Mike C. Manning shines brightly in the Pure Flix film, “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness” premiering in theaters March 30, 2018. Fans who have followed Manning in his TV roles on the Disney Channel and Hallmark Channel can now watch Manning on the big screen playing a character that stands as his best performance yet. Entertainment Scoop’s exclusive interview explored Mike’s experience co-starring in this highly anticipated Pure Flix film, and also discussed his success as a film Producer.
ES: Mike, congratulations on a great year so far. You have multiple projects reaching audiences in 2018. What makes the Pure Flix film, “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness,” premiering March 30th on 2,000 screens around the U.S., different from anything else you’ve been a part of so far in your young acting career?
MM: I’d be foolish to think that I haven’t been really lucky so far in my career, playing so many different roles. To me, what makes this one special is the transformation the character goes through in the film. He is such a completely different person in the end of the story than in the beginning. As an actor, that was both challenging and really exciting.
ES: Your character of “Adam” is pivotal in the movie. How do you approach preparing for such an important role?
MM: To be honest, I approached “Adam” the same way I’d approach any role. Of course, no two characters are the same, but the process of investigating a character and shaping a real human with a real life and real thoughts/feelings is so enjoyable to me. I spent a ton of time preparing because it’s one of my favorite parts of the business. The script was written so well that I had a lot of material to pull from. For the rest, I just used my life experience and imagination.
Photo cred: Diana Ragland
ES: You have great chemistry with your on-screen girlfriend, “Keaton,” played by Samantha Boscarino. Can you tell us about your working relationship?
MM: In working with Samantha I quickly learned that I had to show up prepared and on top of my game every day. She’s such a pro. It was so enjoyable working with her and finding different ways of playing a scene, moments between the characters, subtle things that we could add to their relationship that made the chemistry believable. I’d do 100 movies with Sam. She’s great.
ES: The Pure Flix film, “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness” is the third installment of this popular film franchise. Did you watch the first two movies to get a sense of the themes and tone of the films, or were you able to have that discussion with the Director about his vision for this threequel?
MM: I did both. During the chemistry read, the director actually had Samantha and I improv parts of the scenes, or completely new scenes. He wanted to see what we brought to the characters and what he had to work with. At that point I had already seen the second God’s Not Dead film, so I understood the tone and general theme, but he told us a little bit more about this version and the type of story he wanted to tell. And before filming we had a ton of deep conversations about it.
ES: Why should your fans and general audiences rush out to see this Pure Flix film opening weekend?
MM: For anyone that has seen my work and likes my stuff, this will definitely be different than Teen Wolf or Major Crimes. For everybody else, I think the film itself might be different than you’d expect. One of my favorite things about this project was that the story isn’t “this is right and this is wrong.” The film creates a dialogue about what is actually happening in our country today, with people fighting with one another and failing to listen to what the other has to say. It is my hope that this film urges people to see that at the end of the day, we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have been given, and that we are stronger when we are helping each other rise and not trying to make each other fall. I love the message of this film. P.S. Thank you to the fans. You all rock.
ES: You’re not only a successful actor, but a successful Producer as well. Tell us about that aspect of your career.
MM: Thank you. I think at the end of the day it’s all about, “What story do I want to tell?” Sometimes I want to be in front of the camera, and sometimes I want to be supporting the others that are. There is still so much that I want to do on the producing side of things, but I was fortunate to find a handful of great projects over the years and am proud that I was able to help put them together and release them into the world.
ES: Do you prefer being in front of the camera or behind the camera?
MM: I like both. I’m not the type of person that is going to say, “I have to be in front of the camera every time.” In some stories, I have a place as an actor. In other stories, I have no place in that story – there simply isn’t a character for me, but they are amazing stories and need to be told. One example is a film I just helped produce called Jinn. We premiered at the SXSW Film Festival a few weeks ago. It’s an incredible story and has been winning awards and generating a lot of buzz. Aside from a fun little cameo, I’m not in the film at all. I was there as someone that wanted to make the film and watch the other actors shine.
ES: How did you get started in Acting?
MM: I would always act out Disney movies with my brother, sister and neighborhood kids. I remember a Peter Pan hat my grandmother gave me. It was green with a red feather. And she had this quilt that I would steal off the couch and “fly around the house” with. I always had a very active imagination, and my parents and grandparents encouraged that. I started doing theatre at a young age and became more and more addicted to the feeling of becoming different characters in different worlds. I’ve loved the “escapism” of it all, discovering new ways of thinking, acting, being. It was only later in life that I realized I could make a career out of it.
ES: What led to you becoming a Producer?
MM: Producing sort of fell into my lap. I had just finished shooting Cloud 9 for The Disney Channel and was back in Los Angeles. A friend from Colorado asked to stay with me while he came here to shoot an interview for a documentary film. He told me about it and I loved the idea and wanted to get involved. That was it. I started producing documentaries, and then transitioned into scripted films a few years later.
ES: You’ve actively attended film festivals in your career. What do you enjoy about being a part of that film loving community and has it created any valuable relationships?
MM: The types of people that attend film festivals are either people directly involved with the film industry, people that just love films, or people that love someone involved with one of the films at the festival. Either way, everyone is happy to be there to celebrate cinema and those that create it – my paradise. I have made some great industry connections and friendships that way.
ES: In which other projects can audiences find you?
MM: I have a film called ICE The Movie that just came out on Amazon and VOD. Maddison Bullock, a really talented actress who used to be a professional figure skater, wrote a film about some of her experiences in the sport. It was shot in my home state of Colorado in the winter and was a ton of fun to make. I play Maddison’s romantic interest in the film and got to ice skate with people that were doing the types of moves I had ever only seen during the Olympics – so that was pretty great. I also just shot an Amazon mini-series called Six Degrees of Separation. That one was executive produced by Emmy-winner Jared Safiere and should be out later this year.
@mikecmanning on social media / Cover Photo by Diana Ragland.