While filming the paranormal investigation film, “The Conjuring,” in Wilmington this year, the twin filmmakers, Chad and Carey Hayes, fell in love with the Port City.
During shooting for “The Conjuring,” which will release in January, the Hayes brothers discovered the University of North Carolina Wilmington's philosophy and religion department and became fascinated by individual scholars and their research. Religious studies professor Diana Pasulka helped the brothers with Latin in some of the film's exorcism scenes. And department chair George Zervos acted as an exorcist in one of the scenes.
The brothers decided: “their whole department would be a great reality show project. It's mixing religion and science, where they come together, and I think that would be really appealing to a lot of people,” Chad Hayes said in a phone interview from his home in Malibu,Ca.
So Hayes said the brothers are currently planning a series featuring several members of UNCW's religious studies department in a reality TV show they hope to pitch to a major cable network and film the first pilot for by the end of the year. The brothers previously shot 2007's “The Reaping,” a film about a town's spiritual struggle starring Hilary Swank. (Last week, New Line Cinemas bought a Hayes Brothers pitch for a western titled “Redemption.”)
“Just as history reality shows help people understand what historians do, this show would do the same for religious studies,” Pasulka said. “It's gonna be weird though because all of us don't want anything exploitative. We don't make any pronouncements about any faith because the truth is strange enough you don't have to make it up.”
For instance, Pasulka told the Hayes brothers about a cave in Ireland she had visited many times where people feel they can access the divine.
But that's not the only Wilmington-related pitch up the Hayes brothers' sleeves. They hope to start an indigenous film project to make morality-based films in the Cape Fear region, making their first pitch for the project to investors at the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center's Rocket Pitch event at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10. They'll also speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in 134 Dobo Hall and answer questions at a screening of “The Reaping” at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 in 105 Cameron Hall.
“I love films with a message and where God wins that make nonbelievers think and ponder,” Hayes said. “People out there are trying to find something to believe in so why not give God a chance.” Both brothers are Christians and often try to work a message into their films.
Hayes said, while he admires the work behind films such as “Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants” and other Sherwood Pictures films, Hayes Brothers Films doesn't do evangelical movies.
“I want the films to be more about God; not religion and not preachy,” he added. “We're not giving up horror movies, though.”