Behind the Scenes of THE DROP BOX:
Pro-Life Film Project Turns into a Life-Changing Experience for Young Filmmaker
By Carl Kozlowski, Contributing Writer
For most film school students, a successful project means creating a compelling movie that is skillful enough to draw a good grade and maybe even an agent. For Brian Ivie, making the student short that evolved into the full-length documentary THE DROP BOX changed his life on a far deeper level.
Ivie’s immersion into the world of his subject, South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, inspired him to become a Christian himself. Seeing Jong-rak’s selfless devotion to his nation’s abandoned children through providing a home for abandoned and often disabled children lit a fire in Ivie that could only be quenched when he gave his life to Christ a year after beginning his project.
“I read about Pastor Lee in a Los Angeles Times article on June 20, 2011, all about a man in South Korea who had put a mailbox for abandoned babies in his church and cares for them. I thought it looks like the bunker of a man who had drawn a line in the sand and said, ‘No one dies here.’ I wanted to make the movie so no one would forget his work when the article faded.”
The initial short film evolved into a full-length documentary that is in the midst of special showings at theatres nationwide. From there, the movie already has a life scheduled for ITunes and other digital platforms.
At the time he started working on the short version of THE DROP BOX, Ivie was just a regular college student, “a nice guy with a lot of hidden things in my life.” He watched pornography at the same level as many other young men away at school and had what he describes as “anger issues and abusive relationships.”
“I was a pretty good guy by most people’s terms still, but you still don’t get saved without repenting and asking forgiveness,” says Ivie. “A little boy recently asked me my biggest mistake, and I said that I had thought I was too good to need God’s forgiveness and thought that sin was just a normal part of being a human being.”
Ivie first reached out to Jong-rak by sending an email to him, and a month later he received a reply inviting the young filmmaker to live with him and see his work in action. Three months later, he arrived in Seoul with a team of friends as his film crew, embarking on his first trip outside the US aside from a Mexican cruise.
He was astonished by what he saw at Jong-rak’s church and mission, surrounded by children whose parents had abandoned them because of cultural stigmas that consider disabled children to be signs of a curse on their parents.
Seeing Jong-rak and his team of helpers care for such children in their most vulnerable state soon led to deeper thoughts about his own life and its purpose.
“It was a link in a chain, the pastor being proof of a loving God,” says Ivie, who is now 24 and engaged in movies as his career. “It helped me realize I didn’t have to hate myself for my sins, but that God wanted me to be debt free. My brother got saved as well, and he was the closest to an atheist I’ve ever seen, so that was pretty miraculous. Other friends on the trip maybe didn’t get saved, but the experience turned their lives upside down.”
Ivie notes that his conversion came about eight months into the making of his student short movie. In fact, after his transformation, he decided to return to Seoul and redo the movie through his new Christian perspective. While he originally envisioned a movie that would be 10 minutes maximum, he feels God inspired him to make the movie an 80 minute feature with many added points to its message.
Ivie has been pleasantly surprised to find that his USC professors were supportive of his efforts and was even more surprised by the fact that the national Christian organization Focus on the Family chose to support him as he expanded the movie’s scale. Focus financed his final trip to South Korea and has become his distribution partner on the project, helping him release it to DVD, Netflix, Amazon, and ITunes.
“Focus on the Family and I call it a documentary on life,” says Ivie. “I think the most powerful part of his work is him helping people not to abandon or abort their babies. He says he will embrace your suffering with you and bring the children in, that you are valuable and so is your childhood. This is a picture that asks, What if one family or man embraced others who are suffering and said we will embrace you and it grew from there? I think that could change the world.”
THE DROP BOX was released at select theatres nationwide. For theatres and showtimes. To learn how to order the film via DVD or online platforms, visit www.thedropboxfilm.com.Do you enjoy articles like this? Click here to become a monthly partner and receive a copy of UNPLANNED on DVD!