Discovering Healing and Restoration
About the Guest
Research shows that one-third of American women have had an abortion. But little hope is offered to those who need healing--until now. Jon and Andy Erwin, along with actress Rachel Hendrix, join Dennis Rainey to talk about their new release "October Baby," a movie about a teen who learns that not only was she adopted but is a survivor of a failed abortion. The movie celebrates the journey of forgiveness and restoration and will be released in theaters March 23.
Research shows that one-third of American women have had an abortion.
Bob: There is a new movie opening next weekend called October Baby. Filmmaker, Jon Erwin, together with his brother Andy, wrote the story of October Baby.
Jon: It is a bit of something God did in my heart. I say I am pro-life, but what does that mean? Sometimes it’s very easy to be against something. It’s very difficult to roll up your sleeves, and be for something, and for that to translate into your behavior. That’s what we hope the movie will lead to.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 16th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today with Jon and Andy Erwin about the compelling story and the powerful message behind October Baby. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. We’ve added a guest this week to the studio. We had Jon Erwin and Rachel Hendrix joining us, to talk about the movie, October Baby, that opens next weekend. All of a sudden, the studio door opened and the other Erwin brother came in and said, “Where’s my seat?”
Dennis: “I’m a producer. Put me at the table.” (Laughter)
Jon: I think you guys wanted the talented brother in the room. That’s why Andy came in.
Dennis: Well, Andy, welcome to the broadcast.
Andy: Thank you guys. I appreciate it. They sent me in to get the facts straight, so—
Dennis: Yes, keep your brother on target.
Andy: Yes, absolutely.
Dennis: Jon and Rachel, welcome back.
Jon: Thank you for having us.
Dennis: I want you to tell me who you hope comes to this movie. I mean, this movie, obviously, is geared to a younger audience; but as I mentioned earlier, you got me. Who is in the target?
Bob: Let me just say, because some folks may not be familiar with the movie, it opens next weekend in theaters all across the country—about 300 or 400 theaters; right?
Jon: Yes, that’s correct.
Bob: It’s a coming-of-age story about a 19-year-old girl who learns, suddenly, that she was adopted, and decides she wants to meet her birthmother, and goes off in search of her birthmother on kind of a road trip, with three or four of her friends. She winds up, actually, getting to the mystery of her own birth; and it’s a compelling story. She comes back, has to be reconciled with her father. They’d had a strained relationship in the midst of all of this. There are a lot of themes that show up in this film. Who did you have in mind as the audience for the film when you were making it?
Jon: There are films that are for kids that adults don’t like, or for adults that kids don’t like, or these teen films that nobody likes, that type thing. The idea was, “Could you make a film that could bring the family together—and that a 14-year-old girl could watch with her mom—and they’re both enjoying it for different reasons? That’s what we tried to do with October Baby because the goal of October Baby is to create dialogue and conversation.
I would just like to say, and then Andy can answer this, as well. The person that I made it for was the young girl who is going to see the film and realize how beautiful life is, and how precious it is, and how sacred it is. If she was ever faced with the choice that the movie deals with, which is whether or not to have an abortion, she would choose life. That the film, being in theaters, would lead to lives that were saved. That’s why I made the film. But I’ll tell you this—there are some audiences that surprised us. I don’t know if you want to—
Andy: Yes. It is very much the Pixar model. You know, a Pixar movie, when you watch that, the humor is sophisticated for an adult. Also, there are a lot of nice moral themes that the parents love for their kids. For a kid, it’s very entertaining and engaging. With this movie, we wanted it to be engaging for a younger person—that it was hip, and trendy, and entertaining—but for an adult, it has the moral themes that they want to engage with, and also did not offend, or alienate, or make fun of the adults. We wanted both audiences.
The thing that we were shocked about is we thought that we could capture the 18- to 25-year-old girl with this story, but the kids that like it are a lot younger than we thought—13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls are rabidly passionate about this film. A lot have already seen it in some of the limited screenings—have said things like this, “It’s their favorite film.” We were shocked by that because for them to think that—I mean, the most honest audience you will have as far as criticism is teenagers because if they don’t like it, you know it. It’s been really interesting.
