Recently, The Layman’s Kathy Larson spoke with Stuart Migdon, producer of Voiceless. The interview follows:
KL: How did you get involved with Voiceless. Why did you decide to make this film?
Five years ago, my partner Pat Necerato and I were praying about how to make a difference for Jesus Christ in the culture in which we live. We kept coming back to the art of film. In our culture, people go to the movies and emulate what they see on the screen. Film has more of an impact on the life of a Christian than the pulpit. We decided to make a movie to bring glory to God and impact the culture for Jesus Christ. Initially, we weren’t sure what the topic would be, but we knew we wanted to motivate people to engage the culture.
Too many Christians are too concerned about heaven and not about the Kingdom of God here on earth. They’re focused on evangelizing and getting people saved, but not about the world around us. Too many Christians want to get their ticket into heaven, but then just live however they want to here on earth. The more we talked and prayed, we kept coming back to what we consider the most egregious sin of our lifetimes – abortion. We felt God was leading us to challenge Christians to engage the culture when it comes to abortion.
KL: If you had no experience with filmmaking, how did you get started?
Pat Necerato had made a couple of documentaries. He read hundreds of books on how to write screenplays. He wrote the script and then we went back and forth on it, editing the script a hundred times. We researched and researched and researched and covered the whole thing in prayer and God brought us to all the right people to be able to get the movie up on the big screen.
KL: Why did you choose a man as your main character instead of a woman who was struggling with the choice to have an abortion? Was that intentional?
Yes. It was intentional. Men are just as culpable as women in this abortion tragedy. It is rare that men are called out on their role in abortions. It’s always the women who are blamed for an abortion. But usually — I think the statistic is 80 percent of the time — women feel they have no choice because the fathers of these children abandon the women or pressure them to have an abortion. We wanted to show that men are involved. I have met men in my life who have been involved in abortion who have a very difficult time understanding their forgiveness in Christ. We wanted to show that it’s not just a woman’s issue. Though the main character was a man, his wife also played a significant role in the story, and in the end, she was the hero. We wanted to tell the story from both the male and the female perspective.
KL: Why did you choose that area of Philadelphia in which to set the story?
We both live close by in New Jersey, and my partner grew up there. He has a little bit of Rocky in him. It was important to the story that we have a kind of beat up urban area. The main character starts an urban outreach center, working with kids on the street. The whole movie is a gritty movie. We wanted it to be true to life. We chose Kensington, which is one of the worst neighborhoods in the entire country. One day we found a dead body on the set. We thought it was just a homeless guy sleeping, but there had been a murder. Those kinds of experiences only made it more true to life.
KL: I was struck by how beautifully the film was shot. How did you choose the style of the film?
My partner, the director, Pat Necerato story-boarded the entire movie, every single shot. He wanted to do it in black and white, but I thought that was too much. We went back and forth, and then compromised on what you see in the film. It’s not black and white, but it’s not exactly color either. It’s gritty. We hired a cinematographer out of Philly to carry out Pat’s vision, but I really have to give the cinematography credit to Pat Necerato. It was his vision. Every single shot.
Without the Lord we could have never made this movie. This movie was soaked in prayer from the very beginning and through the entire process. But God also used us. He used two people to make sure that this movie brought glory to God’s name. We were committed, from the very beginning that we would not make a cheesy movie where everybody wins at the end and hugs and smiles and everybody goes to heaven. We wanted to tell a real story about real people and a real God. Two things we said from the very beginning – we have to write an excellent screenplay and we have to get excellent actors. Filmmaking is an art and art that brings glory to God must be excellent.
KL: The film definitely seemed to be encouraging people to get out there and do something about abortion. To not just say you’re pro-life in political discussions, but to do something about it. What do you hope Christians will do in response to this film?
Our goal is to have a pro-life ministry in every church in America. After the theatrical release of the film, we are working on a church release, centered around Sanctity of Life Sunday in January. We want Christians to see this movie and be motivated to get involved in their local church. Not everybody is going to go stand in front of an abortion clinic and talk to strangers, but some might. Not everyone is going to throw baby showers for women who choose life, but some might. Not everyone is going to counsel new mothers and fathers, but some might. We want to encourage them to be involved in some way in the cause of life. We are launching a church initiative, partnered with Care Net – a ministry that supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation’s only real-time call center providing pregnancy decision coaching. Care Net has developed a curriculum called “Making Life Disciples” about how to approach a woman or a man who is facing an unwanted pregnancy that will be given as a resource to all churches involved in the church release of the film.
KL: In this election season, abortion has been a hot topic of debate once again. The biggest thing I’ve heard from the pro-choice side is that Christians aren’t “really pro-life” because we only care about preventing abortions, we don’t care about babies once they are born, and we don’t help mothers after they make the choice for life. How would you respond to someone who argues that point?
With tears in my eyes, I would say that that statement is much truer than it ever should be. It is the church who is culpable in this. We have turned away from helping these women and their children. We have pregnancy centers all over the country who help women make the choice for life and help them care for their children afterward. But where is the church? Where is the body of Christ that wraps their arms around this woman and their children?
A few churches are doing this in individual cases, but the Church as a whole needs to be brought to task on this issue. This is the kind of activism we want to be sparked from this movie. That Churches will surround women and men who are facing an unwanted pregnancy and say, “We are going to support you in every way, shape, and form – emotionally, financially, spiritually, materially, with our time, our resources, and our lives.” That is what the Church is designed to do. What the Church should do.
Flip Benham from Operation Rescue says that abortion will end when the Church decides it will end and not one second sooner. This is the calling and the responsibility of the Church, of the body of Christ. If the Church as a body would be a voice for the voiceless and the hands and feet of Christ to those facing the difficult choice, we could end abortion. It’s not just about being pro-life, it’s about acting out our pro-life position by caring for these women and children.