Of fate and film: Alumnus’ movie ‘The Author’ plays at Cinemark Waco

Baylor alumnus brings his vision to life on the silver screen. Photo courtesy of Ritchey Cable.

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Ashton Brooke Gill stood in line in an airport in Kansas City, Mo., on her way back from a small town in Iowa, carrying only her guitar — no luggage. The singer and former American Idol contestant struck Baylor alumnus Ritchey Cable as the spitting image of the female lead he envisioned for his movie, “The Author.” This was no random encounter; Cable had recently seen a video of Gill on American Idol during his search for an actress.

Cable and Gill deem this an “Author moment” — a term the cast and creators of the movie coined to refer to the run-ins with fate that made it possible. Now, as Cable calls it, “the little film that could” has made its way to Waco’s Cinemark theater, where it will play until Thursday.

The movie follows a man who survives a traumatic car crash and remembers nothing of his past. He and the audience go on a journey to piece together his memories while answering the question of, “Is there an author in my life, and what are the implications?”

“This is a movie that asks some of life’s deepest questions,” Cable said. “Through the story of this man trying to piece his life back together, we are invited to evaluate our own life and see if we see an author over our own life.”

Cable, who works as a pastor in Kansas City, said the movie has taken 15 years to become reality, something he believes is part of his legacy.

“Being able to see this in an actual theater was huge,” Cable said. “It tells the story that I want to tell. I didn’t have to compromise my vision. I think this will be one of the things that, when I look back on my life, is one of the defining attributes.”

“Author moment” No. 2 came in the form of an art student at Baylor. Central to the main character’s search for his memories are drawings, and Cable wanted to give the opportunity to create the art for the movie to a Baylor student. He reached out to the art department, where his message was relayed to one destined class.

Cable’s name seemed familiar to Baton Rouge, La., junior Mace Shipley when his professor told his class about the opportunity. He soon realized that Cable had been his pastor in Alexandria, La., when he was a child. Across state lines and more than a decade later, their paths were brought together again by “The Author.”

“Turns out, Ritchey was a family friend of ours a long time ago,” Shipley said. “It just kind of took off from there … It was a really great experience to connect with him over something that he cared about, and I cared a lot about … Fated is a good way to describe it. I chalk it up to God’s providence.”

“The Author” has also reconnected Cable with his old roommate Clint Harp, a name familiar to fans of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” and author Kelli Stuart. Cable, Harp and Stuart were friends during their time at Baylor more than two decades ago. Stuart edited Cable’s screenplay and played a supporting role in the film. She said reuniting with her college friends on this project is a time she’ll always remember.

“We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years, but to be able to work with them creatively like this more than 20 years after we graduated from Baylor has been so special,” Stuart said.

The night of the movie premiere in Conroe, near their filming location, is a memory she holds dear.

“They just went all out,” Stuart said. “They made it a big red carpet premiere, and there were limos and big spotlights shooting up into the air, and there were a lot of people there … We were all together and dressed up. That will always be one of my favorite memories.”

Gill said she believes “The Author” happened for a reason. She said she was looking for the next step in her career and prayed that she would take every opportunity she saw. An hour later — eight months after first meeting Cable in the airport — he reached out to offer her the lead female role in his feature-length film.

“God loves us … and tends to work things out in the details,” Gill said. “It was definitely an answered prayer and it came at a crucial time in my life where I was doubting my faith and trying to figure out my life … This was an “Author moment.” There was no other way that this could have worked out. It was all in the details.”