I recently watched the new movie Miracles From Heaven, in theaters this weekend, and I was so impressed by one aspect of the film that I wanted to share it with you. It's bigger than the movie business. It's something we all need to infuse into our work and lives, no matter what we do. It's something rarely identified or discussed in the entertainment business and yet, I believe, it's the main element that separates the good from the great. It's what moviegoers, consciously or not, fundamentally want and gravitate towards. And it's something Miracles gets absolutely right!
We crave authenticity.
In my opinion, authenticity is the secret sauce that separates the good from the great. Miracles is a great and emotional movie and should not be missed. (Just trust me and go see it) But what stood out to me and shines above all was how authentic Jennifer Garner's performance was. Rarely have I ever seen an A lister go "all in" on a faith based film and deliver such a courageous, vulnerable performance. It drew me in. It won me over. At the end it nearly had me cheering in my seat. Here's why:
An audience can feel total dedication and belief.
I once heard an interview with director Christopher Nolan where he said he felt the audience is smart enough to know when a filmmaker is really taking an honest emotional journey for themselves, or whether they are using a bag of tricks to make the audience feel something they themselves don't feel. Wow! That's powerful and true. Moviegoers are really good at sniffing out a fake. Hypocrisy is something we can tangibly feel and it drives us crazy! So many faith based films, and for that matter films of any category, lack this simple virtue of authenticity. They are trying to cash in on an audience, without believing fully in the product they are making.
That's why it's so special when you can go to a movie that is bursting with authenticity. You can tell everyone is "bought in!" You can tell those behind the movie were reaching to make something special and true that they fully believed in. For me, those are the best and most memorable experiences I ever have at the theater. In my opinion, that is what makes Miracles rise above the pack.
My good friend and producer of Miracles From Heaven, DeVon Franklin said in his book Produced by Faith, that people respect a passionate point of view. People respect authenticity. And that is my challenge to myself and to you in work and in life. In a world full of hypocrites, hidden agendas and mediocrity, be authentic! Fully believe in what you are doing! Take the plunge and don't hold back. Why? Because the audience knows. They can feel it. And it makes all the difference in the world!
By Jon Erwin.