Believe (2006)

Get Showtimes...
Fandango - Movie Tickets Online

Film: Believe (2006) [NR]
WIP™ Scale: $12.25
Where Viewed: Landmark Chez Artiste, Denver, CO – Special Screening for the Denver Film Society
When 1st Seen: 2 October 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m.

Directed by: Loki Mulholland (debut film)
Written by: Loki Mulholland (debut film)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Larry Bagby (Walk the Line) • Lincoln Hoppe (Return to the Secret Garden) • Jodi Russell (Twice Today) • Brian Clark (The World's Fastest Indian) • Steve Anderson ("Everwood") • Ann Bosler ("Everwood") • Jeff Olson ("Everwood") • K. Danor Gerald (The Doorstep) • Craig Clyde (The Long Road Home)

Link to the Film's Official Web Site and Blog: Believe

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
A few years ago, director Loki Mullholland was pulled into the surreal world of one of the world's largest and most profitable multi-level marketing (MLM) companies—companies that utilize a strategy of flash and fanfare to get people to join them in selling products to their friends for huge incomes that are only realized if they are able to sign up a huge number of their friends below them to sell products for which they get a cut of each sale. They are famous for using the glamour of fame and fortune to lure people to their sales forces, selling them voluminous quantities of self-help tapes and videos to teach them techniques to get sales and sign other people up. Mr. Mullholland never made a profit despite being very devoted to and working very hard for the company. Fortunately, he got the idea to make an independent film to show what his 'undercover' research revealed. The result is his new mockumentary, Believe, which he also wrote. Mockumentaries are films that look like a documentary but are really made using actors and scripts to illustrate a point. The point to be made could be the same as one might use for a documentary, but this genre permits for a more satirical and humorous approach to what otherwise might be a fairly dry subject.

"…excellent and deserves a wide audience."
For his case, Mullholland created the out-of-work steel worker Adam Pendon (Larry Bagby) and wife Jean (Vanessa Dehart) who are drawn into the sales force of a mock company called Believe by slick salesman Mark Fuller (Lincoln Hoppe). Believe is an MLM owned by former trailer park owner now multi-zillionaire, Howard Flash played with smarmy charm and fake tan by Jeff Olsen. The company sells just about every product a family could ever hope to use from cookies to cereal to soap to all-purpose cleaner. Jean is skeptical about the concept, however Mark convinces Adam to host a party of all of his out-of-work co-workers and sign them up to sell for Believe. Ultimately, Adam is so successful, he starts to make some big, big money and becomes a star for the company. Along the way,however, we see interviews with the not-so-successful Believers including Tom and Amy Hawks (Brian Clark and Britani Batemen) who haven't made a dollar yet, but they have covered their refrigerator with clippings of all the things they are going to buy once they do. Then there's Dan Bretenheimer (Steve Anderson) and Sally Bretenheimer (Ann Bosler) who also have yet to see a dime out of Believe, but who continue to appreciate all of the nice people they are meeting through the business. Ray Sterago (K. Danor Gerald) is a guy who was badly burned by Believe and starts an anti-Believe campaign to put them out of business if only the attorney general, Mitch Harris (Craig Clyde), could get some solid evidence of wrong doing.

In watching the film, you would be hard-pressed to believe this is Loki Mullholland's first film. After the screening, he admitted that a mockumentary with 60 speaking parts and 30 locations with a shooting schedule of 19 days was probably not the smartest thing to attempt for one's first film. Still, the cogency of the script is vastly superior to many other films in the docu/mockumentary genre. And the cinematography is both crisp and professional. While following the usual format of interviews interspersed with footage of events such as Believe gatherings and the huge Believe sales rally with a guest appearance by Air Supply, Mr. Mullholland's handling of the rags to riches story of Adam Pendon and then catastrophic collapse of Believe, makes for a potent tale that is coherent and constructive rather than jumbled and illogical. The actors do terrific jobs of embodying the spirit of true Believers needed to make the film work. Certainly Lincoln Hoppe stands out as Mark Fuller, the original Believe sales guy who lives, eats, breathes, and literally drinks the products in order to advance his upstream income. Visit the web site to see infomercials of him working to convince people to join Believe as they are hilarious. Also a standout is anti-Believe activist, Ray Sterago, whose zealous plans to destroy the company via an incriminating web site and appearances on talk radio bring levity to a film that really is, first and foremost, about the devastating effect that MLMs can have on the lives of people that get hooked by the infomercials and end up losing everything they own. Of course, MLMs do not wish to discuss how few people ever make any money let alone become rich from their efforts. Statistics show, however, that very few people ever even earn back their initial investment. Sadly, some people, as exemplified in the film by Tom Hawks, get burned by one MLM, convinced by their tapes that it's his fault for not thoroughly comprehending the system, and join up with a new one to repeat the cycle again.

Despite winning awards at film festivals, no distributor picked up the film, so the investors decided to release the film themselves. Thank goodness the investors were able to take on this hugely expensive endeavor because Believe is excellent and deserves a wide audience. On top of the social justice the film itself supports, Mr. Mullholland has created what could be the beginnings of a national do not contact list for MLMs to keep their sales people from contacting you and to keep their companies from trying to induct you into their operations. For anyone who has ever been taken by an MLM, seeing this movie will make you scratch your head and wonder how on earth you let yourself fall for it. Those who have resisted what sounded too good to be true will feel vindicated. As it turns out, one really does have to go to work every day to earn a legitimate living.

Send This Review To a Friend

Related Products from

Other Projects Featuring Believe (2006) Cast Members

Larry BagbyLincoln HoppeJodi Russell
Brian ClarkSteve AndersonAnn Bosler
Jeff OlsonCraig ClydeK. Danor Gerald

Believe (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
A few years ago, director Loki Mullholland was pulled into the surreal world of multi-level marketing(MLM) companies—companies that utilize fanfare to convince people to sell products to their friends for huge incomes realized only if they sign up a huge number of their friends below them to sell products for which they get a cut. Never having made any money at it despite following the system and giving it his loyalty, Mullholland got out and decided to write and direct his first mockumentary, Believe, illustrating his mistake and the predatory nature of MLMs for others. Utilizing over 60 speaking parts, in 30 locations, and a 19-day budget, he created a cogent, award-winning film with crisp, clean cinematography, and great acting that is vastly superior to many other films in the genre. The excellent film serves to vindicate anyone ever taken by an MLM and those who managed to resist.
Send This Review To a Friend

No comments: