Robert Krantz

Robert Krantz: Bringing Faith, Hope & Significance to the Big Screen #11

Warwick Fairfax

February 24, 2020

Robert Krantz appeared in some of the top films of the ’80s — Back to the Future, anyone? — but when he turned his attention and talents to writing, directing and starring in his own movies a decade later, his career and life began to unspool like a dropped film reel. His first production — which he and his wife put so much money into they had to live with his mother — had the makings of a hit but never took off because of a disastrous Hollywood screening. That professional setback was followed by an even more devastating personal crucible: his wife’s diagnosis that threatened the lives of her unborn triplet sons. The boys not only survived but thrived, and Krantz put his film career on hold to be truly present as they grew. Now that they’re in college, he’s back behind and in front of the camera with the critically acclaimed Faith, Hope & Love, in which he stars as a man whose up-and-down life looks a lot like his own. In this episode, Krantz talks with Crucible Leadership founder and BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host Warwick Fairfax about where he’s found the strength to keep pursuing a life of significance and what he wants his legacy to be as a man and a maker of movies.

For more information about Robert Krantz and to buy Faith, Hope & Love on DVD, visit https://ellinasmultimedia.com

Hightlights

  • The powerful middle-school crucible that birthed a strong work ethic (6:05)
  • The opportunities crucible experiences provide for us … if we don’t let them define us (9:39)
  • How to endure when the vision you’re living gets tough (15:50)
  • What to do when you feel like you can’t go on anymore (23:40)
  • How crucible experiences can alter your vision and passion for good (37:10)
  • Finding the courage to ignore those who doubt your vision (47:02)
  • The one comment he hears most from those who see Faith, Hope & Love (52:26)
  • How Faith, Hope & Love has brought hope to others struggling to move beyond their crucibles (55:44)
  • The only way to live a life of significance in the film industry (1:06:08)
  • What he hopes his legacy will be (1:08:13) 

Transcript

Gary:
Welcome, everybody, to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the show and the Communications Director for Crucible Leadership. You are listening to a podcast that offers hope and healing for folks who have been through what we like to call crucible experiences, those painful things that can happen to you, be they failures, setbacks, tragedies, those things that change the trajectory of your life, that cause pain in your life and lead you to have a different life, a different perspective after those things happen. Our goal in talking about these things is not to wallow in them, not to camp on them, but is truly to look at them as ways we can learn about ourselves, learn about the path that we’re on, then chart a course to a life of significance.

Gary:
Here with me, as always, is the host of the program and the founder of Crucible Leadership, Warwick Fairfax. Warwick, we’ve got a very interesting episode today.

Warwick:
Absolutely, Gary. Looking forward to it.

Gary:
Our guest today is Robert Krantz and we’re going to get talking to Robert in a minute, but before that, let me tell you a little bit about Robert Krantz. Robert Krantz is a Greek American. His name was shortened from Karountzose by his grandparents. Robert graduated from USC’s film school and has acted in some of the most successful movies, like Back to the Future and The Woman in Red, TV movies, the Billionaires Boys Club and Onassis, and sitcoms like Who’s the Boss and Silver Spoons. He has also sold his original screenplays to Sony, Fox, and Columbia Pictures. Additionally, Krantz produced, wrote, and starred in the award-winning, Do You Wanna Dance and Christmas with the Karountzoses. He has written several best-selling books, Falling in Love with Sophia, Guide to the Divine Liturgy, and Guide to Holy Week.

Gary:
Krantz is also the owner of Ellinas Multimedia, the largest production and distribution company of Greek media in the United States. Most recently, he wrote, produced, directed, and starred, the shorthand version of that is he Alan Alda’d, Faith, Hope and Love, a film for which he received nominations for best screenplay, best picture, best actor, and one for best director from the International Christian Film Festival. His next film is going to be the movie adaptation of his book, Falling in Love with Sophia. Krantz lives in Southern California with his wife, Tricia. They have triplet sons, Chris, George and Nick. Chris and George attend the University of Chicago and Nick attends Washington University in St. Louis.

Gary:
Robert, let me begin by saying that Warwick and I both had the opportunity just over the weekend, before we recorded this, to watch Faith, Hope and Love. I actually had seen it before. I, believe it or not, did publicity work for it, even though we didn’t know each other, I did publicity work for it when it came out earlier in 2019, but we watched it again. Warwick, you in particular, and your family, loved it.

Warwick:
We did, yeah. It was just an amazing movie and we watched it over the weekend with my wife and two of my three kids who are in their 20s, a daughter and a son. It’s unusual to get a movie that everybody likes because normally, guys like action movies and maybe my daughter might want less of an action movie, a bit more sentimental, but they all loved it. What I liked is it was heartwarming, it was funny, there was amazing dancing. I mean, obviously, Peta, you would expect from Dancing on the Stars that she’d be good, but you were pretty good, too, so that was impressive, Robert. I really… and what I loved is-

Robert:
Oh, thank you. I appreciate it.

Warwick:
… it’s nice when the co-star, as I like to say, doesn’t have an accent. She’s from Australia, so she talks like me. I didn’t need simultaneous translation. I got it, so she was amazing. I just loved it and-

Robert:
Great.

Warwick:
… we’ll talk more about that movie in a bit, but yeah, we would like to start as just a bit about your story and, in particular, I know you’ve had a couple different crucible experiences and, yeah, just tell us a little bit about your story and some of the challenges.

Robert:
It’s funny, I was telling Gary that I’ve had so many of them and I just kind of accepted that’s just life. I was telling my wife recently, I was listing off many of them and I was saying to her, “God has been there every step of the way. Every time I’ve gotten knocked down, he’s been there to pick me back up.” She said, “That’s an interesting way you look at it because other people would look at it like God knocked them down.” I never felt that and I’m going to mention one smaller one, but it had a profound impact on me, before I get to the larger one.

