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A conversation with Andy Erwin - S9.E14


WORLD Radio - A conversation with Andy Erwin - S9.E14

Christian filmmaking underdog talks about telling Kurt Warner’s story on the big screen

Christian filmmaker Andrew Erwin Handout

WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’re listening in on my conversation with Andy Erwin. With his brother Jon he is the co-director of the new film American Underdog, the story of pro-football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.

ANDY ERWIN, GUEST: The elements of the movie are just so unbelievable that we had to really root it into reality to earn the audience going with us on that journey. And so we really grounded it in as much real life documentation as we could.

WS: The movie business has spawned its share of filmmaking brothers. The Coen Brothers—Ethan and Joel—are probably the best known, with huge hits like O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, and No Country For Old Men.

But they are far from alone. The Wachowski Brothers were the creative forces behind The Matrix franchise. Matt and Ross Duffer—The Duffer Brothers—are the show runners for the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Ridley and Tony Scott. The Farrelly Brothers. The list goes on. And the phenomenon exists in Christian filmmaking as well. Alex and Stephen Kendrick, The Kendrick Brothers, have had hits such as Fireproof and Facing The Giants.

And we can add to this list the Erwin Brothers—Jon and Andy. Back in 2019, I had them on the program to discuss the creation of a new production company, Kingdom Studios, now known as Kingdom Story Company. Today, I have Andy back to talk about one of the first movies to come out of that effort. It’s the story of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, and it’s called American Underdog. It releases Christmas Day with a big-name Hollywood cast that includes Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, and Dennis Quaid.

The Erwin Brothers got their start working for the Kendrick Brothers. But they branched out on their own to produce the 2011 movie October Baby. That pro-life movie was a financial success, and also raised the bar artistically for Christian themed movies. But their breakthrough came in 2018 with the movie I Can Only Imagine. That movie, with a $7 million budget, did nearly $90 million at the box office, making it the top grossing independent movie of the year.

In this conversation with Andy Erwin, we discuss American Underdog, what it’s like to work with your brother on a film, and a bit about his distinguished family, which includes a World War II Medal of Honor winner.

Support for Listening In comes from Samaritan Ministries, a community of Christians who care for one another spiritually and financially when a medical need arises.

Patrick and Melody liked the idea of a group of people coming together to share medical costs, and joined Samaritan Ministries in 2017. When they welcomed twin daughters, fellow members sent money directly to them to help them pay their medical bills. When the body of Christ comes together, burdens are lifted, and God is glorified. This applies to all areas of life, including health care. More at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

WS: Andy, welcome to the program and I definitely want to talk about your movie. But in doing research for this interview, I found out that your grandfather was a World War Two hero, he won the Medal of Honor.

AE: My grandfather's story is one that, you know, was one of the first stories we fell in love with. I remember hearing him tell the stories and sitting there. I mean, yeah, he was a B-29 radio operator. Lead plane, flying a mission and a phosphorus bomb shot back up in the plane and blinded him, and the plane was going down and it rolled to him. He picked it up like a football and took it to the front, threw it out of the plane. And it was the fastest-awarded Medal of Honor in history. So he got the award. He was awarded the commendation by President Truman in about eight days.

WS: Yeah.

AE: It was a special story.

WS: Well, I understand one of the reasons that it was so fast. I mean, not only was there kind of, it was kind of a no brainer that he I mean, it didn't have to, you know, undergo a lot of scrutiny. Everybody agreed that he deserved it. But they also thought he was gonna die. And I mean, that's how severe his injuries were. And they wanted to see if they could get it to him before he died. But he didn't die. He survived. I'm assuming you got to know him.

