T.D. Jakes of NOT EASILY BROKEN: Sharing a Message of Faith Through Movies


Behind the Scenes with T.D. Jakes, Producer/Author of NOT EASILY BROKEN:

MOVIEGUIDE®

Thanks for making NOT EASILY BROKEN. I’m always glad to see a movie that puts God into marriage. I’ve been married 35 years, and if weren’t for the third strand you talk about in your movie, I wouldn’t be.

T.D. JAKES

I deeply appreciate that. I see I’m preaching to the choir right now.

MOVIEGUIDE®

The way I see the economy right now, the most significant problem is not with banks and car companies, it’s with marriage. When marriage falls apart, the family falls apart and you wind up with economic problems. I see your movie as something that’s going to help that situation.

T.D. JAKES

Thank you.

MOVIEGUIDE®

A lot of churches are beginning to see that, if you preach a sermon, people forget it two weeks later, if you make a movie, people remember it for life.

T.D. JAKES

Absolutely.

MOVIEGUIDE®

So what got you started making movies?

T.D. JAKES

I grew up in a church that encouraged drama. From the time I was a little boy we had Tom Thumb weddings and Easter Plays. We always conveyed messages, primarily the Gospel message. As I got older, I got preoccupied with preaching and ministry, but the passion has never gone away to use drama to minister to people. I’ve been privileged with a deal with Sony that offered me seven movies. This is the first one. I did a film previously, an independent film that won the Santa Barbara Film Festival. God blessed it, and I learned a lot from it. Now, the second time around, I’ve got Bill Duke as director and Morris Chestnut. I’ve learned to infiltrate strong drama with comedy. . . to give the audience some relief. My inclination is to go straight for the jugular. I’ve learned to back up and let them breathe for a minute. Every time I do this, I understand a little better what really makes it work.

MOVIEGUIDE®

The fact that it’s entertaining makes people remember it better. It certainly gets more people to come.

T.D. JAKES

Absolutely. Absolutely. And then, if we have a message of faith and we want to share it beyond the borders of our church, we have to be able to engage a secular audience that embraces them without offending them – and stay true to our basic principles. That’s a really tight rope.

MOVIEGUIDE®

It is. In your movie, you’ve got some language that’s rough. The way we review movies, we say how many of these and how many of those.

T.D. JAKES

Right.

MOVIEGUIDE®

I’ve noticed that in movies they act as if we have to have bad language in order to be realistic but they don’t act that way about prayer. Millions of people pray on a regular basis, but you just don’t see it. They act like that’s not realistic.

T.D. JAKES

It is real. We try to do both. We show a couple of scenes where the couple goes to a pastor and they receive counseling, where we leave them alone in the church to pray. We didn’t divulge what they say, because prayer is a private matter, but we tried to do both. The other thing that I think is important is that if you’re going to show secular people but give them Christian language, where’s the distinction? If you’re going to say that Christ is the answer, and you’re going to show someone’s life go through a metamorphosis, you can’t have them be the same before and after. If you’re trying to say you can lose weight, you are not going to show them looking the same before and after. That’s something we have to grapple with. Now, some Christian movies are made for Christians. That’s a little different. I really want this to be a message that comes from a Christian place but goes into all the world and embraces a lot of people who would normally be turned off.

MOVIEGUIDE®

So what’s your next project?

T.D. JAKES

That’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a definite answer. I have a commitment from Sony for seven films but I also have enough business sense to know you’re only as good as your last box office. I’m hoping that on the first weekend people from all walks will really come out and see the film. It’s got a low rating, PG-13, and I think that’s important. My 14-year-old has seen it. I don’t think an eight-year-old wants to see marriages in trouble and stuff like that.

If it goes well, not only can we do some of the kinds of things I have in my head but we can get the kind of budget that’s takes Christian films away from looking like B-movies, and take it upscale to the point that people will take us seriously.

MOVIEGUIDE®

Here, have a copy of our annual edition. You’ll see in here we have lots of analysis that shows good, wholesome movies make more money.

T.D. JAKES

They absolutely do.

MOVIEGUIDE®

Sadly, there’ve been about 56 horror movies released in the last two years and you can list the movies with really strong Christian vales on one hand. Your movie is one of those. Here’s a magazine about the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards. I’d expect to be seeing you there, if not this year, then next. Your movie has some excellent values in it, and I appreciate that.

T.D. JAKES

I’m really proud of it. I think for the amount of money we had, it turned out very, very well.

MOVIEGUIDE®

What was the budget on it?

T.D. JAKES

I don’t think they want us to put that out just yet. I think that when the president of Sony called me all the way from Tokyo to say we want to do this means we have gotten the message to Hollywood that we are out there. Now they’ve got to decide how far they’re willing to go to get that audience. They know that cannot go out and get that audience without someone who legitimately embraces that school of thought. They can make movies without me. They don’t need me to make movies. But they do need me to understand “Watchman, what do you see of the night” and to translate that to film in a way that embraces the faith audience.

One of the dynamics that I think is interesting is the cultural dynamic. . . when you start talking about faith and you start talking about the community. For instance, when you start talking about guys on the basketball court. . . . I don’t know what non-black audiences would do on a basketball court, but if you’re going to sell it to our audience and you’re going to have a bunch of roughnecks on a basketball court you really can’t say, “Oh gosh darn man, throw me the ball,” and yet on the other hand you don’t want people throwing around really vulgar terms either. Trying to get a script that people will buy into without violating your personal principles is a tough job. Incidentally, I didn’t write the script. I wrote the book. Brian Bird wrote the script. He was phenomenal. I don’t write scripts. I really write stories and self-help books.

MOVIEGUIDE®

Well, this is certainly a self-help story as the gentleman at the screening pointed out last night. It really ministered to him. He said, “That was me.”

T.D. JAKES

That was powerful. It said it all. Because it’s him I’m after. The unchurched. Maybe we can transform the theater into a sanctuary to work out some marriage issues.

MOVIEGUIDE®

There are a lot of churched people who need their marriage saved.

T.D. JAKES

That is true. I think that’s why pastors are buying out the theaters. There are some subjects its hard to broach in a sermon and really get down in there. I’ve preached on marriage and things, but when you see it on the screen. . . and particularly the mother-in-law. I’ve had women say to me, “I didn’t realize I was doing that to my daughter until I saw it up on the screen. I’m all up in their business, just like her.” That was great.

MOVIEGUIDE®

I wish you the best on making some more movies. I’ll hope to see you at the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards, if not this year, then next.

T.D. JAKES

I’m honored that you think we’d be a candidate. Thank you.

MOVIEGUIDE®

Thank you.

 

 

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