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Pan Pacific Film Festival’s “Jackson’s Run” – Interview with Teresa Robinson

Jackson is a troubled teen who crossed the law one too many times. As a consequence, he is forced to help out at a local homeless shelter under the guidance of a compassionate pastor who introduces him to God’s love. Teresa Robinson is the Director of Global Marketing Events at New Providence Entertainment, and now wife of Executive Producer Chris Robinson (they met working on Jackson’s Run).

Ben Yonker shooting Christian rock band Second Perception who appear in “Jackson’s Run”; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

SCH: Where did the idea for Jackson’s Run come from? Is there any part of the movie inspired by true events?

TR: Well, I think it came from this: Chris Robinson, my husband, had been in the film industry for quite some time. For some reason, though, God always put a ceiling on him. But God was doing a mighty work in him. He surrendered and said, “Lord, I’m leaving this and I’m going to move where you want me to move.”

And the Lord basically said, “Okay, well now you’re going to make films for me.” So he literally called him to move from Corydon, Indiana back to New Albany to make films for Him. That’s how it began. It was about the importance of having a good  father, and out of it came Jackson’s Run.

We’re facing a fatherless society. What continues to amaze me as we’re doing these events around the country is when kids say, “I always wonder what it would be like if I could meet my father.” It’s a dagger in the heart. But it’s the realism of what we’re facing right now. I think Jackson’s Run deals with a lot of very edgy but real family crises that people face today.

DP Ben Yonker and Director Dan Lennox filming a scene on the baseball field; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

SCH: Were there any moments in the making of this film that you all felt that God was actively at work?

TR: I think through every part of the making of this film that God was at work. God can take little and turn it into much. This was the impossible movie. At every turn it seemed like it was impossible to get this film finished and to market. There was never enough funding but all the way through this film, God performed miracles and provided.

SCH: There are countless secular stories out there of main characters rising to meet challenges from humble beginnings. How do you think centering the film around God instead of some general concept of “good” contributes to its impact?

TR: I think wherever God is, good is present. He always triumphs over the hurt. It brings hope to the hopeless. I think the story of the three crosses is so important. Jesus really died for us to live. There were two other crosses: both sinners, both rightfully on the cross. But one chose Christ and the other chose to deny him. We all have choices – that’s what we’re given – but I think wherever God is, good is present and good is yet to come. Even in our struggles. It’s a way we can live in victory.

Rusty Martin gives an intense performance in “Jackson’s Run”; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

SCH: The IMPACT Challenge is featured in Jackson’s Run but as it turns out, the IMPACT Challenge is a real thing! What is the IMPACT Challenge and how did it end up in the movie?

TR: You know, it was amazing. Chris knew that there had to be a catalyst to change. I think bad habits are that – they’re habits. You have to take bad habits and change them to good habits.

The IMPACT challenge was a way for people to find their purpose through servant leadership. It’s about giving back. The IMPACT Challenge is really interesting because people want it. They’re hungry for it. They want to make a difference and they want to be world-changers. By one great act of service at a time, you are literally making an impact and changing the world.

We were getting reports afterwards – there was a lady that was going to be evicted from her home because she had poison ivy and poison oak three feet tall. No one would come in and eradicate it for her, so they were going to have to kick her out of her living quarters to demolish it.

Two young men from the youth shelter went in and cleaned it up. When she tried to pay them, they said, “No, we’re taking the IMPACT Challenge. We just want to make a difference.” Isn’t that amazing? We brought them on stage at one of the events and we gave them an IMPACT Challenge award for being world-changers.

SCH: Jackson’s Run has a cast that consists mostly of young actors. One of the featured songs is even created by 16-20 year olds. What made the Jackson’s Run team place so much faith in a group of relatively young professionals?

TR: I think we always underestimate what the next generation can do. They are looking to us to lead them. And if they don’t have people that believe in them, and that lift them as they go, we’re just giving a hand-out instead of a hand-up. The IMPACT Challenge pushes people to dig deep and figure out what their gifts. My son says, “Never think you’re too young to dream big.”