Robert:
The smaller one, I was actually 12-years-old and I was in the summer. I think my parents, in retrospect, both my parents have passed away, so I can’t ask them, but I think they were going through some marital problems and they went to Greece. I think they were trying to get away from the kids, so to speak, because there was three of us and I’m sure we were a handful. My dad was busy with work, so when my mom went to Greece first, he was going to join her, but he was so busy with work that he had my brother and I go and stay at my grandparent’s house. They were Greek immigrants, and just to give you a perspective, there was no washing machine, there was no air conditioning, it was the dead of summer, and I remember at the time I don’t think I understood it, but it just kind of felt like we were abandoned for two or three months. My grandparents didn’t speak that much English and I remember sitting around doing nothing for two months.

Robert:
When school began, the basketball tryouts began. My brother, who was a year or so older than me, was the star of the team I think in ninth grade, I was going into eighth grade. I remember trying out for the team. I can remember the shoes I wore, I can remember the gym bag I had, everything, because on the last day, I was the last guy to get cut. I remember walking across that floor and you think something like that, well, you’d get over it, whatever, but it was such a crushing moment and that night I went out with my two friends who were two of the best players on the team and made the team. We went to a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game, I grew up in Wisconsin, and the next morning they were having anyone who wanted to volunteer to be a manager. In other words, the guy that got the team water, the guy that got the team towels, all that stuff, could volunteer. I showed up and I remember it when my coach showed up in the door, he said, “I had a feeling you were going to be here.”

Robert:
My mom years and years and years later, there was one picture of me as a manager and I was spinning a basketball on my finger in the locker room. She would always tell me, “That’s my favorite picture of you.” I never really understood it, but really? Why that one? Because it was a defining moment for me. From that moment on, it was humbling being around your best friends and getting water and towels and all that sort of stuff, but from that moment on, I began to work as hard as I could to become as good of basketball player as I could. I realized two things out of this experience. Number one, when I had children, I would never let them out of my eyesight. Now, obviously, they’re going to go off and do their thing, but I can tell you almost to this day, our children are 21 and they’re in college, but I cannot remember my wife and I taking a vacation without them in 21 years.

Robert:
My parents did a lot of things right, but that was one thing that was just an… Unfortunately, there was some other repercussions that other members of my family, that things didn’t go good and it taught me you have to have those children… and I’ve always said to my children, even until they went to University of Chicago and St. Louis, it was a running joke in our family, I said, “If there’s a problem, I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” I’ve held true to that. Whenever there’s a problem, there was a crisis yesterday with one of my kids and I was on that phone immediately with him. That was one part and then the second part I learned is, you have to work your tail off to be successful at something. I think I’ve had that chip on my shoulder ever since that day.

Robert:
I ended up the next year making the team. The year after that, becoming a starter. Then, by my senior year, I ended up becoming the captain of our team that went to the state tournament. Never that good a player, although I would love to tell you I was okay, but where I got exceeded my talent and I think that that moment… in fact, if you see our movie, Christmas with the Karountzoses, you’ll hear me talk about it in that movie in a certain scene. That defined me because from that moment in my life, I have had to work my tail off for everything. As I got into the film, I didn’t have a sibling or a parent or anybody in this business… for years, it never made sense to me. I’ll segue into the second one here because you’ll see how they kind of all come together.

Warwick:
Actually, just before you get into second one, I mean, this is such a great story. It may not be as, in some sense, obviously, as searing as some of the ones that are coming up, but what’s interesting is this is a microcosm of the opportunity that a crucible experience can be. Here you are, in eighth grade. You get cut, the last one. It may not seem that big today, but at the time, in eighth grade you’re cut, that’s huge. All your buddies are on the team and it would have been easy for you to say, “Hey, this if unfair. I’ve been abandoned by my parents for two months. I mean, what is the deal here?” It would be easy for you to be angry. You, obviously, weren’t happy, but you said, “Okay.” You humbled yourself to be a manager, you’ve worked your tail off and got on the team and became captain. I mean, that’s sort of a microcosm of not letting a crucible experience define you and saying, “Okay, I didn’t like this, but I’m going to bounce back from it.”

Warwick:
It’s a microcosm of… I won’t say the perfect way to approach a crucible experience, but feels kind of. You know? It’s a little vignette, but it’s a powerful story, so just want the listeners to see in that small example about the power of not letting a setback define you and you didn’t let it define you. That’s truly impressive, so anyway.

Robert:
Yeah, thank you. What happened, as I was saying, when I got into the film business it made absolutely no sense to me. I mean, my parents, my dad was a business person, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Being from Wisconsin and coming into the film business, there was no allure, it’s not like if you live in Los Angeles where there is immediacy to it. I had graduated high school and I remember I was at a church summer camp. There was a lady there Faye Colster and I was at the camp and we were walking, just the two of us, and I said, “Faye, I think that God’s calling me to go into this field, into the film…” and Faye was one of those people that you just knew was a great Christian. She was just wonderful. I thought for sure she’d say, “Oh, my God. Robert, let’s talk about this.” She kind of just turned and started laughing and she turned around and she could see I was serious. She said, “Well, then let’s pray about it.” She said, “God, if…”

Robert:
First of all, when she said that, I thought, “Oh, my God. If my buddy, Teddy, walks around the corner, I’m going to die.” What were you and Faye doing walking? She prayed and she said, “God, if this is what you want for Robert’s life, clear a path for him,” and that was it. That was the prayer. The irony was or the punchline to that story was decades later I saw Faye when we were screening Faith, Hope and Love. She was at a screening and I said, “Faye, do you remember that?” She said, “I remember like it was yesterday.” That was a pivotal moment.

Gary:
Those two stories are a great organizing construct for where the conversation’s going to go next, I think. Your story about being in eighth grade and not making the team and the separation from your parents and feeling alone. Then, that led to your resolve to not leave your kids alone, to always be there for them. As you tell your next crucible stories, that’s going to show up.

Gary:
This other one, about God called you to the film industry and when you hit some rocky roads there, that was tested. What I love about those two stories right there is Warwick and I have talked to a number of people about their crucible experiences, but yours, Robert, are kind of like crucibles squared. As you tell your stories, the listener will hear that pretty much the same time you had a professional crucible and a personal crucible sort of crash into each other. I’ll turn it over to you now to tell those stories, but it really is a fresh perspective we haven’t had on this show yet of a crucible squared.

