I often hear from Classical Conversations families that there are not many family-friendly movies these days. So when one comes across my desk, I like to tell you about it. I recently received a screener’s copy of a new movie, Last Ounce of Courage. It was not produced by one of the five media conglomerates that control over 90% of the published media in America, but was created by a Christian organization: Veritas Entertainment. I was excited to hear that it beat the odds; it is being released in over 1,200 theaters and it is not a straight-to-DVD movie! My family decided to watch it, to be sure that it was something that we could stand behind and recommend to homeschooling families. We believe you will like the movie and that it will generate good discussions for you and your family regarding liberty, freedom, and God-given rights. I wanted to learn more about the film, so I sat down with writer/director, Darrel Campbell, and with Classical Conversations dad and the film’s executive producer, Doug Pethoud, to discuss their new movie, Last Ounce of Courage. What follows is a transcript of our interview, which I believe will be of interest to all families.
RB: Doug, what should Classical Conversations parents know about the movie?
Doug: Last Ounce of Courage (rated PG) will be opening in 1200 theaters nationwide on September 14. Last Ounce of Courage (http://www.facebook.com/#!/LastOunceofCourage) is the story of a small town that begins to take a stand as they awaken to the realization that they have lost their freedoms little by little over many years. We are hopeful that this story will inspire more and more people to begin taking a stand for the liberties that were granted to them in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. We dedicated this film to the more than 1.3 million citizens who have given their lives defending this nation and the principles upon which it was founded.
Last Ounce of Courage has a veteran cast including Marshall Teague, Jennifer O’Neill, Rusty Joiner, Fred Williamson, and Jenna Boyd. It was directed by Darrel Campbell (The Pistol) and Kevin McAfee (End of the Spear).
You can check out our website, www.lastouncethemovie.com to find a listing of theaters and show times.
In addition to our September 14th opening weekend, we are holding a special prerelease in select theaters nationwide on Tuesday, September 11, in honor of Patriot Day. Our sponsor, StandUSA, will be giving away free tickets to veterans at many of these theaters. In the remaining theaters, we will be donating a portion of the box office sales to Warriors for Freedom, an organization that works with community leaders, businesses, schools, legislators and non-profit organizations to enhance veteran awareness and promote veteran initiatives.
Classical Conversations families can help us by joining our sponsor, StandUSA, on Facebook, by sharing our story with as many families and friends as you can, and, of course, by coming to the theaters on September 14, 15, or 16.
RB: Darrel, what inspired you to write this movie?
Darrel: In 1984, I took my father and mother to Saint Laurent-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, to visit the grave of my Uncle Freeman. All my life I had heard my father’s war stories in Europe and every tale would lead him back to the day his brother was killed in the hedgerows of France. I wanted to honor my uncle’s memory with a story. Since becoming a screenwriter, I had always carried with me the desire to do a Christmas story set in a contemporary time and with the tone of It’s a Wonderful Life. When Richard Headrick, a “sign painter” from Mississippi, and his wife, Gina, approached me with the idea of creating a film that would address the theme of keeping Christ in Christmas, I was hooked. The end result is the screenplay, Last Ounce of Courage.
RB: Doug, do you think having children in government schools run by bureaucrats for twelve years makes them more susceptible to listening to the government when it tells them to do something against their morals?
Doug: Yes, but I think it goes even deeper. You CANNOT eliminate the teaching of morals. The question then becomes, “WHOSE morals do you teach?” There has been a decades-long shift to replace the Judeo-Christian worldview upon which our nation was founded with a secular worldview. This has occurred not just in our schools, but in our homes (primarily through television), and surprisingly even in our churches. Ask yourself where most children spend their waking hours during a typical week: school, extracurricular activities, home, and church in that order and when they are at home they are typically watching television or playing video games. Then ask yourself, “In each of these places, how much time are they exposed to a Christian worldview?” So, when these children become adults and are faced with moral issues, they are easily manipulated because they have no strong, principled foundation upon which they can base their actions or decisions.
RB: Doug, why do you think Americans have been so quick to give up their liberty?
