DeVon Franklin On ‘Heaven is for Real’ & More
On the heels of faith-based films, such as Noah, God is Not Dead and Son of God, people flocked to the theaters Easter weekend to see Heaven is for Real. The movie, adapted from the New York Times best-seller, claimed the number-two spot in the box office and raked in more than $29 million.
DeVon Franklin, senior VP of productions for Columbia TriStar Pictures, was all smiles about the film’s success.
“This movie is appropriately and divinely timed for this market,” says the minister and Hollywood executive, who has overseen several blockbusters. “Whether you’ve seen Sparkle, Pursuit of Happyness, The Karate Kid or Jumping the Broom, I am very much interested in movies that can uplift, entertain and inspire the whole family.”
Franklin, who is married to actress Meagan Good, was eager to talk about his passion project that was co-produced by Bishop TD Jakes and Joe Roth.
“Heaven is for Real is one of those books that I knew I had to do after reading it in one sitting,” he says. “We were feeling the story behind this story to bring hope and inspiration to the world through the eyes of a child. This is a film that articulates who I am and what I want to continue to make. My hope is the movie I work on can be real and ultimately point people to a virtuous life.”
JET: What do you want the audience to walk away with after seeing the movie?
DeVon Franklin: I want them to feel hope, peace and inspired. And to know that God is real and that heaven is for real. We don’t have to worry about tomorrow, death and our challenges because everything is going to be OK. Also, for some of the viewers, it has been very cathartic because it has allowed them to release the grief they have had over the loss of a loved one or the some of the things they were fearful of.
JET: How long have you been a minister and which one came first?
DF: I started preaching at 15, but I really didn’t want to do it. I became a minister 12 years ago and got ordained maybe a year before that. Technically, ministry came first, but for a long time I didn’t want to do it. But my uncle, who is also my pastor, said ‘you can run, but you can’t hide.’ As I was pursuing my movie career, I realized the more I embraced the ministry side of my talents and gifts, the more doors opened because I was really being true to myself and who God created me to be. Interestingly, the two really do work very well together–more than I thought was possible, and probably more than others thought was possible, too.
JET: Do you think there is a link between sudden interest in Hollywood’s faith-based movies and Bible prophesies?
DF: I don’t know. I never really thought about it through the lens of a prophetic view. But when you look at all of the convergence of movies this year—it’s really interesting that all of these movies would be aligning this year. I certainly see God’s hand in it, because it was not planned that way. We can make content all day long, but what I love is when the audience shows up—they are saying that we want more movies like this. Trust me, Hollywood pays attention.
JET: What was it like casting the movie?
DF: With every movie, it is always a process. You hope and pray that the right cast will be interested and available. Your cast absolutely is a key factor in the success of your movie—Heaven is For Real is no exception. Sometimes it just reveals itself—it’s so obvious, you just know it. Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Margo Martindale are the main cast members. Connor Corum is the new kid from Cleveland and, when you see this movie, I am certain that he will steal your heart. The kid was absolutely perfect for it.
JET: What other projects are you working on?
DF: The remake of Annie, starring Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role opposite Jamie Foxx.
Check out the trailer for Heaven is for Real below:
In other Giving You The Gospel News:
Major kudos to Chicago’s legendary gospel recording artist and former U.S. Goodwill Ambassadors, the Barrett Sisters on being honored in the 2014 edition of Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMfest). Since the passing of the trio’s anchor, Delois Barrett Campbell, the remaining sisters Rodessa Porter and Billie GreenBey have continued the group’s legacy. Their documentary Sweet Sisters of Zion: Delois Barrett Campbell and The Barrett Sisters was released in February and chronicles their musical journey for the past 50 years. This awe-inspiring movie will be presented at the CIMMFest on Sunday, May 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Chicago’s Chop Shop/1st Ward venue in Chicago. For more information, please visit cimmfest.org.
About Effie Rolfe
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.