Columbia Tristar senior vp of production DeVon Franklin has a personal connection to his latest film, Heaven is for Real. Like the characters in his movie, he is an outspoken Christian, one who travels around the country preaching about three weekends a month. In the weeks before Heaven‘s Easter release, he welcomed The Hollywood Reporter to his office on the Sony lot for a candid, in-depth conversation about his mission as a studio executive, his extracurricular ministry activities, and how he’s able to balance it all (hint: it involves going off-the-industry-grid to observe Sabbath every week).
A lot of faith-based films are independently made, specifically for church audiences. But this is a studio movie. Does the intended audience then change?
The goal with any piece of material, and this is no exception, is to design it in such a way that there are universal themes and experiences at play. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief or gender, the whole goal, especially in the films that I try to put together and push through the system, are films that can tackle that universal experience of life and at the same time find an element that can be inspirational. So with Heaven is for Real, we approached it from [the perspective of] making a movie for everybody. Because if you went into it with a very myopic point of view, you potentially limit the impact on the audience.
What’s the importance of bringing studio resources to a faith-based film?
Being a Christian in this business, it’s important to elevate films that skew faith-based because there is an audience out there that does want higher-quality films that are treated like real films. We don’t want to pander. Why not raise the bar? (More @ The Hollywood Reporter)
(More on DeVon Frankling here)
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