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Actor Stephen Baldwin in 'Midnight Clear'

Did You Know

What are Jerry Jenkins' favorite films?

The Verdict

Sixth Sense

Schindler's List

Jenkins says, "I really like movies that are not afraid to be quiet. Occasionally, I like a good action picture, but the ones I tend to gravitate to are movies that are quieter, the more thoughtful pictures."

 

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FILM

Midnight Clear: Bringing Hope to the Holidays

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer

CBN.com It is Christmas Eve. Families are gathering all over the small Arizona town, but Lefty is not looking for holiday festivities. Instead, he is sitting in his car, alone, finishing off the last of his liquor. The gun that he points at his chin is shaking slightly as he waits for the alcohol to give him the courage he needs to pull the trigger.

This is a scene from film, Midnight Clear, executive produced by best-selling Left Behind author Jerry Jenkins and directed by his son Dallas Jenkins.

The duo released the project as a short film in 2005. Now they have turned the story into a full-length feature film that releases on DVD today. The new scenes that the filmmakers added have rounded out what was already a heart-warming tale.

Lefty, played by Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects), is not the only character in the film who is contemplating suicide. Across town, Eva, played by K Callan (Carnivale, Lois & Clark), is also planning her death. Through chance encounters with strangers, and perhaps some divine intervention, the two cross paths and change each other’s lives.

The film is based on a short story that the elder Jenkins wrote years ago for his book, The Deacon’s Woman.

“I had seen some research about how common depression and suicide are around the holidays, and having been raised in a happy home, it kind of surprised me because I always loved Christmas and the holidays,” Jenkins said.

His son Dallas said he had always loved the holiday story written by his father, and he thought it would make a great film. He chose Stephen Baldwin to play the film’s main character after meeting the Christian actor through the church he attended.

On a trip to Los Angeles, Baldwin was lost and stopped at a small church to ask directions. The pastor did not recognize the actor. However, once Baldwin commented that he worked in the film industry, the pastor replied that one of his church members, Dallas, also worked on films. Coincidentally, someone had mentioned Dallas’ name to Baldwin only days earlier. When the two eventually met, they instantly hit it off.

“Dallas loved Stephen’s work in The Usual Suspects,” Jenkins said. “And even though this (was at first) just a 20-minute short, I thought it was some of his best work that I’ve ever seen.”

The film was well received at the San Diego Film Festival, where it was featured on opening night. After the screening, the directors were interviewed in front of the audience.

“Dallas made the point that normally at a film festival, a film like this would be very dark and hopeless, and in the end they would both die,” Jenkins said. “People kind of chuckled at that, but Dallas said, ‘Our whole point is to say that there is hope, and there is redemption. There is the possibility for people to turn their lives around.’”

Jenkins said he hopes that is the message that viewers will take away from Midnight Clear.

Providing films that offer hope is not a new venture for the father and son. In February 2000 they formed Jenkins Entertainment with the goal of producing high-quality films that depict positive morals.

“We made a conscious decision not to be the typical Christian filmmakers who come in and say everything has to change,” Jenkins said. “We acknowledge that we may have a different message, but that Hollywood makes the best movies on the planet and to compete in that marketplace, to compete in the general theaters, we have to bring quality productions. So that is where we are now, we are trying to grow into that.”

In 2002, they released Hometown Legend, their first full-length feature film based on one of Jenkins’ novels.

Dallas is also currently working on another full-length feature, with the working title The Man Who Moved a Mountain. The film is based on the true story of a backwoods moon shiner in the Appalachian Mountains who becomes a Christian and slowly matures in his faith, losing the rough edges of his forceful personality. He becomes a dynamic preacher who changes the region forever.

The full-length feature Midnight Clear is available on DVD.

 

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