AE: Yeah, my grandfather was one of my heroes. You know, he, you know, they, they rushed the medal to him. Sent a Special Ops team to, to break into a display case to steal one from a general in Hawaii, you know. And so they stole that brought it back to him. Curtis LeMay, the General, he was kind of the Patton of the Pacific, awarded it to him, and then the actor, Tyrone Power, flew the, my, my, my grandfather's brother into see him for the ceremony. And then he flew home and had 40 different surgeries. And he was married to my grandmother for over 50 years and worked with the VA hospital in Veterans Affairs, until he retired and had a great deal of passion for veterans. So yeah, I got a chance to sit on his couch. And he wouldn't talk about his story much, but he would talk about those war stories. And so I fell in love with his generation. And, you know, my hopes is one day we'll be able to tell his story as a movie.

WS: Well, that was gonna be my next question. I was gonna ask you if there was going to be be an Erwin Brothers movie in your future, telling the story of your grandfather.

AE: Yeah, it's it's one that's a passion project for us for sure. You know, it's one that my brother especially has championed. He wrote a book about the story that came out last year. And, and, you know, I think that when, when the time is right, you know, definitely have a big budget. But when the time is right, it's a story, we're passionate about telling, not just for the sake of the family story, but for the sake of bringing, you know, attention to, to the generation that we feel like has a lot still to say. And, you know, there's only there's only six Medal of Honor recipients from the Air Force. And my grandfather's only one of three NCOs. And so it's a it's a slice of the military we would love to bring awareness to for what they did.

WS: Yeah, well, my son went to the Air Force Academy and spent five years in the Air Force. And every Academy cadet had to memorize the story of Lance Sijan who was one of those six. He was a graduate of the academy, the only graduate of the Air Force Academy to ever win the Medal of Honor. So I think that was one of the reasons why it's whatever I was, like I say, doing research for this conversation that caught my attention. Well, God bless you and your family for many long years of service. And now, forgive me for that little side trip, but I couldn't resist, and let's talk about your movie. It's been a big year for you. I mean, not only do you have American Underdog coming out here, I guess, Christmas Day.

AE: Yeah. It's a big it's a big big moment. That's that's the Super Bowl for our our industry is Christmas Day and and Lionsgate really believed in the final product and, and wanted to put it out there. And I think it's going to be a great option for families at Christmas. It's really exciting.

WS: Well, I want to and not only that, though, that let's see, you have the Jesus Music Movie came out this year. You had I Still Believe last year. So I mean, those are pretty big moot three pretty big movies in the space of what 18 months, less than two years for sure.

AE: It's been, you know, I think I think we're, you know, paranoid, you know, workaholics and so, you know, when the shutdown happened, we were nervous that nobody's gonna let us you know, work again. And then when the door opened up and Lionsgate said, get back to work, we came out like at triple speed. And so, not just us, but our whole team. And so, The Jesus Music was one that was a passion project, about the origin history of Christian music. That was something we love doing. And then, you know, American Underdog was, you know, four times as big a film as we'd ever attempted. And, and so we're able to accomplish that. And then our buddy John Gunn directed a movie called Unbreakable Boys coming out in March. And then we've got four films greenlit for next year. And so it has been, we've been churning. But you know, the thing that, you know, we're excited about is continuing to serve our audience, which is that faith, middle America audience. And I think Kurt Warner's story was kind of the holy grail for that audience. Of a football movie that I think connects on a really broad mainstream appeal. So we're excited that we got it done.

WS: Yeah. Well, one of the things I wanted to talk to you about in this movie American Underdog, but also in some of your other movies as well. Especially, I don't know, Mom's Night Out, and in particular, you've been able to attract some pretty big name acting talent to your films. And of course, American Underdog, people can't, people haven't seen it yet. But you've got Zachary Levi and Dennis Quaid in this movie. You had Melissa Roxburgh in, in, I Still Believe, yeah. And of course, I in fact, I wanted to ask you better because I become a big fan of Manifest. And of course, she's got a you know, she's a key starring role in that. What, had Manifest come out yet, whenever you guys were in production for I Still Believe?