Robert:
Yeah. What happened was I moved out to California, and I went to Arizona State for two years, and then I got work as a PA on a movie called Nightkill with Robert Mitchum.

Gary:
PA, just for the record, was a production assistant.

Robert:
Yeah. I’ll tell you, that taught me… I will always when I’m on a set now with the PA’s, I will always treat them with the utmost respect because that’s how I started out, working for free. Anyway, at the end I thought, well, where do I go from here? I went to USC’s film school. How I got in there was a miracle in itself and I was the luckiest guy in the world, but I got in there and I remember on the first day of filming they said, “Okay, anybody have any questions?” All these kids were doing tracking shots and valley shots and all this stuff, and I thought, oh, my gosh, this is going to be rough, but I’ve got to bite the bullet, and I said, “I don’t know how to focus the camera.”

Robert:
The entire room just died and I’ll never forget, that teacher, he addressed me like it was the most poignant question anyone had ever asked. Mel Sloan, I can still remember him, God bless him, and I was off and running. I ended up getting the highest grade in the class because they graded you on so far down it was like, okay, but I was obsessed with it and I just worked and worked and worked at it. It came a point where I was studying acting at night, I was studying writing and producing during the day, but there came a point when I had to jump off and say, “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”

Robert:
I went to a church, St. Sophia’s in downtown Los Angeles and I was alone. This will tie into the crucible moment at the end, I said, “God, I don’t know why. This doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know why, but I think this is what you’re calling me to do with my life and I’m worried it’s my ego and I don’t want that to be the case. If it’s the case, stop me at any point, from the moment I get out of here, do whatever you need to do to stop me, but I think this is what you’re calling me to do.” I remember sometime around then telling my mother, “Mom, I think I’m supposed to make these…” at the time, this was in the 80s, “… these faith-based films.” She told me years later, I remember it, she said, “I thought to myself where are you going with that?” I don’t blame her for thinking that, but I just felt that what was happening.

Robert:
I then started, it was about 10 to 12 years of Back to the Future, Who’s the Boss, all those sort of things. This was not an easy ride. This was a, if you’re on a plane and there’s turbulence the whole route, it was turbulence the whole way. It was hard, hard work and I was constantly wondering, am I supposed to do this, is this what it’s supposed to be, etcetera, and it led up to a moment where I made a movie. I had seen Spike Lee’s, She’s Gotta Have It, and with The Brothers McMullen, and I thought, I think this is what I’m supposed to do is to write, produce, and act in a film.

Robert:
I wrote a film. There was a priest named Father Chris Hullis who had a significant impact in my life. I was going through a really tough time in my mid to late 20s and I told him one day. I said, “I’m going to make a movie about our friendship.” I ended up making this film called Do You Wanna Dance, which is basically a guy, myself, a dance instructor, gets in trouble with the law and ends up having to teach a bunch senior citizens how to dance, so they can stay in shape as his community service instead of going to jail.

Robert:
We put everything, I mean, everything under the sun that we had, to the point that we had to move in with my mother. My wife and I, we’d gotten married and we had it all riding on this. We flew to Chicago for a test screening for a thousand people and it was this huge auditorium. I had tested the film in groups of 20-30 people, but this was going to tell me, because he next night we were screening it for the studios, all the studios, and Chris Columbus from Home Alone was a fan of the screenplay, had seen the movie, and said, “Look, I’m all in. I love this movie. You did a great job and I’m going to come and introduce the film to the studios when you come on Saturday night.” Friday night we were screening it in Chicago.

Robert:
We screened it in Chicago, a thousand people plus. They had to call the fire warden because it was so oversold, and it was the first time I’d ever seen a movie that I had written get a reaction. I remember at one of the most pivotal parts, I started hearing some people sniffing and coughing or something and I’m thinking, “Oh, you’re ruining it all of you who are sniffing,” never realizing that people were crying, that what was on screen was really making people cry. Never thought I’d have that effect on people whatever I wrote or did. When I got up on stage afterwards, there was about a five to 10-minute standing ovation and I just was stunned. I didn’t anticipate that at all. I remember I was going on stage; I could see it out of the corner of my eye and I remember thinking, holy man, we knew we had a hit film, there was no doubt. You can’t get people to react that way and it was just… afterwards it was just a mob scene, it was great.

Robert:
We go to Westwood the next day, we fly with the film. I think we had one copy of the film, that’s all we could afford, and I had Dolby come in. I left nothing to chance. I had Dolby come in and check every speaker in the theater in Westwood, went up to the booth ahead of time and I said to the guy, the projectionist, “Hey, it’s going to be a lot of people and make sure you have the sound.” Said, “Mr. Krantz, you can come up here as many times as you want. It’s all good.” You could tell I was a nervous Nelly and he was totally calm. We sat down. Chris Columbus introduced the film. The film starts and about 10 minutes into the film, one of the characters was speaking. I don’t know if it was me or one of the other characters and it started to warble. I just remember thinking, “Oh, my God.” I’d heard the film so many times, I thought, what is that? I thought I was having a stroke at first.

Robert:
Then, my wife squeezed my hand and I thought, well, we’re probably both not having strokes at the same time, so there’s a problem here. I learned a lesson. If it’s your movie, never sit in the middle of a theater because I knew something horrible was happening. Everyone around me started knowing something horrible was happening. I got up and I thought, this just can’t be. This was right in the beginning of the film. I ran up to the projectionist booth and every one of the people that was involved in the film was up there and the projectionist who had been so calm was in absolute panic. I said, “What’s happening?” He said the light bulb that projects through the film to create the sound was wearing out. He said, “I don’t have another one.” He said, “Can you ask everybody to come back tomorrow?” I said, “Are you crazy? There’s heads of studios down there. I’m lucky I got them today.”

