Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit move in you in a powerful way? One mother from St. Louis, Missouri, had such strong faith in God that she called Him down to heal her son. The new film “Breakthrough,” which is out April 17, is the true story of Joyce Smith (played by Chrissy Metz "This Is Us). In 2015, Joyce’s son, John Smith, fell through the ice and was dead for an hour before his pulse returned.
Faith Family America spoke to DeVon Franklin, the producer of “Breakthrough,” and Roxann Dawson, the director of “Breakthrough,” about the film. They shared what drew them to the story and how they navigated the process of making a true story into a film.
Franklin, who also produced “Miracles from Heaven” and “Heaven is For Real,” told FFA that he had to make the film because he was moved by the story of John, who was trapped under the ice for 15 minutes without oxygen.
Franklin felt particularly compelled after he met the real family. He recalled hearing about Joyce going to the hospital and refusing to believe that her son was dead. Instead, she turned to God.
Franklin continued, “[Joyce said,] ‘I'm going to, pray and see what God says about this.’ The idea that because she did that, John lived blew me away. I knew that we had to bring this movie to the screen.”
The director of the film, Roxann Dawson, who is best-known for her role as B'Elanna Torres on "Star Trek: Voyager," was also drawn to the story because it was true.
“It's such a miraculous story that it's impossible to believe, and when you find out that it is true, you realize people need to hear it,” said Dawson.
Dawson found the story of Joyce and John Smith so compelling that she chose to make it her first feature film. After acting for several years, Dawson made the shift to directing television shows, including episodes of PBS show “Mercy Street” and “This Is Us.”
She told FFA what inspired her to make the jump to the big screen: “The script came to me. I read it once; I read it twice; I felt such a visceral connection to the story. The fact that it was true just sold me completely.”
Franklin, who has been working in Hollywood for decades, revealed how they worked together to create a good film while respecting the integrity of the Smiths’ story.
“Before working as a Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures, I was an assistant and I spent a lot of time working for and with Will Smith. I learned a lot about story development and inspirational stories,” shared Franklin. “One of the first films I worked on as an executive was ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’ I learned how you take someone's life and build that into a two-hour experience. “
He concluded, “It really was a collaboration to honor the true tenants of the story, but still have to take some creative license in order for that to fit within a two-hour, movie-going framework.”
See our full interview with Franklin and Dawson:
Watch the trailer for “Breakthrough” below. The film opens in theaters on April 17.