After being in Hollywood for nearly twenty years, as well as publishing two successful books, DeVon Franklin has now stepped into the role of movie producer with his animated film “The Star,” which is now playing.
The movie is an animated take on the story of the first Christmas, told from the perspective of the animals who were a part of the story. The movie features the voices of Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Gina Rodriguez and more. The Knockturnal chatted with Franklin about his work on the film as well as about his current book The Hollywood Commandments.
At what point of the process did you get involved in the making of ‘The Star ‘?
DeVon Franklin: You know I’ve been involved since the very beginning. Interestingly enough years ago when I was an executive at Sony, I was developing the script, we’re talking about back in 2005. So I’ve been involved with The Star for some time. And at that time we were developing the script and were gonna do it as a live action film very much in the vein of Babe, but we could never quite crack the script so we put it on the shelf. And then cut to almost ten years later when I became a producer and started Franklin Entertainment I really wanted to go into the faith based animated space because we really haven’t done that since The Prince of Egypt almost twenty years ago and The Star was the perfect script and the perfect idea in order to do that. So it’s been a long time coming but I’m grateful audiences will finally get a chance to see this film.
This film has such a star studded cast, what was the process like getting people like Oprah and Tyler Perry?
DeVon Franklin: Part of it is just hoping and praying that they will do it. I called Tyler directly and told him ‘Hey man this is my next film could you play a camel.’ And he loved the concept so he was in then I reached out to Oprah and I explained to her what it was. I just said listen we don’t have any money to pay anybody but would you play a camel. And she said for you DeVon ok I’ll play a camel. I was so grateful that she and Tyler have just been such supporters of me and the film, and Tracy Morgan came on board to do the third camel. So it was just a blessing. You see it in a way you never seen it before. And so many times we celebrate Christmas and this story puts the real reason back in the season for the celebration of Christmas and so many of the stars we were able to get came to the film because they were committed and loved the idea of a new take on a very familiar story.
To further elaborate how else is this film different from previous Christmas movies?
DeVon Franklin: Because you’ve never seen it this way before. You’ve never seen the story told through these animals. And the lead animal is Bo the donkey who carries Mary and Joseph to the mange rand he is inspired when he sees The Star and doesn’t quite know what it means and he just feels compelled to help Mary and follow The Star, and he gets all his animal friends to help him along the way and it’s just really entertaining to see how the animals are witnessing these historic events that we all know about but we’ve never seen them in their interpretation of what those events mean to them.
What message do you hope audiences take away?
DeVon Franklin: Hope, inspiration, that I think in a time like this, it’s just a film that really reminds us of the value of family, the value of faith, the value of hope and that there is a better day. I think when you see the film there’s also a strong undercurrent of the power of community and I think that’s something that we need and I think that audiences will really be inspired by.
Now your book, ‘The Hollywood Commandments’ has been such a success, what inspired you to write the book?
DeVon Franklin: I wrote the book The Hollywood Commandments because I really wanted to share the knowledge of how to be successful. So many times people talk about the what and why of success but very few people teach the how. And I’ve been in Hollywood for 20 years and I’ve been able to find a path to success and I wanted to share my top ten lessons for anyone’s success that I learned from Hollywood. Even though it’s called the Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success it’s not just for people in Hollywood it’s for people in any walk of life looking to go to the next level in their life and in their career. I wanted to write the book to help those people achieve their dreams and walk in their purpose.
Out of all the commandments you described in the book, which one do you find to be the most crucial?
DeVon Franklin: You know they’re all crucial relative to where someone may be in their walk , but one of my favorite commandments is commandment number three: You have to care for your crown before you wear one. So many people want the crown and the throne which means the authority, they want the position of power in their life but very few people want to commit to the process required to achieve that. And I do believe that you do have to carry a crown, you have help someone carry their crown first. I think service is the pathway to success. Service never goes out of style. Even if you’re in a job that you don’t like we can still go in and service to the best of your ability. And I do believe that service is the key that opens the door to our future. It’s one of my favorite commandments. Then there’s commandment number eight: Is Your Difference is Your Destiny. This is all about owning your difference, so often we want to exchange what makes us different for what makes us common, and I don’t believe that is the pathway to success. I believe owning who we are, keeping the difference of our edges sharp is gonna help us cut through everywhere we’re supposed to be.
Do you plan on writing a follow-up to the Hollywood Commandments?
DeVon Franklin: You know I don’t know, we will see, we will definitely see. This book The Hollywood Commandments is a bit of a follow-up to my first book Produced by Faith and we’ll see kind of what I feel like I need to write next and see if it aligns with the themes of this book or if it’s time to go in a different direction.
What’s next for you?
DeVon Franklin: I have a new movie that I’m getting ready to go into production on called The Impossible. It’s based upon the book of the same name. The book just came out last week, and it’s the true story of a mother who prayed her dead son back to life. So I’m really excited about getting going on that and we’re looking to start that film in February.