AE: Yeah, they had just released season one on NBC at the time. And I was a fan of the show. I loved how the show kind of integrated little, you know, breadcrumbs of Christian kind of themes in it, that I thought was really beautiful in that first season. And, and Melissa is a preacher's kid from Canada. And she, she really was passionate about being in I Still Believe. And we actually wrote the role for her of Melissa's sister in the film. And so and then to see what's happening with Manifest, I've been so excited for her because, you know, that film did a couple years on NBC and then got canceled. And when it got canceled, I thought the journey was over. But there was such a rabid fan base, that they made so much noise that Netflix came along and picked it up. And to see that story continue and it being one of the highest rated shows on Netflix. I've been thrilled for Melissa, because she's the real deal, great actress, and that show has a cult following.

WS: Yeah, well, I'm a part of that cult, I've got to say. I didn't discover it until it hit Netflix. But I think you know, the, and I'm not going to give much away because most of this shows up in the first episode. But a flight, flight 828 disappears and then reappears five years later. And of course, 828 is a very direct reference to Romans 8:28. And you know, all things work together for good. And that is, like you say it's kind of a breadcrumb that not only is it in, you know, the first season, but it, it, to a greater or lesser extent shows up. I mean, throughout the series. We're still waiting on the final season. But let's, let's get back to you guys. My I guess my question about Melissa, really, Andy, is about how do you get these big name actors? I mean, I mean, yeah, American Underdog had a bigger budget than the ones you've had in the past, but you haven't had a huge budget. And yet you've gotten really great and well known, and I would guess, maybe high priced actors to show up for you. How are you getting? How are you doing that?

AE: You know, I think, you know, we've just been blessed to kind of connect with the right people that, that really follow the stories. And I think, you know, the same thing that you felt on Manifest is, Manifest wasn't a preachy show. But they really valued the kind of these breadcrumbs to a faith audience. And that really validated when people saw themselves and they saw, you know, these characters that were kind of quoting scripture and things like that, that really said, hey, you know, it's not we're not the butt of the joke, you know, we're normal. And, and I think, you know, there's a lot of, you know, it kind of two types that have kind of come along. You know, first of all, there was, you know, just, you know, the actors that kind of shared our faith values, that that had been a part of that. Whether that's the Dennis Quaids, or the Gary Sineses or Patty Heaton or Jon Voight. Those have been ones that you know, kind of naturally kind of came into our sphere, KJ Apa, Melissa Roxburgh. But then, you know, it's opened up the doors for ones that just love the stories that we're telling, that may not share our values, or our faith, but really love the characters that they're playing. And, you know, it's an open invitation across the board. And so with, you know, American Underdog, it was a story that was broad and kind of mainstream because it's a really great sport story. It's a really great underdog story. There's something universally appealing about that. But when we opened it up for the actors that came on board, you know, obviously we'd already worked with with Dennis Quaid on I Can Only Imagine, and that being our big breakout hit. But, but actors like even like Anna Paquin, when she first signed on. You know, she's an Oscar winner. You know, won an Oscar when she was 9, and one of the youngest of all time. And Anna, when she came aboard, she read the script and said, hey, you know, I'm not really a person of faith. I've never really interacted a lot with, you know, kind of organized religion. But she said, I love this story. Is that a problem for me playing a Christian? And I said, absolutely not. I said, as long as you can really do your homework as an actor, and really understand and appreciate what Brenda's faith meant to her, then I'm good. And so she came in, she said, I absolutely, I'm fully on board for that. So she came in, and I was like, who wouldn’t want an Oscar winner there? And so she, she had done her research showed up, it's like, okay, I'm understanding that in, you know, you know, as an evangelical Christian, it's more about a relationship instead of a religion. And exactly when did Brenda become born again? What does that mean? You know, I've read every book that Brenda, so she had done her homework. So to have, see actors really engage with faith in a way that's not stereotyped anymore, I think continues to allow us to do bigger and more mainstream things for Christians.

