David vs. Goliath: wholesome romance ‘Old Fashioned’ goes head-to-head with 50 Shades with Valentine’s release
I recently sat down with Rik Swartzwelder, the director, writer, and main actor of an upcoming movie you have to see—Old Fashioned. The movie will be hitting the big screen the same day as 50 Shades of Grey, in order to give people a healthy alternative to, well, porn.
If you’re unfamiliar with Rik or Old Fashioned, watch the following trailer before reading our interview:
Q: Tell us about how Old Fashioned originated and your hopes for it.
Rik: It was birthed out of a time in my life when I was hanging around a bunch of singles (of a variety of faiths), most in their early 20s to mid-30s. We were just a regular bunch of guys and girls that were trying to figure out love and dating and how to find someone to share life with. We also were concerned with God being a part of that process, as well, and trying to understand just what that looked like in a modern context.
That group of folks also just happened to love movies. Somewhere during that time, we all had the conversation about how there had never been a romantic-comedy or a romantic-drama that really told our story on screen: a romantic story that was concerned with being funny and emotional and engaging … but one that also made room for the idea that modern love could indeed be something sacred.
My hope for the film — in addition to an entertaining time at the movies — is that like-minded people out there might realize they are not alone in longing for more, that some with wounds or regrets from previous relationships might find a measure of healing, and, for a few, possibly help them challenge the status quo and raise the bar in their own romantic lives.
Q: What’s your response to people who say, “Fifty Shades is just a story, chill out. Stop being a prude!”
Rik: Stories matter. It’s not just entertainment; it’s how a culture passes along its values to the next generation. In fact, it has been said you can tell a lot about a culture by whom and what it lifts up, spends its time and money on, and celebrates.
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Who is it that we want to be as a people? What is it that we really long for in our own hearts when it comes to romance? For our sons and daughters? What kind of legacy do we want to leave for those who follow? These things are not set in stone. We have a hand in crafting the world and what it looks like.
It’s important to note that I knew nothing about “Fifty Shades” when I was first working on the screenplay for “Old Fashioned.” I didn’t make our film in response to any book or film or anything like that at all. I was simply trying to tell a story about the struggle to find a more beautiful path to love in a world and time that doesn’t necessarily affirm such things.
All that said, the choice to release our film at the same time as “Fifty Shades” was indeed deliberate and, for that, I make no apology.
It’s not about condemnation or judgment; it’s about broadening the cultural discussion. By juxtaposing our two films, we are providing much to talk about.
And without getting specific, I will say this: If the question is, do I believe there are unhealthy places for our imaginations to go? The answer is “yes.”
Q: I had the joy of watching Old Fashioned with my wife recently and we both found it to be a funny, smart, and satisfying movie. Why, in your opinion, will your movie satisfy the hearts and minds of its viewers more than Fifty Shades?
Rik: I think there is currently a unique and growing longing for authenticity and innocence in our culture. And that goes for inside church walls and out.
Our non-stop access to media and images and data — all at increasing speeds and via endless technological devices — has us feeling a little beaten up, exhausted. Our pace of life, in general, is grinding us down. We really can’t push the envelope much further at all when it comes to entertainment. Some days it feels like our culture itself is about to actually, finally, “jump the shark.”
Many are tired and road-weary and looking for a way home.
“Old Fashioned” is like a warm blanket that wraps itself around you and comforts you and makes you feel safe — even if for just a moment — in a very dangerous world.
One audience member who saw an early preview of the film said it best, “Watching ‘Old Fashioned’ healed a part of me that I didn’t even realize still needed healing.”
Q: Why do you think it’s important that we do more than boycott Fifty Shades; that we instead “othercott” it?
Rik: I like that phrase, “othercott.” Never heard it before, but it has a proactive ring to it that resonates.
There is no doubt that where time, money and energy are spent … culture is shifted.
If we don’t like the stories that are being told, we just can’t sit back and whine about it. We have to be out there, in the thick of things, doing all we can to offer up positive alternatives. And if we’re not willing to do that, we have no right to complain or critique those that are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get their stories into the public arena.
Q: Old Fashioned drew national media attention with the announcement that it would open Valentine’s Weekend 2015, the same weekend as Fifty Shades of Grey. Why did you decide to make that decision?
Rik: When I read the announcement that “Fifty Shades” was planning to release the film adaption of the book into theatres as a mainstream, romantic date night option on Valentine’s Day weekend 2015 … well, honestly, it was one of those “God moments” where everything just kind of slowed down and the clouds parted and the light shone down…
It seemed like a divine appointment. “For such a time as this,” as the saying goes.
It presented a unique and possibly singular opportunity to juxtapose two films in a way that could potentially broaden the cultural conversation about love and romance in a powerful way.
We also knew that — with an indie film like ours with no exploitative elements (sex or violence) or major stars — we needed a hook. This was it: David v. Goliath.
And of course, we’re not naïve here. “Fifty Shades” sold over 100 million books worldwide and has a huge following. We are outgunned in every way imaginable. But, as I remember it, David didn’t have much of a chance, either.
Bottom line, for me, if we can help even just one soul move closer to greater healing and wholeness as opposed to greater objectification or emotional damage … we win.
Q: Where can people learn more about Old Fashioned, and how can they spread the word about it?
To learn more about “Old Fashioned” check out our website: www.oldfashionedmovie.com. We have trailers, endorsements and resources to help advertise the film in your local community.
There is also a full listing of where the film is playing and links to buy tickets in advance.
If you’re active on social media, the best way to help spread the word is via Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. With an indie film like ours, grassroots word-of-mouth is everything. Let folks know we’re out there!
If you’re not active on social media, sharing our website and our trailers via email is a great way to spread the word. Or, just talk about the film with your friends and community.
Most of all, if “Old Fashioned” is opening in a theatre near you on Valentine’s Day weekend, please come out and see it that weekend. And bring a group if you can. Opening weekend is key for a film like ours in order to gain real traction and, hopefully, get the opportunity to expand into even more markets and more theatres!
Valentine’s Day weekend 2015 is a chance to make a real statement. We hope and pray you’ll join us and make a stand for love by supporting a film that genuinely believes love can indeed be something sacred.
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