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The Making of Like Arrows

with Bob Lepine, Dennis Rainey | April 30, 2018

Dennis Rainey interviews Bob Lepine about the making of FamilyLife's feature film, "Like Arrows." Bob describes several themes, storylines, and scenes from the film, which was created to give viewers a vision for their parenting journey.

Dennis Rainey interviews Bob Lepine about the making of FamilyLife's feature film, "Like Arrows." Bob describes several themes, storylines, and scenes from the film, which was created to give viewers a vision for their parenting journey.

The Making of Like Arrows

With Bob Lepine, Dennis Rainey
|
April 30, 2018
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Raising our children—let’s be honest—is both a blessing and a challenge.

Background Music: “Like Arrows” by Matt Hammitt

Oh, it’s the greatest, hardest thing we’ll ever do

To raise them on the straight and narrow Truth

Send them out beyond their wildest dreams

Sons and daughters are the legacy

 

Pray them through this crazy life

Then watch them fly straight to

The target that we’re aiming for: It’s You

The target that we’re aiming for is You

 

To the ends of the earth they will take this light

Like a torch that’s flying through the darkest night

Lift them up, pull back the bow

Say a prayer, and let them go

Like arrows

This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 30th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.

1:00

No matter where you are on your parenting journey, it’s never too late to start pointing your children to Christ. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.

 

Dennis: You’re really going to ask me to do this?

Bob: Ask you to do what?

Dennis: Interview you.

Bob: I’m not going to ask you to do that; I just thought if you wanted to ask me a few questions. . .

Dennis: Well, you handed me the paper and you said, “Read these questions exactly“

Bob: “—the way I wrote them!” [Laughter]

Dennis: “—the way I wrote them.” That means, folks, that he does not know the answers to other questions I might ask, by the way.

Bob: Here’s the thing: this is a big week!

2:00

Dennis: No! Let me just--you’ve written it out here, so let me just tell our listeners: Tomorrow night is a big night.

Bob: It is a big night!

 

Dennis: It is the Like Arrows premiere in over 800 theaters all across the country. And it is FamilyLife’s brand-new movie about parenting God’s way and raising children like arrows.

Bob: And, by the way, I just got to be with a group of listeners down in Houston, because last week we did an exclusive KSBJ radio sneak preview, where we had listeners who were invited. It was invitation-only; they won tickets, and they came out to see the movie, and we passed the popcorn and the Kleenex simultaneously.

Dennis: Yes, I tell people who are going to this movie, “This is at least a two Kleenex movie, and you may be looking for a third or fourth, by the way.” [Laughter] But if you’re interested in going, go to our website, LikeArrowsMovie.com.

3:00

 

And you can buy your tickets right now for either tomorrow night—

Bob: Right.

Dennis: --or Thursday night; and you can attend Like Arrows.

Bob: There are some locations where you’re not going to be able to get a ticket, because we’ve had some theaters that have sold out already.

Dennis: They’re sold out.

Bob: Sold out, and so you might need to look at both nights and see if you can go. I know a lot of locations have still got tickets available. If you love us; if you are our friends; if you care about—

Dennis: You’re cashing in on a relationship, big-time!

Bob: That’s right!

Dennis: And here’s why, folks. He has become known, here at FamilyLife, as Cecil B. Lepine.

Bob: I think I gave myself that nickname. I think I chose it!

Dennis: Maybe our listeners don’t know that there was a guy who did a movie called The Ten Commandments.

Bob: Yes, yes.

Dennis: And you’re actually in his footsteps, right?

Bob: Well, hardly! But I would say that we’ve had some fun as I’ve been involved in video projects here.

4:00

 

First, The Art of Marriage, and then the Stepping Up series we did. Then, as we sat down to start to plan out a new series called FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting, in the middle of that, a movie kind of happened, which was a pretty interesting thing to watch happen. I’ll see it in theaters tomorrow night and Thursday night. It’s been pretty exciting to be a part of this journey.

