Heavenly Deposit: Producing a Film by Providence and Prayer

I had the great pleasure of conversing with George Vincent and Rick Irvin this week. George is the co-director, writer, and star; and Rick is the producer and co-director of Heavenly Deposit, a faith-based film inspired by the true events surrounding a man's incredible encounter with God. George and Rick's anecdotes reveal that the events leading to the making of the film are just as inspiring as the plot itself. 

Candid: Thank you so much for reaching out to me and taking the time to talk today.

George: I appreciate your writing something up for us, yeah, thanks for having us on your blog.

Candid: I’ve been looking for ways to expand my blog, so I’m excited for this opportunity to chat with you both.

George: It’s a mutual thing. We can get assistance at the same time we give you material and honestly, it’s all going to one purpose—helping us expand the Kingdom.

Candid: Yes, that’s a great way to put it.

George: I was reading your writings like that one poem and the post afterwards, where you said that sometimes all we can do is pray for someone. It hit me that, sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, but it is. There’s a lot to be said there.

Candid: Thanks for reading. Yes, I definitely think prayer is a great way to connect to one another and remember that we are all part of one body. It’s also a way to deepen our relationship with God. So, yes, prayer helps, but it’s hard to remember that sometimes.

George: That’s right.

Candid: So, I’ve been reading your site and Facebook page for Heavenly Deposit and it looks like an interesting film. You’re looking at a June completion date, I think?

George: God willing, we’ll have it completed. Ricky is my right hand man through this process and we’ve been spearheading it together. We have about a month and a half left to get a rough cut in and see the whole thing with music, which is exciting. Will it be done by then? I think so. Will it be in theaters by then? That’s the question.

Rick: We have a bunch of meetings with distribution companies. It will take time to see if they want to be a part of it and to put it out in theaters. Even when it’s done, it’s going to take time. We should have the first edit by that early June date, though.

Candid: That’s great. And I understand you got a five dove rating from the Dove Foundation, so that should be helpful for targeting that family-friendly market.

Rick: That’s right! The script is amazing, the movie looks amazing, and the acting is great. We were blessed on this project. This is George’s first time writing and he just went to town. It’s a great script because of the way he put his life together. You know it’s based on true events?

Candid: I read that, yes.

Rick: It plays out really well. (laughing) George portrays himself well on screen. That’s not an easy thing to do.

Candid: I imagine there’s a lot of vulnerability that goes into that.

Rick: Yeah, and George was able to go there so easily. His acting is intimidating, really.

George: (laughing) You’re so sweet.

Rick: No, really, you’re good.

Candid: I saw a clip on YouTube and it has a very realistic and accessible feel to it, so I could tell that personal element was in there.

Rick: I’m glad you liked it.

George: The clip you saw, was that the one of the little boy and the dad?

Candid: Yes, that was the one.

George: That’s great. We put that up to give people a feel for the film. This takes place in the 2008-09 area around the time of the housing crisis, so a lot of people will be able to relate to this script, but the clip also just shows the love between a dad and a kid.

The film starts with the kid as an adult in the midst of some issues. This kid takes matters into his own hands.

Candid: That should definitely be relatable. So, let’s back up a little. George, you started your career in New York doing television, right?

George: It was really theater first. Then, I did Guiding Light and One life to Live.

Candid: Then, you went from New York to California and started doing film.

George: Yeah. In New York, I did two projects that were background work back in 1990. There was one movie, it was a big film, and I didn’t have any lines, but I saw myself on the big screen for the first time.

Rick: It was Sleepers.

George: That’s it! Thank you, Ricky. I took my girlfriend at the time to see it and didn’t tell her I was in it or anything. All of a sudden, the cast is coming down the aisle in the church and there were pallbearers and then, there’s my face! I thought, “Oh my gosh!” and she was like, “You’re really in this!”

Candid: That probably whetted your appetite for more moments like that.

George: It did.

Candid: And Rick, you also started in theater before going to horror films, right?

Rick: I did dinner and community theater for 11 years in Monterrey, California. In ’97, I came to LA to be an extra. I did the same thing George did, starting out. I played a prisoner in Out of Sight with George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, and Ving Rhames. I was in the prison scene. I remember talking to actors trying to learn what I needed to do and they all said, “You need to move to LA,” but I was like “Ugh, I don’t want to move to LA,” but once I saw the movie on the screen, it was like, “I want more!” I wasn’t happy just thinking, “Oh! I saw my shoulder in the background.” I wasn’t like my friend here, that just wasn’t enough for me. It set me off. I said, “We’re moving. We need to do this.” You were right, seeing yourself on the screen absolutely makes you want more. After awhile, I did horror films and then started producing.

Candid: That’s so cool. Okay, if Point A is where you are both acting and producing, how did you get to Point B with this project, Heavenly Deposit?