Jon: I’ll tell you the other surprise that we had is—the film deals with forgiveness. That’s the big theme of the movie—forgiveness and restoration, healing, moving on, finding who you are—those type things. We’ve had hundreds of responses, even in the limited screenings that we’ve done, of women who have had an abortion that are saying, “This is one of the more healing experiences they’ve ever had in their life, and that they would recommend it to anyone.” I did not realize this—the statistic is—one-third of child-bearing women have had abortions.
Dennis: Yes, there are tens of millions of women—
Jon: That need healing, that are carrying this weight. They don’t feel like they can tell anybody. Somehow, the film is a step in their journey; and I’m very proud of that.
Dennis: There is also the issue of restoration of a relationship, a strained relationship with a father. Rachel, you indicated that you’d had some struggles growing up as a young lady.
Rachel: Well, I think for a father and a daughter—you go through things in your youth. My parents divorced when I was 14, and I had to really learn how to reconcile that. It’s a thing that’s not easy for any child. I don’t put any blame on my parents, but we had to work through some stuff. I think that I really connected to the role of Hannah, in that facet, because of how challenging it is to communicate with your parents when you’re 19 years old—and to be okay with being honest with them and telling them how you feel, when it’s embarrassing. I think, in that journey, you come to a point where you’re an adult, and—
Dennis: And you have to forgive.
Rachel: Yes; and vice-versa. You have to also feel like there’s restoration for you to be forgiven from them for things you do, or things you go through.
Rachel: I believe that families should celebrate honesty and talk to each other. I think, that in the film, it really celebrates that journey and shows a realistic perspective of it.
Bob: Rachel, you wound up in this film—this is your first role in a major motion picture. Here you are, acting opposite John Schneider, who has done a few films, a few TV shows. He has a little bit of a track record.
Rachel: Yes, sure does.
Bob: There are some other folks in this film who have been around the track, as well. Jasmine Guy is in the film. Was that intimidating for you?
Rachel: Not at all, actually. I think the first scene I did with John Schneider was a really tense time in the film. It’s just back and forth, blame game, trying to understand. That was our first scene together. It happened really naturally.
Dennis: You naturally argued with each other, huh?
Rachel: When I watched the movie, I love that scene. He was frustrated with me; and I’m like, “I have had that fight with my dad.” Working with Jasmine Guy, she just—man!—I couldn’t look at her in the face and listen to her words without reacting the way that I had. She is, obviously, very seasoned and had a lot of experience; and I attribute a lot of my performance to the other actors bringing it, too.
Jon: I would like to say, on behalf of the Erwin brothers, we cast Rachel for the first time, working with her on a Michael W. Smith music video a long time ago, and just saw the spark, and kind of worked with her over the years. We wrote October Baby for her. A lot of people asked, “Don’t you want to audition people who are well-known?” or whatever; but we felt like Rachel could just own this role, and she could blossom. It was beyond anything she’d ever done, and so we just felt like—I felt like one of those reality shows—the singing reality shows—you know, Idol®, and X-Factor®, and those type things, where a singer just sings a song that you don’t quite know. They just crush it and just send it right over the fence. In all these scenes, we were so proud of Rachel. It’s just such an outstanding performance.
Also, I’m more the technical brother. I’m the cinematographer and whatnot. Andy works with the actors. I think, if you look, there’s not just one great performance by one actor in October Baby. I believe there’s a great performance by a great cast, and I think Andy deserves a lot of credit for that. He worked with the actors; and he gets, really, what they need. I hope that October Baby really raises the bar in terms of level of performance. It’s time that we offer God our very best.
Bob: Speaking of music reality shows, Andy, one of your actors in here is recognizable to anybody who has watched American Idol for the last few seasons.