WS: Yeah. Well, I want to talk to you about American Underdog and I know that reviews of the film are embargoed until the movie comes out. But I have seen a screening of it. And, and I will just say that I liked it a lot. And very much appreciate the quality of the film. But I did, but I did want to ask this. I mean, Kurt Warner's story is, I mean, for lack... This is an inelegant and ineloquent way to say it, but his story is kind of ridiculous. I mean, you know, if it wasn't true, you would never believe it. I mean, you know, the, the, they, he's been called the greatest undrafted player in NFL history, somebody that was completely out of the game, that not only, you know, becomes a Super Bowl MVP, but then gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of a long career that gets that started late. What were some of the pitfalls or landmines that you had to avoid in telling this story? Because like I say, in some ways, if you just told it straight, people would say it's ridiculous. They wouldn't believe it.

AE: Right? Yeah, it was. That was the challenge - is it wasn't about adding elements and making it into a movie. It was about really focusing in a matter of reduction. Because there's so many elements that, like you said, that, you know, all the major points of the movie that happened in the movie, they happened in real life. And some of the moments are just so you know, unbelievable that you would think that it's just movie magic trying to kind of invent something. But this is a guy that he was a fifth year, senior, had been a benchwarmer for four years, at a AA school in Iowa. And flunked out of the NFL, very shortly after being an undrafted player. You know, was in love with the single mom. She has a disabled son that he just fell in love with the family, and worked at the supermarket on food stamps for five years, while trying to play this, you know, kind of redneck football of arena football that had just started on the weekends to try to keep his dream alive. And then finally, after five years of being out of football, got his chance back in the NFL, and became the MVP of the league, starting in the Super Bowl winning the Super Bowl as its lowest paid player, starting what people called ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’. And the elements of the movie are just so unbelievable that we had to really root it into reality to earn the audience going with us on that journey. And so we really grounded it in as much real life documentation as we could to make it you know, in the kind of focus. And so it was like, it had all the elements naturally there that people like, holy cow. In fact, so much so that in the Superbowl broadcast, you know, Al Michaels draws attention to it. It's unbelievable that you know that if this was a movie, you wouldn't believe that this happened.

WS: Exactly. Well, one thing I wanted to ask about was, were the football sequences. Because one of the ways you rooted it in reality, I mean, it's a football. There's a lot of football in this movie. I mean, it's much more than that. But there's a lot of football in this movie. You had a lot of football in Woodlawn. I know you got your start as a camera operator for ESPN, if I'm remembering right, so

AE: Right.

WS: I mean, get getting that right, especially since Kurt Warner really didn't play that long ago. I mean, people have memories and of course we watch football every week. If, if that looked artificial or fake or cheesy or like you know, you were not using, you know, actors that really understood football and what it meant to you know, hit somebody, that would show up. People would notice that. Any little inside baseball or inside football tricks you got to make those sequences look real?

AE: Yeah, Warren, it was, it was really critical that we get it right, for that reason. People have very fresh memories of Kurt Warner. And then the other thing is because we're shooting it in COVID, and we had to shoot it in a very condensed schedule. So typically, we wanted to shoot this in 45 to 60 days, and we had 30 to shoot it. We had to really kind of get creative. And you know, Orson Welles said that the absence of limitations is the death of creativity. And so we just embraced the limitations that we're going to identify with Kurt's struggle. That every ounce of his struggle, we're going to endure whatever is thrown at us to kind of grind it out and make our film. And, and I think that DNA shows up on the screen. And so what we tried to do is, my brother, John, and his director of photography, Chris, really had a vision of how to shoot the football, that instead of doing the typical football movie thing of the outside looking in kind of angles, they wanted to kind of do Saving Private Ryan and put you in the middle of the action.

WS: Yeah.

AE: And so they, they use large format wide lenses and put you right in the middle of it. And so I think it's football from a point of view that you’ve never seen before. But the other thing we wanted to do to root it in that reality is we had the stunt team, we cast a lot of ex NFL players as our as our additional cast, you know, for the teams. And, and we worked with a stunt coordinator, Mark Ellis, to choreograph every play exactly how it happened in the telecast. So that when you watch it, it's a photocopy down to who's tackling, how they land, how to get up off the ground, so that we could seamlessly cut back and forth between the real archival footage. And it really grounded it in this reality the same way a movie like Argo really grounded the political thriller. And I think it really rooted in the idea that this really happened. And this is, you kind of get lost in blurring the lines of what's reality and what's recreated.

