and to be relevant wherever it is needed, but to reduplicate services that are provided through other idioms may not be as necessary today as it was in the ‘60s, when it was so difficult to amass our communities and to disperse information.
EBONY: You’re already behind two big films, what else are you eyeballing?
TDJ: Well, we’re working on Heaven is for Real. I’ve been asked to be the producer on Heaven is for Real and it is a very popular book that was on the New York Times list—it sold about 3 million copies—and is about a young boy who, while he was on the surgical table, said he went to heaven and describes it vividly and wrote a book about it. We’re planning to do a film about that. That is yet in process. And the other thing that might help people understand that it’s not my church that does the films, it’s TD Jakes Enterprises that does the films and I’m under TDJ Enterprises. We’re also doing independent films, apart from Sony Pictures to the extent that we’re able to amass investors and do projects that may not be a good match for Sony, but are still films that I think have an audience out there for and we want to continue to do those as well.
EBONY: Are you developing new filmmakers under that arm?
TDJ: Well, not necessarily new filmmakers as much as it is telling our stories and taking control of how those stories are told. I find that if you want real purity of stories, sometimes you have to work within and other times without the Hollywood system in order to produce films. Had Mel Gibson tried to run The Passion of the Christ through the traditional Hollywood machine it would have never gotten made. And that’s just an example of a faith-based film that wouldn’t have gotten the nod from Hollywood because it did not really believe that there was the kind of audience out there that existed. So the reason that we do independent film is so that we are not totally controlled by the Hollywood system when it comes to stories of interest that we think would find a welcome audience throughout our constituency that may not be a good match for the traditional Hollywood model.