Skip to main content
#
The Independent Critic

 Andrew Erwin Interview 
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Reddit
Add to favorites
Email
October Baby seemingly came out of nowhere, a faith-based film released to theaters alongside the wildly popular film The Hunger Games. Common sense would have dictated that October Baby would become just another cinematic footnote within the faith community but, then again, common sense and Hollywood have seldom walked hand-in-hand. Instead of a quick run through theaters, October Baby opened up in October 2011 with a Top 10 box-office finish - not bad for a lower budgeted faith-based film that had the audacity to center its compelling story smack dab in the middle of the challenging topic of abortion.

Of course, the Erwin Brothers have long had the ability to take potentially polarizing topics and turn them into high quality, compelling cinematic journeys. October Baby is no exception and the film, after its successful theatrical run, is headed for a home video release on September 11th, 2012 with distributors Provident Films (Christian markets) and 20th-Century Fox (domestic markets). Andrew Erwin, the film's co-director and executive producer, sat down with The Independent Critic for a conversation about October Baby, faith-based cinema and much more!

Section title here
Jon (l) and Andrew (r) Erwin Photo Courtesy of OctoberBabyMovie.net
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You must be excited with the DVD release of October Baby coming up right around the corner.

ANDREW ERWIN

Yeah, definitely. It has been a wild ride. We're anxious to see it hit the shelves. We've got a lot of good buzz coming into that.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I guess I'll start off with a rather basic question. What made you tackle October Baby? I mean, obviously, you've got a huge background in music video with over 100 videos to your credit. You've received 10 nominations and three consecutive wins for Music Video of the Year in the GMA Dove Awards. I first became familiar with your work when you made The Cross and the Towers, a 9/11 documentary that played the Heartland Film Festival. What made you tackle a film like this one?

ANDREW ERWIN

I don't think that we ever intended to take on the subject that we did. As a filmmaker, sometimes you go out and find a good story but nine times out of ten the better stories find you. With this film, coming into our first feature film we probably would have picked anything but the subject that we did because it can be so polarizing and political. My brother had heard of a girl named Gianna Jessen. She's an abortion survivor, and he was so blown away by her story of survival and her being impacted by it and having cerebral palsy because of it. He was blown away by the beautiful and captivating spirit that she has. He just said "This is an interesting idea for a drama. It's the story of a young girl trying to grapple with the idea of forgiveness." We didn't set out to make a political film. We just set out to tell a human story. Jon put the script on my desk. I sat down and read the first draft and it just grabbed me. I said "I have to direct this." This is a story that feels very honest, very genuine, very redemptive and hopeful. It's everything that I look for in a good movie. That's what drew us to this story about this young girl.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It's really not political. For me, it was not an intimidating film. Its position is very clear, but not in a way that intimidates. It really is about the story.

ANDREW ERWIN

Absolutely. That's what I think a good story should be. I love Paul Haggis. I love what he did with Crash in grappling with racial prejudice. When he was doing that film he said "Films shouldn't force-feed answers as much as they should ask the right penetrating questions." I feel like an honest film should be well-rounded with flawed individuals that are human just like we're all human. That allows the audience to maybe not be told what to think, but on their way out of the theater it may challenge them to think. Crash was a really important film to get people to talking about things we needed to be talking about. This is a very entertaining and engaging story of this girl's journey. That was the desire. It obviously became "controversial" and became a hot topic. We didn't think it would be as hot of a topic as it was. It was pushed the front page of the New York Times. It was interesting.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Was it hard to get studio support considering that it is such a hot topic film?

ANDREW ERWIN

Yeah, it was but not because of any kind of prejudices i don't believe. It was fear. There was a fear that the topic would backfire and would be too polarizing not because of the take of the film but because of the word itself. "Abortion" as a word can be polarizing. Ultimately, it's not a story about abortion. It's a story about forgiveness. There was fear at first. We were advised to just move on to the next thing. We said "No, we really feel like this film has an audience." We started out with a smaller release of our own - 14 theaters. We put together some different distributors who believed in it with Provident Films and Samuel Goldwyn Co. They really took a risk on it and we had a 400 theater release. It did incredible. During that 14 theater release that we did on our own, we opened at right under $8,000 a screen. That really got some initial awareness for us. Then, we opened up in the spring at the same time as The Hunger Games and opened up in the Top 10. It was quite a rollercoaster. While we were in theaters, we came in at the same time as The Hunger Games then Titanic 3-D came out two weeks later. We ended up our run with The Avengers. Through that, we did really good numbers. To open up in the top 10 with a fraction of the advertising budget was a blast.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It was amazing to me. When the film came out, and I had originally reviewed it when it was in theatrical release, and even though you had The Hunger Games coming out I was amazed at how many people contacted me to either thank me for reviewing October Baby or to thank me for pointing them in the film's direction.

ANDREW ERWIN

Another little fact with that that was interesting - We didn't know what to expect that opening weekend because of all the controversy and everything. On Google, for awhile on that opening Friday night October Baby was trending #4 while The Hunger Games was trending at #6.
 
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I think that's one of the things I observed about the film. It was marketed really well. I think a lot of faith-based or independent filmmakers could learn something by observing how you marketed this film from the slow roll-out to the actual marketing to the outreach. It seems like it all just really came together perfectly.

ANDREW ERWIN

It was definitely a really cool team effort. We knew what we had and we knew what we didn't have. We had to be resourceful. I think sometimes when you don't have access to being able to throw money at the problem, you have to be a little bit more creative. You have to think a little bit more outside the box. I think a bit tribute to that is Provident Films. Pretty much any faith-based film that has done well in the last 10 years has been somehow attached to Provident. As a distributor, they've just been very resourceful with the faith-based audience and they've built a lot of trust there. We've combined what they do well with some other ideas thinking outside the box in creating some grassroots awareness out there. It just did very good with a team of people that were just very dedicated and believed in the project and worked very hard with limited resources.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

That sort of brings me to the fact that you've also got a really good cast. I'm not sure I'd call them A-listers anymore, but you've got a talented cast and several members of the cast who are very well known like Jasmine Guy, John Schneider, Jason Burkey and Chris Sligh from American Idol. Jasmine Guy was amazing in this film.

ANDREW ERWIN

Thank you. Thank you. I'm proud of her. We wanted with the core of our cast, which is mostly the younger people, to get fresh faces. Rachel Hendrix, who plays Hannah, this is her first feature film. She did phenomenal in the role. We'd worked with her in some music videos. She just really swung for it here and hit a home run. We wanted to put a lot of familiar faces around her that were established actors that were good at just really portraying the characters. Jasmine was one of those who was just a treat. Her scene is one of the highlights of the movie that I'm really very proud of that had very little to do with me and a lot to do with her. It was very important to me that this retired abortion nurse was not portrayed as a villain. There's a lot of pain around the issue, but we didn't want to portray the people as the villains in this story because I think that gets done a lot and I don't think it does any good. We wanted to make her very human. When I went to sit down with Jasmine when she was reading for the part, I said "Jasmine, what do you see in this role? In this character?" She said "I just see a tired and weary soul filled with regret." I said "That's her!" She said "I can really relate to where she's at in life."

She really made it her own and her scene really steals the show.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It does. It really does. She left me in tears.

ANDREW ERWIN

Thank you. I appreciate that. A lot of other actors have noticed that, which is really cool because we want to connect with the mainstream Hollywood crowd. We want to be true to our values, but we want to connect with a mainstream audience without having to compromise the integrity of our stories. There were a lot of actors that came on board who did a really great job.
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

    our twitterour facebook page pintrestgoogle pluslinkdin

    The Independent Critic © 2008 - 2019