Monthly Archives: August 2014

“Good Movies Make You Care…”


In my last post, I shared a couple of personal moments that planted some of the initial seeds of inspiration that many, many years later eventually bloomed into Old Fashioned.

Today, since I get asked the question a fair amount, I thought I’d follow up with what, specifically, led me to begin the creation of Old Fashioned, in earnest.

For those that are curious, here’s a little bit of “the why” beneath the surface…


My heart had lost its way and I was trying to remember the way home…

At its most stripped down, most transparent… that was the spark of inception that led to my writing and directing of the feature film Old Fashioned.

But the deeper inspiration came when I looked around and witnessed that I wasn’t alone, not by a long shot.  The landscape of singles I knew at the time (most in their 20s and 30s) was a romantic wasteland full of wounded and broken lovers hanging on by the thinnest of threads, but desperately wanting to still believe…

In love, in redemption, in the idea that some things are worth holding onto to, worth fighting for…

That respect and honor and integrity still had a place in this world…

That it wasn’t over for them, no matter what mistakes or bad choices or hurts called out to them from the past…

That there was, still, a chance they might find the safe place they were longing for.

It got me thinking about the wide variety of different approaches to dating and courtship… about what was good with the “American” way of approaching romantic relationships and what was lacking, at least from my perspective and experience.

What if a film aimed to take seriously the idea of love?  To do more than just give a wink and a nod to the prevailing ironic, casual, and sometimes even cynical approach to such things?  Do more than just hold up a mirror to the contemporary and obvious?  What if a film unabashedly affirmed the notion that perhaps these things have much more weight than current mores might often suggest; in profound and lasting ways, they matter.  What we say and how we treat each other, matters.  What we do with one another’s hearts, matters.

Pauline Kael once said that “good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again.”

Of course I believe that films should entertain; I believe that films should add to the discussion of ideas.  But my greatest hope and prayer for Old Fashioned is that it might do just what Pauline Kael said…

That it might help hearts in need of healing to believe in possibilities again… help hearts that have given up, to care again.

– Rik


The Unlikely Man Who Inspired ‘Old Fashioned’

With a movie that has a title like Old Fashioned—that features a storyline about an out-of-step, counter-cultural approach to modern love and romance—it’s to be expected that all manner of assumptions will be made about the background of the person creating such a thing.

Throw in the word “courtship” and that just takes it over the top.

As I mentioned in my last post, the online debate about courtship/dating I discovered had a lot of discussion and push-back offered by readers that were coming from backgrounds that were fairly sheltered, etc.

One might predictably conclude that is my background as well.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I wasn’t homeschooled.  I didn’t grow up in a repressive or overly restrictive religious environment.  My parents didn’t buy me a chastity belt when I hit puberty.

Truth is, my moral compass was almost completely defined and shaped by American pop culture—music, movies, TV.  They peddled the goods, and I bought.  At the feet of Hollywood and rock gods I sat… and I learned.  I learned a lot of lessons that it took me years to unlearn, actually…

I was anything BUT Old Fashioned.

So much so, that when I first heard the two ideas that were the initial seeds that eventually grew into this movie and the two books and all the controversy… well, to me, those ideas were so new, so foreign that they almost sounded like they were from outer space or something.  To some of you, they still might.

What were they?

The first was inspired by a very famous evangelist who had made a pact with his ministry leaders that included the principle of none of them ever being alone with any woman that was not his wife—not at all, ever, period.  What?!?  Seriously?!?  It was no joke and it was a concept I had never even heard, let alone considered.  I’ll never know why exactly, but that kind of commitment to respect and honor stopped me in my tracks.  A seed was planted…

The other idea was based on the true story of a young couple that made the choice to not kiss until their wedding day.  Again, this was so far outside my box at the time I couldn’t even imagine people like that actually existed.  But for some reason, the story didn’t make me laugh or cringe… it pulled at my heart.  Against all odds, another seed was planted…

Now, I’m not claiming that I immediately began to apply both of those principles to my life at that very moment… or that I’ve lived them out perfectly, ever since.  Nor would I want to imply that those two novel ideas must be the definitive standard for everyone.

