From Prayer to Premiere: The Miraculous Journey Behind the Making of The Hopeful
"What happened in bringing all the moving parts together was a great miracle of God," said Derek Morris, former president of Hope Channel International and an Executive Producer of The Hopeful. The film tells the story of J.N. Andrews and his two children aboard a steamship in 1874. As they sail across the Atlantic Ocean, Andrews recounts a story of love, hope, devastation, and anticipation — the story of the early Adventist church.
Just as God worked in miraculous ways to launch a movement that would become the Seventh-day Adventist Church, God performed miracles in the production of The Hopeful so that miracles can be done in its release.
Getting a massive project like this off the ground takes a miracle in and of itself. When Hope Studios, the cinematic branch of Hope Channel International, embarked on this project, they had to present financial quotes to the Hope Channel Board of Directors as well as the finance committee.
As the board and committee discussed funding, the fiscal year was coming to an end and inflation was set to increase projected costs by 1.5 times the original quote, making the film much more difficult to fund. In a case of all the pieces coming together at the last minute, the finance committee was able to meet, followed by a board meeting 48 hours later. By God's grace, they approved the film just in time before the quotes would expire the next day.
With the funding secured, the team turned their attention to production. The steamship was a critical part of The Hopeful's storyline that had yet to be filmed. Wanting to get the best quality footage with the only operable ship of its kind, the team flew out to Glasgow, Scotland, where a group of local filmmakers who had worked on projects for the BBC and major studios met them.
On the day of filming, the weather forecast showed rain in the morning, a break in the afternoon, and rain again at 6 p.m. when they were going to start filming. Sure enough, the morning rain came and went, they performed test shots with the drone, and prepared to start filming at 6 p.m. Gathering the crew together before heading out on the water, Kevin Christenson, director of Hope Studios and an Executive Producer of The Hopeful, asked everyone to bow their heads as he led them in prayer for good weather and a safe shoot.
"An hour went by and there was no rain. Two hours, no rain. Three hours, no rain," Kevin recalled. "We got through the entire shoot with no rain. We came back to the dock, put all the equipment into the vans, and just as we closed the van doors, it began to rain."
The local Scottish producer later shared that after the shoot, one of the crew members mentioned "they had never been on a shoot where they prayed before it." The producer responded, "Well, it worked, didn't it?"
"I believe that we don't have to wait until our missional media is finished for our work of evangelism to begin," added Christenson. "By working in the marketplace alongside non-Christians, we can implement Christ's methods and allow God to perform miracles even in the midst of production."
Months later, after editing was finalized, Christenson found himself on a last-minute flight to Orlando for a test screening. Due to a series of storms canceling flights, there were very few seats available, but he managed to snag one. And who would happen to be in the seat next to that miraculously-available spot? A woman who lost her faith in God when she was diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. Kevin invited her to the screening, she was moved by the message of hope, connected with a local Adventist church, and a few weeks later, she attended the church's Easter service.
From impossibly tight production windows to post-production opportunities that somehow aligned with the packed schedules of some of Hollywood's best film professionals to one of the top three sound mixing stages in the world opening up suddenly and within budget, God assembled the puzzle pieces exactly how He needed them to fit.
"Looking back at that chain of events, any one of those in isolation can be chalked up to luck," said Director of The Hopeful Kyle Portbury. "But when you look at them in totality, the story is much different. When we were very inflexible with a tight schedule and budget constraints, God created flexibility around us to overcome those obstacles. That is miraculous."
"Time after time, we have seen The Hopeful impact lives, and it hasn't even come out yet," said Vyacheslav Demyan, president of Hope Channel International and an Executive Producer of The Hopeful. "God's miraculous hand orchestrated its creation and production and will be the driving force behind its soon release." Hope Channel International and Hope Studios are excited to see how God continues to bless this project and work miracles in the lives of viewers when it is released in theaters in spring 2024.
For more information on The Hopeful and how you can support its mission, visit thehopefulmovie.com.