Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Husband and Wife Team Using Hollywood Skills to Produce Pro-Life Theme Films

Monday February 5, 2007

LifeSiteNews interviews Jonathon & Deborah Flora of film, "A Distant Thunder"

By Steve Jalsevac

Deborah And Jonathon FloraWASHINGTON, February 5, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.Com) – The production of a growing number of movies with a solid moral and/or religious foundation is seen by pro-life leaders as an exciting current development. At the recent Washington March for Life, Jonathon & Deborah Flora, the husband and wife team behind the powerful pro-life themed film, A Distant Thunder, were interviewed by LifeSiteNews. Also present at this year's March for Life events were one of the producers and the male star of the pro-life themed movie, Bella.

The Flora's quality, Hollywood produced 35 minute film, which was launched at last year's March for Life, has had such a strong impact - even influencing state legislation - they are now preparing to produce a feature length movie reflecting on the theme of life and its value. Jonathan Flora, a skilled producer for Disney, wrote the screenplay and directed A Distant Thunder. Deborah, a professional actress and television program producer, played the leading role in the intense drama production which addresses the disturbing issue of partial birth abortion.


LifeSiteNews: Tell us what led you to create A Distant Thunder?

Jonathon: Our first few years of being married, the doctors were telling us that we couldn't have our own children. Right away I started kind of feeling this guilty conviction because I had made an abortion decision many years ago.  I was just on line doing research and being kind of blown away by the staggering number of abortions that were being done and that was when I stumbled across partial-birth abortion – this was before President Bush had signed the ban.

I had never really understood the phrase, let alone the actual practice, and the more research I did the more horrified I was. I talked to several people, including Deborah, and also they had either heard it bantered around or they had never heard it at all and nobody really knew what it was.

I just really felt a strong conviction on my heart to try to bring this out to the public but not to do it in a documentary driven way but to do it in a compelling story with interesting characters and almost make partial-birth abortion the sub-plot. Hopefully, therefore, people would be entertained by this movie and oh, by the way, they would be educated as to what this procedure is.  So that is what we did and it has really taken off.

Last year was our first real launch into doing it, right here at the March for Life. But since then it has been involved even in South Dakota. It was mentioned in the Senate debates from the Floor and we were told later it helped garner critical votes in favor of passing the abortion bill. 

Each one of the Supreme Court Justices received a copy before they heard a partial-birth ban argument.  We hear stories about how it has helped sway abortion decisions so now there are children alive because of it and a nice letter from President Bush thanking us.  But the accolades aren't what it's about – it's really the idea that it is helping to make a difference in changing hearts and minds and by doing it in the way that has been one of the biggest influences on our culture, which is through the media. 

LifeSiteNews: What has your role been in it?

Deborah:  Well, I am the actress in it and the good thing is I have a wonderful director.  I am a professional actress but it means so much when you can act and use your skills for something that you believe in.  And, what we found, too, is that abortion is the one issue, that no matter what side you are on, you can't talk about.  Nobody wants to discuss it –you mention the word - a barrier goes up. 

So, we felt like God had given us an ability as film-makers to provide a tool for people to discuss something in spite of themselves. Jonathon is a producer with Disney – this production is separate from them – I am a professional actress.  And it's exciting when you hear about youth who invite all their friends over because it's a very thrilleresque kind of movie and end up talking about a subject that they could never discuss before because it's presented in a creative way. 

Most well-meaning Americans, if they knew what something like partial birth abortion was, if they had that information – they would be completely against it, but how do you get them to look at information that they don't want to look at.  We picked partial birth abortion because it is the most extreme, barbaric element of the abortion practice and you can get almost everyone to agree that that's wrong.  So, you start there and you take a step back and you commence discussing.

But, I do have to do a footnote – the good news is that God proved the doctors wrong and we have two beautiful children in spite of what they said.  A huge blessing.

LifeSiteNews: So, where has it been shown so far?  Who is viewing it?

Jonathon:  Well, it's been interesting.  One of the first screenings was here, but then it was actually screened in the Capitol Building – it went all through-out Capital Hill.  It has also been in film festivals and we also do a lot of speaking and touring amongst pro-life groups - which is really important.  And big churches and things like that – it is being shown in youth groups and there is a study guide that can go along with it so that people can talk.  But, what has really been interesting for a movie of this sort is to get to distribution on Amazon and Netflix and similar venues.

LifeSiteNews: How did you pay for it?

Jonathon:  Well, it was actually a lot of prayer and me bending the ear of one individual – he felt it was also right.  As Deborah always says, it is interesting subject matter, especially being in Hollywood, - to pick a movie or subject such as partial birth abortion.  It's not exactly what you would do to try to get ahead in Hollywood and so, at the same time, to find people willing to put up their own money.

LifeSiteNews: So, it is a very good tool for discussion of the issue…

Deborah: And to make one thing clear also, even though the message is very clearly pro-life at the end, it does not come across as any kind of a propaganda piece.  In fact, people who are pro-choice watch it and get enthralled in the story – its professional actors, professional crew, done in Hollywood.  Many of the people involved were not pro-life or particularly religious or spiritual in any way shape or form but they felt like it was an interesting story that they wanted to get involved in.

PART II of this interview will be published on Wednesday

See the website for A Distant Thunder


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