Back to IndieWire

Watch “The Undershepherd” Teaser Clip w/ Isaiah Washington & Vanessa Bell Calloway

Watch "The Undershepherd" Teaser Clip w/ Isaiah Washington & Vanessa Bell Calloway

Written and directed by Russ Parr, The Undershepherd‘s impressive cast includes Isaiah Washington, Robinne Lee, Bill Cobbs, Malinda Williams, Clifton Powell, Elise Neal, Lamman Rucker and Vanessa Bell Calloway.

The film, produced by Melee Entertainment, Swirl Films, and UpToParr Productions LLC, is currently in production and set to be released sometime next year.

The Under Shepherd‘s story “centers around two young ambitious ministers whose friendship and character are tested when the opportunity to become pastor of their church arises.”

Check out Isaiah Washington and Vanessa Bell Calloway in the teaser clip below.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged ,



love it!!!!!!


i thought the movie was brilliant! ( i love isiah washington!) This is mostly Black Churches way


i mean robes

faith smith



If ever in my life, I thought such a film, would hit the big screen and stir up so much controversy then this is it. I’m super impressed with this cast. I was on the set for several days. I’ve never in all my life seen so many talented african american actors assembled in one place. But for a moment… let’s forget about the assembly and focus on how they were directed to bringing this script to life. If you thought you knew “Isiah Washington” you are sadly mistaken. This young man put down a performance that could only be noted as Oscar worthy. They were a very spirited cast. They were all very polite, gracious and kind in between camera set-ups… but when the camera’s came on and the director said action that’s exactly what they gave you, Action! Every actor in this film put the hammer down on performance. I finally looked forward to going back to work the following day to see if what I was seeing was truly real. And true to form it was. From Lou G. to Keith D to Clifton Powell to Vanessa B to Elese and it just goes on, these actors and actresses gave me a new perspective on what it’s like to have the cream of the crop performing your work. Simply put they delivered! Russ Parr, I have to admit is the most professional and the kindest director I have ever met. Though we filmed long hours, he gave the kids Candy for their patience, Gave some birthday gifts that other directors couldn’t fathom doing and always had a kind ear for everyone. Simply put, what he did for the extra’s working on his set would make Oprah jealous. And if you fit a part on his set as an extra or a stand-in, you got in. That’s just a testament as to who he is as person and a gentlemen of the arts. For those of us, who just want to see a great if not, a monument of black film history, then this is a film you don’t want to miss. And please… People, don’t try to tear him down the way some people are trying to tare Mr. Perry down. You finally have two of the greatest film makers in the modern era portraying us as we truly need to be seen. They have elevated us to worthy box office patrons. No it’s not just some throw-away hood DVD copy anymore. Russ and Tyler are making keepers for generations to come. The fighting is what majority america wants from us. They want us to rip one another to shreds. We are notorious for doing that. They’re only 3 or 4 african american movies on display a year. And that’s sad. I can’t go to another anglican film and watch a Superman, Captain America or a Brad Pitt a Tom Cruise or some other anglican american and sit there and Identify with him or her. We are living in a time, when there are no black people or shows at the “Emmys”. No black movies being nominated for Oscars… because we are not on the screens nationwide. Wake up people and stop taring down black film makers and start building them up. You want better quality than what you think your about to get. Then I suggest you pick up a pen and start writing and let’s see if you get an opportunity to win the that Emmy or Oscar that eludes us because of our bickering amongst ourselves. This is America and you do have a choice. If you have a positive comment then post it. If you have a negative comment then post it. But do not break the fabric of this movie simply because you can. Give it life. Allow it room to breath. Allow your senses an opportunity to be stimulated. The bible says he who is without sin let him cast the first stone. That’s not directed at anyone, but I want us to think before we comment on the plight of this film. If I’ve offended anyone, my deepest apologies. But I want you all to support a little piece of history. You won’t and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you see this movie. May the Lord keep you and God bless all who choose to see the good in everything that we as humans try to do. Speak Peace! S.B. and blessings to all who believe.

Ethel Moore

Typo..Mr. CareyCarey

Ethel Moore

Ms. CareyCarey

I have no time for the neg… Just sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see The Under Shepherd…. What I stated about Mr. Perry and Mr. Parr was “they have there own vision”
They are both great Men of God in my book. And directing any film will be a blessing. Not comparing just Thanking God for the Gift.

