Recently, our editor Maddy sat down with Joel Smallbone of the band For King and Country to talk about the Valentine’s Day DVD release of the movie Priceless. It came out in a limited release this Fall (see our interview from back then here) and since then has gained support of hundreds of thousands fans. Maddy and Joel discussed the meaning of the Priceless movement and why this DVD release is so exciting.
TDB: What is the premise of the movie “Priceless”, for anyone who doesn’t know? (Watch trailer here)
Joel: It’s been a labor of love for both Luke and I. For anyone that doesn’t know, Luke makes the better half of the band For King and Country. He is my brother and one of the producers on the film. I was one of the actors in it, and we really saw this whole project from the very conception to the point of now, at the point of releasing the DVD nationwide and worldwide.
My character, the gentleman that I was very fortunate to play, is a fellow by the name of James Stevens. He is a normal bloke, but he is an American so I had to lose the “Aussie twang”, if you will. He simply has lost his wife in a tragic accident and kind of derailed after that. As a result, his daughter was taken from him by Protective Services. That’s really where the film picks up – in this desperate moment for him to get his life back on track. A friend of his comes and says, “Hey I’ve got this transportation job to drive a truck straight through a great distance.” James reluctantly agrees to do it on the merit of this being the opportunity for him to get his daughter and his life back on track again. So, he takes the job.
Midway through the trip one night, he falls asleep at the wheel and careens off the road. As he is out surveying the truck, he hears crying in the back and knocks off the lock. He realizes that it’s not “what” he’s carrying, but “who”. He has two young ladies in the back of the truck, so he invites them into the cab. They share that they are trying to be a maid and a waitress, and he kind of takes them at their word. He’s very drawn to the elder of the two sisters. No sooner than that, they get to the drop-off point and they meet a fellow by the name of Garo, who is played by Jim Parrack. (Jim is of Suicide Squad and Fury opposite Brad Pitt.) At that moment James realizes he has done something awful and sold these two girls into slavery.
If you can picture it, he’s lost his wife and daughter and now betrayed these two girls incidentally and accidentally. He’s just beside himself, and meets a hotel owner in this small town by the name of Dale, who is played by David Kepner. (from Anchorman and The Office) They become these kind of “crime-fighting team vigilantes”, if you will, to try to find these girls and get them back. It’s a drama, but it’s really a love story in a lot of ways. It’s a love story between a man and a woman, between a father and daughter, between two sisters and the lengths they will go to protect one another.
TDB: You told me when we talked this Fall that this was based off a true story. How did you come about this story and did you know this was what you guys wanted to film about?
Joel: I remember, going back to the beginning of the band which was about five years ago, one of the things Luke and I felt moved and impressed to share about was relationships, chivalry, and celebrating a woman’s worth. One of the tangible things we did was we made these necklaces, these Australian one-cent coin necklaces. We framed them and called them the “priceless necklace”. They stood as a reminder to us that a woman was worth more than all the money in the world. It was exciting, but it was alarming to see how people responded to this message – I think we’ve seen half a million of these necklaces and bracelets, people just grab them and rally around this cause.
So we went to our brother, Ben, who is a filmmaker, and we said “Hey, we really feel like there’s a story here, what do you think about taking this message to the silver screen?” His eyes lit up and he said, “Hey, I remember this documentary that I worked on years ago that’s really reminiscent of a tangible story of this greater ideology and this message.” So really, that was the spark and the inspiration for the whole film. We took that story and filled it out and it became Priceless the movie.
TDB: When the Priceless trailer came out, there was a lot of attention and people became really excited for this movie. Have you heard any stories of people who related to this movie?
Joel: It’s interesting because yeah, it all happened so quick. One of the reasons I’m excited about the pre-release and the digital release is people can watch it on their own time, in their own home, with those they love. The theatrical release last year was a selective theater and limited release, so many didn’t see it. But for those who could, a lot of them saw it over 72 hours, or over the weekend that it was in theaters. So it was this burst of all of these overwhelming stories that we’d heard. And obviously with the song and with the sentiment, we weren’t new to it, but there is something about the art of filmmaking that really bypasses the head and goes to the heart. It can sort of shifts your psyche for better or for worse. We certainly felt that with the theatrical release, and we’re really excited and hopeful with the DVD release that it will be the same.
TDB: Absolutely. And it’s at a very timely release with new movies coming out by the thousands that are the complete opposite of Priceless. It’s great that this Valentine’s Day we can be talking about the value of women and the value of a good relationship. I think that’s incredible.
TDB: So, what would you say to those who will end yet another Valentine’s Day with low self-worth after filling their head with all this backwards ideology?
Joel: So often I think it’s where we find our definition, if you will, Maddy. As a man and as a woman. Is it found in our sexuality? Is it found in the one that we have on our arm? And if it is, I feel like it’s a kind of emotional rollercoaster because there are so many uncertainties in any relationship and there are so many uncertainties in a physical relationship with a man or a woman. Therefore you’re dictated and and impacted by everything that takes place. Our hope is that we, men and women, will kind of pull back the lens a bit and look at this from the greater vantage point of who they are designed to be. Let’s get back to the beginning.
I believe that we were fearfully and wonderfully made, that we were created individually – all seven billion of us – and that we each have something to offer in our different shapes and sizes, personalities, looks, colors of our skin, and all the rest of it. And inside that I think there’s a great opportunity to say, “Hey, no matter what a man said about me, no matter what culture says about me, no matter what the norms or the dress codes or the theoretical of what a man or a woman should look like, I’m not defined by this. I am defined by the fact that I am dearly, enormously loved and there’s no one like me and that in turn, in every way, I am Priceless.
TDB: That’s an incredible answer. I agree – there are so many uncertainties within a relationship if you confine yourself to that box. One last thing, what can we all expect coming up with FK&C?
Joel: Well, there are two things that are very exciting. One is that the day before yesterday we started working on a new album. So we are around California right now writing the steps toward that. And second, we tracked a Gospel choir and are releasing a final single off our “Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.” record. It’s the last track on the album, kind of serendipitously, titled “Oh God Forgive Us”. It felt like a ballad and a more mellow song, but we felt it was important for us to release it on a lower level. So those are the two things we’re kind of gearing up for, Maddy.
TDB: Wow, I can’t wait! Thank you so much for the time, I look forward to talking again soon!
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