Doug: This hasn’t happened overnight. It has happened so gradually over the last eighty or more years that it is only slightly perceptible from generation to generation, but the cumulative effect has been devastating. Thomas Jefferson recognized that people are “…more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed,” which is an eloquent way of saying that people will only take so much before they begin to push back. I’m getting the impression that many people are beginning to feel uncomfortable with the way things have become. Our founders gave us the option of only having to sacrifice a few minutes out of our day to go to the polls which is no sacrifice at all compared to the eight long, bloody years it took them to earn those rights for us. Ironically, many people, including about 56% of people who call themselves Christian, aren’t even willing to make that sacrifice and that is how we have given up our liberty. We hope that Last Ounce of Courage awakens people to take a stand.
RB: Doug, what do you want families to take away from watching this movie?
Doug: I hope that when people walk out of this movie they start asking questions just like I did when I first became involved in the film. Questions like: What is the origin of the phrase ‘separation of church and state’? What did the founders of this nation actually believe? What is the background and agenda of those who are championing the removal of a Christian worldview from our society? As my wife and I began seeking answers to these questions, we realized how little our schools actually teach. A large part of the reason we decided to become a part of Classical Conversations can be attributed to our involvement in Last Ounce of Courage. We liked the classical education model, in which a student learns the thoughts of our greatest leaders and thinkers throughout all of history by reading and studying their own words, rather than by reading a filtered, sanitized paragraph in a revisionist textbook approved by one or more people who have been granted this authority.
RB: Darrel, you were able to compile an impressive list of actors. How did that come about?
Darrel: Having lived and worked in the film and television industry for most of my life, a certain amount of relationship building and networking happens naturally. In other words, I’ve met a lot of people over the years that can come on board and help me turn a script into something I can produce and, in this case, direct on screen. As director of the film, it is my responsibility to put together the best actors I can find with the funding that I have. I hired a casting director who began assembling a list of stars and unknown professional actors in Hollywood who would be willing and eager to be in a film about family, faith, and freedom. Some actors came to me after a phone call. Others I had to audition. The bottom line is: the script has to be good. If the play is good, the actors will come to the project. Simply put, the script is what drew this quality cast to us.
RB: Darrel, did the actors believe in the cause, and were they excited to promote these family values?
Darrel: Actors like Marshall Teague (Bob Revere), Jennifer O’Neill (Dottie Revere) and Fred Williamson (Warren “Hammer” Hammerschmidt) live what they believe. They are all very patriotic individuals who stand for something bigger than themselves. Marshall has visited our troops in the Middle East and is a voice for the cause of veterans. Jennifer is a patriot who has given her celebrity and voice to causes where she can make a positive impact. Fred was a warrior in professional football and uses his celebrity to speak out for our wounded warriors. Keeping freedom alive in America and following the Constitution are two subjects these three actors champion and it was, no doubt, part of the reason they chose to be part of Last Ounce of Courage.
RB: Doug, what organizations are you working with to promote the movie?
Doug: We have received support and endorsements from Dr. James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Governor Rick Perry, John Hagee, the American Family Association, and Generals Larry Haub, Larry Sisco, Rita Aragon, Dwyer Dennis, and Tommy Franks. We have also received a Dove Seal from the Dove Foundation and we are honored to be the first theatrical film to be given the Chuck Norris Seal of Approval and feel particularly blessed to have Mr. Norris’ support.
RB: Darrel, can you give our readers a sneak peek behind the scenes and tell us what your favorite candid moment was?
Darrel: One of the best behind the scenes moments was when one of our executive producers built a fire in a pit and Rusty Joiner played his guitar. Several of the crew and actors sat around the fire and for a few moments we got to relieve some stress of doing a film. Spending time with people like Kevin and Lynn McAfee, Doug Pethoud, Benjy Gaither, Marshall Teague, Fred Williamson, Nikki Novak, Jenna Boyd, Hunter Gomez, Adelie Campbell, Hunter Gomez, Brock Campbell, Michael Omartian, and other artists—as we collectively create the most powerful visual medium on Earth—is a creative artist’s dream.
RB: I’d like to thank Darrel and Doug for taking time out of their busy schedules to tell us about Last Ounce of Courage and I’d like to encourage you to see the film during its opening weekend beginning September 14, and help start conversations with your friends and coworkers about taking a stand for the liberties that are granted to us in the Constitution of the United States.