By the way. I’ve been in church over 20 yrs. And I have seen alot of things myself. .

kevin schlenker

Sorry. Will be a big hit. Typo. tired

kevin schlenker

Mr. Parr. I was an extra with Ashley the other day for the coffee shop scene. Thank you for the opportunity. You and your crew are very wonderful people. And that Mr. Washington is awsome. Very polite and down to earth. Ashley and I would be honored to have the opportunity to work with you again. One last thing. I’t was a pleasure meeting your son. Very polite, Very gifted. Give him my best. He knows me. Good luck and I know this movie with be big.
Sincerely Kevin L. Schlenker


Ms. Ethel, I am sadden that you perceived my words as negative. I believe they are constructive feedback that might inspire positive thought, and that’s the beauty of S & A. There are thousands of voices that come from different perspective, each of them coming from different vantage points that may be different from or own. within that confluence of ideas, we may here something that we’ve never envisioned.

If a person continues to do the same things, they will get the same results and two heads are generally better than one.

On a side note, S & A is not only a place that gives information of the black cinema, it’s a excellent place to study human emotions in it’s rawest form. The open and honest release of our emotions and thoughts, is a wonderful view on how people relate to the opinions of other , accept them and release them. Consequently, if one is a film maker or any type of business man that has to deal with people from all walks of life, this place is a gold mine into the human Psyche. Once we know how a person may react, we can then move according with a greater insight to how they may respond.

That process (wisdom)naturally progresses over time, however, it can be increased/sped- up when we get outside ourselves.

It’s been nice talking with you.


Ms. Moore, no disrespect to Mr Parr, but I have a little problem with your comment.

Well, you addressed it to Russ, but then you spoke as if you’re part of the production crew. I mean, maybe you do have a bit of inside information, however, the following statement gave me reason to pause…

“The Under Shepherd will take you to a place where you will clearly see how churches are in this day and time” *eyebrow raised*

Now Ms. Ethel, speaking of marketing, I surely wouldn’t use that line as a blurp to attract viewers. Those of us in The black church, or any church knows exactly how they “are”, but yet, that line suggests some sort of negativity. Consequently, who is the target audience that has a deep desire to point fingers at “the church”?

I am suggesting that a person should be very careful when comparing Mr. Parr and Mr. Perry. Not because of their status in the film word, but as I said earlier, Mr. Perry’s films have a unique combinations, i.e., hope, likable characters, great music, laughs and inspiration. That blend creates emotional responses that not only ingratiates the black church goer, they they touch the pleasure zone of all humans. The more pleasurable emotions we feel, the more we will like a person, place or thing.

On the other hand, if the goal of this movie is to simply “show how churches are in this day and time” I question what emotions it will invoke and what a person will be left with to pass on to another. What.. anger, disgust, dismay, enlightenment, “I told you so”, what?

Again, as the cast talked about in an earlier podcast (a few weeks ago) and the overall board agreed with, this movie can work, but it has to be very careful and keen eye on who it’s trying to appeal to, and who it might instantly turn off. If I remember correctly, I believe the cast was split. Cynthia said she thinks it can work.

But in the end, I don’t know how Mr Parr spells success. It could be a big lump of money, or a great personal feelling that he put out a quality product of a story that he wanted to tell, regardless if it makes a boat load of money or not. I am rooting for a great story and a large lump in his pocket. Time will tell.

Ethel Moore

@Mr. Parr

I believe the film The Under Shepherd will be the movie of this decade..Can someone say diversity. This movie is about todays church! The 50 sec. teaser could not be judged. Wait until the movie comes out, then you will clearly see what this movie is all about!! This movie will take you on a journey of real life in the church!! Mr. Tyler Perry & Mr. Russ Parr are both great directors with their own vision. The Under Shepherd will take you to a place where you will clearly see how churches are in this day and time. Think outside the box for a second…Ms. Moore


Consider me teased.


The cult angle explains a lot… maybe have some Jim and Tammy Faye vibe in it? Still not what I was expecting (expose on an average, run of the mill black church) but we’ll see how the finished product is.


Thanks for stopping by, Russ. Hit us with another clip when you have a time.

Damn y’all, Tambay and S&A got juice. First AVA (of AFFIRM) stopped by the board and now Mr. Russ Parr has graced our humble abode.


Russ, thanks for coming back.

That tease “cult” really has me going. But to clarify my comment, I was simply wondering who was the/your target audience? Consequently, I was wondering how this film would be marketed, you know, trailers, interviews, ads and such . You’ve been in the business for a group, so you know how important word of mouth and first impressions are. What we see and what we hear, is what we pass on.

I am a stomp down movie lover who was also raised in “The Black Church”, yet… and so I agree, it’s not wise to come to conclusions based on a 50 second clip. Nevertheless, if it’s what I am working with, then, well, that’s all I have to go by.

So yeah, I am with you and can’t wait to see more.

Now it’s time to get my beg on, and if you can keep a secret, so can I. Hit a brotha up and share a little more.


Hey, and you might consider coming back for a S & A live podcast and bring a couple of your stars?

I am not running a thang up in here :-) but I and others (I can safely assume) want to hear what y’all have to say.

