Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interview with Kirk Cameron

Over the years I have had the opportunity to interview and meet many celebrities, sometimes athletes, actors, musicians and I have to admit, there are times I get a little giddy. I heard about an opportunity with Kirk Cameron and to be honest about it, it was at first a so so moment. I have never really been a fan of Cameron’s, never seen an episode of Growing Pains and haven’t been the biggest fan of The Way of the Master. Unfortunately, the movies I had seen him in with Christian themes were disappointing. I was among the throngs of people looking forward to the release of The Left Behind movies and was extremely disappointed with the overall quality of the movies once they were released. While Cameron did a fair job in his biggest hit, Fireproof, I was still disappointed with other components of the film including the many in the supporting cast. It was watchable though which was more than I could say about The Left Behind movies. Despite my own feelings about Cameron’s work which I had seen what I soon learned when releasing the news of my upcoming interview with him was that he had a huge following. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him; I just wasn’t a fan. 

His new project Unstoppable was something that looked interesting to me; it is to be a one night only theatrical event which focuses on the question of when bad things happen to good people in a documentary style. In my own experiences in sharing my faith it is without a doubt one of the most asked questions of people who are going through tough times, or seeking to question the reality of God. The trailers for this project look promising and Cameron is intriguing in the small bits of the film I have seen. So I begin my efforts to prepare for the Cameron interview. I asked my friends what they would ask, complied some of their questions with mine and proceeded to talk to him. While the interview started off a little rough, (I felt his answer to the question regarding his evangelical techniques with Way of the Master was scripted and came off as if he were reading it) the interview shortly moved into more of a positive place, including laughter and what I felt was a sincere Kirk Cameron, a guy I could like and enjoy spending some time with.  What follows is a part of that interview that starts off with Kirk giving me a phone call.

Kirk Cameron (KC): Hi Mike Kirk Cameron here.

Mike Furches (MF): Hi Kirk, how are you doing?

KC: Doing great, how about you?

MF: Doing good, real good in fact.

KC: I’m out here on the West Coast, where are you at?

MF: I’m in Wichita Kansas.

KC:  Oh My!

MY: Yeah, I write for 3 web sites, The Virtual Pew, Spirituality in Film and of course the biggie and granddaddy of them all, Hollywood Jesus.

I’m looking forward to the interview, some of the folks and friends at Facebook and other places have indicated that they think I am a good choice to speak to you because I tend to be blunt and to the point. I’ve also seen enough interviews with you to know that you can handle it. (Laughter from me and Kirk)

KC:  Well that’s good and I’ll try not to go out to be too rough on you either.

MF:  You don’t have to go rough on me; you don’t have much of a reason to be that rough.  (Again laughter from the two of us)

 Anyway, I do have a few questions and I certainly want to respect your time, so I’ll jump right in if that is okay.

KC: Certainly, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.

MF:  I’m glad to do it.

This is a question I have had from another individual to ask you. It seems that a lot of your methods from WOTM are controversial, even among strong evangelicals, some say they are manipulative at times and are disrespectful, your thoughts as you are a great person to answer this question or thought?

KC: (laughter) Well, let’s see, I can tell you that my goal is to always be kind and to be gracious to always be willing to speak in kindness of what I  believe to be the truth, again, in a loving and gracious manner. So obviously I had a major change of heart and a major change of in my life when someone shared the Gospel with me. Today, I am a recovering Atheist and I am so grateful today that someone took the time to expose my sin and point me to the cross and my need for a Savior. Now some might say that the person who did that with me may have been disrespectful toward my lifestyle or intolerant of my previous beliefs, but I look at that persona as a hero. They were somebody who helped me to pull my head out of the sand and to smell the coffee so to speak. They helped me lift my eyes to Heaven and to begin to live my life saying ‘Thank you God for being so kind to me. Thank you for pulling me off this path that was leading no where good and for putting my feet on higher ground.’ Today I am so thankful; you look at most of my contemporaries that I grew up with and tragically I can’t even hang out with some of them anymore because their dead or they’re in a lock down facility. Why? Because they continued down a path that seemed right in their own eyes and it’s that Hollywood path that often leads to shame, guilt, fear, destruction and tragedy. I’m so thankful that I’m not there and it started with someone sharing the Gospel with me in a way that I attempt to share with others in my life.

