Chips, Salsa, and a drive through the cornfields of Indiana
We (The Rich Mullins Movie “Ragamuffin” ) get a lot of questions and emails.
Like, what’s your favorite Rich Mullins song? For me it’s ‘The Color Green’, but it’s hard to explain why…
We get all types of questions, messages, and emails…I’d like to talk about one of those questions tonight.
P.s. if you are new to my blog. I don’t spell check. Enjoy the bad spelling and grammar:-)
So I received an email tonight asking a very serious inquiry asking why I (we) would make a movie about Rich Mullins, who according to his perception on stage and the book “Arrow Pointing to Heaven” by our friend Jim (James Bryan Smith) ..would probably be the type of person who would not want a movie made about himself.
It reminds me of how this whole thing got started. About six months before I met Dave Mullins I remember driving around in my beat up toyota corolla on a long road trip, I don’t remember where…and I got out a stack of CD’s that are usually filled with scratches and are usually stacked about 7 or 8 inches high and jammed into whatever crevice I could find in my car. I pulled out a CD, that I had listened to a hundred times before, that a buddy from college gave me. It’s a collection of rich mullins radio interviews. I popped in the CD ( I know I’m old school…it’s sad I know…) and I started day dreaming as I listened to Rich …I started day dreaming about what a movie would look like about Rich. Although an honest confession is I’m not sure I was terribly intentional about the whole thing. In other words, I’m not sure if I purposefully dreamed it up, or out of child like day dreaming I just started seeing the movie in my head. But never the less that’s what happened.
6 months later I was speaking at a Church in Indianapolis and I found out
That Dave Mullins was one of the pastors at that church. Without even thinking about it I asked my friend who booked my speaking engagement at the church to ask his friend to ask Dave Mullins if he would have lunch with me.
He agreed. I had no plan. No money for a movie. I really didn’t know what I was doing.
He wanted to meet at a Mexican Restaurant.
I was early. I sat at a table and in walks Dave Mullins. It’s funny thinking about it now. Cuz now he’s one of my favorite people on this planet, and three and half years ago he was a stranger. Adventures and time can bond you that way I guess, among other things.
Later I found out he knew why I asked him to lunch. At the time though he appeared to seem clueless. He’s a great poker player that way. He holds his cards close to his chest. If you don’t know Dave let me tell you he would’ve made a great cowboy in the old west. Quiet and sharp.
I on the other hand was like a Chris Farley sketch on SNL. I was so nervous. Why? I’m not sure I don’t really get nervous.
This is where I’m not sure I’ll be able to quite paint the picture. You might have to read through all my blogs, listen to the occasional radio interview I’ve done, or watch an old VHS recording of me preaching to see a glimpse into how much, like many of you, Rich Mullins means to me. God has continued to ambush my life with his love through a select few. Some I know. Some I don’t. And one of those few, was Rich Mullins. So to simply give a satisfactory answer of why were making this movie, may always remain somewhat of a mystery to anyone that doesn’t know me. Because the answer is very much intertwined into God’s story in my life.
But I’ll still try. Dave Mullins sat down. We had a few chips dipped in Salsa, and I just blurted out. “I want to make a movie about your brother.”
What Dave said back to me through he course of the day is kind of a blur, partially because I was nervous and partially because David is on the quiet side. In a very good way. He has a wisdom that is beyond me. I’m the jump in the deep end and learn how to swim later type of guy. This usually isn’t good, but sometimes has it’s advantages.
Dave did say a few things that day. He asked me, “Why do you want to make a movie about my brother?”
I said to him, “First, I know your brother probably would not like a movie made about him.”
He said, “You’re right.”
And I said, “But to answer your question, I didn’t know Rich Mullins, but I was an audience member to his life, and God used that to change me (that’s the short answer), and I simply want to give other people the same opportunity.”
We had a deeper and longer conversation about life, how God used Rich to change my life while we had our burritos.
Then as I rambled on like Chris Farley. Dave said to me, “Do you want to go for a drive?”
No the nerd part of me in that moment was like, “Rich Mullins brother just asked me to go for a drive through the cornfields of Indiana.” I was so excited. So dumb I know. So nerdy. But that’s what I was thinking. Now that Dave is my friend, it’s almost embarrassing, but I can honestly say that I’m more excited to spend time with my friend Dave now then I was then, cuz he is a mixture of friend, brother, and pastor all wrapped up into one. That’s a different story.
But I will say a fun little tid bit. A few years later Dave told me, “You know if you hadn’t gone on a ride with me through the cornfields I would’ve said no.”
And I said, “Well, I’m glad I said yes.”
In the car as we drove, he asked me, “If we let you make the movie how would you do it?”
Remember. I didn’t know. I had no plan. No money to make the movie. Nothing. All I had was that Daydream. And I told him exactly that.
Even through all the drafts of the script (with even abandoning that day dream in the script) eventually that original idea for the movie. That day dream I had. That’s the idea we shot for the movie 2 and a half years later.
Now what I won’t tell you is why Dave and the Mullins family let me make the movie. That’s for them to answer. Not me. But what I can tell you is that it didn’t happen right away. We met a few times, hung out a few times, and by God’s grace and silly love they let me go forward with “trying” to make the movie.
A honest confession while we were shooting the movie, as we were reflecting on all this stuff, Dave Mullins turns to me and says, “I never thought it would really happen.” And I said to him, “Me either.”
I love when God surprises you.
I still probably didn’t answer your question, your question that I think even goes deeper that the character of Rich’s spirit. The question of why? Why make this movie? There are more fun questions to add to that pile like how? But a simple answer to all the questions is “We are not quite sure, except it seems like it’s beyond us somehow. Or at least we hope so.”
I will say that for the Christian- we don’t own much. Not our money, not our possessions, not our friends, or even…our story. It’s this crazy thing Jesus does in our lives, he wants it all. Maybe this is why Rich signed his autographs “Be Gods”? That’s where many of get confused about a testimony. A testimony isn’t ours. That’s a biography. A testimony is Gods story through your story. Not the other way around.
To get a better picture of the why…well, you never know. Maybe one day you’ll find yourself in a Mexican Restaurant and you can have some chips and salsa and then we will ride through the cornfields of Indiana as we tell you the story of how it all happened, but I’ll warn you it will be a long car ride, as my head is still spinning and the beginning of the story for me starts when I was just thirteen, and my cousin put in a cassette tape in the car, and for the first time ever I heard, “The Color Green.”