This is part of a sponsored Megan Media and Sony Pictures #MiraclesFromHeaven blogging
program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.
The Movie Chickk recently teamed up with Sony Pictures as a featured contributor for an
extra special, VIP screening of MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN.
The screening was held on the Sony lot in Los Angeles, California, followed by a scrumptious
luncheon and an exclusive interview with producer Devon Franklin who spearheaded the
project. While every early screening is fun, there is nothing more exciting than getting to walk around a studio lot. You never know what or who you will see and this day was no different: we got to catch a glimpse of the hit TV show “The Goldbergs” being filmed!
After an emotional screening and a great luncheon, I couldn’t wait to hear what DeVon
Franklin had to share about this breathtaking film. Meeting Franklin was just as exciting as the day itself because not only is he a producer, he is also a husband, pastor, New York Times best-selling author—and Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 most influential African-American men in the U.S. . My favorite part: he is using his experience in the media world and the power of entertainment to bring inspiration and motivation to a broad audience. He also helped bring us the hit movie HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, so you know he knows how to tell moving stories. (As you can tell, I’m now one of his biggest fans).
Here are the top ten things I learned that make MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN a film you can’t
1) It’s Based On A True Story
Films that are based on true stories can be some of the toughest films to make, which can put a lot of pressure on the filmmaker, producers, and screenwriters. You are given so much information that you have to fit into a two-hour film, and you want it to still feel authentic. When Franklin was asked about this, he replied:
“When doing a true story, this is always the number one challenge: how do you take what people are doing and boil it down to an hour and a half or an hour and 45 minutes? It really starts with conflict. Every story that we like, usually it’s because it has a lot of conflict. With this particular story we had to boil down the timeline. We knew we couldn’t cover the whole four and a half to five years of the illness. The challenge was: how do we keep the essence and make it cinematic? How do we give people the idea that miracles are all around, that miracles are right in front of us. We wanted to take that theme and make it inform every choice that we were making.”
2) It’s An Adaptation
MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN is an adaptation of the book Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing, written by Christy Beam. The book tells the story of Beam’s daughter, Annabel, who suffers from a rare digestive disorder. Annabel is miraculously cured after surviving a terrible accident. Franklin told us that not only was the book being written at the same time as the script, but this was also one of the most faithful adaptations he has seen.
3) The Beam Family Was In On It
The Beam family was involved in the production of the film every step of the way. Not only did they work with the actors who would portray them, they also consulted on the script and visited the set often. They screened the film privately after it was complete, and were extremely happy with the finished product. Franklin told us the actors were serious about getting their characters right. He said:
“Jennifer Garner, before she agreed to accept the movie, she met with Christie, she read the book, so they bonded. Martin (Henderson), who plays Kevin Beam, flew out to Texas and stayed with the Beams for a whole weekend to make sure he understood the story. He wanted to make sure he and Kevin connected, and that the family felt comfortable with him playing Kevin. There was a strong connection with the cast and the family all the way through.”
4) Jennifer Garner Was Always Number 1
Jennifer Garner was always the filmmakers’ first choice to be the leading lady and portray Christy Beam. Franklin actually wanted to work with Garner on HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, but the stars didn’t align. Once he met Christy and heard her story, he knew Garner was the only choice to portray her, and thought that, as a mother herself, she would relate to the character. He told us:
“When she first read the script, in one night, she couldn’t sleep because she could not believe that this wasn’t just a screenplay, that this was actually someone’s real life. Being the mother of three children, she tried to put herself in Beam’s shoes. She felt that if Christy could do this, then the least she could do was play the role. Jennifer had not played a lead in a film since she became a mom. It’s been about 10 years. She’s been a co-star, a part of an ensemble, but this is the first time she has stepped into the lead role.”