But, the love and wisdom behind both of those stories, those peculiar notions… in regard to being intentional, in making choices far in advance—long before any temptation might arise—there is something there that remains worthy of reflection.

And well over a decade after I first heard both of those stories, I would find the characters of Clay and Amber struggling with those very concepts—in very flawed and human ways—in my screenplay for Old Fashioned.  All because of seeds planted by someone simply sharing a story…

You have no idea of the difference YOUR story might have in the life of another.  Never underestimate how God might take even your scars and regrets and make them blossom into something beautiful.

– Rik

P.S. For the record, that “famous evangelist” was Billy Graham and the pact with his leadership was called “The Modesto Manifesto.”  I’ve never written about this before, nor personally shared my gratitude, officially.  Thank you, Reverend Graham.  Thank you…


Virtue is its Own Reward

The blog about courtship that I linked to in my last post has continued to seriously stir the pot and receive both a lot support and criticism all at the same time… just like most hot-button topics.

I don’t really want to dive into that debate head-on, but I couldn’t help but make one small, general observation amidst all the diatribes that got me thinking along some very personal lines…

Made me reflect on some memories from my own life, some of which actually ended up being the first seeds planted that—many years later—fully blossomed and led me to write the screenplay for Old Fashioned.

First, the observation: In this current debate about courtship/dating, it seems to me that a lot of the strongest push-back is coming from folks that come from highly conservative, restrictive religious environments of one sort or another.

And that makes sense to me, especially in scenarios where young people didn’t necessarily make these decisions for themselves and/or attempted to do everything the “right” way and yet still find themselves alone or in a bad marriage or otherwise unsatisfied in their romantic lives.

When things don’t work out the way we want, we need to find a reason… someone or something to blame.  In doing so, we often tend to demonize the familiar or naively romanticize other systems/lifestyles/cultures that—from the outside—seem to possess the greener pastures for which we are longing.

But there is no formula, no sure-fire perfect path to Utopia (in terms of temporal results).  Not on this Earth.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue the good and noble; we should.  And that goes for all areas of our lives—not just romantic.  But we should “do the right thing” for its own sake, not as some kind of bargain with God to ensure that everything works out for our ease and comfort as long as we make no serious mistakes.

The world is a mess and we aren’t in control of others or much at all, really.  You can make all the best choices… live within the lines… never sin at all… and people can still hurt you.  Bad things can still happen to you.  Just ask Jesus.

To be a hero is to let virtue be its own reward.  When it comes to affairs of the heart, this world needs a whole lot more heroes…

And I know for a fact that the “other side” (the one that isn’t restrictively religious, etc.) is no picnic, either… because that’s where I grew up.  How that relates to the above and how it helped lead to the writing of Old Fashioned?  Next time…

– Rik


What Do You Mean by Courtship?

An interesting blog questioning the idea of courtship (loosely defined) made the rounds about a week ago and has stirred a lot of discussion and debate.  If such things interest you, it might be worth a look:

From my reading, it seems like there is a rather wide variety of definitions when it comes to what the word courtship means or to what it is referring, exactly.  What, in fact, courtship is or isn’t.

On one end of the spectrum, the descriptions are fairly broad and apply to many cultures over the centuries and include the ideas of intention, accountability, mutual respect, and the avoidance of unwise isolation, etc.

On the other end, things can get quite a bit more specific and lengthy and more uniquely of this moment in time and the modern “courtship movement” that has gained a lot of traction in some circles.

How does this relate to our little indie film?  Well, the tagline for Old Fashioned is…

“A former frat boy and a free-spirited woman together attempt the impossible: an ‘old-fashioned’ courtship in contemporary America.”

So, in that context, what does that mean… exactly?

Good question.  Ultimately, the film will have to answer that for itself… and I don’t want to give away too much this far in advance.  But, what I can say here is that Old Fashioned is far more about grown-up second chances than it is about first love under strict parental supervision, etc.

The guy and girl in our love story aren’t teenagers and they both bring some brokenness and baggage to their search for something greater than just another hook-up or a culture that routinely makes light of the objectification of both women and men.

Old Fashioned is about the challenging yet joyful exploration to find—against tremendous odds—the kind of romantic wholeness and healing relationships for which God created all of us… whether it’s called courtship or dating or fill-in-the-blank, however defined.

