this guy’s life with regard to what’s important. It’s very cool. It was a pleasure to be a part of. That one is already doing the festival circuit. I’m not sure if they’ll find distribution for it or if it will go national or not. So, it’s great to be a part of them and again, great stories to tell, inspirational stories.