You may not believe in miracles. You may not be religious. You may even think that those who are should be locked up as radical… but by the time you finish reading all the “coincidences” which brought this project together, you’ll be ready to call each moment by their proper name… miracles.
Almost four years ago now, Chet Thomas, myself and Gerald Molen began developing a small coming of age film centered around an eccentric high school history professor who only taught from first-hand accounts of American History. Our desire was to help the American moviegoer understand a few simple principles that our great country was founded on. We quickly found that source material for this concept was not going to be easy to find, much of it having been lost. We needed someone who really knew American history and truly understood what we were trying to do.
I had, just that morning, driven my car to the mechanic’s shop and was borrowing my father’s pickup truck, which happened to be tuned into a talk radio show. I typically like to listen to music on my way to the studio but something drew me in and I began to listen. Moments later the host introduced a guest by the name of Tim Ballard, who had just released a new book about American history. As soon as I heard him, I knew that this was the guy who we needed. I immediately called Chet, my directing partner and told him to track Tim Ballard down.
Within hours Chet had a copy of his book and had made contact with Tim who was eager to be the historical consultant on the film so we began having story meetings over the phone. Now, what are the odds that I would have heard Tim on Glenn’s show that morning. I had never really listened to Glenn all that much prior. What are the odds we would be, in that exact moment, in need of a historical consultant. We had never required one on any project prior.
A month or so goes by and Tim is flying into an airport near us for a book signing so we offered to pick him up and drive him from the airport to his appointment. Having never met him face to face, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I remember it clearly as we waited at the curb in a large black suburban for someone to come out of the terminal whom none of us had seen before… is that him? No. What about that guy? Nope.
Then the blonde haired adonis stepped out, strutting like someone who had a deep purpose. It was like the first day of gym class and there was always that one kid everyone wanted to be friends with. I hated those guys. “Oh, that’s the guy.” right away I remember thinking, oh man… we’re working with Mr. Perfect. I’m sure he’s got a gorgeous wife and 3 beautiful little perfect blonde headed kids. Well… I was way wrong.…….. He has six kids, all blonde and yes, all of them are perfect.
Tim climbed into the front of the suburban and we pulled away from the curb. We all smiled as we introduced ourselves and after a few minutes of “get to know you” nonsense, he opens up and tells us that he’s not really an author. For a guy who writes books I found that an odd statement but he continued on. “I actually work for Homeland Security in the child sex crimes division.” I looked at Chet and I could see that both of us had a sinking feeling in our stomachs.
Tim then took us down a dark road, filled with tragic and horrible stories from his 12 year career at HSI. Stories about the sexual abuse of children and the horrible people who prey on them… stories that change you forever once heard.
We pulled into the parking lot where his appointment would shortly commence but we all just sat and continued to listen. All of us in the car were fathers and although we’ve never talked about it, I’m sure we were all thinking about our own children in that moment. As I wiped away the tears that were now freely streaming down my face, I turned to Chet and said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to this film we’re developing right now… but I do know what project we are going to be doing next.” We simply couldn’t sit back and do nothing now that we had been exposed to this ugly world of child sex trafficking.
I have always wanted to be a filmmaker… from the time I was seven years old. There has never been anything else for me. It’s a difficult thing to be in the movie business. There is no promise or guarantee of success. It’s simply a string of projects and relationships that lead you from one project to another until, maybe, someday, possibly, you hit one out of the park and can feed your family on a more consistent basis. You basically wander about in the dark, having no idea where you’re going or why, and praying that one day you’ll find a light switch. Calling it scary would be putting it mildly.
But for the first time in my life… I felt like a big piece of the puzzle had just landed in my lap. There was no doubt left, we were peeking under the blindfold, I knew that Chet and I had been prepared for this exact moment in time.
We made a plan. It was actually rather simple.
We would create a television show!
In the show we should shine a light into the darkest places on earth and rescue children from these monsters. Sounds awesome… but where would we find the funding for it? How would we go about actually shooting something like that? How could Tim just quit HSI and leave all that behind in order to be the host of the show? How dangerous was it really going to be? There were so many hurdles it all seemed so impossible.
Because Tim was still working for the government and could not talk about our plans together, we made a short video of what we thought the series would be and posted it on YouTube in hopes of igniting a few contacts for funding. It has changed so much since the time we conceived it… Okay, what evolved was much less testosterone driven and militaristic at this point but certain aspects of it were right on target.
At the time of this writing, we have sojourned on over 25 rescue operations with Tim’s organization, OURrescue.org and brought to safety 413 children while imprisoning 137 traffickers. We have filmed on 4 different continents, traveled over a million miles
Now, you may not believe in God or miracles yet… but we’d be willing to bet that every one of those 413 children do.