Dennis: The quality of the production is really something we’re all very--in a healthy sense—proud of; not an arrogance, but it’s not something you would be ashamed to take your friends, neighbors, or family members to see. What age, Bob, of children, if you were taking kids to see this, would you take to see Like Arrows?

Bob: Well, I don’t think there are scenes that are going to be very inappropriate for younger kids. I mean, there is some family drama; there’s a scene where someone pulls out a bag of marijuana; so there are some adult themes that come up in this movie. A seven- or eight-year-old’s going to squirm.

5:00

 

They’re just not going to be caught up in it; there’s not enough action and excitement for them, but I would think somebody who’s 14 or 15 years-old—teenagers, I think—they’ll be able to relate to the story, and I think they can learn from the movie, as well.

Dennis: Bob, you and I traveled from East Coast to West Coast and parts in-between over a 10-day period, and we saw theaters that were full of Millennial parents; full of grandparents that were attending this movie. It really does fit for all generations. It resonates with the audience.

Bob: Yes; and I wondered about that, because when you’re making a movie where the central theme is parenting, and the parenting journey, you think, “Well, is this something that empty nesters are going to be interested in seeing?” But the response we’ve gotten back from those who’ve been at pre-screenings is that all of us can relate to this journey. Wherever you are and in whatever phase you’re in, you can relate to the journey, and, as a parent—

6:00

 

We’re parents of five kids; you’re parents of six kids—they’re no longer at home, but they’re still in our hearts, and the journey is still a part of our heart. So I think the story is something that’s going to be engaging for people wherever they are: whether they’ve just started their marriage and don’t have any kids yet all the way up to empty nesters.

Dennis: And, Bob, I like this movie for just the big idea of what it represents. It just talks about parenting in a very realistic, but not cheesy, way—about being a Christian parent and trying to follow the Scriptures.

This is really pro-parenting, pro-child, pro-family. It’s a great way to spend your entertainment dollars to support something that is not undermining the morality or the most basic unit of our country.

Bob: Well, of course, the heart for the story came out of work that you and Barbara have done for decades. Back in the ‘90s, you put together a parenting conference that FamilyLife hosted for years. That parenting conference is now a new video series called FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting.

7:00

 

It’s eight sessions where we talk about God’s design for parents. You and Barbara have just finished a book that will be available this fall on parenting. And we wanted to tell a story that would take moms and dads into the parenting journey and help them understand why what the Bible has to say about parenting really does make a difference in a family.

At the heart of this story, Dennis, is this message—it’s the message that nominal Christianity; half-hearted Christianity—

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: --is not going to be sufficient—

Dennis: It’s not going to cut it.

Bob: --for raising kids who can survive spiritually in this culture.

Dennis: And I like the way the movie starts, because it doesn’t start out with a typical, cookie cutter, Christian story. It starts out where a lot of families are starting today, with a couple who are living together, but who aren’t married. They find out they’re pregnant.

Bob: Yes.

8:00

 

Dennis: You know, it’s just where the culture is, so it’s like, “You know what? I think this is going to sneak up on some people and send a very positive message in a time when they’re just aren’t a lot of those things around in the culture.”

Bob: And the dad in this story is a good guy. He wants to do the right thing. He doesn’t have a church background. In fact, . . .

Dennis: He’s clueless, actually.

Bob: He’s pretty suspicious of church, and not sure he wants to be there. The mom grew up going to church, but it’s clear that she kind of drifted away from all of that, and she’s concerned about her relationship with her parents as she learns that she’s pregnant.

We wanted to start the story at a place where a lot of people are starting their marriages and families today.

Dennis: Right, right.

Bob: Because we wanted to say that wherever you are on the journey, God can meet you there and can realign your priorities.

Dennis: Well, I was impressed that when you started shooting the video for the Art of Parenting video series, you, ultimately, began to recognize you might have the makings of a movie there.

9:00

 

So you went to Alex and Stephen Kendrick.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: The guys who produced, War Room, Courageous, and a number of other movies, and you said, “Would you guys help us?”