Andy: By the way, John Schneider and Jasmine Guy took a big risk accepting these roles, and they just gave vulnerable performances that I’ve never seen from either of them before. I was really proud of them.
We felt like, with the drama side, we felt like, in order to engage such a deep emotional issue, you needed to laugh as hard as you cried. We felt like there had to be these moments where you were able to kind of catch your breath and be able to take a moment to take it all in. Otherwise, it would become too overwhelming to deal with a subject this intense.
So Chris Sligh—you know Jon’s and my background with music videos. We were at the Dove awards one year, and I ran into this big guy backstage that I had seen on American Idol. When I heard him say, on the air, that his main goal in being on American Idol was to make David Hasselhoff cry, I laughed out loud. I said, “I don’t care if that guy can sing. He needs to be in the movies.”
I bumped into him backstage at the Dove awards; and I said, “Chris Sligh, you don’t know me. I have a movie part for you. It’s written for you.” We wrote the role of B-Mac, who is this misfit, hippy nut that takes the kids on this trip in his VW minibus named Evelyn to New Orleans. He’s their chaperone of sorts, and his goofy cousin, Austin, who’s an improv comedian. The two of them have such a great chemistry that, literally, my main job, as a director, during those times, is—Jon and I were, literally, behind the monitor, holding our mouths shut, trying not to laugh out loud and ruin the takes because the amount of outtakes we got from that is a whole another series.
Rachel: We all were.
Dennis: You did a great job on that. One of the things that FamilyLife has championed over the years has been the plight of the orphan. I think it’s why this movie got me so much. Part of the reason is it’s a part of our fiber of who we are, here at FamilyLife. We have a ministry called Hope for Orphans®. As we’ve talked about the needs of orphans worldwide, one of the statements that I have made at the Summit , that we’re going to have in the comings months at Saddleback, is this statement. I say, “I believe God has not overturned Roe v. Wade because the Christian community has been pro-life, but it hasn’t been pro-orphan.”
Andy: Wow. That’s a great statement.
Dennis: This movie does a great job. I think you guys are just going to immediately know exactly what my point is of saying, “You know what? We have to be pro-life; but if we’re going to be pro-life, we’ve got to be ready to take on the needs of the orphans, and welcome them into our homes, and wrap them in our arms, in all their brokenness, and invite them into our families.”
Jon: Absolutely. Well there’s a line for you and every other adoptive parent in the movie. It’s meant to kind of sum up the movie, where Hannah says, “Thank you for wanting me.” It is a bit of something God did in my heart. I say, “I’m pro-life, but what does that mean? Faith without works is dead; and true religion and undefiled is to take care of orphans and widows. So what am I doing?”
That was one of the big inspirations as to why we made this movie. We are trying to really walk that out. One of the things we’re doing is—10 percent of the movie’s profits are going into a fund we’re calling “Every Life is Beautiful”. I just want to praise all of the backing partners of the film—Provident Films®, and American Family Studios®, and others that are a part of this. Everybody agreed to it. Ten percent of the profits of the movie are going into a fund we’re calling “Every Life is Beautiful”. That fund is going to be distributed to pregnancy resource centers that are on the frontlines, helping young girls deal with this decision, adoption agencies, and those that care for orphans.
Jon: My goal is that we can help, and that we can play a part, not only by the message of the movie, but also by the money that the movie generates. It’s very important to me that that happens. Celebrating adoption was as important to us, in this movie, as taking on the issue of sanctity of life. Those two issues were very important to me.
Andy: Those two issues should be married together because, I think, that we try to separate those too much. A lot of the adoption agencies that we’ve interacted with—Jedd Medefind over at Christian Alliance for Orphans, and Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, who is a dear friend. He just brought home Hope, a couple of years ago, as their adoptive daughter. We’ve seen that the response that they’ve had is it shows adoption is such a beautiful alternative to abortion—marrying the two concepts together of celebrating the beauty of life rather than it just being a political issue.