5) Queen Latifah Shines
Queen Latifah shares the screen with Garner as Angela, a woman who comes into the Beams’ life and she represents everything I miss and love about being in Boston. With every role she takes she shines so bright, and this performance is no different. While these two women seem very different, they are both strong, talented women. Franklin told us:
“Jennifer Garner brought the integrity of Christy Beam, the heart, the soul, the love, the passion, the faith, the tenacity, the fire —all of those things that Christy is in real life. Queen Latifah brings the humor, the levity, and she also brings some heart. She also brings a little irreverence. Angela is a real character, a woman who came into Christy and Annabel’s life. Angela is larger than life, she’s from South Boston, she smokes and curses. We wanted someone who could find that spirit, someone who has heart of gold but is also the polar opposite of what the Beams are used to. That’s what Queen Latifah brought to the role”
6) Real Life Superheroes Included
Superheroes are fun for sure and you all know I’m a huge fan of all things superhero, but who knew I would find a superhero in MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN? Franklin told us who our everyday superheroes are:
“There’s nothing wrong with superhero films and certainly they have their place but I think the audience out there is looking for more. The real superheroes are the moms.”
7) Mother & Daughter Approved
At its core the film centers on the relationship between a mother and daughter. We asked Franklin to talk about this and he said,
“I think it is the quintessential mother daughter story. This is the primary relationship in the film. And when you see the bond that organically developed between Kylie Rogers, who plays Annabel, and Jennifer Garner —so much of the success of the film is about their chemistry. Jennifer sees Kylie as one of her children now, and she says it’s so emotional for her to watch Kylie in the scenes. We wanted to portray an authentic mother daughter bond, and that’s what we did.”
8) Faith Without An Agenda
While MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN is considered a faith-based film, it is so much more than that. It is a story about a loving family, it is a story about hope, it is a story about community. It will inspire and motivate. And while yes, the family has very strong faith, never in this film do you feel like you’re being preached to or that someone’s religious agenda is being thrown in your face. If you’re like me and you tend to roll your eyes when you see a faith-based genre film or a movie title that has the word heaven in it and you’re thinking of passing on this movie, you will be missing out on a wonderful story and a chance for your heart to not only feel but even to heal. This is a must-see film.
9) It Will Lift You Up
I’ve always loved every genre of film, but nothing makes my heart happier than watching a film that is inspiring, entertaining, and can also help you with your own life experiences. Franklin told us one of the main things that inspired him to bring this book to the big screen was this very quality. He said:
“I’ve always been attracted to stories that are uplifting, stories that can connect, when you’re in a tough place sometimes it’s what you watch that can help you through.”
10) Motivation, Inspiration & Everyday Miracles
With so many amazing movies coming out each year, Franklin told us why we still need movies that inspire and motivate us. Sometimes we need a little reminder of the everyday miracles that surround us, he said:
“We’re in a time that hope is a commodity that we need. It just feels like you can’t have enough inspiration right now, you can’t have enough motivation. I think life is hard, the challenges we face at times seem to be insurmountable. I think the pressures that we face at times feel overwhelming and so when you see a movie like MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN you’re reminded that we go through tough things, but we’re tough. We’re going to make it through. When you have family and you have community and you have people around you, I think it reaffirms the power of the human spirit. I think it reaffirms that we do need each other, and that we can be kind and loving and gracious and nurturing. I think those are things that we need right now, and the movie does a great job of portraying those ideas without being too preachy.”
Before we let Franklin go we had one more question, and to me it’s the most important question: ‘What do you want people to feel after seeing this film?’ He told us:
“Love. Joy. I want people to walk out of this film and hug their families. If they have a rift with someone I want them to text them and say, ‘Hey, I love you.’ I want this to be a film of healing. We may not all get the healing that Annabel got but we can certainly get healing from emotional wounds and things that hurt us in the past. My goal is that you walk out of this film feeling better about life, feeling more optimistic about the possibility that things aren’t going to always be this bad and there is a better day. Those are some of the things I want.”
As most of you know, I myself have been dealing with horrific health issues. Walking into
MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, I had no idea how much I would be affected by this film. Having
just spent a weekend back east with my mom, I wished that I had her by my side for this
screening as I watched a film about a little girl with my exact symptoms and almost the
exact diagnosis. To say that I enjoyed MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN would be an understatement. I left the film feeling renewed and healed, I left feeling a little more understood and less alone, I left with hope. There were moments in the film I felt like I was
watching my own health battle on the big screen and it put my own life into perspective. This film will affect everyone who sees it in different ways–-all wonderful ways. It is nearly
impossible to leave this film and not be touched by an amazing story and beautiful journey.
You don’t want to miss MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN when it hits theaters everywhere on
March 16. It is a Movie Chickk approved, must see film.
Check out the Official MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN Trailer In Theaters March 16! Get your tickets today here!
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