DeVon Franklin is an American Hollywood producer, best-selling author, renowned preacher and motivational speaker. He is best known for the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real. Variety named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch” Roxann Dawson is an American actress, producer, director, and writer best known as B’Elanna Torres on the television series Star Trek: Voyager.
In an interview for their new movie Breakthrough, they discuss the difficulties of working in extremely cold weather and the relevance of faith based stories today.
Congratulations on the film. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. And I think it has such a positive message behind it, but we live in a surreal time where our science and even faith is questioned by even our leaders. So what does this film bring to the table and telling a bigger story?
DeVon Franklin: Yeah. I mean, you know listen, in the medical record relative to this story. It says, “Patient Dead, Mother Prayed. Patient Came Back to Life.” That’s in the record. That’s not our interpretation of facts. That’s not the family’s interpretation of facts. That is literally what the doctors themselves say happened. So the beauty of this film is that it speaks for itself. And even for the skeptic, the skeptic is still going to have to wrestle with the facts of what happened to John and Joyce. And that’s why we wanted to portray it pretty much exactly how it happened.
That’s incredible. And the thing is, it’s crazy. It only happened a few years ago. Yeah. So from the actual incident happening to the book, to the film, that has to be one of the quickest, kind of like turnarounds.
Roxann Dawson: A miracle.
Yeah, a miracle. This movie’s not only a breakthrough for the story, but it’s also a breakthrough because this is the first Fox film distributed by Disney. Did that have anything or did that help with production at all? Did it hold anything up or anything?
DeVon Franklin: No, because the Disney/Fox deal just closed literally just a few weeks ago. So up until a few weeks ago, it was distributed by 20th century Fox and when the deal closed, now Disney is distributing it. But Fox still has, you know, Searchlight still going to be on it and the Movie logo and whatnot. So we actually haven’t really felt the impact of Disney on the film and you know, our team at Fox has really been amazing and giving us the opportunity to make the movie. Still overseeing the distribution of it.
The lake scene was intense, visceral and just crazy to watch. Can you talk to me about the direction of that scene because it seems like such a crazy like setup, it just looks so real. Everything’s was so real.
Roxann Dawson: Well, I’m so glad you said that it wasn’t real. No. It involved actually shooting two days out on a real lake, on a wheel frozen lake in Canada, in Winnipeg where we were in majorly subzero temperatures, like way below. It was very cold. And then we have three days of shooting in tanks. Very deep tanks, for the underwater stuff and then a more shallow tank for the water level stuff for the rescuers. And when the kids were half immersed and all of that had to be put together with all of our different departments knowing, you know, where each shot was gonna come from. It was carefully storyboarded and stitched together and with some wonderful visual effects we were able to achieve it. But it was really thought through. And I think every second of it had been thought through.
Steph Curry is a producer on this. How did he get involved in the project?
DeVon Franklin: I’ve been making films for a long time. I’ve been in Hollywood for over 20 years and you know, he and I met and he really wanted to get into Hollywood. He wanted to do films that could do faith, family and sports. And so I was like, “Man, look, read Breakthrough. John’s Smith’s is a basketball player. It deals with family and it deals with faith and if you’re interested, I’ll make you an executive producer.” And so he read the script in a day and reached back out and said, “I’m in.” And so I brought him on board and the same way that he leads an all star team with the Warriors, you know, I really wanted to lead an all star team of Breakthrough and having Roxanne on board and Chrissy and the cast and now, you know, bringing Stephen Curry on board. It just helps amplify this message and really positions us to win when the movie comes out at Easter time.
We see in cinematically nowadays that there’s a lot of movies that have superheroes in them, but this has a lot of real life heroes in them. What can people take away for that? Because I love the kind of supporting characters. Some of the doctor, I like Tommy, you know, Pastor Jason, I think is great. But what can people take away from these real life heroes?
DeVon Franklin: They can take away that they can do it too. Listen, I don’t mean to burst anybody’s bubble, but you can’t put on a suit and fly around the city of New York and blast. You can’t do it, man. But you know, you can’t just put your fist out and things just fly out of them. But you can prey. You can love, these are real superpowers. Joyce Smith is a real life superhero. So the thing about Breakthrough is that what you see on screen, real life people can do. And I think that’s why the movie takes on another level. And another meaning, especially in a time where people are looking for heroics. Breakthrough puts that on his plate.