ATM: Explain both of your roles in the film.
David: He works at the facility of Love and Action. He is a militant got converted. He has been through the program himself and brought 100% into the program. He believes he has changed and wants everyone else to get turned. My characters the others should live and die by the rules of Love and Action. He is the militant one of the facilities. As the co-producer, I have worked with Joel for nine years. I got to see this project from the ground. I got to see him prep it from him getting the book and reading through drafts with him. It has been a whirlwind experience from seeing a movie from its flesh to its eventual birth.
ATM: How does this film give us a view of homosexuality in males?
David: A lot of our performers are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. The sensitivity of getting close to the material was telling a story that was a part of a memoir. The book described the true story of a man’s life. We were honoring this. Regarding it talking about a homosexual man, it also spoke about what Garret said in his own words. The message of the film is that there is no fill in. A lot of what was done by these parents and by the program to these kids specifically was done out of love.
Even though it was harmful to him, it was done out of love. The one exact message we want to get out it is to respect the love of an individual regardless of them being gay, straight, or what gender that identifies. It is about love and listening. If we are able to preach this message in a real way, then talking about homosexual would not be a thing in the mainstream, but a normal thing.
ATM: How could another real person going through this event see themselves in this film? How could they be more comfortable in their identity?
David: The major issue is that a lot of these therapies are in remote areas in the country that have no another outlet to other ways of thinking. I am not speaking for all. Majority of these conversion therapy facilities are within the church community where the church is the lifeline of the community. Unfortunately, there is no huge access to other information. If your community is telling you something is wrong with you, then it is tough to decide this is not the truth. The lucky part is that we have some big hands with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in showing this film in areas where it would unusually get seen
The author Garret and I partnered up with Radiolab and created a podcast that dives into the history of conversion therapy. We also have a website. I thought conversion therapy was this backward thing that happened before the 50s. It was more about the physical things happening to these kids. Now, it is much more mental and emotional. Getting this information is a way for them to levitate some of the stress. We must give people options. A lot of times you do not have options because of where you are.
ATM: How could we see the love of a parent regarding their child as they go through this event?
David: I can only say this from my own situation. There is a lot of ignorance, and a lot of parents chose to parent because it just happens upon them. These are certain elements where people do not know how they will parent. When they become a parent, and they just do the best they can for who they are around. The lesson like situations in this story is the truly understand and listen to your children in what they want and protect them. This is how I would parent. In this idea, their way of protecting their child is sending him to conversion camp because the world around tells them this is what they need to do. If they listen to their kids, then the protection is from this world they are putting him in. A parent could get a sense of listening to what your kid needs and protecting them from the things they do not need.