“Samson” will release in movie theaters Feb. 16, inviting moviegoers into the Old Testament story via Pure Flix Entertainment.
“The story of Samson doesn’t require a lot of creative liberties,” says Producer Brittany Yost. “[It has] such a compelling story and elements that make a compelling narrative already.” She cites planning—not plot—as the biggest challenge in creating the film.
“Many logistical factors come into play with a film that’s set in biblical times. Things you don’t think about like the color of sand and factoring in enough time to attach Samson’s beard properly became huge deals,” she says. “It was ambitious to pull it off with a tight budget and timeline, but we did it.”
Connect Faith caught up with Taylor James, who plays Samson, and New York Times bestselling author Eric Wilson (“Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants,” “October Baby”), who wrote the novelization behind the screenplay, to learn more.
What provoked you to participate in a project about Samson?
EW: He’s one of the Bible’s biggest mess-ups. God is always working with people who are flawed and make mistakes. I was interested in exploring his story and what motivated him, but I also wanted to write a fun, fast-paced story.
TJ: In this world of Wi-Fi and social media, of easy access between countries and communities and faiths, this story needs to be dusted off in people’s minds. [Hollywood is] doing so many trilogies and stories that are great escapism, but true dramatic stories like this one are rare.
How do you relate to Samson?
EW: As an adult reading the story in the book of Judges, I was drawn to Samson’s parents’ side of the story. They watch him continue to make mistakes. As a parent, I’ve gone through that my kids—watching them make mistakes and figuring out how to navigate it.
TJ: The emotional journey appealed to me. I relished every opportunity to share his emotions. He’s arrogant and cheeky at beginning, and he faces humility at the end.
How is Samson different from your other projects?
EW: Unlike other novelizations I’ve written, I didn’t see the movie until after I wrote it. I just saw a one-minute trailer. The book and movie are two different experiences, but 95 percent the same story. The movie shows the action more, where the book will give you more time to know characters.
TJ: There was no difference in playing this biblical character than any of my other roles. There was such a wonderful arc in the biblical story of Samson that made it so easy but also so difficult to get involved in.
Why is this story important?
EW: Even though these characters are from 3,000 years ago, they were people just like we are. The dealt with expectations, parenthood, looking for love—the same human things we deal with today. I hope people can relate to them.
TJ: Because it is timeless—it’s a classic story. The stories we’ve learned from the Bible shape the stories we tell now; they’re just clothed in different wardrobes and character names.
What’s next for you?
EW: I had been writing fulltime up until [returning to the corporate world in] 2012. When Samson dropped into my lap from an editor I’d worked with in past, I was intrigued but scared. The timeline was scary, but I got it done in five weeks, writing about 80 hours while also working 20 hours each week. I had a complete blast, and I’m hoping there will be more [writing] projects out there.
TJ: Right now it’s all about Samson and spreading the word. I found a great love for the action side of [the film] and have a passion toward action.
Photo Credit: Pure Flix