By Jeff Holder, Managing Editor
MOVIEGUIDE® had a chance to get a behind the scenes look at an upcoming direct to DVD movie, MANDIE AND THE SECRET TUNNEL starring Dean Jones. As everyone knows, Dean Jones has become an icon in family filmmaking and shares his thoughts about his new movie.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What was it about MANDIE that made you want to do this movie?
Dean Jones: MANDIE appealed to me for several reasons. I love being a part of films which will bring families together. I enjoyed the story. I liked the fact that it was taken from a book series, which has sold several million copies. I was excited to work with the producers/directors, Joy Chapman and Owen Smith, who have made several family films.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What memory sticks out most in your mind from when you were filming this project?
Dean Jones: Watching Joy and Owen work was quite the revelation. They charged through 12 hour days, non-stop except for a quick bite for lunch, never intimidated by the process, but always focused on both the present, and the next three steps ahead so that not a minute would be wasted. Working with them is like catching a commuter train – the doors are open but the train doesn’t stop.
MOVIEGUIDE®: In what ways do you identify with your character?
Dean Jones: Jason Bond is a caretaker of both a place and people. He takes responsibility for his position and strives to do it as well as he can. I respect that about him. He has a great moment near the end of the film when he stands up to one of the villains. I especially enjoyed playing that.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What were the most challenging aspects of filming this movie?
Dean Jones: Let me tell you about the most fun aspect of filming this movie: It was a joy to hear all the young people laugh! The advantage of being old is that you can more deeply feel the beauty of having been young.
MOVIEGUIDE®: What major themes do you see come through in this movie?
Dean Jones: Family is a major theme – who is family, why is family history and family heritage important, and how does the knowledge of that affect our sense of self. It delves into friendship and suggests that we can find potential friendship in unexpected places if we’re open. It takes a look at what we think we need versus what we really need. And examines how often we must lose something dear in order to gain something even more valuable.
MOVIEGUIDE®: Other than a fun evening at the movies, what can audiences take away from this movie?
Dean Jones: It’s about whom you can have that fun evening at the movies with. The film fills a great need in our nation — a chance for the whole family to come together for a fun purpose, to see something touching and exciting, but something that doesn’t stimulate a family brawl when it’s over. I hope the audience will take away a feeling of triumph and hope and a positive attitude to face the life before them. And they can take away an appreciation of their own family — whoever they may have.
MOVIEGUIDE®: MOVIEGUIDE® readers really have a place in their heart for you, as an icon of great family movies. Is there anything you’d like to tell our readers and your fans?
Dean Jones: It has been a pleasure working with some of the most talented people on the face of the earth. My first scene in a movie was with James Cagney. There I was, just out of the U.S. Navy without an acting lesson to my name. In walks Cagney and says “Walk to your mark and remember your lines. That’s all I’ve been doing for 50 years.” I can’t take credit for blessings like that.
But, I thank my fans for a lifetime of support. By loving great family films, you ensure that they will keep being made, and that positive energy and hope will continue to engage our young people. I am so happy to have worked on films that brought families together.