Bob: Well, of course they’ve been friends of ours for a while, and we love their work. We love the way God has used their movies to move hearts. They’re great storytellers. Originally, our concept with this movie was that we would tell a parenting story in chapters, and each time you sit down for a session of the Art of Parenting, you get a little ten-minute portion of the story, and then you’d come back the next week, and you’d see the next part.

So I called Alex and Stephen and said, “Here’s the idea. Do you think that’ll work?” They said, “Yes, we think that’ll work.” And then I said, “I know one of the things you guys want to do is help mentor younger filmmakers and grow the bench strength of Christian filmmakers. Is there somebody you’d recommend?” They recommended Kevin Peoples, who is our director. He lives in South Carolina.

10:00

 

We connected with him. We got together and started planning this. It was in the first brainstorming meeting with Alex and Stephen and our director that we looked at each other and said, “Do you think there could be a movie here?” Stephen Kendrick—I’ll never forget—stopped and he said, “You know, there are a lot of people who have dreams of making a Christian movie, and most of them, if they see it all the way through to the finish line, wind up discouraged because it’s hard to get people out to the theater to see your movie these days.”

He said, “So you need to make the story that you need to tell for the Art of Parenting, and if there’s a movie there when you’re done, then thank the Lord for that.” So that’s what we did. It was good advice.

We sat down to tell the story and get the chapters we needed. When we got done, we sewed it together and said, “Does this work as a movie?” What we found was it actually works better if you watch the whole story all in one sitting than if you watch it with a week in-between each session, so we think, now, of the movie as (kind of) Session Zero for FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting.

11:00

 

When you watch this movie, it’s going to open you up to the themes that we’re going to be talking about in the Art of Parenting.

Dennis: Speak to, maybe, a strategy of a couple who are listening right now inviting three or four other couples to go to this movie together—

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: --and then starting the Art of Parenting video series when it comes out later this summer.

Bob: Well, I’ll tell you what we did, because we’re in a small group at our church, and so last week, I said, “Okay, do we all want to go on the 1st or on the 3rd?” I didn’t make it an option of, “Who wants to go?” I said, “We’re all going.” [Laughter] “You owe this to me! It’s my movie; you’ve got to go see it.”

So we sat down with everybody in the small group, and we said, “Which night do you want to go?” And now we’re all headed there. We’ve got a row picked out at the theater, because we could choose our seats together. And my hope is that the movie will spark a desire in the hearts of the younger couples who are in the group to say, “We want to go through that parenting material.”

12:00

 

We’re planning it for our whole church. So, yes, I hope this is the tip of the spear: not just a movie, but a movement. I hope this is what God uses to ignite what I think we desperately need in our culture today, and that is moms and dads who say, “You know what? We’re going to take parenting seriously, and we’re going to be intentional about what we do. We’re going to put Jesus at the center of this. And we’re going to turn our culture around by raising up a generation where Jesus is at the center of everything in their lives.

Dennis: And, Bob, just share with our listeners some of the more subtle, yet powerful, portions of the movie that really grab people’s hearts (that are a reflection of where the culture is).

Bob: So I think about a scene in the movie where Dad calls and he says, “I’m going to be late. I’ve got work at the office. I’ve got a project going on. I’m not going to be able to get home.”

13:00

 

And his 13 year-old daughter comes into the kitchen and says, “Dad’s not coming home? He promised to take me to the mall tonight.” And the mom says, “No, he’s stuck on a project.” And you can tell that she’s missing a connection with her dad.

Well, the next morning, she is texting somebody in the kitchen, and Mom says, “Who are you texting?” And she said, “A friend.” You know, like teenagers will do: “I’m texting a friend.” [Laughter] And the mom says, “And her name is . . . ?” And she says, “His name’s Adam. He’s my friend’s older brother.” And, just in that moment, we’re trying to say, “You know, when Dad disconnects, . . . “

Dennis: Yes! It opens the door to other things coming in.

Bob: A 13 year-old girl is going to start looking for attention and affection from somebody’s older brother. Of course, that leads her on a path where--I don’t want to give too much of the movie away, but it’s foreshadowing some of what’s ahead in her life.