Jon: Sometimes, it’s very easy to be against something. It’s very difficult to roll up your sleeves, and be for something, and for that to translate into your behavior. That’s what we hope the movie will lead to.
Dennis: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think the Christian community, many times, is known by what we’re pointing our fingers at and condemning. You don’t get that feeling at all from this movie. It’s just extremely well done, and is one that I think every family needs to celebrate life and take their kids to.
Bob: How important is an opening weekend for a movie?
Jon: What a phenomenal question. You know, I had no idea— (Laughter)
Bob: It’s a soft ball that I tossed to you.
Jon: Thank you for that.
Andy: It’s the one that I wrote down for you right there. Thank you.
Jon: I had no idea—number one, how expensive it was to release a movie in theaters. All the movie studios were afraid of October Baby—said it was too polarizing. Some, very passionate believers, came to the table to fund this thing—getting in theaters, at a tremendous financial risk—that I’m forever in their debt.
Basically, a movie will impact the culture. This has been our movie. We’re giving it, now, to the audience. If it performs financially, it will stay in theaters and keep touching lives. If it really performs, Hollywood will take notice that this is an issue we feel passionate about and we want to support by going out to the theaters. I am asking everybody, that’s listening to your program, please go see October Baby.
If you want to know where it’s playing—it’s playing all over the country: OctoberBabyMovie.net. If for some reason it’s not playing in your area, you can form an action squad and bring it to your area. We need people to support it this weekend. Take a group; get your church involved. I hope that, by going and seeing an entertaining movie, we can get together and celebrate life, as one voice together, at the movie theater.
Bob: We should mention that this film actually has some inspiration in a true-life story.
Dennis: Yes, it does. In fact, the person who brought October Baby to my attention, initially, Paul Pennington, who heads up Hope for Orphans—
Jon: Hope for Orphans, yes. Paul’s a good friend.
Dennis: Paul wrote me an email, I think before the movie was out. He had heard about it and recommended that I take a look at it. He sent me a link to a speech that was given in front of the Australian parliament; and it was done by Gianna Jessen, who was a survivor of a saline solution abortion.
I have to tell you, I’m not into listening to 12- to 15- minute video messages on the internet, but I sat there spellbound. I forwarded the link of the message to all my adult children and got all kinds of feedback from my kids, who listened to it, as well. It’s a spellbinding message; and I, frankly, hope we can someday bring it to our listeners, here at FamilyLife.
Bob: Well, we’ve put a link to the video on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. If folks want to view what you viewed, they can go there and see it. Gianna’s story really was the kernel that led to October Baby; right?
Andy: Yes. Gianna is just an amazing, amazing person that has really impacted us. I think Jon should talk to that because the story was one that captivated his heart first. Her story, specifically, is something that really challenged him. Jon?
Jon: Well, I think if you think about somebody like Gianna, she’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. She has cerebral palsy as a result of a saline abortion, but she’s just—her spirit is amazing. Imagine the beauty that the world would have lost if she didn’t have the right to exist. Imagine how many times we have denied beauty from entering the world.
Dennis: Wow. Yes.
Jon: It was her story that I heard at a pro-life event that I was mesmerized by. Then, I began to study the issue for myself, and was devastated by it, and felt like I had to do something about it. So, Gianna has become a great friend. She actually sings in the movie. There’s a song when Hannah is walking to a cathedral; and the voice singing the song is Gianna, who is kind of the voice of abortion survivors. You know, this is something that we need to take a look at. No matter what your political affiliation is, whatever, this is something that merits us to stop and think about, “What do we really believe about life, and how should that change the way we act?”
Andy: The main critic that we were interested in, making sure that we got the story right, was Gianna. One of the first people we wanted to see the film was her. We said, “Did we get the emotions, and did we tell the story in an honest and humble way that really rings true?” She watched it. She said that parts of her story—emotionally, that she still hadn’t sorted through—she was able to engage with this film. She said the statement that I’ve loved the most. She said, “I laughed so hard, I cried so hard, and I healed.” I think that sums up the movie.
