I’m in Love With a Church Girl is inspired by the true story of writer/director Galley Molina. It stars Ja Rule, Stephen Baldwin, T-Bone, and Michael Madsen, and will be in theaters on October 18. I enjoyed speaking to Galley about what inspired him to make this film.
You wrote this story while you were in prison, I understand?
I had started writing mostly as an escape so it was unintended. I would write so much, kind of like a release. When I was writing, I could feel the leather in your car and smell your food, your favorite food, so I just started writing these stories. And as I started writing and it started coming together, I realized I had a lot of friends who would read them inside. They’d be like “hey man, this is really cool, man” and it got to the point where a lot of the inmates were like, “Hey you gotta go read these stories, man, they’re cool.” When the Church Girl story was done I had some real good friends ‘cause I I was serving while serving time so to speak while I was in the chapel – and a lot of the guys would say, “I want to meet a church girl,” or “Is this really true?” So it just became one of those things where you got to minister, you got to share, you got to inspire, you got to release at the same time. So that’s kinda how it started. My intent was just to possibly publish some books when I got home, but it turned into obviously more than that – it turned into a movie and the rest as they say is history.
How do you bring your faith onto a movie set and keep everybody on the same message?
I believe that you can’t just talk about it; you got to be about it. We had a really blessed set I will say, most of the time, I hear stories now ‘cause I talk to a lot of producers and filmmakers now and there’re like, “Ah man I had this story and I had that story” and they were all these nightmares. If you watch the youtube videos, or if you go to the website and you watch some of the behind the scenes videos, you’ll see our first day on the set. And I opened up in prayer. And obviously, we can’t assume that everybody’s a Christian or that everyone believes in God or that there’s not any other type of faiths on the set. So I prefaced by saying, “Hey this is a faith based film, we’re honoring God, we’re going to pray to God, I don’t want to offend anybody but this is what it is.” And so, aside from that, it’s no different than your daily walk. I don’t want anybody to see me saying this and doing that or think I fear who’s watching me. Or who I don’t think is watching me. It’s the same way on set. The spirit was definitely present on the set because we didn’t really have any situations through the whole thing so I guess to answer your question; it’s just that we’re not any different on set than we are at church.
Even though this is a fictional story, some elements of it are based on your life right?
I had to be careful how I said those things, moving forward as my lawyer was telling me, “Hey, you can’t say this is based on your life but you can say loosely based.” There are a lot of similarities – a lot of the story is true – some of it’s not true. The things that I felt needed to be changed in the story — we just got our rating yesterday for the film and it’s a PG, not PG 13. I think we didn’t need to show certain things. There’s no cursing in this film. There’s no violence, not any heavy violence, no sex scenes – nothing like that. I didn’t need to tell a lot of those things or show a lot of those things, you could just kinda say things without having to say them. When you see these people on the screen, you’ll be like, ‘oh these are some very serious individuals’ or you assume that what they are doing is wrong. But yes, for the most part, this is based on my life and the love story part and the tainted past and going to church, so yeah I’d say it’s very loosely based on my life.
So how do you go about casting somebody who will essentially to play you?
Good question, you know it’s funny when we were casting this film, I went out to Hollywood actors, like real legitimate actors, went through the real agencies with real offers, we spent a lot of money on this film, we spent millions of dollars on this film. We didn’t go out like a lot of films, and even a lot of films in our genre with very limited resources and limited budgets and try to create something that we didn’t have the resources or budget to do. So when I went after real Hollywood talent, I shone the light I guess you can say, they didn’t take it seriously or when they saw the word “church” in the title they were not going to stereotype or type cast an actor into a church film. So that was hard. They didn’t even want to read the script. So we re-grouped and God – there’s a story in the Bible that says go to your cupboard and bring me your jars, and basically what it means is everything you need is inside your house right now. My relationships over the years have been embedded in the media industry and a lot of it was in music, so if you notice, a lot of the cast, they’re musicians, they’re rappers, they’re singers, T-bone, and Ja Rule and AJ and so it just ended up being that way. And then to try to find a pool of talent that can really act, there’s not this huge Christian pool of talent out there, or at least that are admint, “Yes I’m a Christian actor” or “I’m an actor and I’m Christian,” so I couldn’t put a Yankee hat on Kirk Cameron and say, “Hey man I need you to play Miles Montego,” [laughter] that just isn’t gonna work. And they all did such an amazing job and we’re really excited to see peoples’ reaction when they see Ja Rule act in this film.
