Jennifer Taylor goes for broke on upcoming faith-based screenplay ‘Unfaithfully His’
‘Two and a Half Men’ cast member Jennifer Taylor, aka Charlie Harper’s persevering fiancé Chelsea Melini, gives the lowdown on the most challenging project she has tackled.
Jennifer Taylor distinguished herself as consummate straight woman Chelsea to Charlie Sheen’s roguish Charlie Harper during two seasons of the CBS ratings powerhouse Two and a Half Men. With more recent turns on The Young and the Restless, Shameless, and ridiculously over the top Lifetime movies like In Bed with a Killer, Taylor exclusively journeys through her debut screenplay below. Unfaithfully His is a “messy faith” modern-day interpretation of an Old Testament tale about the prophet Hosea being instructed by the Lord to marry and ultimately forgive the adulterous woman Gomer. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to film Unfaithfully His was a disappointing stumbling block, but the God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness costar’s mile-wide relentless streak proves her dream is not over by a long shot.
The Jennifer Taylor Interview
Was there a reason why it took 20 years before you penned Unfaithfully His?
I have actually been blessed to have had some really good roles. But you always want more, and it gets frustrating. I never really thought that I would have the patience to write. My friends were like, “Everybody is writing their own stuff. You should, too.” I’m like, “No, I’m not gonna do that.”
I was at a really cool women’s event at my church. I had never heard the Old Testament story of Gomer and the prophet Hosea from the book of Hosea. It was about an unfaithful, promiscuous woman and her husband. The whole story is basically an analogy for God’s love for his people. We aren’t faithful to him all the time, but he still pursues us.
Right then and there I knew I had to write a script about a modern day Gomer and Hosea. I didn’t know whether it was crap or not. I sent my first 25 pages to a female writing friend who said, “Keep on going.” So I did and finished it. My script is about 100 pages. It’s not crazy long, and it moves pretty fast. I sent it to a male writing pal who told me it was really good.
I sent it to one company who had great things to say, but they felt it was a little too risqué for faith-based films because of the subject matter. That’s when I finally said, “I’m not gonna shop this to try and sell a script. I wanna make this movie. Of course I’m gonna star in it.”
Some friends of mine who are writer-producers were like, “Let’s do a proof of concept.” I trimmed it into a six-minute, self-contained short that gives the heart of what Unfaithfully His encapsulates — a faith-based film for people who are not necessarily religious.
The completed short is simply entitled Unfaithful. I financed Unfaithful myself on pretty much a zero budget. Instead of going the traditional route of finding investors, I decided to crowdfund Unfaithfully His on Indiegogo. It was very humbling to put it out there and ask for money, but I think humility was the right place to start to tell this story. Our campaign goal of $750,000 was not met, but I still am absolutely gonna make this movie. I am submitting the Unfaithful short to film festivals while I still look for funding, which I will hopefully get in a much less public and humiliating way [laughs].
As the writer and star of the Unfaithful short, did you also serve as a producer?
I executive produced it. I had a couple of good friends serving as producers, but my hands were in it the whole time we were on set. What I’ve always loved about doing independent movies is there’s such a different feeling versus being on a big production.
I love being on big productions — they pay much better — but there’s a spirit of pure creativity and everybody is all in when you do an indie. That’s what we had while filming the Unfaithful short and what I hope that we will have when we tackle the full version.
Would you go behind the camera for a future project? How about directing?
I would consider directing as long as I had a really good DP [aka cinematographer]. I’m not that well versed in all the different camera stuff. I definitely will write more and executive produce, but that depends on having the budget with investors.
I found as a producer that I want to give people what they usually get paid. I don’t like having to ask people to work for less, and I don’t like asking folks to do things for free whatsoever. Every single person on a set adds value to that production — no matter how small — and you should be compensated.
One of my favorite actors — Michael Landon — wrote, directed, produced, and acted. If pancreatic cancer had not felled him in 1991 he would be making faith-based films in the 21st century. Who knows, you could turn into the multi-faceted female version of Pa Ingalls.
That would be amazing, because honestly it’s funny how I got into faith-based work. I had done a movie — everybody on it was great — but the content of the movie was not something that I liked.
I remember I was driving with friends to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park with our kids in the car. I was like, “When God saved my career, I don’t think this is what he meant for me to do.” Literally the next day I got my first ever offer for a faith-based film [Like a Country Song, co-starring Billy Ray Cyrus and “Help Me” singer-songwriter Larry Gatlin, 2014]. I was like, “Okay, there might be something here.”
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