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As a filmmaker it’s a problem portraying God, because you can’t see Him. So a story that’s more than a theoretical concept, where there’s a physical God you can actually talk to, was attractive.
It’s also an attractive idea for anyone with a faith – being able to talk with God and ask those difficult, deeper questions. A story that allowed both of those things was very appealing.
But there was something deeper too, in the actual portrayal of God. You very rarely see God like this on screen. It’s normally irreverent, played for comedic effect. You don’t see God in any therapeutic sense. This is an opportunity to see God heal, heal someone through love.
It’s a deeply loving, affirming God, with a really strong emphasis on the suffering God walking with us through suffering. Being able to portray that was exciting.
As long as we stayed with the family, relational metaphor of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, focusing on what unites them, we felt on safer ground. They say the success in any film is 80 per cent casting. For instance Avraham (Aviv Alush), the actor who played Jesus, he had a smile and personality that just made you want to hang out with him. When we found the right actors, we felt that would take care of itself.
The biggest challenge was what to cut. We just wanted to be true to Mack’s (the father) emotional arc. So much happens to him, and we wanted to capture that.
Generally people who know the book seem happy with the movie. The vast majority of responses have been “good job”.
WP Young was pretty happy. We made the movie they had envisaged.
I don’t ever see movies as an evangelistic tool. For me evangelism is personal. Having said that, this film works on a number of levels. It’s a multi-application film tool.
It’s a good pre-evangelism. It asks deeper questions, and gets people thinking about some of life’s bigger questions.
It’s good for people who are spiritual but not religious. It would be good for nominal Christians on the edge of church, or for those who have withdrawn from church because they have had a difficult time, the movie can speak quite powerfully.
And it can certainly be helpful for people who have gone through a lot of pain and loss. I know some who have found it difficult to sit through, but when they have, it’s been helpful.
It’s certainly not for the militant atheist!
In essence, it’s the story of mankind. God is there, but we decide not to relate to him. When we do, there is healing.
The main message is how God enters our suffering with us. He does so relationally.
It’s the whole theme through the movie. We can’t do it alone.