In short, I’ve seen loads of “mess” in The Black Church, in all it’s complexities (been there, sat there, seen it, was in it), so I am looking forward to seeing how you speard the news.

Vanessa Martinez


Disregard the negative comments; It’s definitely too soon to judge this film by one short clip.

I can say though, I LOVE the dark, controversial twist of this story. I’m glad filmmakers are taking these types of chances!

I was very intrigued by the trailer. I loved Isaiah’s and Vanessa’s screen presence.

Russ Parr

Sorry about my typos. I’m tired

Russ parr (writer and director)

The story is about Power that can happen in the pulpit. Isaiah’s character becomes a phenomenon and the curious white black or whatever are consumed by his charisma. I make it a point to show the hypocrisy that exists in some churches. When I wrote this script some 3 years ago I didn’t consult the leaders of black church leaders to get their POV. I’m giving my interpretation of what I see and what I’ve seen. Isaiah Washington totally took my script to another level. This is pure drama based on a lot of factual info I have gathered. The 50 second tease shouldn’t be your sole source of info to formulate a true opinion of this film. I’m typing this as I am about to abbot my last scene for the movie. So just want to give y’all a heads up. I’m about to add another hour and forty five minutes to that 50 second tease.

Russ parr

I should proof read. I meant done not down in my previous post. Last hint about the film. People commented about the authenticity of the film regarding white people in a Baptist church. One hint Cult. Not revealing anymore. Hopefully and temporarily that will explain white folks in the church. Now I’m done.

Russ Parr

Can’t wait for Carey Careys review when the film is down. Very interesting comments about the marketability of a film based on a 50 second teaser. I’m the other investor (UPTOPARR PRODUCTIONS) and every investment is a risk. I don’t mind losing money on myself. I’ll take the risk.



Consider me “teased”


After seeing the clip, I’m intrigued about his project and look forward to it. :)


I kinda dug it. Hopefully it keeps up this dark tone and doesnt turn into cinematic kool-aid. Consulting the “Black church” has me concerned though.


So sad for Isaiah Washington the guy is a decent actor but his homophobia destroyed his career.


Love Isaiah and like most of the other actors listed. I’m intrigued.


Has anyone seen this film? It looks very personal – the way that it is presented. You feel like you are in the room with the characters.

And now some words of wisdom from Robinne Lee

“Much love to you all.” – Robinne Lee


I wasn’t feeling it. It’s too…. I don’t know. I expected something real and this looks a little out there and very melodramatic. “You’re a disgrace to this church and a fraud” from the chick with too much makeup on to be regarded seriously. “I am God” evil mwah-ha-ha laugh. That would have played better as a cartoon.

Listened to the podcast but I didn’t pay any attention to the interview.

I agree it is unrealistic to have such a mixed congregation in a black church – esp. a black Baptist church or AME. The only time I ever saw white people, they came by mistake. The black baptist church is on one side of the street., the white one, on the other. White family came in at the beginning and were gone twenty minutes later.

Happy Isaiah’s getting work.


Interesting clip and premise seems to have potential. Let’s see how it turns out..


Well, based solely from what I saw in this clip, Mr. Turner of Melee Entertainment is moving in the right direction when he said (in the podcast) that’s he’s in discussions with members of “The Black Church” to consider how this film should be marketed, and that’s a very slippery slope. Who are “they”, and, I don’t mean this in a bad way, but the black church is sort of like the good ol’boy’s club. You know, everybody might have a little of this and that going on, so mouths are closed. Also, there’s scripture that relates to the sins of “gossip”, that some use as an excuse to stay mum on certain issues.

Imo, this film will not draw the millions of Tyler Perry fans, nor Tyler kind of money. I don’t know how much money has been invested in this film (the budget), but I don’t/can’t see the target audience/market. And the leading actors, and their characters are not instant draws. But again, I believe Mr. Turner is fully aware of all of that b/c in the podcast I heard him hedge his bet by saying he has had failures in the past, and this project is somewhat of a passion for him. To me, that says he has enough money to take a hit, a risk (a gamble) and keep on rolling.

To me, this movie has the feel of a Tyler Perry product, but lacks the unique combinations that puts Tyler on top, i.e., hope, likable characters, great music, and inspiration. I am sure there is an audience of those that would like nothing more than to point fingers and vilify “The Black Church” , and the curious…. and those of us that are starving for black faces in cinema…. and those that say this story needs to be told, however, I don’t know if all of that translates to big ticket sells.

One more small note. In the clip, I saw an even mix of black and white faces sitting in the pews. That’s not common in most black churches, or any church when a black man is standing in the pulpit.

I need to see more of this film to see what direction they are going. Has anyone read the script or has inside information?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *