If you’ve been following the news on Secondly Magazine, we are excited to see that HeavenQuest: A Pilgrim’s Progress, is in post-production and set to be released in 2018. We don’t see too many fantasy films in the Christian genre, so this is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of the message behind John Bunyan’s classic novel written in 1678, as well as invite non-Christian friends to watch this exciting, action-packed adventure on the big screen.
I was fortunate to get a chance to spend a few minutes with HeavenQuest’s director, Matt Bilen, as he and one of his editors, Rich Molina, were making some additional edits to the film at a studio in Los Angeles. Rich was an exciting add to the team, since he’s a well-known editor involved in movies such as The Revenant, The Great Wall, Hunger Games, and many more quality titles.
As Matt and Rich debated the best approach to the movie’s ending, I was invited to watch a few portions of the emotional ending scenes, and catch a glimpse of the spectacular scenery they were able to capture from filming in diverse California landscapes. The desert scenes were shot in the same location used for Star Wars’ Return of The Jedi!
I also asked Matt a few questions that I know our readers would like to know about the film:
Adam Gellert: What is the anticipated release date?
Matt Bilen: We are still negotiating distribution rights for the film, so the release will depend on who buys and distributes it. We are hoping for a spring or summer 2018 release, but it may get pushed to the fall depending on these negotiations.
AG: Can you describe the journey in getting funding for the film?
MB: This has been a very long journey. I had the initial idea five or six years ago after reading a version of The Pilgrim’s Progress to my sons. About three years ago, I was working with WP Films doing documentaries, and we attempted to raise funds for the film. We did fairly well, but couldn’t quite get there doing a Kickstarter campaign.
I then connected with Dan Mark, a Producer from King Street Pictures, and David Kang, a Casting Agent and Producer. We attempted to raise a larger sum for almost a year. When I felt the Lord telling me to bring it back down to a very small budget to tell a more intimate story, funds started to trickle in. We were able to connect with a couple Korean producers and were suddenly fully-funded with about two months for pre-production, which is a pretty short timeframe.
AG: How do you hope the movie will impact Christians and non-Christians?
MB: Well, the source material is Pilgrim’s Progress which has an incredibly strong Christian worldview. From the inception of this project, we wanted to push this a bit in terms of action and content to a possible PG-13 rating, and also do something outside of the dramas we are seeing come out of the faith-based film world. We also took more of a spiritual metaphor approach (much like Bunyan), to create discussion amongst both believers and non-believers. Christians will see the content and understand most of it inherently, but the secular audience might need to think a bit and just see it as more comparable to other fantasy films. We’ve created mystery and questions which is always good in any film. We felt the story was extremely important as well as developing strong character arcs.
Many thanks to Matt Bilen and Rich Molina for their time and allowing me to get a sneak preview into this exciting new movie! You can learn more about the film and get additional updates by visiting the HeavenQuest: A Pilgrim’s Progress website!
Adam Gellert is an award-winning author and blogger. You can find more about his books at AdamGellert.com, and his blog can be found at ActivationMovement.com. He also serves on the Freedom Ministry Team at his church in Texas!