Have you ever felt God move in your life? One mother from St. Louis, Missouri had such faith in God that she called Him down for her son’s healing. 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 attracted them together and how they made a true story into films.
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 especially compelled after meeting the real family. He recalled Joyce visiting the hospital and refusing believe that her son had died. 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.”
Roxann Dawson, the film’s director, is well-known for her role on Star Trek: Voyager as B’Elanna Torres. She was also attracted 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 was so drawn to the story of John Smith, Joyce, and her character that she decided to make it her 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. It was one time I read it, and I read it again twice. I felt a strong 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.”