Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 09/25/23
Real reality. Premiering nationwide in theaters this Thursday (9/28), The Blind reveals the powerful true love and redemption story of Phil and Kay Robertson before they shot to fame on the reality TV phenomenon The Duck Dynasty. Will and Korie Robertson, the couple’s well-known son and daughter-in-law, are among the film’s producers. They spoke with me about what it’s like telling a story that hits so close to home.
JWK: How did this film come about?
Korie Robertson: After Duck Dynasty ended we knew we wanted to do more in entertainment because we felt like we had just really seen the power of entertainment…We thought, okay, what else can we do? We started a production company called Tread Lively and just talked about projects and what we wanted to do.
The story of Phil and Kay’s life has just been so impactful to so many people. They’ve told it numerous times. They’ve written about…and so we thought, okay, why don’t we put that on the big screen and see what happens. It’s a little bit intimidating to go in and your first thing out of the gate is your family’s story. So, we knew we had to get it right – and a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the last two years and here we are.
JWK: As you say, making a story about your family’s life is very personal. What was that experience like?
Will Robertson: It was kind of surreal, you know, watching my parents in a younger phase of their life. My grandson plays me. I was two at the time. So, that was kind of cool to see that happen but it was also tough. I mean it’s tough watching a really dark point in (your parents’) lives being played out in a movie. It was kind of difficult to watch but we were thankful that it worked out (for them) because had that went differently my whole life would be different. (The film is) a testimony to how Mom kinda stuck with Dad even though he was at a really bad place – but, you know, he found the Lord and that really changed his life. All that’s revealed by the end of the movie where he finally finds his way and then she forgives him and they stayed together. So, here we are now fifty years later and we’re still celebrating them.
JWK: Was there any concern expressed within the family about making this movie?
KR: There really wasn’t. Phil and Kay have always been real open with their story…Phil has said numerous times that he’s embarrassed by that part of his life. I think it is hard to see the hardest part of your life on the screen but, ever since Day One of this conversation, Phil and Kay have both said if it saves a family, if it turns someone to Jesus, if it changes someone’s life then it’s absolutely worth going through whatever embarrassment this might cause.
The neat thing about it was we got to do it with Phil and Kay. We sat down with them and just recorded them telling their story. So, a lot of the lines in the movie (and) the scripting of the movie was just words straight out of their mouths. So, it’s not like “based on a true story” after someone’s already passed and us kind of imagining what it might have been like. This is really a true story from their own words onto the screen.
JWK: Was it kind of cathartic to get this story out there onscreen?
KR: You know, throughout the time of us making this film we had a couple of times where we came together in prayer (about) some of the harder scenes. There were definitely tears. I haven’t seen Phil cry a whole lot in my lifetime but there were definitely tears. I think it was cathartic for them.
JWK: Willie, how did seeing your parents’ struggle and redemption played out on the screen affect you?
WR: Again, I’ve heard their story my whole life. I guess it affected me in a deeper way to see it played out – just as a real vivid reminder of kinda of where they were in their life. We’ve all told that story a lot because they’ve been open about where they were…It wasn’t like they were trying to hide it or anything. I guess, for me, it gave me a deeper appreciation of all they went through and gotten through.
JWK: What do you hope people take from this movie?
WR: That there’s lifechange. The reason we showed the hard aspects (of their story) is to show people that there’s hope. Marriages can turn around. Relationships can turn around. Lives can change. God can do some amazing things. If they wouldn’t have stayed together, there wouldn’t have been a duck call company – and, if that was the case, there wasn’t going to be a TV show to come off of that…I just hope that people can maybe see someone in the movie that they can resonate with. It could be my dad’s sister who never gave up on him, my mom who had to forgive him (or) my dad who had to change his life and become a new person…There was a pastor who went to a bar and preached the Gospel to Phil which is insane to think about him doing that. So, yeah, maybe they’ll find themselves somewhere in the movie and they can realize that no one is ever beyond hope.
JWK: So, what’s next for you both now. You have a production company. Are you going to make more movies?
KR: Yeah, we hope to. We really believe in positive storytelling that offers hope and is actually redeeming for culture rather than degrading culture. So, we hope to do more of that.
John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11