Robert:
It was absolute chaos and then somehow, somebody found a bulb, but I remember we were about halfway through the film at that point. Oh, it’s just painful to even think about it now. I had rehearsed two or three years preparing for the dance portion of that film and I remember looking down and it was the dance solo that I did in that film. I had looked so forward to that moment being in the audience and here I was up in the projectionist booth. We had a time when something paused in the film for him to put in the new light bulb. I missed all that and I remember sitting down and I think I went to cry or something and nothing came out. I had nothing left to give. I had put everything into that, my heart and soul, so I went back downstairs and I thought maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. One of our investors came walking around the corner. I look at him and I said, “George.” He said, “What the blank’s up with this film?” I went, “Oh, boy. We’re in trouble.”

Robert:
Long story short, the studio started passing on it. They thought the film had been made poorly. It had nothing to do with how the film was made. It was just this stupid light bulb and I think for two or three days, I don’t remember sleeping much at all. It just didn’t make sense to me. Here, we were trying to make a film that was ahead of that whole faith-based movement and you’re trying to do something good to promote God and so forth, and we just got nailed. I mean, nailed. This wasn’t even… Weeks were going by and it was Good Friday. I thought… Oh, I was leaving to go to Good Friday services and my wife and I had no money. We had no money and I remember going to the service. I was about to leave and the phone rang. Mike Bremer called me. I thought, uh, this is it, this is the moment, this is the story, you’re going to Good Friday and the call comes in and we want to buy your film. He said, I think it was Columbia, Disney, and Paramount all passed, and that was it.

Robert:
I remember going to church and being just livid. I thought, could you have timed that any worse, God? Could you have timed it… couldn’t you have let me go to church and come back and… I don’t know. I just thought… and I just was so just crushed sitting in church. That’s when everyone around you starts looking at you, thinking like good dream, but best of luck. A couple of weeks went by and everyone starting telling me, “Move on with your life. You did your dream, you made your film, move on with your life.” Right around then, there was a company called Largo that called up Mike and said, “We couldn’t make it that night. Can you send us a screener?”

Robert:
They sent this screener over, they watched it. I’ll never forget what they said. They said, “We’re ringing our hands and we’re going to let you know.” I went back to our house, my mom’s house, I kneeled down and I prayed and I said, “God, I can’t go on anymore. I thought that you and I had gone over this and had an agreement, it was 10 years earlier when I was in that church that this was what I was supposed to do with my life. I’ve put in all this time and energy and I know I told you if this isn’t meant to be, stop it. Maybe you’re stopping it.” I said, “If you are, if they come back and say no, I’m going to move on with my life and do something else.” I hate the last part of it, but it’s the truth. I said, “But you’re going to have an angry son on your hands.” That was the truth, that’s how I felt.

Robert:
I got up. Everyone in my life was telling me move on, except three people, my mom, my best-friend Gary, and my sister were telling me don’t quit. I went, I think, to the store or something and the phone rang. I picked up; it was Mike. I said, “What’s up.” He said, “Do we have a lawyer?” I said, “I don’t know. Why? Who’s asking?” He goes, “It’s Largo.” I go, “What does that mean do we have a lawyer?” He goes, “Don’t look up, don’t look down. I think they’re going to buy the foreign rights to the film,” and they did. They took it to Cannes, they flew my wife and I to Cannes, and the way these stories go, you think like, ah, there it is, there’s the beautiful moment. I’m telling you, it was one bumpy ride after another.

Robert:
We got to Cannes, and I remember Peter walked in, Peter Elson foreign sales and he said, “Do you like the sight of blood?” I what? He goes, “Because your film is bleeding. We’re not selling it that much.” They sold enough to do one thing, to license the rights of the music to the film, which meant we now could sell it. There was no advance, they gave us no money, but they sold the rights… they bought the rights to the music. I’m thinking, “Okay, I don’t know what that means, but all right, we live for another day.” My wife and I get on the plane and we’re flying back and I remember at one point I saw the low budget director, Gary… I can’t remember his name. The guy that all those low budget films, with Ron Howard and so forth. I remember my wife, I was trying to tell her and she was doing sit ups. She kept saying, “Oh, I’m having stomach pains. I’m having stomach pains.”

Robert:
We got back home, the ride was rocky as can be, I almost lost my ticket getting on the plane, it was just one problem after another. I see my mom and I’m like, “Hey, Mom, this is how it went.” My wife goes behind my mother and she keeps going like this… I go, “yeah, yeah, I’m glad, I hope you’re feeling better.” She’s like that, and finally I go, “What is it?” She goes, “I took a pregnancy test, I’m pregnant.” It was three weeks later, I come home, there’s an ambulance outside the house and I’m thinking, “Oh, my God.” Either way it’s going to be bad news because my mom was older, my wife I knew was pregnant. I see my wife in the ambulance, we go to the emergency room and we’re looking at this monitor. I thought, okay, maybe we lost the child or something happened. It turned out she flipped an ovary, which was excruciatingly painful. As we’re looking at the monitor, I see these two sacs and I’m staring at them and I’m thinking… it’s just the doctor and my wife and I, I’m not going to say what I’m thinking because it looks like two and I’m thinking, “I’m not ready for that.”

Robert:
Finally, after five minutes I go, “Is that two, like two children?” He goes, “Oh, yeah, yeah. It’s definitely twins,” and he scrolls over, but I’m trying to figure out what this is here. Sure enough, it was a third child, it was triplets. Now, when I go and do public speaking, I always pause at this moment because I go, “Look, I know what you’re thinking. Has this story got a good ending?” Because I had a film that nobody wanted, I had three kids on the way, I was in debt because of this film, and I’m living with my mom and it was all just caving in, but the next part became even harder. At 12 weeks, we went to see the doctor. My wife could tell right away, she says, “Something’s wrong.” I said, “No, no, they’re just talking,” this and that. He came back in and he said, “Tricia, you’re going into labor,” and it was 12 weeks. I can remember, he performed what they call a cerclage, which stopped it, but we were in serious trouble and this was before the… right in the cusp of the internet taking off, so you couldn’t go on the internet and get information. It was right on the cusp of that.

