After years of hard work, dedication, and a whole lot of faith, local film producer Phil Cook watched as Stay Prayed Up hit the big screen of the Sandhills this weekend. Cook hosted a Q&A session after the film’s first Moore County showing on Sunday, June 19, to answer the audience’s questions and speak more in-depth about what went into producing the film.
It was a busy weekend for Carolina Cinemas Sandhills 10, and Stay Prayed Up was featured right alongside the theater’s current blockbusters Jurassic World: Dominion, Top Gun Maverick, and Lightyear.
Stay Prayed Up was filmed in Benson, North Carolina.
“We couldn’t not play it,” said Carolina Cinemas Sandhills 10 co-owner and operator Jeremy Welman. “We have a great community of artists here in North Carolina. There’s really an abundance of cultural talent, especially in this area. We must support it.”
Stay Prayed Up movie trailer by Greenwich Entertainment.
Cook was at the theater to host a Q&A after the film’s 3 p.m. showing. Cook spent nearly thirty minutes taking questions from the audience and sharing additional details about the life of “Mother” Lena Mae Perry and her gospel group The Branchettes.
The documentary follows 83-year-old Perry and the legendary North Carolina gospel group as they record their first, fully live album. Throughout the film, the crew highlights prayer, laughter, hardship, and praise through music.
“I’ve learned a great deal from her, she’s truly taught me so much,” said Cook. “She speaks multitudes, and when she speaks people listen. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, Lena lights up the room. Everyone can feel it.”
When the credits had rolled, and the lights came back on in the theater, the audience had nothing but praise for the film. “This movie was all heart,” noted one moviegoer, and those around her echoed in agreement.
The amount of enthusiasm, passion, and genuine heart that went into Stay Prayed Up was apparent to all those who watched the film. Cook explained the creative process that went into the years of planning, filming, and producing the movie before it hit the big screen.
The team’s hard work paid off as Stay Prayed Up has been featured at local theaters and film festivals multiple times since its recent release. In addition, Perry will be featured in an upcoming issue of Ebony Magazine and reportedly has several big collaborations planned for the future.
“It reaches beyond the state’s borders,” said Cook. “The reception has been wonderful, and we’re so grateful to everyone who has supported us along the way.”
Those who missed the first showing of Stay Prayed Up will be able to catch the film’s second showing at Carolina Cinemas Sandhills 10 on Wednesday, June 22, at 3 p.m. In addition, the film will be available to stream on Apple TV on July 5.
For more information about Sandhills 10 or to check showtimes, visit www.sandhills10cinemas.com or call 910-695-1100.
Feature photo: Carolina Cinemas Sandhills 10 co-owner Jeremy Welman (left) and film producer Phil Cook pose after a screening of Stay Prayed Up at the Southern Pines’ multiplex theater on June 19.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Abegail Murphy.