Rick: I was working on a project with a friend that George and I both had, and George was lead actor. I had already known about George. Once you’ve been in Hollywood 15 years, you start to recognize names, so I knew about him. I was executive producing a pilot that he was in. We clicked on set immediately and became friends right there. Then, he helped another mutual friend produce something. I told him, “Hey, you’re a good producer,” but he was like, “Yeah I’m just helping a friend out.”

George: Sometimes you don’t know what your value is when you’re just doing something from your heart to help people, but there comes a point when you think, “Wait a minute. Maybe I should really be making money for doing work that takes so much time.”

Rick: Well, I was feeling a certain way about the horror films I was doing because I’m a Christian. I felt like they weren’t glorifying God, but I was making excuses for them because I was so involved. I mean, I was at the point where I didn’t have to audition, they would just call me up and say, “Hey Rick, I’ve got a role for you,” and it would be with people I looked up to from 80s and 90s horror films. I was in that niche. But I also felt bad, and I prayed about it.

God gave me my answer. I got offered a role that was really bad and I turned it down. After I turned it down, I lost pretty much all my friends in the horror movie world, so I had to reassess. I started producing, because I wanted to make positive content. Then I met George and something told me to tell him I’d like to work on faith-based content. Of all the people I could have networked with, I wanted to talk to George face to face and no one else. Anyway, I told him and he said, “It’s funny I have a story that I’ve been sharing with people” and I said, “Let me hear it.” After I heard it, I said, “That’s it! That’s the movie we’re doing.” That started this whole journey about three years ago.

Candid: It sounds like Providence really played a big role in this whole series of events.

George: Unbelievably so. When we’ve been mapping out the project and what actors or locations to use, it’s just amazing how we’ve been led. My whole goal was to honor God with what I experienced and thank Him for pulling me through difficult times. I wanted to bring people back to God who are on the fence, who have lost their way, and are discouraged and have walked away from Him. That’s the whole purpose.

To get to what you were saying about Providence with this whole thing, I’ve learned to move over and stop trying to control things. I would really want this thing to go my way and try to make it, and it wouldn’t happen. Finally, I prayed, “I don’t get it, I know You want this story done, so just take over. I’ll be your instrument. I’ll work hard, but just lead me and open those doors.” Once that happened, it was amazing: meeting with Ricky, finding the actors, finding the location. Somebody might say, “This is coincidence.” No, no, it’s not coincidence. It was all God. It was all Providence.

Rick: Right. Something would fall through like a location a week before shooting. In fact, two locations fell through before shooting, but we ended up getting two that were way better. God brought us this far and, by not losing faith, we ended up getting better results and better locations. It really helped our production value. He’s been with us the whole time.

Candid: So…with a film narrative that’s inspirational, and a background story that is really inspirational, there are layers of inspiration to the whole project. That’s awesome.

George: Can I share with you what happened to start with to bring this all about?

Candid: Absolutely.

George: I had this experience of hearing God’s voice—for some it’s internal and for some it’s external—but mine was internal. I basically heard Him say something to me and, literally, when I say there was an encounter, I mean it was just something that changed my life. I really don’t want to give the whole situation away, but just know it was an encounter that involved a voice telling me to go to the bank. I went to the bank and, when I got there, there was a guy that told me something. It was after hours, and he was the only one there. Talk about things happening strangely, this encounter changed my life.

Afterwards, I found myself sharing that moment with people at different coffee shops. When I shared, I’d say, “Just take what you want from this.” What would happen a lot of times is they would be very moved and they’d say, “This is a powerful story, thank you for sharing it.” A lot of people were actually teary-eyed, not because they were bored, but because they could relate. I didn’t realize it, but I was kind of ministering and giving my testimony. But I was not that guy, I always thought, “No that’s not me,” but I found myself doing it. Then, I ended up telling this story to a gentleman who turned out to be a minister. He said,  “This is powerful, you’ve got to make this into a movie and share it with the world.”

It’s funny how that never occurred to me. I’ve always been “the actor,” so after he planted that seed, everything started going from there. I didn’t know how to write (laughing), like Rick said. I read a book to learn how. But every step of the way, we have been led. This journey has been incredible.

Candid: It’s so encouraging to think of what can come about from your willingness to share this story and tell it to others—not with any agenda or desire to give a cookie-cutter testimony. You didn’t even realize you were sharing your testimony at first, so that’s amazing.

Okay, let’s say you could talk to other artists, actors, or writers who were wondering how to incorporate their faith into their work, what advice would the two of you give them?

Rick: That’s a hard one, but one thing is to always pray over what you’re doing. I also think praying and fasting before and after your work helps your creative process. And look for opportunities to share the Word. Those opportunities often present themselves in your work. Let’s say you’re working with someone that doesn’t have faith. Pray that they at least see your light, let them be open to what you are and, without your having to imprint your lifestyle on them, let your life be the proof of God, just like with George’s testimony.