I have a theory that musicians in general can do very well in acting because you’re telling a story with a song. And also a lot of acting has to do with sense of rhythm and timing and I think that is something they understand.
You’re 100 percent right. I never really heard it put that way. I’ve always looked at it as for example, rappers, why do rappers get on the road? They are very passionate people. They are really passionate people and acting is passion. And like you say, they know how to memorize lines because they memorize songs and to hear it that way is great. It’s telling a story in a different way so that I totally agree with you.
What is it about movies and music that communicates so powerfully with people?
I think first of all, they are the biggest platforms in the world; television, film and music. It’s global; I mean it’s even bigger than a book. Obviously a full feature film – everybody goes to a movie or ends up seeing a movie on television, everybody can hear a record on the internet or their iPod or on the radio. I think that’s how we communicate these days – that’s how trends are set – that’s how news is relayed from one side of the world to the other, so at the end of the day, it comes down to it is the biggest platform in the world – is the media – and second of all, that’s why I think – and to answer your question- we have to be very responsible in how we use it. Now can you say… imagine if the apostles had jets or internet. How fast would the Word have spread?
Can you imagine that because –think about it- these guys with Jesus – Jesus only walked a certain portion of the earth – he didn’t walk the around the world, he didn’t walk on all the continents so if they had been able to get on a jet or send a text over to the next country – the Word would have spread that much faster. So, us as musicians as filmmakers, as producers and directors, labels, CEO’s – we need to make sure that when we’re using these platforms that we are being responsible. As Christians we need to make sure we’re Christ honoring and not pound people over the head with it. But just be responsible with it and try to entertain at the same time. And so I think everyone is always going to be drawn to the movies. Like Israel Houghton said, you may not be able to get someone to go to church with you, but you can definitely get them to go to the movies with you.
I think that’s it right there. And what are you going to do next?
We’re gearing up for the next two films – we’re gearing up for one that’s called the The Promise, and it’s based on a song Shout to the Lord by Darling Chet and next will be a couple of scripts which I co-wrote which has been really fun. We’re doing the story of Job – a modern day man but we’re calling it Boj- we’re spelling it backwards – which is really cool. That story wrote itself in today’s time. It wasn’t a hard reach for that script. But I will say that these next couple of films will be very epic. We’re bringing in the same director who did Church Girl, a lot of the same team. These movies are going to be very epic in the sense there’s nothing really urban about these films as it was on Church Girl. A-list actors. Faith-based films have never been done like what we’re planning. I believe we raised the bar with Church Girl, as far as production level. You can see just by the trailers the quality of this film. Not talking about the content, just the production of the film could be put up against any Universal Lionsgate film. We use the same cameras, the same crews, the same lighting and all that type of stuff same as Union films, WGA, SAG but these two films man are gonna be real epic, meaning proportion, twice the budget. And we can spend 10 million dollars like Hollywood spends 25 million, the same way we did Church Girl. It’s about being good stewards with it and so we’re excited. Those are the next two films, Israel and I are partners now, everything that we do – we merge our companies together. We did this last record together, the G Step 7 record which is an amazing record. I think it will be a staple in the church for a long time to come. We won a Grammy on that record this year. We’re gearing up for a couple of more records, we released that “Darling Chet” record, we’re doing Bible study curriculums. RGM stands for Reverence God and Media, which means that any form of media that we can put our hands, our thoughts and our hearts to – to spread the Gospel – that’s what we’re gonna do. So definitely in the next two films, we start pre-production real soon here – and the next couple of months will be the next couple of more records and one of the things that I think I’m really excited about to be honest, is a television show that we’re developing as a sitcom. It’s a faith based sitcom, it won’t feel so faith based, but it is from front to back. We’re in the mists of developing that now for network. So that’s going to be one of our fun baby projects ‘cause it’s coming together.