Beyond the Multiverse: The Story Behind Angel Studios’ The Shift
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Beyond the Multiverse: The Story Behind Angel Studios’ The Shift

by Angel Studios | November 22, 2023

The Shift, an Angel Original film, is set to hit theaters December 1, 2023. But long before its debut on the silver screen, The Shift was a short story posted to Writer/Director Brock Heasley’s MySpace account in 2006. 

The Inspiration behind The Shift

A graphic designer by trade, Brock Heasley took up writing for fun over 15 years ago and quickly penned his first short story called “The Shift.” Inspiration for the story struck while he was driving to work. Every morning Brock listened to the same morning show, but on one particular day when he turned on the radio, his favorite DJ was gone and the show had been completely rebranded. There was no acknowledgement of the DJ leaving and no mention of the show being canceled. He recalled feeling like he was living in an alternate universe where he was the only one who knew about this now defunct morning show. 

The Shift Director Brock Heasley

Brock Heasley

This feeling of complete confusion lit a spark inside of Brock. He began thinking about how people’s conflicting recollections cause confusion and chaos. And as a practicing Christian, he began thinking about temptation and how the devil tempts humans, usually by causing misunderstandings which lead to contention and discord. He thought, “What if the devil could weaponize the multiverse and reap chaos?” As a lover of sci-fi, Brock had seen many stories about man vs. adversary, but never told from the perspective of a Christian. He married the multiverse with Christianity, and The Shift was born. He posted his short story on MySpace, receiving a positive reception from readers, and then promptly forgot about it.

The Making of the Short Film

Nine years later, Brock and his wife Erin found themselves laid off from their jobs and living off of food stamps. With three young girls to support and a mortgage to pay, the Healsey’s were at a breaking point. During this time, Brock was recruited by a local film company to help on the set of their new horror film. He quickly learned the ins and outs of movie-making and began networking with a handful of local actors. While still unemployed and struggling financially, Brock recalled the short story he’d written years earlier and had the idea to turn it into a short film. With a constant prayer in his heart and $500 he didn’t have, Brock made The Shift short film over the course of a few years.

Scenes from the original short film

The Shift Short Film Alley Scene

Kevin in The Shift Short Film

While the short film was well received in his community, everyone left asking the same question: Who is going to watch a film that fuses science fiction with faith? That’s when Brock made it his mission to find an audience for his film and hopefully make a little money along the way. After catching wind of Angel Studios in his research, Brock felt like he struck gold and finally found a potential audience for The Shift. He thought, if anyone can make something out of this short film, it’s Angel Studios. 

The Shift Meets Angel Studios

In 2017, Brock submitted The Shift short film to Angel Studios through their online portal. At that point, Angel’s groundbreaking crowdfunding model—which allows audiences to fund shows and films they want to see on the big screen—was just an idea. Angel Studios had only successfully crowdfunded their own studio launch and was just starting to take pitches. The Shift was quickly run up the flagpole by Executive Producer Brad Rhees and shown to the executives at Angel Studios. They liked what they saw and gave Brock a call asking him to turn his short story into a feature film.

The opportunity to work with a studio that mentors filmmakers and gives them the resources to develop their story from inception to completion was something Brock never thought was possible. This was a monumental opportunity that Brock had been waiting for his whole career, and he hit the ground running. Little did he know, it would take five years for his film to come to life. 

Angel Studios President Jordan Harmon (left) and Angel Studios CEO Neal Harmon (right) on set of The Shift

Jordan Harmon and Neal Harmon on set of The Shift

Not long after Brock’s phone call greenlighting The Shift, Angel Studios (still operating as VidAngel at the time) was hit with a devastating lawsuit from Disney and had to halt production on all their projects. In fact, the day The Shift launched its first crowdfund to raise money for production, Angel Studios (still operating as VidAngel at the time) filed for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, that meant that all efforts to turn The Shift into a feature film were halted.

After a year in limbo, Brock worked with Angel Studios to start running ads for The Shift to see if they could potentially launch another crowdfunding campaign. This time around, Brock was a one-man show running the livestreams, video editing, copywriting, and designing all the film graphics. He launched his second crowdfunding campaign with the newly rebranded Angel Studios and was able to raise $150,000—not enough to make a film but more money than he had ever made. It would eventually take four crowdfunding campaigns and five years to raise $3 million to produce The Shift—a herculean effort that would have never been possible with a Hollywood studio.

Brock Heasley (right) on set with Neal McDonough (left) in Birmingham, Alabama

BTS of The Shift

The Shift’s Theatrical Debut

Starring Kris Polaha, Elizabeth Tabish, Neal McDonough, and Sean Astin, The Shift began filming in Birmingham, Alabama in January 2023 and took about six weeks to complete. After completion, it was submitted to the Angel Guild—a group of thousands of Angel Studios’ fans and investors who vote on what movies Angel Studios makes next. Before The Shift even finalized voice overs, scored music, sound design, color, and VFX, it received an Angel Guild score of 64. This is a monumental feat and is a testament to how much fans resonated with this film. The Guild is 100% audience-powered and ensures that the fans are greenlighting the next blockbuster hits, not executives. 

The Shift Movie Poster

As Brock prepares for The Shift's premiere, he is reflecting on the journey of the film thus far. As someone who entered the film industry later in life, Brock always felt a bit behind. However, The Shift is a film that has conquered dozens of dead ends and in many ways, is arriving in theaters right on time.

From a $500 short film to debuting in nearly 2,000 theaters nationwide, Angel Studios helped launch The Shift from a pipe dream to the silver screen. It’s safe to say The Shift’s best days are yet to come. See The Shift in theaters everywhere December 1.

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