We got to chat with David Leo Schultz about the upcoming movie Ragamuffin—a film about the life of Rich Mullins. David wrote and directed this independent film slotted to release in summer of 2014.
Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us some about the movie.
The movie is about Rich Mullins. Rich was a huge hero of mine for a few reasons. Obviously people familiar with his music know he was an incredible writer and musician. Those more familiar with Rich beyond his songs know that he was something of a poet and teacher. Many of the things he said between songs had a huge impact on people. For me, specifically, it was the way he lived his life. It was the reckless abandonment in his walk with Christ.
Most of my life that has continued to impact me. Specifically, guys like him and Brennan Manning are heroes for a lot of people who have been burned out by religion—for folks who know they’re a screw up but feel like they have to pretend they aren’t. Both of those guys represented that that’s not the point. We talk about Jesus because we need a savior—not because we don’t.
Throughout different portions of my life, God used Rich. I might not be a Christian now if it wasn’t for him. In the church world, a lot know his music but not his story.
When I first sat down with his brother and asked him permission to make the movie, he asked me why. I didn’t know Rich personally, but I experienced his life from the audience. And I wanted to help people know him. Ragamuffin is a movie about his story. But more than that it’s about Jesus. That’s what Rich’s life was all about. It’s a real story about Rich’s life and struggles set in the backdrop of his career. The movie is really about his pursuit of Jesus.
Where was it filmed mostly?
We filmed it in classic vagabond fashion. We spent about 2 ½ weeks of principle photography in Georgia. We were in Forsythe, Atlanta, and a few other locations.
So many scenes were set on the road and at Rich’s concerts. But we were a small indie movie. There was no way we could have afforded having a million extras. So we took cues from other indie movies on how they did concert scenes. They piggybacked on real concerts.
We asked Mitch McVicker, who played with Rich and was in the car accident with him, to tag along on his tour across the country for two weeks. That was where we got our concert scenes.
From there, we went to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Kansas, and Wichita—from near the reservation where Rich lived. You’ll see shots of the real trailer where he lived.
We literally drove around the country three times to make this movie.
What makes this movie unique?
We aren’t trying to make fluff entertainment for Christians. But we also aren’t trying to be edgy. Jesus was edgy. But we aren’t being edgy just to be edgy. We aren’t trying to do either of those. For us, we really want to make a story about God’s pursuit of Rich. We just want to tell an honest story.
The whole theme of the movie is the “reckless raging fury they call the love of God”. If we really wanted to show God’s grace, we couldn’t hide the brokenness Rich struggled with.
I hope that there’s a lot more movies like this. I don’t know of many out there that deal with faith and humanity really well.
There are a lot of great faith-based movies out there you can share with your church. But if you have a neighbor who walked away from God, you could pass this tool on to minister to them. It’s perfect for those that want nothing to do with religion or church. It’s a great conversation starter about God’s love.
This movie won’t be for everybody. But for those who want a tool for those on the fringe—for the outcast and ragamuffins—this is a great tool.
How linear is the storytelling? We see you have a St. Francis character…
Rich was really impacted by a movie called Brother Son, Sister Moon—about the life of St. Francis. We have some scenes where he’s watching the movie. We shot something like the movie. To pay for the rights would have been beyond our reach.
So we did our own thing. It helped us fit more into what we needed for the story. We knew we needed to incorporate him into the story.
But as far as a linear storyline, it’s linear and not in a way. You’ll have to see it to know what I’m talking about.
How will you release the movie?
We’re still working through some of the details. We’re negotiating with a few companies right now. It will definitely release on DVD and VOD. We’re still going to do some kind of small theatrical release in the Spring.
But starting January, we’ll have a premier tour around the country. Starting in Wichita, churches can invite us in to premier the movie. On select occasions, David Mullins (Rich’s brother) and myself will be there.
Then hopefully the movie will be out by the summer.