God's Not Dead Backstory
Written by Tammy Leigh Maxey   

CapWhen Pure Flix Entertainment called script writers, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman to create the God’s Not Dead movie, it almost didn’t happen. They just didn’t feel called to do it.

Writers Cary and Chuck were called into Christian film about seven years ago by God.  The two pray on everything, and seek God’s guidance before accepting or declining any job. When Pure Flix called them up and said they wanted them do another film for them, they hesitated. Previously, they had written a script for the film company called, What If? starring Kevin Sorbo. It was an award winning, beautiful Christian film, although it did not receive the box office popularity God’s Not Dead has seen.

Chuck and Cary accepting their Crystal Teddy Bear (Special Faith & Values Award) for the “What If” movie at the Movieguide Awards.Cary and Chuck asked, “Okay, what do you want us to do?” Surprisingly, the company’s response was, “We’re not sure yet, but we have a really cool title.” Cary and Chuck had to agree, the title was kind of compelling. It was also the title of the newest album by the Newsboys… and for a (then) soon-to-be-written book on apologetics by Dr. Rice Broocks.

Compelling enough to create an entire movie script from scratch, with nothing but a title to work with?

“That might seem sort of strange” they said, "but the title-alone manages to convey the story’s theme. And while it’s unusual for screenwriters to start from the theme and ‘back into’ the story, playwrights do it all the time.”

So, now for a plot that would live up to this gripping title, Dr. Broocks confirmed, pointed out the statistic that approximately 65% of students who entered college as believers come out as atheists. They said, “That’s staggering. We need to do something about that.”

They explained, “The reason this is the case is that the professors teach the philosophical death of the Lord, saying there is no God. These kids are in a terrible situation. They’ve got someone with power over them to influence and coerce them, even fail them. A lot of these kids end up getting indoctrinated against the Lord. Dr. Broocks also pointed out that — while there are a number of arguments, or objections that distance students from faith in college, they tend to center around the ‘three E’s’: Evidence, Evolution and Evil.

“We said, let’s run with that as the idea. Let’s take a college professor (Sorbo) and a kid (Harper) who, when the rest of the class says ‘God is dead,’ he says ‘no.’” And then let’s frame the key arguments between the professor and the student around those three key points of argument.
Pure Flix needed a leading actor who was good, had a name, and was also a Christian. “And that description doesn’t fit a lot of people in Hollywood,” they said. “Sadly, if they are Christian, they don’t want anyone to know about it because they are afraid of never working again. Hollywood is very anti-Christian. They needed a guy who was gutsy enough to represent Christianity, and Kevin is a gutsy guy.

L to R – Russell Wolfe (Pure Flix; producer), Chuck Konzelman Kevin Sorbo (role of Prof. Radisson), Cary Solomon, Michael Scott (Pure Flix; producer), Cory Oliver (role of Mina)“They also needed somebody who (from an acting standpoint) was brave enough to go out there and — while playing the part — not give a secret wink to the audience saying, ‘I’m not really this guy. I’m really a lot nicer than this.’ That would’ve spoiled the performance, but Kevin was willing to embrace the part and go with it.”

For the cameo, they had originally planned for Tim Tebow. However it happened that he wasn’t available. So, after the rest of the film was shot, the producers came back and asked them, “Can you write some scenes for the Duck Dynasty Folks? But you need to make sure they’re good enough for them to want to be in there.”

The memory got a chuckle out of Cary and Chuck. “That was a pretty tall order. “The Duck Dynasty guys are the hottest, most powerful guys on TV at this point. Just a little bit of pressure there — because we really needed this to happen.

Willey and Cory RobertsonWe did some scenes we really felt they would respond to. Mostly because we allowed them to be themselves. We went back to the basics of what they’re about. And they’re very genuine and up-front in their love for the Lord. So we wrote scenes that would have them playing themselves. When we went to A&E with our scenes they deleted some stuff we put in there. We had a few lines about God, guns and ducks, and they said ‘no’, because they have the right of approval for what the Duck Dynasty guys can and can’t do in terms of filmed appearances outside of their own show. So we had to change some of the dialogue. But once again the Lord led us through and we got everything we needed anyway.”

The impact of the movie has been phenomenal. Hundreds and thousands of testimonies continue to pour in. People were literally getting saved in the theatres. There were spontaneous altar calls, and folks standing up preaching. This was in no way planned by the movie creators, this was God’s people doing what they’re called to do.

Included in some of the testimonials, the writers were told of couples on the brink of divorce saving their marriages, non-believing spouses now going to church, an atheist boyfriend who never read a Bible, now reading and applying its teachings, including no longer having relations with his girlfriend until after marriage.

A personal testimony hit close to home for the writers when Cary’s wife, an insurance broker who works in the same building as a Jewish florist (a man in his 50s who was never interested in God), passed her in the hall one day. Upon her greeting him, “Hi,” he broke down crying. Startled, she asked what was wrong, and he told her, “I found God! I don’t know how to explain it. I saw your husband’s movie, it changed my life.” He had watched it over and over, about a half dozen times. “You’re talking about a complete conversion from a person who had no interest whatsoever,” said Cary.

“From the beginning of this process, the Lord has made Himself present,” they said. “Traditionally there hasn’t been a lot of money in Christian films, but this is the kind of payment that is priceless.”

What about a sequel? Well, perhaps by the fall of next year! They are thinking along the lines of a “God’s Not Dead: Enemy of the State,” with a focus on the persecution of Christians.

A 1930s film critic said, “Theatre is the new church of the masses.” How so incredibly true is that today? Christian film is a struggling art. We must all get behind and support it, first with prayer, then with financial resources (go to the movies, buy the DVDs!). If this is where the people are, then let’s do all we can to reach them where they are at. Christ did not wait in the temple for the masses to find Him, instead He went to the people where they were at. This is the true heart and art of Christian entertainment.

Look for more Pure Flix films and movies written by Chuck and Cary, including their newest release — entitled, “Do You Believe?PivotPointEndingBug
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