Robert:
I remember the doctor, who was a very kind man, he sent me home with a pamphlet and he said, “You’re an excellent candidate for reduction.” I was so excited because I was not an excellent candidate for anything at that point in my life. I remember thinking, I wonder what that means? Maybe you get a discount for something or I didn’t know. I went home and I started reading the pamphlet and reduction meant to abort one or two of the children, that’s what they were telling us they thought we should do. I went and talked to my wife, both of us were crying. She’s petite, she’s 5’3″, maybe 105 pounds, we knew nothing about this and I remember after I began to read what they do during the abortion, I thought, I just can’t do that. I just, I can’t do that. Maybe others can, but I’d rather live with the consequences of whatever happened when we had the children or whatever happened.

Robert:
My wife and I talked and talked about it. At one point, every couple of weeks we’d keep coming back to the emergency room because her body kept reacting as though it was going to go into labor. They put her on total and absolute, complete bedrest. I read a book about this thing called Gurus Diet and that diet made her put on 60 pounds. Then, we told the doctor, “We’re going to try to have all three.” He said, “You can’t leave bedrest. It’s just going to be so hard for Tricia to do this.” She had a belt on and this belt kept going of an into the emergency room we’d go. Finally, he said, “Look, you two, I’m telling you,” I think we’re about 17-18 weeks, he said, “I’m not worried about your three children dying. You guys are worried about them dying. What I’m telling you is, you’re going to give birth to three invalids and you will get divorced and your marriage will be over and your lives will change forever.”

Robert:
I remember crying on the ride home. I was by myself and I remember saying, “God, please just give me any sign.” It was… even talking about it now, it’s difficult. It was the hardest moment of my life because I couldn’t work my way out of it. I couldn’t work extra hours, I just couldn’t do anything other than pray and say, “God, I need your help, so I’ve cut this film that nobody wants, I’ve got a wife that’s on bedrest, I’m about to lose or have three invalids,” and at the end, we told the doctor, “Look, we’re going to go and whatever happens, happens.” We said, “We’re not going to abort any of the children.”

Robert:
I think it was about 17, 18, 20 weeks and the doctor, he had all these patients that would come in, they were multiples, but they were doing so great. They came walking in. My wife, they had to put on a gurney and bring her in. Every week, you thought, this is it. We can’t go beyond 23, so boy, if you could just hang in, this is where the cells in the brain form. Then, next week, well this is where the hearing forms. We were just stumbling along and then finally, I think she got to about 29 weeks and he turned to my wife and he said, “If you come back in one more time, I’m going to tell you, you have got to abort.”

Robert:
Sure enough, on the day he told us, this is the day, I think it was Labor Day, that buzzer went off one more time. In we came and I remember I was in the hospital and my wife came out of the hospital bathroom and this doctor came in, he was 6’3″ and she looked up at him, she said… she put her hand up and she goes, “I don’t care what you have to say, I’m not giving up on those kids, so if you’re coming in here to tell me to abort, the answer’s no, and you can leave.” He started laughing. He started laughing and he said, “Okay, we’ll try and finish this.” About two weeks later, I think it was 30-31 weeks, he said to my wife, “I’ve been wrong every week. Why don’t you just tell me when you’re going to give birth and I’ll show up.”

Robert:
She told him, December 20, 1998 was her grandmother’s birthday and she said, “That’s the date and that’s the day those kids were born.” It was 35 weeks, I believe. It changed my life completely because when those kids were born, they were baptized. I remember at the end of the baptism, they were in my in laws home and I took each one of them, we were in the back room, and I held each one up in my arms to God and I said, “They’re yours now.” I said, “I’m going to be the best father I can be and I will never forget this moment.” I committed myself to those three boys, mind, body, spirit, everything I’ve had, I’ve put into those boys because I’m convinced that they’re going to do some good in this world. God put them here with a purpose and I never wanted to meet my creator and have him say to me, “Boy, did you forget. You forgot how much you wanted those kids.”

Robert:
I tell you, they put me through the ringer. There were moments where I’m like, oh, you guys make this tough, man. I love you, but you’re killing me, but that was the defining moment and then, to tie it in with the professional, so you guys will get a kick out of this. Right before the kids were born, Largo, the guys were handling the foreign, the film, came back and said, “Great news. Columbia’s going to buy the picture. They’re taking it as a package deal. They’re taking two of our other films.” Mike called up his friend, Peter Nelson worked at Columbia, and Peter said, “Mike, it’s going to be wonderful. You’re going to tell all your friends the films at Columbia, you’re not going to make a dime off of this.” I went, “What are we doing that for?” He goes, “Look, just move on.” I’m like, “No, I’ve got a wife on bedrest over here. We’ve got to get going here.”

Robert:
I opened up this paper called the Orthodox Observer and it goes out to all the Greeks. In it, there was a take called Cooking with Yaya, Cooking with Grandma in the Kitchen. I looked at it and I said, “Man, if they’re selling that, I can sell my little movie.” I called up Largo and I’m like, “Hey, you know what? I think I’m going to do this myself. I’m going to start my own company called Ellinas Multimedia,” and I’ll never forget their response. “Bob, if you were here, we would hang you out the window by your thumbs. This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.”

Robert:
Everyone told me it’s the stupidest thing. Everybody. Another friend who’s very close to me said, “Okay, you sell it to your 10 Greek friends, then what?” I remember there was a friend, Nick Larigakis was at an event in Los Angeles. I had lunch with him. He said, “Bob, bring some of your videos to this event,” and I said, “Nick, nobody knows me. Nobody knows me.” He said, “Just bring it.” I said to my wife, “Do you think I should go?” She was on bedrest at the time. She said, “There’s a box by the washer and dryer, fill it up with videos and see what happens.” I pack up 20 videos in this box, carry it in, open up the box, put the videos out on the thing, write down $19.95 on the sign. Nick comes by, he’s like, “What do you mean? We’re going to give change? That’s $20, just put $20.” I said, “Oh, right, yeah. Right, $20”

Robert:
A guy walks up the minute I open the box and he hands me a bill. “Sorry, I don’t have change for a hundred.” “What are you saying? It’s a $20.” It had been so long since I’d seen money, they had changed the bill. I went, “Oh, yeah, it’s a $20. I’m sorry, thank you.” I went home to my wife, I walked in, she’s on bed rest, and I walk up to the bed and I take two $20 bills and I put it on the bed. She goes, “All right, $40 we didn’t have.” I put two more things. She goes, “Oh, my gosh, $80?” I took all 20 of the $20 bills and I threw it over the bed. We just went… It was like a million bucks for us and I put it on the counter. Neither one of us could sleep that night because I think we knew, I think we knew that the answer had come and the answer was I ended up starting my own company, Ellinas Multimedia. It was not until… I think I mentioned this to you, Gary.

