Maria Jefferson has been scribbling stories since childhood. Whether it was short stories or poems, the Cherry Hill resident has been dreaming up tales for a long time. Now, one of her stories has come to life.
Jefferson wrote the film “Offstage Elements,” now available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Directed by Frank Lisi, the film follows fictional rock band Brass Angel, whose lead singer has just reunited with the group after battling advanced stage cancer. Upon his return, he announces he is now a “born-again” Christian, and the film follows the tension that unfolds as he and his bandmates navigate the new dynamic.
A full-time nurse with Inspira Health, Jefferson deferred her writing dreams until about six years ago, when she decided to revisit her old passion. She wound up writing a children’s book titled “Lefty Lucy for President,” and it opened the writing floodgates. Jefferson was back in the rhythm of writing and feeling inspired to tell other kinds of stories.
“Offstage Elements” came out of that creative time and is inspired by her husband’s former band, Faith Factor. Upon completing a treatment for the story, Jefferson started attending film networking events in Philadelphia, where she met Lisi. At the time, she wasn’t certain the story would become a television series or novel, and through conversations with Lisi, Jefferson decided to turn “Offstage Elements” into a full screenplay.
The plot explores lead singer Vik’s return from a battle with testicular cancer. As a “born-again” Christian, he’s ready to give up his bad boy ways, but given his fellow bandmates are nonbelievers, he receives pushback. The film follows the band’s rise to success and the issues that unfold as they learn to lean on one another.
Four of Faith Factor’s songs are featured in “Offstage Elements,” including the ballad “The Angel and Butterfly.” Some of the original band members, such as the guitar player, lead singer, and drummer, also played small roles in the film. But Jefferson said only about 25 percent of the story is based on truth; the remaining 75 percent is fictional.
“I basically took the concept of a Christian rock band and added my own stories to it,” she explained.
Jefferson financed the entire film without the help of a production company or investor. Auditions were held in Philadelphia, and the film was shot around South Jersey and in Pennsylvania in 2017.
The film features Hollywood actor Mike Starr as Brass Angel’s band manager, Sammy Gallo. Starr had principal roles in “The Bodyguard, “with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner; “Dumb and Dumber”; ”Ed Wood”; and “Goodfellas.” Actor/comedian Tony Darrow plays Gallo’s friend and shady business partner, Carlo Cappazolli. Darrow is best known for roles in “Goodfellas” and “Analyze This.”
Jefferson subsequently entered “Offstage Elements” into film festivals for a few years, when it won awards such as best supporting actor at the Philadelphia Film Festival. She made it her New Year’s resolution for 2021 to get the film on a streaming service, and “Offstage Elements” is now on Amazon.
“I’m really thrilled,” Jefferson said.
She is currently on leave from work following surgery and spends her time on writing, including another screenplay, work on a sitcom and the biography of a detective friend who solves cold cases.
To learn more about Jefferson or “Offstage Elements,” visit www.mvjproduction.com. “Offstage Elements” is also available on Tubi.