Local author Tolley working to bring book to life in documentary film

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, December 27, 2022

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By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
Elizabethton’s GW Tolley wrote his first book, “Comforting Messages From Heaven,” in honor of his mother, Jean Tolley. It was the beginning of a long list of books, 17 so far, he’s produced.
Now comes the next extraordinary step: A film might be in the making.
In November, the 50th International Christian Visual Media (ICVM) Conference in Orlando had record-breaking attendance. It was there that communication with both Messenger Films and Kingstone Studios revealed an interest in Tolley’s subject matter to create the film to be called, “i am JOSIAH.”
“We [are] prayerfully pursu[ing] the right studio for our project,” said Christine Elizabeth Mauriello, head of CM Production, which announced at the conference the beginning of preparations to co-produce and direct “i am JOSIAH,” a docufilm. “Both these studios exhibited interest in seeing more.”
Mauriello’s CM Production is a full-service, faith-based video production ministry helping organizations and individuals get their messages out through video. Her company began through “humble beginnings and a specific mission to bring hope to the hopeless.”
She said she was chosen for this project “because of her obedience to God and her commitment to hold to the integrity of this story.” CM Production expects a June 2023 target production date.
The film’s story focuses on how we should “walk by faith and not by sight,” — 2 Corinthians 5:7. For life events can be a storm, but when the storm stops and there is nothing left, everything hits rock bottom. After a storm clears, God is the rock at the bottom and he is a person’s new solid foundation. “Only God can change a heart and restore faith, hope, love, peace and purpose,” Tolley explained. “Josiah means, ‘God supports and heals.’”
Though the shooting location is still to be determined, Mauriello said the desire to shoot at authentic sites include Elizabethton, Johnson City and Nashville. The studio set for shooting location is still being scoped and they expect to film for three weeks.
“We have some celebrity actors [and] actresses already in mind and we will [also] be holding auditions for approximately 18 actors [and] actresses, plus extras (women, men and youth),” she added. “The main character will have three different ages of [his] life portrayed.”
Tolley said “this story is not just my testimony — it’s an invitation for everyone to know the healing power and love that provides all — especially a new identity. ‘Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ — Matthew 11:28. This invitation brings so much more than we could ever imagine — and it’s an invitation to you, reader. ‘That means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; and a new life has begun!’ — 2 Corinthians 5:17. This is what the meaning of becoming a Josiah really is. I am excited that we are making a movie that highlights the healing power of God’s love.”
Tolley has stated that his life was going in a direction that bothered him. “What I did not know [was] that my life was on the cusp of a wonderful change,” he said of his earlier years. “It is like a slingshot; I felt like I was being pulled backward and did not realize I was being launched. … [So,] don’t let where you are currently or where you are from taint or poison who you will become.”
No one needs a super power to help bless others’ lives. Tolley shares his stories and experiences to inspire others, “but, sometimes it is just a kind word or even a smile that will make a person’s day,” he added. “We all have that ability.”
Mauriello thanked influencers and mentors, including Dallas Jenkins, Kirk Cameron and Kevin Sorbo, “who have personally influenced my life in film,” she said. “Their mission to bring what they have and to live humbly, fully dependent on God (and be vocal about that) is revolutionary. Their influence encouraged me in bringing to life the dream of the feature film ‘i am JOSIAH.’”
Mauriello said she shared a common thread with the story and was eager to “uplift, inspire, encourage and invite viewers to this journey. I’m honored to be on this team.”

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