The Set Design in “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” Puts the Holy in This Megachurch Mockumentary
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul., ”which is currently in theaters and streaming on Peacock, features a bevy of grand yet modern interiors set in a Southern Baptist megachurch, as well as an Atlanta mansion. The film follows Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (played by Sterling K. Brown) and his wife, Trinitie (portrayed by Regina Hall) in a mockumentary-style tale about how the couple overcomes a recent scandal.
Production designer John Collins and set decorator Semret Fesseha spoke to Apartment Therapy to reveal how the filming locations for “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” were transformed for their starring roles.
For starters, the church seen in the film is, in fact, a real church (as opposed to a set). “We looked at several locations for the church,” Collins shared. “The most important factor he was hoping to encounter when scouting locations was finding a church ‘with the correct scale.’” Fortunately, there were plenty of options to choose from in the Atlanta metropolitan area, where “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” was filmed. Ultimately, the team selected the House of Hope Atlanta, in Decatur, Georgia.
And while the church featured its own stained glass windows — which can be seen in the film — they did get spruced up a bit for the movie. Instead of having sunlight illuminate the windows from behind, “rows of fluorescent bulbs that flip on with a switch” made the windows appear even more eye-catching, according to Collins.
To furnish the church, Collins and Fesseha turned to multiple vendors throughout Atlanta, including Bridge Furniture & Props, which provided the opulent thrones that Brown and Hall lounge in. “Our set decoration team added a few bits to spruce [the thrones] up,” adds Collins. “They really help to show this couple at the height of their success and the height of their folly.”
Another design aspect to look out for in the film? An impressive his and hers closet, declares Fesseha. “Fashion is a large part of the church culture, and we enjoyed designing this set in particular because of it,” she explains. “The scene in the closet offers a glimpse into Pastor Curtis’s character and how value is being placed on material objects as opposed to the relationship with God.”
And even though many film productions were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, this particular film experienced the opposite. “We were aided in an odd way by COVID, because, at the time we filmed, the church we used was only doing online services and we had free use of their sanctuary,” discloses Collins. In fact, the design team set up their production office within the church, “so [that] we could just walk up a couple flights of stairs and be on our main set.”
The home that the Childs family lives in is also a real location, handpicked by the film’s director, Adamma Ebo. Fesseha designed and furnished most of the home for its appearance in the movie, taking inspiration from her “own experiences attending and visiting different places of worship.” Collins adds that while the abode is only home to two people in the film, it’s actually large enough to accommodate 40 people. “There are probably excess rooms that only their maid goes into,” not to mention “their furniture, decorations, art, and clothing are all designer brands.” The couch alone cost $60,000 and “was flown in from Italy.”
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” is available to stream on Peacock now, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the aforementioned furniture, especially those royal thrones.