Candid: Prayer. I don’t think there’s better advice besides that and having a ready spirit such that, while you’re not sure exactly what to do, you’re willing to do what God wants you to do.

George: Yeah, I’ve been learning so much about how you have to be willing. That’s the true testimony of this film. We didn’t know how we were going to raise the money. There are so many steps. Ricky—God bless him—has produced films before, he’s done big films, he’s actually an award winning producer. God led us together. But we had to go from beginning to end, where we had to raise the funding, assemble the whole cast, get the locations. We were such a great team on that, but He led us to the right places and right people.

Here's an example how you have to listen when God talks to you and be open to receive Him: One night I got this inkling to go network even though I hadn’t networked in around six months. Then, I got a phone call, and a friend told me about a gathering and asked me to go, so I did. He introduced me to this actor (Benjamin A. Onyango) that I learned was in a movie called God’s Not Dead. Just the night before, I had looked to see who the production company was for God’s Not Dead and found out it was a company called Pure Flix. So when this actor told me he’d done this movie called God’s Not Dead I said, “I was just looking this up and learned about Pure Flix last night. He said, “David A.R. White (Pure Flix executive) is a friend of mine.”

Candid: Wow!

George: I know, right? So I said, “I just wrote a script, would you mind exchanging contact information so maybe we could talk later.” He did and now he’s in Heavenly Deposit.

Candid: That’s unbelievable that all that sprang from the inkling that you needed to go to this event.

Ricky: Then it gets crazier from there with the whole Pure Flix story. After George met Benji, who is friends with David White, they were having a screening of God’s Not Dead in Redondo Beach, and Benji invited us. You know, this was before we even had our money to film, but we went, and who was there but David A.R. White? We introduced ourselves and told him the title of the film and he said, “I like that title!”

Once we finally ended up getting the money and shooting the film, we went to the American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica and Pureflix was there, so we presented our cards and tried to set up a meeting. They were really booked, so they wanted to set up a meeting in their office, but we decided to wait until we were further down the road with production. Then we went to National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention, which is in Orlando, Florida to promote, and Pure Flix was there. They were like, “You guys are stalking us,” and we said, “You’re absolutely right, we are stalking you!” We wanted to show them that we’re not just staying in Los Angeles, we’re really trying to get the word out about the film. When we met them at AFM, it was different people than in Orlando, where we met their digital distribution people. We’ve also met their entertainment lawyer, so we’ve met the whole office and they all have Heavenly Deposit cards now.

George: Then, the other night, a friend of ours invited us to go to a Bible Study at Calvary Community Church—Westlake Village and share information on the film. So we went and were talking and someone asked questions about distribution. We told them we’d been after this company called Pure Flix and had met them at AFM and NRV. We said we’d met David White and that the poor guy probably thinks we’re stalking him. That’s when one lady said, “David goes to church here!” Here we are promoting and talking about stalking him and we’re at his actual personal church. (laughs) So once again, talk about Providence.

Candid: I admire Pure Flix and how they offer inspirational content and clean, family friendly films. That is important right now.

Rick: There needs to be a balance. You have a TV show called Lucifer, why can’t we have one called Jesus? Oh! That’s offensive. Can’t have a show called Jesus, it’s offensive, but having a show about a sexy man called Lucifer is awesome. Double standard. What does the Bible say? In the end days, they’ll call good evil and evil good. But Jesus has fans too.

Candid: Double standard, yes. Well, listen, we’ve been chatting awhile and I know you all are busy, so I want to close by asking if there is anything that the two of you would like me and, hopefully, my bloggers to pray about for your project, your professional lives—whatever—just anything that you’d like prayer about?

Rick: Please pray for God to strengthen George and I—our armor—because where we’re going, we’re going to need it. We’ll come up against some people who are going to probably be disagreeable. Also, pray for limited theater release—at least a limited theater release. That’s the whole thing: we want everyone to know about this and we need to pray for that to happen however God wants it to. We want to get the word as much as possible.

Candid: On that note, kudos to both of you for your robust social media campaign—your Facebook and Instagram—that’s all really great. I’m sure it’s generating a lot of interest.

George: Oh, thank you. Yeah, people can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—all @heavenlydeposit. It’s important because, when we approach distributers, they can see these big numbers and realize we already have a built-in fan base. Also, our website has a VIP list so that people who are interested in the film and seeing it can sign-up and give their location in the country. This way, we can gauge interest and market without getting a bunch of personal information.

Candid: Great idea! I’m excited to see this all come to fruition.

George: Yeah, we’re excited too and can’t wait for people to see this and be encouraged.

Candid: Well, thank you again, so much, for taking time to talk.

George: Thank you. And we will be praying for you also.