Jon: And Rachel, you know the other thing she said. She said that you absolutely nailed it—from what she has felt in her own life, her own experience.
Rachel: That’s cool. Wow.
Jon: So, Rachel did a great job.
Dennis: Yes, she really did. I want to encourage our listeners to get behind this movie. Take your friends and family members to see it. It is a thoughtful movie, and it is extremely well-done.
Jon: Thank you.
Dennis: I mean, you guys, all three of you, knocked it out of the park.
Andy: Thank you.
Dennis: And as I told you on an earlier broadcast, you sideswiped me.
Andy: Sorry about that.
Dennis: I threw it into the DVD player because Barbara, my wife, was away tending to our 18th grandbaby in Nashville.
Jon: Wow. Congratulations!
Dennis: Yes, I agree. She was gone, and I—you know, what’s a guy going to do after dinner by himself at home? I didn’t want to do any email. I was exhausted, and I kind of popped your movie in there. Wow! Barbara has still not seen it, and I will watch it again with her.
Jon: Good. Please do.
Dennis: It will be interesting to see what happens with her. I think she’s going to love it.
Bob: And you can take her out to the theater next Friday night, and make a date out of it, and maybe score some points with your wife, along the way. Again, it’s opening in about 300 or 400 theaters, around the country, next weekend. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the movie, October Baby. Click on the link that will take you to the October Baby website. You can watch the trailer for the movie and find out the theaters where it’s going to be showing, beginning next Friday. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com.—click on the link for October Baby to get more information.
Let me also mention that, on our website, we have information about the subject of adoption. FamilyLife, through our Hope for Orphans ministry, has an emphasis on adoption. We think it’s something that Christian families ought to prayerfully consider. We’re not saying everybody ought to adopt, but we think there are more people who ought to be thinking about it than are currently thinking about it. If you’d like more information about what’s involved in adoption, how to make an informed decision about whether it’s right for your family, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link that says, “Adoption Information”. That will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about how to think this through and decide whether it’s something that’s right for your family.
Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call us if you need more information about the resources that we have available. 1-800-FL-TODAY is our number; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Now, not long ago, Dennis and I sat down and recorded some of Dennis’ thoughts about what are the key elements of an effective, a thriving marriage and family. We did this for our Legacy Partners, those folks who help support the ministry on a monthly basis—helping to defray the costs of producing and syndicating this daily radio program.
That CD is in the welcome kit that we’re making available for new Legacy Partners. In fact, during the month of March, we are hoping that we can get one new Legacy Partner from each of the cities where FamilyLife Today is heard. Actually, we’re on in about 1,100 cities all across the country. We’re hoping for about 1,500 new Legacy Partners. So, it’s actually a little more than one per city. We’d like you to consider being one of our new Legacy Partners. If you’re married, we’d like you and your spouse to talk about that possibility, signing up to make a monthly contribution to help support FamilyLife Today, keep it on the air. When you do that, we’ll send you the welcome kit that includes that CD message that Dennis and I recorded recently for our Legacy Partners.
We’ll continue to provide you with resources, on a regular basis, throughout the year, that will help strengthen your marriage and your family. It’s a part of how we partner together in ministry with our Legacy Partners. Can we ask you to prayerfully consider becoming a new Legacy Partner, becoming the one new family in the city where FamilyLife Today is heard that will sign up and do that? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about becoming a Legacy Partner; or call us toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY, and say, “I’d like to join the team and become a Legacy Partner.” Again, the number is 1-800-FL-TODAY; or find out more about becoming a Legacy Partner at FamilyLifeToday.com.
And we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk about a phenomenon that seems to be on the rise in our culture. It is the number of young ladies who are becoming increasingly aggressive with teen and preteen boys. If you’re the parent of a teenage boy or a preteen son, you may know exactly what we’re talking about. We’re going to give you some strategies on Monday for how you deal with the aggressive-girl phenomenon. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend, and join us back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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