MF: I’ll stray from some of my questions and you gave me a good follow up here.  Have you seen the video of Penn Jillette getting the gift of a bible?  

KC: I sure have.

MF:  So what you are saying is in some ways, the same thing Penn is saying in the video? That if we really
believe in our faith, in a Heaven or a Hell, then it becomes critical and important to share our faith without compromise?

KC: Yes, and Penn went even further than that by saying and trying to convict people of faith to say, ‘If your not sharing your faith with someone that you believe is in danger, then how much do you really have to hate someone to not share that which you believe can help them?’ That would be the most unloving thing that you could do in other words, that is, to not share your faith with them. I can tell you right now that Penn the Atheist really convicted me and Ray Comfort saw his video. It made us feel like, you know what? We need to do this even more in life!

MF: So the conviction of an Atheist to do even more when it comes to spreading the Gospel?

KC: (Enthusiastically) YES! (Laughing now) that is the irony of that we agree, he is right.

MF: One of the things I have always tried to do is to respect my friends and readers, so this one is another question that comes directly from Facebook. What are your thoughts on Christian film and the criticism that there normally put out there including there isn’t much of a story, poor acting, poor special effects etc...  Do you think the future looks better for Christian film, and can you give some examples that give indication of that?

KC:  That’s a really good question and I have to think about it. (About 15 seconds of silence before he responds) Let me tell you something; first are you recording or writing?

MF:  I learned a long time ago to record.

KC:  That’s great, so let me tell you something about Christian film. You know, film is film. It is a very interesting discussion to talk about what makes something a “Christian” film. I’m looking at your web site, Hollywood Jesus right now and I see “Man of Steel, Jesus in Chains.” You can also look at The Chronicles of Narnia, The Passion of the Christ and a thousand different movies about heroes and damsels in distress, killing the dragon, rescuing the woman, stories about war and redemption, betrayal and sacrifice, death and resurrection, good overcoming evil and these are all universal story themes that make for exciting experiences in books, in movie theaters, music on stage, and all the best stories really come out of ancient themes that are best told in the scriptures themselves. So there is an argument that could be made that every great movie is a “Christian” movie at heart because when good overcomes evil or someone kills the dragon and wins the beautiful woman and restores her back to safety, or a man is providing and protecting those who trusted him, these are Biblical themes, not really revolutionary ideas. These aren’t pagan ideas! Pagan ideas are stories about how the guy rolls into town, kills everyone, throws the woman on his back and rides off into the sunset to enjoy all of the spoils of war for himself. Those are the anti heroes, so “Christian” films, I think, are the best kinds of film because they are faithful to the story and people are doing their job of being good story tellers. I’m getting a little philosophical there so I’ll try to be more direct in what I’m saying.

With technology today, those who understand how to tell great stories are able to make them look better.
We’ve got red camera’s we all have our DSR’s, our Final Cut programs, and we can all make movies, even if you’re 15 years old you can make a great movie. So, I think all films will be getting better in terms of the visuals, the effects and the way things look and sound, but storytelling is going to be good and bad everywhere you look. The best stories will always be the ones that resonate in the hearts of people, where those things are always rooted in the ultimate story, which is the story of God and His creation and creations rebellion against Him and of Him sacrificing in order to restore that which He loves back to Himself. There are also the stories of God putting the beast under His foot and beautifying the bride. Those are always going to be the best stories and movies and that’s why you see movies with those themes always do the best at the box office.

MF:  There are a few other areas I want to make sure I touch on. What about the controversy of Facebook and Youtube, in your words, what happened and was their a conspiracy or effort to stop the promotion of your work? Some are especially wondering this when it seems as if it was presented as an effort of these groups to stop your work, when in reality, both mediums contain a great deal of conservative Christian views. Why the Kirk Cameron effort and not the others who speak with a conservative voice?