Gary:
Yep.

Robert:
Five year later, I was in my home crossing through the living room and I went, “Oh, okay. That’s what this was all about.” I think what it was, was this. God knew if I sold that movie, I would have stayed up in Los Angeles, I would have probably gone on to the next project, I would have never been the father and perhaps even the husband, too, that I wanted to be. My wife and my children are everything to me. I would give up everything I have for those four people. They always say God knows you better than you know yourself. God knew what was in my heart. I wanted to be a… you’ll see this in the movie, Christmas with the Karountzoses, you’ll hear that there’s a line that I say in there which is, “All I’d ever wanted to be was a great father.” That’s all I wanted to be, and a great husband. I wanted to be the best husband.

Robert:
I think what God knew is if you sell this film, number one, the money won’t last as long as you think it will, you’ll be jumping from job to job, and I want to tell you, that I’m going to have to slow you down here. It was only five years later, after I started my company, that I looked back and went, “Oh,” moved out of Los Angeles, I’m in Orange County. I was a present father and I ended up starting my own company, but I did not know at that time it would be 15 or 16 years before I would ever be able to act, or write, or produce again because I was committed to my family. Then, when that came about with Christmas with the Karountzoses, just briefly here, and then I’ll be quiet.

Robert:
My sons were in their sophomore year of high school and I finished the movie in 12 days. When I came home, my son, George, had left a note on the stairs which said, “Are you done yet?” I went upstairs and I told my wife, “I won’t make another movie until they’re in college.” They went into college and then I made Faith, Hope and Love.

Warwick:
How many years were there between the whole terrible experience with Dance, with that first movie, Do You Wanna Dance, and then Faith, Hope and Love? What was that gap between those two?

Robert:
Almost 20 years.

Warwick:
Wow. For most of that time, you were focused on being a dad and-

Robert:
Completely.

Warwick:
That is just an incredible story and I really appreciate you sharing. I mean, you’ve got these two searing experiences, you have this great movie that you felt like you knew this was a hit. I mean, the audiences loved it, they cried or they want to cry. I mean, obviously, you don’t want them crying at the funny part. They were crying at the part they were meant to be crying at, so that’s always a positive sign and if not for the light bulb, there’s a pretty fair chance that somebody would have picked it up and maybe the last 20 years could have been very different.

Robert:
Yeah.

Warwick:
Obviously, even people of faith, I mean, we’re human. I mean, I think you kind of said it a bit, were you like angry and like, this is just so unfair? This was a hit, this is not justice, this is not fair, this is a hit. The audience says it’s a hit.

Robert:
Not only angry. Crushed, because I wasn’t making a horror film, I wasn’t making a cops and robber. I was making a film that when you watch it glorify God and you’re thinking, wow, I see all these other films coming out and you would think God would give me a little nudge. You know? No, that’s not the plan God had for me.

Warwick:
That’s kind of amazing because it’s easy for us to think that we know what God’s plan is, is… not to get into this too much, but as listeners know from other podcasts and blogs growing up in a large 150-year-old family media business that was started by as strong a businessman for Christ that’s ever existed, at least in Australia from my perspective in the late 1830s, early 1840s. Here am I, I’m thinking, okay, I’m a believer. Gosh, must be God’s plan to resurrect the company and the ideals of the founder, at least in terms of how people are treated and the ethics and what have you. Then, I do the takeover, $2.25 billion. The company goes under and it’s like, a little bit like you, but just a different vantage point, but Lord, it had to have been your will for me to be in control of this big company because it was founded by a person of faith.

Warwick:
I mean, like okay, I made dumb mistakes, which is I’ve talked about a lot, but how can this happen? This makes no sense. I thought this was your plan for my life to be in this 150 year old family business. I guess not, so it’s like sometimes we have this thought that, well, surely Lord you need more faith-based, life-enhancing movies. I mean, do you need less? I mean, maybe I’m missing something, but surely this is something that helps the cause. Right? How in the world can you let it happen? I mean, did you fall asleep. I mean, what’s going on here? It’s easy to …

Robert:
I felt it. I felt that way and it took me a long time, but what I realized as I’ve gone through… you talk about crucible moments, I’ve had so many since then, in between them, but each one, my mother-in-law, two and a half years ago, had a brain aneurism. Survived. Still can’t speak today, but thank God she’s still alive. I lost my mom, my dad, there’s just been so many moments, but I’ve learned to… When Gary and I were first talking about doing this, I remember, I don’t follow podcasts too much, and I remember he said… I don’t know how they rate podcasts or how many viewers, whatever that is, it didn’t matter to me and I’ll tell you why. If there’s one person out there… I was asked a question during the interviews for this movie, and they said, “What do you want this to be about, this movie?” I thought about it for a long time on the air and I finally said, “Hope.”

Robert:
That’s what I’m doing this for, that’s what I’m doing what we’re doing right now. If there’s a person out there that’s down on their luck, that’s struggling, that doesn’t think their life’s amounting to something, that’s got a kid’s that’s on drugs, that’s upside down on their mortgage, that’s struggling to get through college, that feels like they’re too old and nobody’s paying attention or too young and nobody’s paying… Whatever that is, everything I’m trying to do with my work now is geared toward one thing, that people when they see me, when they see my movies, that they’re given hope. That hope can come just in the form of what you’re watching or it can be even hope from …

Warwick:
I feel like you’ve lived a life of hope, as we’ll get into in a minute. I think the character in your recent movie, Faith, Hope and Love, the translation of the Greek, the character’s name is Hope, so it was obviously very appropriate, but you could have after that professional debacle, and everybody other than two or three, it helps when your mom and your wife, amongst others, are with you. Then, they said just, “Robert, give it up. This is madness. You’re insane.” Sometimes you’ve got to admit that you’re licked, cry uncle and move on. I mean, that’s almost like the biblical plague. You’ve had about five or six, do you need 20? I mean, how many do you need? Locusts and frogs? I mean, how many signs do you need to give it up. Yet, you just, inner conviction. I think we might think it’s from the divine, others might think it’s some inner voice, whatever you believe, you have the courage to listen to inner voice that said, “Robert, don’t give up.”