WS: Yeah. Well, that's a great point. And I'm glad you mentioned that, because I was gonna ask you about it. And by the way, Argo is one of my favorite movies. So I'm glad you brought that one up, as well. But um, you know, I was, I was actually, you know, watching pretty carefully to say, you know, which of this was archival footage, and which of this was recreated footage? And it was, it was pretty doggone seamless. And so, ’A’, congratulations on that. And ‘B’, you know, I was gonna have to how did you do that? And of course, you just explained how you did it. And which reminds me a task of another question that I wanted to ask you as well. Can, can you talk to me a little bit as the director and your brother, I guess, is more of a producer role, and you're more of a director role? Is that that, is that how you define duties? Or are you co-director and co-producers?

AE: We're filmmaker brothers that are dysfunctional in every sense of the word. So we, we kind of divide and conquer. We co-direct, co-produce. John writes. I edit. You know, we kind of whatever, you know, we're blue collar, whatever gets the job done, we do it. But John's more of a visual story storyteller and kind of sees it visually. I'm more of an actor's director and like to kind of see it more emotionally. But you know, we, we're dysfunctional. We bicker. We're brothers. You know, it's funny, because half the time, they point at us over the set, we're having a heated discussion. People are like, ‘Cain and Abel are arguing again.’ But I think in the middle of all that friction, we have this idea, this policy of friction with respect. Best idea wins. And, and there's a necessity of friction to create really good art. And I think, you know, the best bands that people love over the years, had, have had tons of friction, whether it's U2 on down. So, you know, you know, we kind of embrace that as part of our process. And when it's right, both of us should know it. And, and so we kind of, that's how we direct.

WS: Well, so therefore, maybe this question, it's not exactly fair, since since y'all might have different styles. But you know, um, as I love movies, and you know, I'm not I'm not a film student, so to speak. But, but I love them and pay attention. And I’m aware, for example, that you got directors like Clint Eastwood. We'll use him as an example. Came up in, you know, television in the 50s and 60s. He sets up the camera, he blocks the shot, he shoots it, he might shoot a safety or a coverage, but otherwise, he's pretty done. And then, and then you got Terrence Malick, who, you know, brings the actors on set and you know, and the cameras are constantly moving and and the big, you know, he might shoot a million feet of film and the big challenge is you got to keep the dollies and the crew out of the shot because he is just so reforming the cameras are rolling all the time. So if Clint Eastwood is ‘1’ and Terrence Malick is ‘100’, where's Andy Irwin?

AE: Well, the fact that I'm even on the scale with either of those men, I'll take that as a compliment. It was funny, we were out I was out mixing the film out in LA, a few weeks ago. And, and there's four, four theaters on the soundstage at Sony. And to to the one right beside me was Denzel Washington was mixing his film. Michael Mann was mixing a TV show over in the corner. And then Jason Reitman was mixing Ghost Busters across the hallway. I texted, I texted a friend and I said, who's the who's the imposter here? But, but yeah, I would say if Clint Eastwood's a ‘1’ and Terrence Mallick's ‘100’, I would say we're probably on the scale of 20 to 25, towards Clint Eastwood. You know, I think for us, there's an immediacy - we like live television, that's where we came up in. And the cool thing about film is, as an art form, is there's, once you get on the inside, and you start directing, you realize there's not a ‘one size fits all’ process. You know, Quintin Tarantino started out as a, you know, a clerk at Blockbuster writing on the side. And he just was a movie buff. You know, or you have a film student, like, you know, like a Martin Scorsese that starts, you know, as part of this brat pack with Spielberg and everybody, they're very collaborative. And so everybody has their process. And so, for us, you know, our process comes out of live television. And there's a frenetic energy, that when you get the right players on the field, that you can kind of just capture magic in a bottle - if everybody feels safe, and it feels collaborative. My style, if you want to get far inside football, my style is I'm a four take guy. You know, Clint Eastwood's like a one or two take guy. I mean, he's like, I remember a story about him with Matt Damon, that they're working together for the first time. And Matt was trying to impress Clint, he was like, he's like, you know, Clint. I'd like to have one more take. And then Clint, leaned over and he's like, ‘Why kid? You want to waste everybody's time?’ I'm sorry, sir. We're good. Yes, sir. So you know, but for me, I think, first two takes, you're working it out, you're getting the rust off. The third take will be good and lives in the movie. Fourth take you get something special. And that fifth take, I think you're wasting energy, you know? And so very rarely do we go past four takes. And I feel like if you cast the movie correctly, and everybody knows their character correctly, then you capture that frenetic thing of seeing it for the first time. You know that's kind of how we do it.

