This is Kyle Newton and I’m with Wayne Jacobsen here in Thousand Oaks. It’s March 4th. This is kind of the final Super Bowl round of the movie premieres and we’re excited to be here with the God Journey crowd, some friends, some family, and all of that here for the “final premiere” at least in the United States of the Shack.
So Wayne, how has this been? Has it been a whirlwind tour for you? How do you feel about it?
It’s been kind of wild on the one hand. On the other, it’s been 11 years in the waiting. So it’s finally good to finally have it here. Some of our friends and family to see it. We’ve been wanting to see it for a long time so it’s a very rewarding weekend.
It’s exhausting. We’ve been running like crazy but it’s great. It’s great to be with the home crowd. We’ve got people here from 12 different states who have flown in just to be with us and with the audience from the God Journey which really helped launch the book in the early days and we didn’t have any other way to get the book out. Was that audience that bought into the book and got it out. So it’s great to have them come celebrate it with us.
Now some of the viewers may not know you or may not know the God Journey so tell us a little bit about Wayne Jacobsen. And more importantly, what is the God Journey?
Yeah OK. The God Journey is a podcast that Brad Cummings and I have done now for 11 years, 570 some odd episodes. Of he and I just talking about the journey and encouraging other people what it is to live loved by the father and to live in more relational engagements with brothers and sisters in the body of Christ instead of just going to meetings somewhere. So it’s that kind of encouragement.
We’re both former pastors. I was a pastor for 20 years and for the last 25 I’d been on a different journey learning to live, love learning to live more relationally. I’ve written a number of books about all kinds of things.
He loves me is Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection, I always say is the most significant book I’ll ever write because it’s really some of the themes that The Shack came along later and took some of those themes into a fiction form.
So yeah I’ve had a lot of fun encouraging people on this journey. I travel around the world talking to people about what it is to live love.
Wow! And what do you think about the book climbing back up in the charts. Is that something that you had thought about happening again? I mean you’re rising up in the New York, Barnes and Nobles really high, USA Today. It’s all happening again, right?
Well it’s not me. My name’s not on any of that stuff. So it’s not me. The book is. And you know, it’s yeah, we knew it would. Because any movie is a $32 billion— this one commercial for the book. So people who haven’t read it or see the movie and and go, “I wonder what that’s all about really. I want to see more detail.” So yeah it’s the book, it’s a new play. And you’ll see on the bestseller list it’s got movie tie ins. So people know the reason this is rising again is because there’s a movie out.
As you’ve watched audiences around the United States kind of experience the movie, what’s been your greatest ah-ha of their take away? What surprised you the most as they’ve watched the movie? Is it their laughs? Is it their tears? Is the revelations? What kind of struck you that you really didn’t anticipate when maybe you were watching the movie up in Canada during its making or whatnot? What’s standing out the most for you there?
I think what I appreciate the most is that people seem really, really engaged. So deep in thought. You know, the laugh lines, the things that we think are funny, they work. People laugh at the right places which is always fun to see.
But I think just how engaged they are. How many eye wiping you see in places where it just the emotions catch up to you. Even I know everything coming and I’m trying not to emote. I don’t know why but we do that. And then all of a sudden, I’m just teared up over something going on screen again that I’ve already seen a number of times.
So to watch people be that engaged with it and that excited about it. People that you wouldn’t expect, not for me with the book necessarily but they’re wiping their eyes while the movie is going on. So yeah, it’s really rewarding to know that people have got involved with the movie. And it’s not just kind of looking at it as a curiosity. They’re really interacting with the material in their own heart and that’s what we hope to do.
You know, with the book, we saw a small group of pastors and leaders speak out against the book and kind of go after it. And yet 22 million plus of their parishioners went and saw the movie. Now with the I’m sorry–read the book.
Now with the movie, we see a small number of critics rating it low. But every time you see a fan rating it’s huge ratings. People are loving it.
Where does that happen? Why do we have a few kind of thought leaders kind of tearing it down? But then the mass of the population loving it. What are your thoughts on that?
I think those are two different groups. For the book it was people who had theological aversions to something. And for the most part is– I’ve tried to interact with people who have those concerns. For the most part, they’re reading into the book. And what they’re saying the book teaches, I don’t even believe and I helped write the book. To go, “Well, you’re taking that out of context.” Like people do with scriptures. People descending with the Scriptures. You can read those things and take them out of context.
So that’s one crowd. As I’ve read the negative movie reviews from the Hollywood critics and all, I think they’re looking for a different kind of movie. And if you’re not engaged with the content of this movie I think you kind of look at it going well it’s pretty and it’s colorful but you know the acting is not very good. And you’re picking apart pieces of it. Which is fine. It’s art. Not everybody has to appreciate it.
But what I love about the the people who are seeing it who are engaged, is you can tell by what they’ve written in their blurbs, they’re engaged with the content. So not just coming to watch chase scenes and watch a movie and see if it keeps them happy. They’re engaging mentally with Max Payne, with God dealing with Mac Payne, with God making a connection to Mac. And you see it happening in their own souls and if you’re involved in the thought line of the story you’re not so worried about the movie aspects. But if you’re not engaged in that, then I think maybe it is hard to follow the movie.
A final question: as you’re watching the movie yourself, you got to go up to Canada and see it made. And now you see it on the silver screen. What’s the most impactful part of the movie that highlights or even increases what you guys wrote. I know you and Paul and Brad rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote this over and over and now the script got rewritten over and over and again. What specific scene maybe in the movie just really grabbed you more than anything else that you didn’t anticipate?
I’ll make one generalization overall. And I’ll go to my favorite scene in the movie. One generalization is you’ve got to make things simpler when you’ve only got a two hour movie instead of a nine hour book.
And I love the way this has been simplified. It was simplified without losing the heart of the content. The best, most important lines made it into the movie. So that surprised me. I didn’t think that would happen.
The scene I loved the most — I guess how they did it surprise me is that cave scene which was the hardest one for us to do. And Sophia–she is not called that in the movie. She is called Wisdom in the movie. When she’s confronting Mack– and they’re really trying to get to Mac to see, “Mac, your pain is coming from you. God’s not doing to this to you. It’s because you don’t know him as good.”
And so that whole scene when they bring his kids right there in front of him and you must judge them. That is so compelling to me. It just takes your breath away. And then when she says, “You’ve judged them worthy of love,” I think for a lot of Christians that grow up with judgment as a bad thing– to be judged by the father as worthy of love… I mean you can’t beat that. That’s just awesome.
Wayne, Congratulations on such a successful book and now a successful movie. I know it was a work of love and a work of passion. You guys have done a great job. Thanks for this.
Thank you, Kyle.