Where Hope Grows tells the story of an unlikely friendship shared between two small town fellas with more in common than one might imagine.
This engaging movie features David DeSanctis, who is the first feature film leading actor with Down Syndrome, as the delightful, pivotal character named Produce, and Kristoffer Polaha as Calvin Campbell, who is a self-destructive former pro ball player whose life is changed by Produce. Campbell’s endearing encounters with Produce get this pro ball player’s life and his family’s on track. This family film promises to soften the hardest of hearts.
Leading actors Kristoffer Polaha and David DeSanctis sat down to chat with Sonoma Christian Home. SCH Editor at Large Dawn Gregg reports.
SCH: Congratulations on the film, Guys!
KP / DD: Thank you!
SCH: David, right out of the gate, you knocked it out of the park with your first acting role.
DD: Yep. That is exactly true.
SCH: Kristoffer, the scene where your character, Calvin is pitching to David’s character, Produce seems like it would be a really fun scene to shoot.
KP: It was. It took 3 or 4 hours to film and this guy, David, is such a good hitter our director, Chris Dowling had to step in and tell him… that for the story, he had to miss a few. David was like, “I don’t miss, Guys.”
DD: I’m on a Special Olympics softball team and I can really hit a baseball.
SCH: In the film, one of the characters uses the “r” word. How does it make you feel, David, when people use negative words to describe those who have Down Syndrome?
DD: I’m part of a committee to help put a stop to the use of negative words like the “r” word. That group is called Best Buddies International. We challenge stereotypes. The writer/director of Where Hope Grows made the whole cast and crew sign a pledge to end the use of the “r” word.
SCH: In the film, Calvin and Produce form an amazing relationship. Can you tell us a little bit about that, Kristoffer?
KP: Some people carry on the outside what other people carry on the inside. If you were to look at Produce you might be tempted to say, on a surface level, “Here’s a guy with Downs.” Society has written him off. He lives alone. He is lonely. He’s never gonna get “Employee of the Month” at his workplace. The same thing goes for Calvin, but nobody can see that.
He’s struggling. He’s having trouble with his daughter and his career. He’s numbing himself with alcohol. Produce is able to break through to him. David and people like David don’t know a stranger. It’s like, “You’re a person. I’m a person. Let’s hang out.” My character is dark and brooding, sort of Shakespearean. Every time Produce comes on the screen, the energy shifts. He’s bright. That’s true of him in real life too.
SCH: Your character, Calvin really is struggling.
KP: Yeah, he is. I’m drawn to failures. There’s something about broken characters for me as an actor…I want to go into that place. Our whole experience in life is about second chances and how we reconcile things in our lives.
SCH: David, would you like to act again in the future?
DD: Yes, I would. But I also have other dreams and ambitions.
SCH: Can you share with us what they are?
DD: Well, I’ve worked at a pizza place for the last six years. I’m Italian and I’d really like to own that restaurant one day.
DD: Also, my dad was an ice-cream scooper. Even though I am starring in this movie, I want to become an ice-cream scooper in the locally owned ice-cream shop where I first sat down to read the script for Where Hope Grows. In the future, I’d like to open up my own dessert shop and call it DeSanctis Desserts.
SCH: Now, THAT would be sweet.
Be sure to see Where Hope Grows on DVD, in stores today! This is a redemptive story and it’s sure to grow the faith, hope, and love of viewers.
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