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Interview With Kevin Downes On "Faith Of Our Fathers" (Part 3 of 3)
Interview With Kevin Downes On "Faith Of Our Fathers" (Part 3 of 3)

Interview With Kevin Downes On "Faith Of Our Fathers" (Part 3 of 3)

In the third installment of Adam McManus' interview with Kevin Downes for Faith of Our Fathers (out July 1), he continues his conversation with Kevin Downes and looks at other major players in the film. [You can check out Part I and Part II.]

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Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Vietnam War, the Downes brothers want Faith of Our Fathers, which releases on July 1, to honor veterans. In fact, Kevin Downes said, “This film is a love letter to those who have served selflessly for our country so that we can have the freedoms that we have today. It does it in a way that we don’t necessarily need the graphic violence to get the point across. But it’s a very tender-hearted piece. My hope is for vets to see it and they’ll feel recognized in a way they’ve never been recognized or affirmed before in their lives.”

If the sum total of all the moving parts didn’t effectively communicate just that, these words appear at the end of the film: “This movie is dedicated to those military service men and women and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.” (The film also promotes the website.)

As additional motivation, the Downes brothers honor their two uncles who served in Vietnam and their grandfather, William Merrill Downes, a submarine captain who retired from the U.S. Navy as a Rear Admiral after a life of service to his country.

When they walked up to the Vietnam War Memorial in order to shoot the climactic scene, it was a surprisingly emotional experience for Kevin Downes.

“It was a very cathartic day. It was the first time I had ever been to the Vietnam Wall,” said Downes. “I remember when we got there. There was nobody around, no tourists. And I literally fell to my knees and started weeping. And I thought, ‘Wow! Here are thousands upon thousands of names. Each one has a story.’ I wept uncontrollably for fifteen minutes while the crew set up behind me. It just hit me in such a way that I’ve never felt visiting any other memorial in the world before.”

Duck Dynasty's Si Robertson echoed the same sentiment in reflecting on the deaths of these special Americans who put themselves in harm’s way. "So many young men who went to Vietnam never came home," said Robertson. "Hey, they left families behind who never got to know those great guys. This story is about two sons on a road trip to learn about their dads. It's a story about Vietnam, but it happens in all wars, and I'm proud to be part of a film that helps bring peace to people."

“We want to honor every story, every family, every name on The Wall with this film. That was our heart’s cry,” explained Downes.

On a side note, the National Park Service could not guarantee that tourists might not walk onto “the set” of the Vietnam War Memorial during their two-hour window between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. Providentially, there was not a single person around, allowing them to capture some priceless images. “The moment we yelled, ‘Cut!’ on the final shot, in rolls a tour bus with about one hundred tourists,” recalled Downes.

Remarkably, on a whim, after they shot the scene at the Vietnam War Memorial, they looked for the fictitious names of Steven George and Eddie Adams on The Wall. To their surprise, they found both, enabling them to get two tight shots of each instead of having to reconstruct a portion of the wall with their names etched in stone.

Both Kendrick brothers, known for their work on Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, offered their creative talents. Alex edited the film. And Stephen, the wordsmith, suggested that Downes tie together the theme of the movie with an impactful, five-sentence voice-over at the end of the film at The Wall. And he even helped craft the words. Not surprisingly, it was the perfect exclamation point!

“Alex and Stephen are very, very good at being able to focus on point, about what the message is, what you’re trying to say,” said Downes. “I value their friendship.”

Since the adult sons in the film get to know their fathers, who died in Vietnam, primarily through the letters they had sent home twenty-five years ago, McManus was particularly struck by “the power of the written word.” He asked, “Most of us are parents. How important is it for us to set aside the time, turn off the boob tube and sit down in front of the computer or with a yellow legal pad in our lap in the living room, and write even a brief letter or something longer, to our children no matter how old they are right now?”

“As important as putting together your will, you should write a letter that your children, your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren, yet unborn, can treasure for years to come. Especially about the importance that Jesus Christ plays. That letter, that single letter, could be the rudder, steering them back to the things of God,” said the Sneak Peek host.

Pure Flix Entertainment, the studio behind God’s Not Dead, and co-founded by David A. R. White in 2007, is distributing Faith of Our Fathers along with Samuel Goldwyn Films. White has been busy, having just starred in his forty-third film and having produced twenty-five movies through Pure Flix. “He’s had a great career. He has an amazing legacy. He’s still a young pup,” Downes added with a chuckle. “David has selflessly given himself to making films that glorify Christ.”

And so have Bobby and Kevin Downes. May their tribe grow exponentially!

In addition to going to the theaters on Wednesday, July 1, to see Faith of Our Fathers, make sure to bookmark this page to order the DVD. You can also revisit Part I and Part II of the interview.

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