We wanted parents to see that when you’re unplugged, and when your kids are just kind of going along with life and you’re not in the middle of it; when dad’s having to stay late at work over and over again—

14:00

 

--and he’s not able to take his daughter to the mall for a date, there are consequences to those types of things.

Dennis: And, Bob, I have to tell you, I did use three or four Kleenexes by the time I was done. In fact, at one point, I thought, “I’m just going to sob like a baby here.” [Laughter]

Because there are really some poignant moments, but none more powerful than when a teenaged daughter really, for all practical purposes, exposes the reality, through her choices, that she’s disconnected from her dad, and the dad makes a step to try to get back with her.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: And I’m not going to tell you what happens, but it is a powerful point in that movie! I think it was Billy Graham who said, “When one man takes a courageous stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: And I think some of the courageous stands that these moms and dads make in the movie (I think they) are going to give parents some courage to say, “We’ve got to press in to these issues with our teenagers!”

15:00

Bob: And (after) this pivotal point you’re talking about in the film, where Dad kind of owns up to what he ought to be doing as a dad, we jump ahead a few years, and we see that same daughter, now getting married.

Dennis: One thing I want to see if Keith has perhaps got out in the control booth is—Keith, do we have the song that was written and emerged as a result of this movie?

Keith: Are you talking about Matt Hammitt’s song?

Dennis: That’s it!

Bob, can we get permission from Matt to have a sneak peek? Well, in this case, it’s not a peak. [Laughter] A “sneak listen to?”

Bob: We can play a little bit of the song, yes. Our friend, Matt Hammitt, who is the lead singer for the group Sanctus Real—Matt and Sarah are among the couples who speak at our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. So, when we were working on the movie, I went to Matt and said, “Do you think you could write a song called ’Like Arrows’ that could be the theme song for this movie?”

16:00

 

We won’t play the whole thing, but we’ll give parents just a chance to hear the song that’s the theme from Like Arrows:

Oh, it’s the greatest, hardest thing we’ll ever do

To raise them on the straight and narrow Truth

Send them out beyond their wildest dreams

Sons and daughters are the legacy

 

Pray them through this crazy life

Then watch them fly straight to

The target that we’re aiming for: It’s You

The target that we’re aiming for is You

 

To the ends of the earth they will take this light

Like a torch that’s flying through the darkest night

 

17:00

 

Lift them up, pull back the bow

Say a prayer, and let them go

Like arrows

 

Again, that’s our friend, Matt Hammitt, and the song “Like Arrows” that he wrote as the theme song for our movie, which, again, is in theaters tomorrow night and Thursday night. Tickets are still available and we’re calling in every favor we know. Every listener: please come join us in the theaters.

Dennis: Hold up the right hand. “I pledge, Bob—“

Bob: [Laughing] “I will come to your movie!”

Dennis: There you go!

I know, Bob, there are a number of themes that are presented throughout the movie. One of them was kind of sneaky, but it was really powerful. And you didn’t expect to see this in a movie that is a Christian movie about having a family based on the Scriptures, but I think it’s real. I think there are a lot of families in the church today who have prodigals.

Bob: Yes; and there’s a son in this film.

18:00

 

As we watch him grow up, we see him kind of growing up in isolation. He pulls away from his parents; and parents do what a lot of parents do. When your teenager starts to pull away, they just kind of let him go. And, as a result, he winds up in a different spot spiritually. He goes off to college, and he checks out of the family.

One of the main messages we want this movie to convey. . .

Dennis: Yes, yes. There’s hope!

Bob: It’s never too late, as long as your kids have life and breath, wherever they are on their journey and you think, “Boy, it’s hopeless!” It’s never hopeless. God can intervene at any point in a child’s life and get them steered back in the right direction.

Dennis: And there are a lot of other themes and messages in this movie.

Bob: Well, let me just jump in, because one of the key themes—and we had not thought about this until you said something about it—but, as we were mapping out the story, you and I had a conversation.

19:00

 

And, of course, something that’s been on your heart for decades is the need for adult children to honor their parents and to write a tribute to mom and dad. We were able to work that theme into this film, and I think you get to see the power of that kind of a courageous step on the part of a son or a daughter—of an adult child—to speak words of honor to their parents.

