Captive is based on an amazing true story that has engaged the nation. It has concerned the dramatic and amazing spiritual journey of Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols. After Nichols has taken Smith captive in in her apartment, she turns to Rick Warren’s inspirational book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” that she had initially thrown away after it had been given as a gift. Nichols asks her to read it to him as well and they both are profoundly, positively, and eternally affected by the book.
On the 17th, the day before the official theatrical release on September 18, moviegoers gathered in theaters for “Captive: Night of Purpose” to see the powerful, life-changing story of Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols in the Paramount Pictures redemptive thriller.
Those attending the “Captive: Night of Purpose” event saw a private screening of the film, as well as an exclusive panel discussion hosted by Gayle King with cast members David Oyelowo (2015 Oscar Nominee for Best Actor as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma) and Kate Mara (House of Cards), along with producer Terry Botwick, Ashley Smith, and Brian Nichols’ mother Claritha.
Sonoma Christian Home interviewed Brian Bird, screenwriter for Captive, and to ask him some thought-provoking questions about the timeliness and relevancy of this movie for a time such as this. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.
SCH: It is timely today, Brian, to talk with you about your work and its redemptive place in the dark world in which we live. As a long-time veteran producer and screenwriter, how do you think redemptive media can bring light into our present darkness and lead people into the light?
BB: All great stories and top movies that people have loved are redemption stories. This is because we are wired for them. We all want resurrection stories. It is innate within us. We are all hungry for redemption. Redemptive media points the way to the original redemption story.
SCH: How does the movie Captive show the current darkness of our world? Does it offer hope to people searching for the light?
BB: We are in a great tsunami of change in which depression and hopelessness are on the rise. We all need forgiveness and a second chance. Captive is based on the story of Ashley Smith, who had a white picket fence life at one point. But when she and her husband went to a rave, he was assaulted and died, bleeding in her arms as they waited for the ambulance.
She went into a tailspin of deep brokenness and drug abuse. She became hooked to crystal meth, from which it is almost impossible to recover. She was in deep despair, as was Nichols, who kept her hostage, after killing four people in a courtroom. However, Ashley kept Brian Nichols from going out in a blaze of glory, saving his life. In this story, the viewers see God’s glory shines brightest in the dark corners.
Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols have been two broken poster-children. However, we see in their story and in the movie how God uses ordinary people, and uses the impossible to do the possible. The movie shows how it took a killer to save Ashley’s life and how it took a drug addict with no more chances to save Brian Nichols’ life. The movie is honest, real, and raw: but it creates cravings in the audience to get further into real relationships to deal with the questions and issues in the film.
SCH: It seems that much of what is happening today is an escape from Truth that ultimately leads to despair. If this is true, how can movies like these point people back to hope, guidance, and Truth?
BB: When I worked on Touched by Angel, we saw the power of faith-affirming stories. After episodes of Touched by Angel aired, suicide lines would open up and people who had seen the episodes would reach out for help and lives were saved. Redemptive television and movies can create a hunger in audiences and lead them to take the next step to find the ultimate redemptive Truth.
SCH: What do you think is the challenge of redemptive filmmakers and artists today?
BB: Today there is a void that we can fill. Souls are starved. We can feed their souls. There is also a need and hunger for objective Truth, classic reasoning, and understanding of natural laws that we can fill. Our mediated culture needs to be led back to the Bible and great literature. Redemptive media can lead audiences to go on to read great works. To do all this and more, we need to pursue excellence, ongoing training, and continuing study of our craft. We need to each strive to become Michelangelo’s and to find patrons who will support us.
SCH: What are some of the primary ingredients for a good faith-affirming movie?
BB: A good story and excellent screenplay are a must. It has been said that “if it is not on the page, it is not on the stage.” No good movie can come from a poor script. The screenwriter is the architect on which a solid movie is built. If the foundation of the screenplay is weak, the building of movie will fall and fail. It is not “good enough” until we have worked hard on the writing.
SCH: How do you hope Captive will impact audiences?
BB: My hope for the millions of eyes that see this movie is for them to experience a second chance, which is something we all need. My hope is that the following themes for which we are all wired will play on the violin strings of their hearts: redemption, courage, sacrifice, forgiveness, helping each other, and more.
SCH: What new developments are you seeing in the faith-affirming film industry?
BB: All aspects of redemptive movies are improving. This is significant because art can illustrate heaven, stir souls to seek more, and lead them to seek out complete Truth. Rick Warren, my pastor for 20+ years, has said that if we artists will ask great questions, those questions will lead them to church for answers.
SCH: What are some of the challenges in writing and producing for today’s audiences?
BB: We need to be honest, humble, real, and need to meet today’s audiences where they are.
SCH: How is redemptive media affecting our culture?
BB: Redemptive movies and television are bringing hope to our culture. They are feeding starved souls. They are encouraging good interests and creating cravings for viewers to find and know Truth.
SCH: What led you to write the screenplay for Captive?
BB: I was introduced to the book, impressed by it, and determined to work on a movie project for it. It has taken eleven years for it to come to fruition. I’m very excited to finally see it on the big screen.
The movie Captive is based on the book, An Unlikely Angel, that Ashley Smith wrote after her miraculous experience when she was held hostage for seven hours but found her way to freedom. In her book, she shares not only her traumatic ordeal but addresses other topics: redemption, addiction, violence, death, loss, faith, love and more.
Get Captive today on BluRay and DVD in stores everywhere!