What if..., starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) as a successful businessmen who awakens to an alternative life as a pastor, released on DVD last month from PureFlix Entertainment. We asked producer and director Dallas Jenkins:
How do you bring something fresh to a theme as familiar as It's a Wonderful Life and The Family Man?
Well, the first and most obvious difference is the element of faith; in this story, God the Creator is the cause of and center of the storyline, and we have a lot of scenes that take place in a church and in the home of a pastor, which is something you don't often see in films.
But more than that, the "living in an alternate reality" set-up of this story is really just a backdrop; yes, it's a familiar set-up, but the characters and situations that develop are unique and are the primary focus. Ultimately, it's a story of a man finding his true calling.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the movie?
The schedule was insane because of our modest budget. We only had 15 days to shoot the film, which is less than a third of the average Hollywood film.
But it really forced a family atmosphere on set, which translated to the film. It also forced me to creatively problem-solve, which keeps the juices flowing.
What second chance would you like to have?
Besides missing a key free throw at the end of a big game in high school, I'd do a few things differently in my career. Namely, What if... is the first film where I totally embraced the explicitly Christian elements of a story.
In the past I've tried to get cute in that regard, but I just went for it in this film, not worrying about how it'd come across to the mainstream market. And I ended up not only making my best film, but a film that was more embraced by the mainstream than any film I've done, even though it's by far the most "Christian market"-friendly film I've done.
Your father (author Jerry Jenkins) was executive producer. How involved was he in the project?
He always speaks into the storytelling a bit because he's obviously so successful in that area, and of course, it's our company that financed the film, but on a day-to-day level, he lets us do our thing.
Which of your father's books would you most like to make into a film and why?
Riven is his best book and would make a very powerful film. We'll make that film someday, probably in the next few years.
Read the complete interview at meetheartist.christianretailing.com.