Noah McCullough celebrates a victory; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

It inspires the youth to say to them, “What is your gift? What is your talent? What is it that you know you hold inside? And if you really went digging, what is it you’d really want to do?” Because the movie is all about the race. What are you going to do with your race? Jackson’s race was shorter. What do you want to do while you’re here? Just make the biggest impact you can every single day, find your gifts, find your purpose, and live out your destiny.

SCH: In Jackson’s Run, there were several shots of a poster with John 3:16 hanging above Jackson’s bed. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s certainly an appropriate verse for Jackson to be dwelling on, but is there a personal significance of that verse to include it in the film?

TR: I think that John 3:16 is one of the most important things when you’re going to build a film around a “race.” We’re all guaranteed two things: you’re born and you have an expiration date. Everyone at some point will deal with death. Because the Lord sacrificed his one and only Son, it becomes the paramount scripture to hold on to when you’re dealing with loss.

SCH: Jackson’s Run was intended for youths, but it has touched so many people. Tell us about the reactionJackson’s Run has had so far.

TR: It’s been amazing because sometimes being obedient and doing what you’re called to do is not easy. We’ve been asked to come to different parts of the country – we did a big showing in North Carolina.

Doc A Gardner Sr. portrays a soldier during this climactic scene; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

We’ve been so shocked at the military component of this. We now have military families calling us saying, “You’ve given our family a voice.” When the soldier is broken and he can’t come back the family as it was before, it’s not just a soldier problem – it’s a family issue. Everyone in the family suffers.

There was a lady at the showing whose husband is a disabled combat veteran. She literally pulled me aside and talked to me for thirty minutes saying, “Sometimes when a soldier leaves a battlefield, the battlefield doesn’t leave them.” It’s that brokenness that affects the whole family. She thought that Chris was military because of how accurately he portrayed the experience in the film, but he’s not. It’s just that he was obedient to listen to what God wanted him to do.

We’ve also had fathers come up to us crying, telling us that they want to be a better dad – that they need to be a better dad. So it’s really become a very important family movie.

SCH: Speaking of family, it seems that Jackson’s Run has actually inspired couples to fight for their marriage. This is very interesting because the film portrays quite a tumultuous relationship between Jackson’s mother and stepfather. What do you think inspires couples  given how much marital conflict there is in the film?

TR: I think that it lets you step out of your situation. We’re too close to it while we’re in it. Jackson’s Run brings the ability to step out as a third party and look at your life from the outside in. It allows you to see it through the children’s eyes and what we put them through. I think the Holy Spirit is in this film, so I think it ministers to the heart.

Ryan Lennox on location; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

SCH: Jackson’s Run doesn’t  in a perfect bow, but it very much portrays how God will take anything that might be meant for bad and turn it to good. I think it brings a message of hope and it allows people to step back and say, “Maybe my marriage is worth fighting for. Maybe I was part of this problem.” In your eyes, what is the ideal outcome for a film like Jackson’s Run?

TR: To bring the message of hope, no matter what your circumstances are. To show that God can heal the brokenness that lies within. Loss isn’t just the physical loss of death, but sometimes it’s also the loss of letting go of a dream. Every day should be about living and making that legacy – that race – really count.

It’s important to make an impact. Become the difference. Change the world.

“Jackson’s Run” has made fans across the country excited to see the film; Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson.

SCH: Wow! That’s really powerful. It’s clear you all have a vision to make the world a better place. What can we look forward to seeing from you all in the future?

TR: Visiting Fort Knox, we met with a Lieutenant Colonel – the head Chaplain there. I called him to say that we were a ministry group and that we’ve seen how the film has touched military families, and could we come talk about maybe doing a screening of Jackson’s Run?

We are working with different brigades to see about doing showings of Jackson’s Run there. We’re going to enlist business sponsors to help us purchase movies at a discounted rate for soldier’s families. We’ll get the movie into the chaplain’s hands and to military families.

Our next project is called Gideon’s Valor: The Silent Screams of a Soldier, which allows us to realize that there are twenty-two soldiers dying a day due to suicide. We’re losing more soldiers to suicide than to battle. Jackson’s Run really opened up that element and brought on the potential for future work.