Warwick:
I mean, maybe you’ll have to put it on hiatus for 15-20 years, but the dream’s not going to die. That took courage. I want to get in a little bit into the second crucible, which is… I mean, that is just amazing when the doctor, he was your expert, and they said, “You can’t have these three kids to term. There’s no way they will be anything other than brain damaged, invalid, it makes no sense.” I imagine they probably said your wife’s life could be in danger, I’m guessing that conversation would have happened, and yet, this is a mutual decision obviously, you and your wife.

Warwick:
To have the courage and conviction to say, we’re not doing that and that kind of epic moment when your wife stood up to that 6’3″ doctor and said, “Don’t even think about saying that we’re going to end this because it’s not happening.” I mean, the courage you both showed there was just incredible. I guess it’s a stupid question, but where’d you get that kind of courage to basically ignore all professional medical advice?

Robert:
To tell you the truth, whenever I speak about this, I always say when it came to that moment, please don’t think for a second that my wife and I said no, that we were scared to death, scared to death. I almost hesitate to say courage. We were scared to death. Since that moment, I’ve heard four or five cases, almost once very year about triplets that were born deaf, blind, triplets that were born and one or two died. Man, I don’t even want to take any credit for that moment. I just don’t, I don’t feel comfortable with it because I just know I was shaking in my boots when we made that decision. I’ll tell you, if there was one moment, conversation, that impacted it, it was this.

Robert:
The priest that I made Do You Wanna Dance with, I was talking to him years before this and I asked him a question, we were talking about abortion. This was years before any of this happened. I said, “Well, you know,” he was against abortion, I said, “Why?” He goes, his wife’s name is Maria because priests can get married if you get married before you become a priest. He said, “We would have a kid,” and I said, “Why?” He said, and this was the answer, “Because our marriage could survive it if something went wrong.” I remember thinking, my wife and I, I just felt that we could survive it and whatever God gave us, we would survive it. It would be hard, it would be tough, but I felt like we could survive it. By the way, oh, he actually worked, this is one other piece that I’m glad you brought this up because it’s significant.

Robert:
That moment when I went into the church and I prayed, I said, “God, I don’t know why you put this on my heart, but I think this is what you want me to do with my life,” before I left the church that day, I said, “The next time I’m going to come back like this is when I find the woman that I want to marry and when I find whoever that is, I’m going to come back and I’m going to ask her in this church, in front of you.” I didn’t think that much of that to tell you the truth. I just know I meant it. When I met my wife 10 years later and we dated for I think a year or so, I knew that she was the one and I brought her back to that church. I proposed to her and I told her the story.

Robert:
The funny thing is, I got to the part of the story, I said, “Then I told God that I’d bring my wife back,” and she’s staring at me and I thought, oh, I never … in my mind. I started the story from the beginning and repeated it. She went like… and I went the ring, the ring, yeah, the ring. I also didn’t realize how small those booths were. My butt kind of got stuck when I had to get down on one knee, but years went by, after all of these difficult times, the great recession, and the children, one of our kids had scoliosis, the mother-in-law who had an aneurism, the death of my grandma, my father, my mother, so much had happened.

Robert:
For the longest time, we’ve been married I think what, almost 26 years now, and I, for the longest time I thought, boy, I really was a good judge of character. I think up until about 25 years I thought, man, I was… boy, I really was… and then it started to dawn on me, there’s no way in two years of dating or whatever it was, now, it wasn’t my judge of my character. Yeah, I’m sure that played something into it, but what I realized was the significant impact of going in front of God and saying, “When I find her, I’m bringing her back and ask her to marry me in front of God.” I think that meant so much to God.

Robert:
The reason why I feel that way is because when my children turned 21, they’re the age I was when I went in there and I thought, man, if one of my kids did that, first of all, it would just shock me and then I would think, wow, that’s really something at 21 to go in and say that in front of God. I think that was, also all of these things this crucible moment came in …

Warwick:
Yeah. I mean, it’s that sense of honoring the Lord with your marriage and it’s just saying, “God, you show me the sign, I want to follow you.” I mean, you honor him, he’ll honor you. Now, I do want to talk about Faith, Hope and Love, but I want just for the listeners who are listening, thinking, well, how did this guy survive? How is he not in some asylum or something? I mean, how is he even vaguely sane after the thing with the movie and then the triplets. I mean, they did survive, but could have taken 50 years off your life or age you or something. How did you bounce back from those experiences? I mean, you’ve got this great movie coming out, but it’s not like I’m sure life is just all so easy and it’s just been like living at Disney World every day. I mean, it’s probably still challenging, so for the listener-

Robert:
No-

Warwick:
… how did you get beyond those two very challenging circumstances and not let it define your whole life and be bitter and angry and I don’t know what?

Robert:
To add to your point there, even the release of this film, along the way everyone told me don’t put it in movie theaters. You’re going to regret it. We opened it in 40 cities over a period of three months. People told me when we went to the premier, do not have it. There was one meeting I went to and this one manager told me, “Do not have it in that theater. You will regret it. It’s 850 seats and,” he said, “you’re going to get a couple hundred people in there and you’re going to be embarrassed and you’re going to embarrass everybody else.”

Robert:
I got in the car and was driving back home, and I could literally… I could literally feel God laughing next to me. Saying, now, let me get this right. I walked on water, rose from the dead, healed the deaf, the blind, the dumb, but you don’t think I can fill that theater, Bob. Is that kind of what you said? Actually, when I parked the car, I went inside, I booked the theater, it was sold out. We were oversold that night by 250 people, but how did I get through that period? One foot in front of the other. It was right in the middle of all this, 2008, the great recession hit and it was just one foot in front of the other, hard, hard, hard work.

