MARY MEAUX — Local faith-based movie relatable to audiences, ready for premiere

Published 12:30 am Thursday, August 24, 2023

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Chad Illa-Petersen said you don’t have to be a person of faith to understand the new film, The First Step.

Illa-Petersen plays the main character, David, who is described as a man of faith who faces unexpected challenges.

Davis is a regular guy who anyone can relate to, he said.

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“While it is faith-based, it is real. You don’t have to be a person of faith to get it,” Illa-Petersen said. “The director wanted to create a Christian film that’s for everybody. It’s not there to shove religion in people’s faces.”

Portions of the movie were filmed in Groves and other local areas.

Jerry Loncon with Studio 220 Films is screening The First Step Saturday at Jefferson Theater in Beaumont.

The red carpet premiere is reminiscent of the “Golden Age of Hollywood” and cast and crew will arrive via antique cars provided by the Spindletop Car Club, producer Julie Loncon said.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the cast starts arriving on the red carpet at 7 p.m. and the film starts at 8 p.m.

Live musical performance of the movie’s track title will be at 9:30 p.m.

The historic Jefferson Theater is located at 345 Fannin St. in Beaumont.

The event is free to the public but you must reserve your spot and grab free tickets at

According to information from Studio220 Films, the film is about a “man named David who finds himself going down a dark road in life, after an event causes him to question everything he knows about his relationship with God and those who love him. Can David find he courage to take that first step back home?”

The cast includes actors from Port Arthur, Mid County and beyond.

There will be a Q&A session and opportunity for photo-ops after the film, officials said.

Some background

Jerry Loncon approached Groves City Council last year with a request to film a scene that required the use of a realistic looking pop gun at Spikes Park.

Loncon’s main intent was to assure the council of safety measures taking place regarding the weapon.

“We plan on making a lot more films in the future, as well as a TV series that we’re pitching to streaming platforms, so I want to start here doing things the right way and not just try to run and gun — run in there and film it and run away,” Loncon said during the December council meeting. “And because of the world we live in now, you don’t bring out a pop gun.”

The film

Julie Loncon said via email they are proud of the film.

“This is a film we are very proud of and is considered faith-based and family friendly,” Julie Loncon said. “It is the intention of our company to produce quality films that you are comfortable watching with your pastor, family and friends.”

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at