WS: Well, if I could kind of ask you another couple of questions about process, Andy, I,

AE: Yeah.

WS: You know, I'm not I don't know what the budget is for American Underdog. But let us just say that I'm guessing it's a lot bigger than that it was for Woodlawn, or October Baby, shall we say? And, and, you know, I Can Only Imagine, made so much money that that I'm sure it made investors and others a little bit more comfortable with, with, you know, giving you guys a bigger palette, a bigger sandbox to play in. But as you said a few moments ago, you mentioned you quoted Orson Welles by saying that, you know, sometimes those limitations really, you know, focus the mind, and, and, you know, and allow you to, or force you, to be creative in ways that maybe you wouldn't be otherwise. And I guess I'm wondering how your process has changed, how your filmmaking process you change when you when you kind of now you can kind of do what you want. Is that liberating? Is that freeing? Or is it scary in some ways, knowing that you got a whole lot more people and a whole lot more money at risk?

AE: Yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's all of the above. You know, there's opportunities that it opens up to broaden both, you know, what you're able to do, but then sometimes you get paralyzed in choices, and voices, and people telling you what needs to be. And so trying to maintain an authentic atmosphere of collaboration is important. Surrounding yourself with people that don't just tell you what you want to hear. So we really patterned a lot of how Kingdom, our company, works, after how Pixar was set up in the early days with Ed Catmull and Creativity Inc, and the idea of having this creative brain trust of filmmakers that just kind of share ideas in real time, and then you get put on the hot seat and people really kind of, you know, grill you on making the story just right. And we sweat stories. That's why we're called Kingdom Story Company, ‘story’ is king here. You know, and then the other idea is is just we, you know, we're kind of we're kind of underdogs ourselves that we always fight best when we kind of are cornered and we're in a corner and we kind of get that chip on our shoulder and we come out swinging. So we say we're not necessarily the most talented individuals but we dare anybody to outwork us. And so I think anytime we have a story that the budget goes up, we have we we always end up kind of making it like, you know, you ambitious to kind of nail to the budget that we have. So you know, we kind of back ourselves into a corner. And that, that was the case with this one and we, we just we're shooting a film that should have had 45 to 60 days to film and we had to shoot it in 30. We shot it in the height of COVID, you know, during the storm of the century coming through Oklahoma. There's an 80 year low. And so you know that, every bit of that struggle, I think showed up on the screen.

WS: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, too, a little bit about how technology has changed. Maybe I shouldn't say this out loud. But I saw a lot, you know, I didn't see the final cut of the film I saw, you know, a lot, a lot, a lot of green screen a lot of background that I'm sure there's going to be fixed, which made me realize, of course, it kind of made me very aware that there's a whole lot of what happens during those 30 days whenever you're on set and whenever you're shooting. But there's also a lot that happens later, that happens in the editing suite that happens in, you know, sound mixing and and all of that. And I'm just wondering, even from your early days of shooting music videos through October Baby, which was now what, 10 years, I guess this is the 10 year anniversary of October Baby coming forward? There's been a lot of technology change, even since then, even in the space of your career. Is that changing the way you guys are making movies? Is it causing you to kind of have to reinvent yourself on, you know, from movie to movie with learn more skills, learn to do things in different ways?