But, since we are indeed on the topic of definitions…


“The wooing of one person by another” (

“The activities that occur when people are developing a romantic relationship that could lead to marriage or the period of time when such activities occur” (

For the record, if there is any doubt, both of those particular interpretations would definitely apply to the love story found in Old Fashioned.

– Rik


Time, MTV, and our “Better Angels”

For the next blog, I’ll be turning the page and moving on from the subject of Old Fashioned v. Fifty Shades of Grey (at least for a little bit), but first…

A quick follow up to my last post, which was only half of the story.  The other half is that we have been genuinely overwhelmed with an online avalanche of love and support from all over the world (literally).  We are not alone.  There is quite a large, diverse, and vocal group of hopeful souls out there that longs to see a different kind of love story lifted up… in both the movies and in life.

And finally, to be fair, I was rather impressed by how equitable and objective a good portion of the press coverage actually was.  Here is a small sample of what followed our Variety announcement:



International Business Times


This is all incredibly encouraging.

One, because it renews my faith that “the better angels of our nature” still have a fighting chance in this world.  And two, it hints at the possibility that not absolutely everyone in the media has bowed his or her knee to the Fifty Shades juggernaut.

We have struck a chord.  Awakened something good, I think…

And it’s not just us Ned Flanders of the world that are pushing back or raising valid questions and concerns.  In fact, Old Fashioned may indeed have allies (for a wide variety of reasons) that travel far outside of the standard “religioso” circles.

I love this idea.  And I do believe that there are a lot of folks out there that, while they may not personally agree with me 100% on every single issue of a religious, theological, or spiritual nature, they do have a sense… a feeling… a conviction that something is askew culturally when a film like Fifty Shades is given such prominence and mainstream media attention.

Here’s to the “better angels” in all of us…

– Rik


Being Old Fashioned is Dangerous?

Controversial.  If there was one word that was NOT on my mind while I was writing the original draft of the screenplay for Old Fashioned, it was controversial.

When I began what would become a more than a 10-year journey to bring Old Fashioned to the big screen, I had never even heard of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey (let alone the film) and I had bigger issues at the time to deal with other than imagining when we might release the film in theatres at some imaginary point in the future (primarily, I was concerned with finishing the script and figuring out just how we would be able to actually get the film financed and produced).

My focus was on crafting a story that accurately reflected the lives of many people I knew at the time, including myself—singles with hearts for God, but with hearts also trying to navigate the tricky waters of romance in contemporary America.  None of us had ever seen a film that approached the subject in a serious way or told our story.  Ever.

I wanted to tell a story that was beautiful.  Tender.  True.  One that honored both men and women… and God.  Believe me; I wasn’t thinking, “edgy.”  I wasn’t thinking, controversial…

Last week, everything changed.  None of us could have ever predicted the online explosion of press or flurry of activity and conversation that would follow our announcement to release Old Fashioned the same weekend as Fifty Shades—Valentine’s Day 2015.

We are grateful, but we are dizzy.

And this was the biggest surprise: Just based on the press we received, my quotes, and our tagline, some have suggested that the ideas in our film could be regressive and potentially even dangerous.  Dangerous?  When did the idea of men and women respecting healthy boundaries and each other become… dangerous?

Then, it clicked.  In a strange, upside down way it is true that we are somehow fringe.  It’s odd, but maybe things have so turned culturally that we are now indeed edgy and dangerous to suggest there is a more beautiful way to approach love.

Think about it.  The trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey premiered on the TODAY show.  The TODAY show!   That’s not fringe.  That’s about as mainstream as it gets.  And it’s opening as a mainstream romantic date night movie on Valentine’s Day.  Not edgy.  Not counter-cultural in the least.  Not punk rock by a London mile.

And so many in the media and our culture seem to just be giving a coy wink and nod to the whole thing… like it’s no big deal, just another game.  Like this is, in fact, what most audiences want.  Is this really who we are as a people, in the majority?

Honestly, I find it nearly impossible to believe that…

If that’s controversial, so be it.  Funny and ironic as it may be… welcome to Old Fashioned, the new punk rock.

– Rik