Let There Be Light, a directorial feature debut from Hercules’ Kevin Sorbo, is the latest entry in the faith-based sub-genre. This Christian family film has been a passion project of Sorbo’s, with an added bonus of being able to work closely with his wife, Sam (who co-wrote the script with The Hurricane’s Dan Gordon). While mirroring certain details of God’s Not Dead (another devout drama Kevin Sorbo starred in as a similar atheist), Let There Be Light gives audiences a realized arc of someone who’s beliefs are proven differently after receiving a glimpse of the afterlife.
The faith-based sub-genre has always tempted me as a writer. Not necessarily for its religious material, but because these films offer an interesting experience and lots to write about afterwards. Even with a heavy-handed film like Let There Be Light, I’m left thinking about what inspired the people who made the movie. That’s exactly why I wanted to talk with Kevin and Sam Sorbo.
Addison Wylie: Kevin, what pursued you to direct Let There Be Light? Have you been itching to get behind the camera on a feature film?
Kevin Sorbo: I enjoy all different parts of filmmaking. I love the creative aspect of the craft. I started directing on Hercules, back in the day, and would have done more, but I got ill and barely managed to finish the series; that final year and a half. If you want the full story about my three strokes and how I overcame them, it’s in my book, True Strength.
AW: And Sam, with your extensive background as an actor, what pursued you to try something new and take up screenwriting?
Sam Sorbo: I’ve been writing for a while, actually! *laughs* I wrote a screenplay in my twenties that was stolen and made into a big blockbuster movie, so I knew I had good ideas, but I admit they improved on my script a lot. Since then, I’ve written a few books (They’re YOUR Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate, and Teach from Love: a School Year Devotional for Families). In fact, Kevin and I have another devotional coming out, that corresponds with Let There Be Light, called Share the Light!
I created a TV show about three years ago and sold it to NBC and Sony, but then it got way-layed, and so, I started kicking around the idea for this movie. I’ve become a bit jaded by most of the stuff that gets produced these days. Where are our values, anymore? The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Now, this is a movie I’d like to see!”
AW: What was it like co-writing with Dan Gordon? Since he’s an experienced screenwriter, did he act as a mentor during script sessions?
SS: Dan became even more of a mentor. He’s a very good friend. But in terms of screenwriting, yes, I learned a lot from him. And his support through this entire process was invaluable, as writer and as a producer.
AW: The faith-based sub-genre can be really interesting. For instance, I may not personally connect with all of the themes, but these films allow me to see life from a different perspective. When you make a faith-based film, do you begin with a story and find evangelical themes afterwards, or is it the other way around?
SS: I like to say that every film is a faith-based film, because they all represent someone’s ‘faith.’ I want to tell stories that stem from my faith, particularly because there are so many stories told these days that debase or disparage the Judeo-Christian faith and, importantly of course, it is the source of the freedoms we enjoy in this nation and in western civilization, in general. For that reason, I think it’s very important to support and explain it to those who don’t understand it.
But I understand your appreciation of this kind of film. I just saw the film Step, a documentary about the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. It was amazing, and allowed me to glimpse just a bit into the lives of others. When we have the ability to do that, it enables us to empathize with other people’s struggles, and rejoice at their triumphs. It brings us closer, in our shared humanity, and that’s very important, in a day and age where brutal forces are intent on tearing us apart, culturally, racially, and politically.
I am amazed at the response Let There Be Light has gotten, frankly, because people didn’t just applaud the movie at the end, sitting in the theater. They waited for the end of the credits to roll. Except for seeing the outtakes, when’s the last time you sat through all the credits in a theatre? And then, on the way out of the building, they talked to complete strangers! I know this, because then they got on their computers and emailed Kevin, or I, or contacted the film’s site on Facebook. This is evidence of the power of telling a story that unties us, rather than divides us. A film that promotes love and forgiveness, as opposed to fear and vengeance.
AW: I wasn’t expecting to see such bold imagery of recent tragedies, or hear the references to ISIS. How important was it, for both of you, to make Let There Be Light current?
SS: That’s the funny thing. There certainly are references to current events in the film, but the story of the movie is quite timeless. It’s a tale of good versus evil, basically, and it’s a love story – both of those are for the ages. That’s why I’m sure this film will go in the annals of those ever-green, feel-good classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street.
AW: Kevin, you also play the film’s lead character, Dr. Sol Harkens – a world famous author and atheist. What was your experience like playing this character? At times, it plays like a more grounded expansion of your Professor Radisson role from God’s Not Dead.
KS: I joke that there are only two atheists in the world, and I’ve played them both! *laughs* This film was, in a sense, much more difficult for me. I needed to be much more vulnerable for much of the film, unlike Radisson, and that was challenging. But, of course, that is my craft and why I love acting so very much. There was also the added benefit and burden that I was directing myself. All in all, this film was a lot more work than just going and playing a role on someone else’s set.
AW: How does FOX’s Sean Hannity become involved in a project like this? Did you approach him with a pitch to make an appearance as himself, or did he hear about your film through the grapevine and reach out?
KS: Sam came up with the idea and fleshed it out a bit before contacting Dan, to ask him to join her on the project. Dan typically works alone, but when he heard her idea, he jumped in with both feet! Then, strangely, about two weeks later, Sean Hannity just called me – out of the blue! I mean, I’ve been on his show a few times – promoting a movie, book, or other project in the past – but it wasn’t like we phoned each other. He said, “Sorbo! I want to do a faith-based move, and I want to work with you. You got anything?” Now, I had a few different projects on my desk at the time, but when I told Sam he had called, she said, “That’s my movie!”
The three of us, Dan, Sam and myself, flew to New York City and pitched Sean for about a half hour, and he signed on right then and there. It’s an amazing story, because as most people know, the money never chases the movie.
AW: Let There Be Light has a bit of everything – comedy, drama, heart-to-hearts, and romance. However, for both for you, what’s the main takeaway from Let There Be Light you hope audiences will embrace?
KS: Hope. We just want to bring audiences hope.
Read my review of Let There Be Light here!
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