AE: You know, no, I think the thing the thing is, is it just gives us more options. Like, you know, what we were able to do on this film, on Underdog. were the things that we had wanted to do on Woodlawn. And Woodlawn was a good step in the right direction. We always say that quality is something I always chase, it's not something you ever catch. And you just try to get each better with each, you know, swing at the bat. But um, you know, with this one, the tools that have come about, whether it was, we got the chance to shoot it a large format cameras digitally, with, you know, the lenses that typically Marvel uses, but they were available, because nobody was shooting in the pandemic. And, and the just the gear. We were able to have these remote control cars that put you in the middle of the action. And I think allowed the football to kind of come to life in a whole new way. And then with like, visual effects, like like you said, you're shooting it in a way that backed our visual effects team in the corner. Like we were, we weren't doing the safe TV angles zoomed in on the field. It was you're as wide as can be, you know, low angle shooting up at the stadium that does not exist. And when we're shooting it, we're like, I think this is going to work. And our visual effects team, you know, one of our producers, Shawn Devereaux, kind of headed up, making sure that that got done right. And just the team, I didn't know if they're going to deliver. And I saw the final product on Friday, with the sound design and the visual effects and, and it's spectacular. Like I can't, I can't describe how good it turned out. It looks photo real, it is so good. And they delivered in droves. And that's just because of the technology that's come around, and the hard work that they were able to get creative and get it done on budget. And, and it shines like I can't wait for people to see it on the large screen because it holds up.

WS: Well, I can't wait to see it again, either, with all of that stuff in place. It was great. I really enjoyed the movie without all that stuff in place. And because I you know, like I say I enjoy sort of the filmmaking process. It was kind of fun, actually, to see some of the green screens in the background. Final question, Andy, before I let you go. I mean, you know, first of all, congratulations on the movie, again, I think it's I think people are, you know, going to want to see it. What do you hope they get out of it when they see it?

AE: You know, I think something just universally relatable to the idea of an underdog. You know, we tell redemption stories, we tell underdog stories. And you know, especially after people have gone through what they've gone through over the past couple of years, I think we've all felt like the deck is stacked against us in a certain way. And everybody's had that underdog spirit. And I think, you know, I think seeing the little guy win, seeing somebody struggle and not give up, continue to fight for their family, and find hope. You know, I think we crave hope, like we crave air. And I think somebody being rooted in their faith, being connected with their spouse and fighting on this journey and staying together. And then at the end winning. I think people are just craving that kind of hope. And I think it speaks to that. I think it's a shared experience that on Christmas Day people are going to walk away feeling good about staying together and fighting for their dreams.

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That brings to a close my conversation with Andrew Erwin. We’ve been discussing his new movie American Underdog, which is scheduled to release on Christmas Day. It’s the story of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, considered to be the greatest undrafted player in pro football history. If you want to know more about the Erwin Brothers, you can hear the 2019 interview I did with Andy and his brother Jon, along with their partner Bobby Downes, when they formed Kingdom Studios. Just go to the WORLD News Group website and enter their names into the search engine. That interview—and WORLD’s coverage of some of their movies, including this year’s documentary on Christian music called The Jesus Music—will pop right up.

Listening In comes to you from WORLD News Group, and this program is just one of the many benefits of WORLD membership. One of the best ways you can support this program is simply to become a member of WORLD. To find out more about becoming a member of WORLD, go to GetWorldNow.com.

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I just mentioned my 2019 interview with The Erwin Brothers, but you can find more than 400 other interviews I’ve done over the past eight years by going to the World News Group website and using the search engine to find what you’re looking for. That’s WNG.org.

The producer for today’s program is Leigh Jones. She gets technical support from Johnny Franklin, Carl Peetz, and Kristen Flavin. Our executive producer is Nick Eicher. I’m your host Warren Smith. And you’ve been Listening In….

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More at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

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