Snake-handling churches are an Appalachian-born offshoot of the Pentecostal movement, one that takes a literal view of Jesus' words in Mark 16: "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."
Fowler sought out members of the Jolo church, who directed her to Wolford. Snake handling was dwindling in Jolo, but Wolford was trying to preserve the practice by bringing the remaining practitioners into one, organized group.
"He really made an effort to pull people from Tennessee and North Carolina and West Virginia together into one larger congregation," Fowler said.
While snake handling has not stopped in the year since Wolford's death, Fowler said no one has stepped in to fill his absence as a "connecting link" between the churches.
Fowler said "With Signs Following" would provide a more balanced, "humanized" look at snake handling, which she says is mostly a private matter of faith and "a pretty sincere practice."
The film spends most of its time focused on Wolford, his family and the history of their beliefs rather than actual snake handling.
"For me, in this film I think it takes a more patient and gentle view on the practice," she said.
She plans to host a private screening for Wolford's family before the Aug. 1 debut in Richmond. There are no current plans for a West Virginia showing.
Wolford's congregation continues to practice snake handling in their homes and sometimes in his former church, but the services are not open to the public, Fowler said.
A preacher named Andrew Hamblin is continuing the practice in Tennessee while Harvey Payne is revitalizing the Jolo church, she said.
"There very well may be people who practice underground and don't have (public) churches."
For more information on "With Signs Following," visit www.kateelizabethfowler.com.