Tragedy Tests Faith in ‘I Still Believe’

Love and faith are tested in I Still Believe, the true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa.

In the film, Camp’s search for his artistic voice leads him to professional success and the love of his life, but his faith is put to the test when tragedy strikes. It stars K.J. Apa as Camp and Britt Robertson as Melissa. Directed by Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin, the film was written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn and is produced by Kevin Downes and the Erwins.

I Still Believe became available on premium VOD March 27 and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital May 5.

“It’s a really authentic story that shows young love going through some of the big-gest challenges that you can imagine,” says Andy Erwin in the extras.

At the heart of the story is Camp’s first love, Melissa, who fights cancer with the support of her husband and her Christian faith.

“The impact that she had on his life was so profound that it ended up launching this platform for his worldwide music ministry,” says Downes.

“She wanted to have the courage to endure something that would change people,” adds Robertson.

Camp expresses his faith and his love for Melissa through music, and to tell his story, Apa worked with music producers to hone his voice before filming.

“We had decided early on that we didn’t want to imitate Jeremy,” says Andy Erwin.

“The music that we had, that Jeremy wrote, we kind of made it our own,” adds Apa.

The result is a soundtrack that fans will enjoy, say filmmakers.

“I think fans of Jeremy Camp will hear something familiar but really unexpected as K.J. kind of reinterprets what Jeremy’s music is to him,” says Andy Erwin.

Camp wrote the song “I Still Believe” to reaffirm his faith and bare his soul. Singer-songwriter Shania Twain, who plays Camp’s mother, identifies with his songwriting dilemma.

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“You’re contemplating, ‘Do I share this intimacy or don’t I?,’” she says in the extras. “Jeremy felt it was more important to share.”

“He writes this beautiful song that begins his journey toward true healing,” adds Gary Sinise, who portrays Camp’s father.

The Erwins had Sinise in mind when they wrote the part.

“To have him on set I think everybody just raised their game,” says Jon Erwin.

Among the extras is a conversation between Camp and fellow Christian music star Bart Millard of MercyMe, the subject of Kingdom’s previous film I Can Only Imagine. They compare notes on their biopics and contemplate how their stories have inspired the world.

“Millions have been ministered to because of this,” Camp says.

Extras on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Andy and Jon Erwin
  • “Origin” featurette
  • “Casting” featurette “Music” featurette
  • “Music” featurette
  • “Bart & Jeremy” featurette
  • Deleted Scenes

 

Kingdom and Lionsgate: A Royally Successful Wedding

It was a great first date — the release of I Can Only Imagine— that was the genesis of the partnership between Kingdom Story Company and Lionsgate.

The origin tale about the Christian music breakout hit had been in “development hell,” notes Kingdom president Josh Walsh.

“At the time we didn’t really have a lot of street cred,” he says.

The filmmakers privately financed and independently produced the film and found a distribution partner in Lionsgate.

“Lionsgate really saw something in it, and took a chance to distribute it,” Walsh recalls.

The film went on to earn more than $17 million its opening weekend and tally $86 million worldwide for its theatrical run — and it spawned a marriage between Lionsgate and Kingdom — led by filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, Kevin Downes and Tony Young.

“Jon and Andy said, ‘We want to build a company, not to do one film here and there, but build a collective of artists to do something bigger than just a movie every couple of years,’” Walsh recalls. “[Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman] Joe Drake really bought into that vision and supported it in a big way. And that would become the Kingdom-Lionsgate partnership, and we’ve had an amazing partnership thus far.”

This year’s follow-up to Lionsgate sister company Roadside Attractions’ I Can Only Imagine, the film I Still Believe is the first product of that union, and like the couple in the film, the movie had to weather hardship.

After it earned a promising $10 million at the box office its opening weekend, I Still Believe ended its theatrical run as the nation’s movie theaters closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The film would have to use a relatively new form of distribution, premium VOD, to continue to find an audience.

“As filmmakers, we are heart-broken that we can’t share I Still Believe on a big screen the way we intended,” stated filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin at the time. “We make movies because we love movies and we stand firmly behind the nation’s theater chains, from the largest circuits to the smallest mom-and-pop indies that have been so dramatically affected by these unprecedented closures. But the safety of guests comes first, and we’re proud to have the opportunity to share online a movie whose inspiring message of love, hope and faith is perfect for these uncertain times.”

Lionsgate released I Still Believe on PVOD March 27, just weeks after its March 12 theatrical opening.

“We’re thankful for our exhibition partners for being understanding, and we’re thankful to Lionsgate for being innovative,” Walsh says. “We were really surprised and thankful with how that premium window went. We know it’s just new territory for the whole industry, so we are thankful for the audience that has showed up.”

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He notes Lionsgate’s marketing team turned on a dime to boost the new distribution strategy.

“With its loyal and passionate fan base and an uplifting message of hope for these uncertain times, it made perfect sense to shift gears and release I Still Believe in the premium video-on-demand space,” says Lionsgate worldwide home entertainment president Ron Schwartz. “We trust Kingdom to deliver quality films and they trust our ability to take full advantage of the marketplace. While we can hardly wait to return to theaters when it’s time, we’re pleased that our home entertainment marketing, operations and creative teams could pivot quickly to ensure that I Still Believe reached its audience, and we expect its strong performance to continue through its traditional home entertainment window as well.”

Walsh also looks forward to the disc release of the film, noting that the home entertainment window is “a big one” for Kingdom’s content — inspirational stories of faith and patriotism.

“With the premium VOD window, we learned the audience is still there and wants to see it,” he says. “I think in the next window of home entertainment, there’ll be an even bigger audience — so we’re excited.”

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