KC: Well, do a search yourself. You can look on Facebook or YouTube and you can find videos of extremist cutting the heads off of live people, I would say that might rightly be categorized as unsafe or abusive. You can find pages about killing someone, say killing police officers, and maybe even another one that says the Virgin Mary ought to have aborted. Those things aren’t shut down. Why my movie about Faith, Hope and Love and finding God in the face of tragedy would be blocked from having people being able to post the trailer or link to the content? I have no idea who would do something like that or why they would do it. My guess is that there is enough people who don’t like that message that perhaps they just clicked that report a problem button that you can click, and if enough people do it that it would shut it down. I imagine it was not someone inside of Facebook or YouTube but probably groups of people on the outside who wanted to cause trouble, that would be my guess and that is a good safety mechanism that Facebook has in place. I’m thankful for that, nonetheless, there are millions of people who want to see my movie because they love God and they want to know where He is in the midst of their tragedy and suffering. I’m glad they spoke up and I’m grateful that YouTube and Facebook reinstated us rather quickly.

MF: Regarding your new film, Unstoppable, it looks promising, tell us some about it and why you are using a one night only concept for the showing of the film in theaters? Also, for those that want to see Unstoppable, will DVD options be available in the future?

KC: First, the premise of the film, from where I sit, I have been volunteering at a camp that my wife and I
started 23 years ago for terminally ill children.

MF:  That’s Camp Firefly?

KC: That’s right, and for 23 years we have been bringing families to a one week all-expense paid vacation. You can look that up at campfirefly.com. We’ve had over 160 families come and we got to be very close with them and when these children pass a way and die, the question always comes up and in fact is one of the top 5 questions in the world, it’s the question that wrecks peoples faith quicker than anything else, “Where is God? If God is good where is He in the midst of my tragedy? Where is He, why does He allow evil in the world?” This is the type of questions that skeptics love to throw, my God, my God like a fiery Molotov into faith communities to scatter God’s people to leave their churches. So, I want to face it head on, not only for those reasons but my own personal reasons. This is personal to me, one of my friends died and I was praying that God would heal him. I would like to know the answer to that question. So that’s why I did Unstoppable. I know God is there and I have the desire to know why He’s not doing, and doing the things that He is.

As far as a one night release: This is a very unique release of a film and I did the same thing with my last film called Monumental. It was terrific, fun and tens of thousands of fans and families gathering in movie theaters all over the country, all on the same day at the same time and we all watched the film simultaneously as its being broadcast live as a part of an event from Liberty University. Liberty University is the largest, private, non profit university in the country. It’s the largest Christian university in the world, and we are going to have 10,000 students, live and in attendance listening to musical artists like Mandisa and Warren Barfield and some other special guests. Part of that evening will be the Unstoppable movie which will be watched live via satellite. That gives us the opportunity to watch together and then start the conversation together.

As to the third part of the question, as to when can people see it afterwards, to tell you the truth, there will be opportunities 3 months later where people will be able to get it on DVD. There may be some other opportunities in between that but that’s not something I can really talk about. 

MF: Last thing Kirk, It seems as if Kirk Cameron has in some ways become the face of Christianity, are you comfortable with that?

KC:  Whoever is saying that better take a picture because my face is changing constantly (both of us laughing here) I’m getting older by the day. (Lots of laughter) Every grey hair and every wrinkle is proof to me that time is marching on.

MF:  I think the Miami Vice look with the beard stubble is quite fetching, (Both laughing) the stubble and all.

KC: (both still laughing) That’s too much, too much. Yeah, well take a picture now because I’m not going to look like this for long. You know, I’m just thankful to be alive. I’m still alive and kicking and I want to do everything I can to present a cutting edge, fresh perspective, offering hope and strength, faith, joy, and perseverance in a world and in a life that is very challenging. The good news is that I believe we have victory written all over us through the Gospel. The Gospel doesn’t loose. The Gospel wins and is winning. I want people to understand, there is victory in the midst of temporary tragedy. I want to show them where it is.

MF: As one who believes they are called into the gift of evangelism, specific to plant seeds, it is nice to know there are those who are called to close the deal and be a part of the process. So from that perspective, keep up the good work of telling others about Jesus.

KC: Thank you Mike, and you as well, I look forward to reading the story on Hollywood Jesus when it is done. 

MF:  Thanks to you Kirk, God bless you.

KC:  Thanks to you again as well Mike, and God bless you.

To see the trailer for the new project, Unstoppable, click on the video below, if the video doesn't appear, click on the following link:

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