New faith-based movie Paul's Promise is slated to open on 200+ screens on Oct. 21 through Integrity Releasing with Home Entertainment release to launch on Dec. 6. The film stars Linda Purl, Nancy Stafford, Ryan O'Quinn, Shari Rigby, Josef Cannon and Dean Cain.
The film chronicles Paul Holderfield, Sr.'s life, who was raised poor and knew what it was like to go to bed hungry and hear his mother pray at night for food for her children. In the 1950's, during the Little Rock Central High School crisis, Holderfield was a North Little Rock fireman and remembers turning his back on a Black man, hoping he would not recognize him, but he did. His childhood best friend Jimmy Lipkin approached Paul for a handshake, but Holderfield put his hands in his back pockets and refused to shake Lipkin's hand.
Later convicted by his actions, Holderfield told his wife Barbara that he would never again treat a human being that way. Ultimately, Holderfield started Friendly Chapel and F.L.A.M.E. (Feeding and Loving All Men Equally) to help others and spent the rest of his life giving back to anyone in need. As he put it: "We came into the neighborhood when they did not want us and stayed until they could not do without us."
Fully dedicated to meeting people's needs, Holderfield built an organization that has been serving others for 30+ years, meeting the nutritional (through a soup kitchen/food pantry) emotional, physical (clothing, shelter), spiritual and health needs of others 24/7, 365 days a year.
We are honored to catch up with producer and lead actor Ryan O'Quinn for this exclusive interview.
Q: Ryan, thank you for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little about your latest movie "Paul's Promise" --- what's the movie about?
"Paul's Promise" is the incredible true story of Paul Holderfield, Sr., a racist firefighter-turned-pastor who completely turned his life around and ended up starting an integrated church in the height of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Q: What inspired you about Paul Holderfield's story to make this movie?
At a time when it was unpopular to do so, Holderfield saw the racial inequality around him and stood up to injustice. As we examine where we are as a country in 2022 and look closely at race relations, it is important to chart where we have been and where we are. As I looked at the screenplay and the book that this film is based on, I was moved by the journey of one man to truly examine Christianity and then take action. That decision was the key that changed his life and ultimately changed the trajectory of his entire life and his community.
Q: What is your role in the movie?
I am a producer and the lead actor.
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the film?
There is a pivotal moment in the film when Paul decides to pour out all of his alcohol and is confronted by his wife, played by Shari Rigby. It's an emotional scene where Paul is at a boiling point and we see that nearly everything is out of his control. He is forced to come to grips with his personal vices, his real true feelings about racism and the errant beliefs of his colleagues at the fire station, his mother's cancer diagnosis, etc... It's a powerful scene where he lets it all out and then discovers that his children witnessed the whole exchange. Paul's outburst and rant forces him to realize that he is no better than his racist, alcoholic father, the one man he swore that he would never be like.
Q: What has this movie taught you in terms of faith and racial reconciliation?
When Paul finally becomes a Christ-follower he realizes that racism, and descrimination in all forms, is not Biblical. By taking a page out of Paul's life and journey I have come to understand that we must start with ourselves when we truly desire to affect change. Rather than tackling a giant issue like this or setting out to change the world, it starts with a decision within each of us to do the right thing daily.
Q: What do you think are the take home messages for viewers from this film?
One of the main themes and takeaways of this film is that there is hope on the other side of pain. Paul's mother never stops praying for him. Paul's childhood best friend never gives up hope. Paul ultimately sees that real change is possible and the hope and faith of his mother before him are available to all who seek. As Christians we have a hope that transcends all understanding. By putting our faith in the One who created us, we can persevere and endure any hardship that comes our way.
Q: What is next for you?
I have two films releasing in the coming months. One is a Christmas comedy called "Bringing Back Christmas" that is likened to "It's a Wonderful Life" where the main characters go back in time to the first century. Also, "Little Angels" is a family comedy written and directed by Dean Cain and is about a Division I college football coach who is forced to coach a 12-year-old girls' soccer team in order to get his job back. Early next year I will be filming the amazing true story of the first black female millionaire who struck oil at age 11 and donated the bulk of her fortune to her church, schools, orphanages and other philanthropic endeavors.
For more information, please visit www.paulspromisemovie.com.