Dennis: Yes, and the hunger there is in the parents to hear those words, and how they hang on those words. I honestly believe that any parent today who wants to be the parent God has called them to be, before they look forward to where they’re taking their children from a Biblical standpoint, they need to look in the rear-view mirror and just take account of their own mom and dad, as imperfect as they might have been; to stop bashing and blaming, and just think about taking honor home.

There’s a great illustration of this—a great scene—that occurs.

20:00

 

And we can’t tip them off and tell them how it ends, but you’ve got to watch this all the way ‘til the end. It’s tomorrow night and it’s Thursday night. Be Bob’s friend!

Bob: That’s right! [Laughter]

Dennis: And bring your friends to this movie, and then start an Art of Parenting group. You might say, “We’re not raising kids anymore! We’re out of that.”

Bob: You’re the perfect people!

Dennis: I’m telling you, you are. Barbara and I are looking at, next fall, pulling together six, seven, or maybe eight couples (I don’t know); parents.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: Taking them through the Art of Parenting. I just think it is a relevant, fresh way to reach into the lives of a group of young people, who are really giving up on the church and abandoning it in alarming numbers, and make a difference in their lives around one of the key callings and key responsibilities that they have as parents.

Bob: Well, imagine this next fall, because by next fall the movie will be out on DVD. Imagine saying to six or seven couples in your church, “Hey, you want to come over to our house and watch a movie?” Bring them over.

21:00

 

Dennis: Use that as the kick-off.

Bob: Have dinner, watch a movie, and, then, at the end of it, say, “Would any of you want to go through that video series: The Art of Parenting?” And I guarantee you, moms and dads are hungry for the input of older folks who have been through it, especially older folks who can say, “Here’s what we did wrong. Here’s what we would like to do again,” who will share out of their transparency what choices they wish they could remake.

Dennis: And this movie is based upon Psalm 127, really verses 3-5. I’ll read a couple of them here: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has his quiver filled with them.”

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: I’m going to tell you, raising six children was one of the most difficult things Barbara and I have ever done.

22:00

 

But it was one of the most blessed, rewarding, great enterprises that we have ever tackled as a couple.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: And we’re making a statement to the next generation. Here’s the message that we’re sending to another generation through our kids and our grandkids (and maybe their kids): The family is the greatest relay race in the history of humanity.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: Send the right message to the next generation.

Bob: And we haven’t mentioned this, but if folks will get to the theater early tomorrow night—the movie’s going to start at 7:00, but if you get there at 6:30—you and Barbara, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, and I are all going to be together to talk about the film we’re about to see.

So try to get there early for the pre-show. Get your popcorn and join us. And then we’ll have about 20 minutes after the film is over, where we can debrief about what we’ve just seen, and we’ll give you a little preview of FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting.

23:00

 

Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for information about where the movie is showing in a theater near you, and if you really love either of us, then we want to see you tomorrow night or Thursday night at the local theater for Like Arrows.

Dennis: And I want to close our broadcast just by praying for the next couple of nights that are going to have the Like Arrows movie showing—tomorrow night and then again, Thursday night.

Father, would you indeed bless this movie? Would you create hope where there’s despair? Perhaps lead people to a knowledge of your Son Jesus Christ and what He has done for them through His death, burial, and resurrection and the offer of forgiveness of sins. Thank you, Father, for the family; for how it redeems us from ourselves, and may You use this movie to, indeed, spawn a nationwide—perhaps, global—movement around parents assuming their responsibility under your Lordship and the truth of Scripture.

24:00

 

To Your glory we ask it! In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Bob: Amen.

And we do hope to see you tomorrow night at the theater (or Thursday night). We also hope you’ll be back with us tomorrow, because we’ve asked Alex and Stephen Kendrick and a live studio audience to join us. We’ll tell you more about their involvement with the movie and get their thoughts about what you’re going to see in the theater, so I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team.

Dennis: And we want to thank Cecil B. Lepine for his great work on Like Arrows. [Laughter]

Bob: On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.

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