The movie Ragamuffin, a film that tells the complex story of beloved Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins is now available on DVD after making the rounds at film festivals, colleges and churches this past spring. JFH staff writer Alex Caldwell talked with Mullin's brother David and film director and creative force David Schultz individually about the process of seeing the film come to life, and their reflections on Rich Mullin's life, death and legacy. Part 1 is an interview with David Mullins, the younger brother of Rich. David served as a behind-the-scenes consultant for the film...
This interview took place on: May, 2014.
It was tough, there's no doubt about that. Sometimes you feel like you are "over something," you know what I mean? That you have a handle on a particular experience, and then it comes up all over again. The scenes with my dad were tough. Mel [Fair, who plays Rich and David's father] was concerned that he might be playing my father too rough. He asked us if it was too much, too much yelling, too much intensity. He was concerned about it. But we told him he was right on, to keep it up. Yeah, there were some tough moments.
David: That scene was one I had to walk out a few times during the filming.
David: That was a decision that we as a family made early on when we were in the early discussions with David [Fair] about making this film. We didn't want to do it if wasn't honest to who Rich was in all of his complexities. If you are going to talk about Ragamuffins, then it's important to portray them as honestly as possible. My family life was far from perfect; it's important to show that. But it was tough at times, sure.
David: I understand the desire for that with the viewer. My family and I even talked about it at length. We decided that if this were solely a film about my dad then we should show more, but it's a film about my brother and the resolve that he found with the Heavenly Father. It was tough, but choices had to be made with time and characters.
David: You know, I honestly don't know. There were moments when we as a family were aware he was drinking too much.
David: Well, David Schultz and I crossed paths at a church in Indianapolis, and he asked me if we could go out to lunch. He said "your brother's life changed my life and I'd love to make a movie about him." He and I clicked right away and that was, let me think... four years ago this spring. It's been a long process.
David: Oh yeah! I can't remember any specifically, but there were a few moments that were maybe... a little eerie if you know what I mean. Michael did a great job. It wouldn't have worked at all without him.
David: It changes from time to time. Really, it's hard for me to pick one. But I loved "Elijah" from the first moment I heard it. I was still a kid and Rich was just starting to play around the Cincinnati area and that was one of his first songs. I sort of got to hear him create it, and I've always loved it.
David: I like the version I heard in those small churches in the 70's.
David: *laughing* Yeah. One time at this concert I was at, Rich had just flown in from somewhere the night before, and his plane had been stuck on the tarmac for hours because President Clinton was in town, and he had decided to get his hair cut, and that put the whole airport on delay for a few hours. When Rich was telling this story, he ended with the line about Clinton, 'we can always pray for plane crashes right?' and you could hear a pin drop in that auditorium. I remember thinking "you can't say stuff like that, Rich!"
David: I know what you mean, but you have to understand that Rich was my older brother, and he was always doing this to me. I grew up looking up to him in a major way. He frustrated me at times, sure, because he was always trying to get me to think bigger. But he was always convicting me. He was a great older brother that way. My parents would take me to his small shows when he was starting out and I was just a kid, and I always felt this way about him. So it was sort of just a common occurrence to be inspired or moved by something he sang or said from stage.
David: No problem. God bless.
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