I Still Believe, a new biographical film which tells the story of popular Christian singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp, his marriage to his first wife, Melissa Henning, and their dealing with her cancer diagnosis, opens in theaters March 13. The film is directed by brothers Jon and Andy Erwin, who directed the 2018 hit I Can Only Imagine and the 2011 pro-life film October Baby. It was produced by the Erwin brothers’ newly formed studio, Kingdom, in association with Lionsgate.
“Jeremy has an amazing testimony, and we’ve found that true stories, such as his, are more powerful than fictitious ones,” said Jon Erwin. “He was deeply involved in the creation of I Still Believe, was there every day of the shoot, and infused his spirit into the production.”
Camp, 42, has 32 Christian radio number-one hits. His latest album, The Story’s Not Over, was released in September. He is frequently on tour, and has performed in 36 countries. The movie bears the name of his 2003 song and 2011 autobiography.
Despite his talent and success, Camp remains “a humble and authentic guy,” Erwin said. “It’s a testament to his character and integrity.”
Producer Kevin Downes noted that he was first introduced to Camp’s story eight years ago, when he went to one of his concerts and heard him share his story from the stage. He recalled, “Jeremy’s testimony moved us to tears. It was an example of unconditional love, and God’s love for us as related in the Bible.”
A high-powered cast
The movie stars New Zealand actor KJ Apa (Riverdale, Shortland Street, A Dog’s Purpose) as Jeremy Camp, and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Space Between Us, A Dog’s Purpose) as Melissa, Jeremy’s love interest. Jeremy leaves his Indiana family to go off to college, where he meets and is immediately taken with Melissa. The pair connect over their Christian faith and love of music. They separate for a time, but are reunited after Jeremy learns of Melissa’s cancer diagnosis. They marry when Melissa’s cancer seems to be in remission, but the disease returns and they face the dire possibilities together.
Apa performs the songs in the movie. Erwin explained that when Apa was cast, they knew he was a skilled guitarist and actor. But during production, “we learned that he can really sing. I think that he discovered that about himself as well.”
Apa’s a “heart throb,” Erwin said, with millions of social media followers. “He’s also a wonderful kid, an incredible actor and the embodiment of an emerging movie star,” the director continued. “I can’t think of anyone more perfect to play Jeremy; he really crushes it in this film.”
The Erwins looked at Robertson to play Melissa at the suggestion of Apa. Erwin said, “They are great together. They have great chemistry.”
Key supporting cast members include Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Ransom, The Green Mile) as Jeremy’s father, Tom Camp, and Canadian singer/songwriter Shania Twain as Jeremy’s mother, Terry Camp. Melissa Roxburgh (Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, Star Trek Beyond, Manifest), plays Heather Henning, Melissa’s sister.
Producer Downes said, “We were blessed to have the cast we did, and I think audiences will find their performances a treat.”
On the heels of I Can Only Imagine
I Still Believe follows the Erwin brothers’ 2018 hit I Can Only Imagine. The success of that film demonstrated to Erwin that “if something is meaningful and inspirational to you, you have to trust that it will be for other people.”
Many potential financial backers had said no to Imagine, Erwin said, but, “I loved the song and story and it meant a lot to me, so I thought it would for other people. So, we followed God into the unknown.”
The film’s success was a shock to Hollywood, he believes; it was the number-one independent film of 2018. He continued, “The success of that movie has enabled us to partner with Lionsgate, and expand the reach of faith-based films, with films of better quality and a greater number. It was an amazing moment on behalf of Christians in Hollywood.”
Erwin likes to tell believers that buying their ticket is like casting their vote for the kinds of movies they want to see.
Erwin said, “We tell people, ‘If you love I Can Only Imagine, you’ll be blown away by I Still Believe. It’s a beautiful love story, based on sacrificial love, love as God intended.’”
Downes believes it is a story to which many audiences will relate. He said, “We all go through periods of pain, the question is how we respond to it. The message of the movie is that whatever situation you are going through, God has a plan, and He is there to comfort and help you, even if you cannot understand what is going on.”
Downes said that upcoming projects for Kingdom include The Jesus Revolution, the story of a movement led by a young pastor in the 1970s that “swept across California and the country.”
Filmed in Alabama
The film was shot in Mobile, Alabama. Six thousand locals turned out to film the on-stage music scenes. Erwin said, “We were having such a great time shooting the film, we were sad when it was all over.”
Managing a team of 200 on a condensed timeline was a challenge, Downes recalled, and during shooting, “many crazy things can happen.” In addition to the story, live music was being performed and recorded, making the shoot “difficult and challenging.”
The crew shot over the summer, enduring the South’s heat and humidity. Downes recalled, “We’d had a scene with artificial snow falling, but it was 100 degrees. It looked amazing, but it was hot.”
I Still Believe opens on March 13. Downes noted that it will appear on nearly 3,000 locations nationwide, twice the number of I Can Only Imagine.
He said, “As a producer, a litmus test for a good movie is whether or not it can still make you cry after you’ve seen it two or three hundred times. There are still moments of I Still Believe that bring me to tears. I can’t wait to see how audiences will receive it.”
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