Robert:
There were nights at work where I would have to stay overnight working and also, 15 years later, when I made the next film, Christmas with the Karountzoses, I didn’t know if anybody even remembered me. Even now I still feel that way, so I wasn’t sure whether there was going to be anybody out there caring what I did and what movie I made, but without… one of the comments I always hear with Faith, Hope and Love is thank you for making a faith-based film that didn’t pound me over the head with religion. My comments to you about when I talk about God and getting me through those hard times, it was tough, it was a struggle. There were times when I thought, God, how am I going to get through all this? As my friend Mike would say, “God squeezes, but he doesn’t strangles.” I found that to be true. What God, I think, was doing during that time was fortifying me for the road up ahead. The fight up ahead, and the battles up ahead.

Gary:
The extraordinary part of all the stories that you’ve told, Robert, you had a vision in the aftermath of those crucibles. You talked about it. About offering hope to people. One of the things that we talk about, that Warwick talks about at Crucible Leadership, is the key to getting beyond crucible moments is to have a vision that points you toward a life of significance. To talk about Faith, Hope and Love, it’s very interesting that in that film, your lead character, Jimmy Hope, played by you, has personal and professional crucible experiences. He is doing poorly at this job. He gets fired, but knows his boss so well, that he manages to delay the firing, to have one last chance to work on a really, really tough account in this advertising agency, so there’s the professional crucible.

Gary:
On a personal front, his wife has passed away a few years earlier and he’s left to raise his two daughters on his own. For you to say that movie’s about hope and that’s where your character’s at, how does that play out? Tell listeners a little bit about, without giving away too much, so that they want to actually see the movie, how the movie deals in those subjects, sort of mirrors your life it seems, a little bit.

Robert:
Yeah. One of the great compliments we’ve received on this film is that you know Gary, you would think I’d have it all figured out by now, but I’m constantly refining it and thinking, what am I doing this for? Specifically, what am I doing this for and what is it that I’m bringing that when I look in retrospect, oh, that’s what you brought to this filmmaking business? I think what it is, is this. The films that I’m heading towards like a locomotive is faith-based films, they’ve been stereotypical, they’ve been stiff, they’ve been poorly acted, they don’t have much entertainment value, and you just go, oh, you wonder why we as Christians keep getting pigeonholed.

Robert:
The same way is, when I speak, I talk about this. When Spike Lee came out with, She’s Gotta Have It, I remember sitting in that audience with 95% African American audience and they were screaming at the film. Why? Because up until that point, when you saw an African American character, they were a pimp, they were a thug. Then, all of a sudden you had someone came along, said, “We’re more than that.” Then, you see it, you go, holy man, they responded. The same thing, I think, is happening with Christians today. When you look at films, 95% of them that portray Christians, it’s dull, it’s flat, or they pick one of two subject matters. They went to heaven, they came back or it’s the old testament, but it’s not the day-to-day life that you and I go through.

Robert:
With Jimmy Hope, and what you were talking about, I wanted to show real life problems. You know Warwick, what you were saying, “Well, how did you get through it?” You know what I have found, because that’s why I go on the road with the film and I go to these screenings and I meet the people. I have found that when I’m at those screenings, that mothers will come up after me and someone will whisper in my ear, “My son committed suicide. This is the first time I laughed.” I’ll come up and someone say, “I just lost my husband.” What I have found, everybody’s going through similar stuff that I went through and when God allows you to go through what I went through and what Jimmy Hope went through, you become so much more empathetic towards the human condition.

Robert:
When I see people post stuff on social media or when they call me or email me, I’ll tell you, it breaks my heart and the only way I have to process it and get through it is by making these movies and taking these moments back out there and saying, “I’m with you, I hear you, and there’s hope.”

Gary:
There was a-

Warwick:
Yeah.

Robert:
Does that make sense?

Warwick:
That’s right. One of the things that we talk about on Crucible Leadership, it sounds a bit trite, but it’s pain for a purpose. We don’t always know why, I mean, God obviously doesn’t cause pain, but why does he allow things to happen? You’re right. It does give you empathy. I mean, my crucibles are very different than yours, but having lost a large family media business, and if you google me, it’s not particularly favorable. They do have a Wikipedia entry, it’s got a young, hot-headed kid, could have had it all, but blew it. It will probably always be that way, so it gives you a sense of empathy for people, but a couple things that is remarkable about your story, many, but this sense of resilience. There’s one aspect I want to mildly disagree with you in the sense if you very humbly say, “Okay, I wasn’t courageous,” but you look up courage, many definitions of courage is something like this. That even when you were fearful and you just didn’t think you could make it, somehow you find the strength to take one more step.

Warwick:
For people of faith, well maybe the ability to take one more step comes from above, but I mean, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is being able to take a step even when you’re quaking in your boots. That was kind of the definition of courage that you were going through. I mean, some listeners won’t be people of faith, but whether you call it faith or not, whether it’s with the decision whether to abort your triplets, one or all of them, or the decision about to put your movie on hold, career on hold for a while, or the decision to keep going long-term, it’s listening to their inner voice.

Warwick:
Maybe you don’t believe in God or maybe it’s more of an ethereal supreme being or however your definition is, you listen to that inner voice, that still small voice that says, “You know what? This is the right thing to do.” Don’t ignore that. You didn’t ignore that voice in those critical moments, so the listeners of whatever faith, just the courage that you displayed in listening to that inner voice, putting your family first, I don’t know. You do that, you feel like God, universe, in some fashion, maybe not the way we would like or expect, will honor that. Now, what you’re doing with Faith, Hope and Love, it’s just… you’re right. I mean, the cliché of Christian movies is yeah, poorly acted, poorly directed, poor plots, poor story, poor everything and then you slap Jesus on it. Okay?

Robert:
Right.

Warwick:
When you have people of faith cringing, it’s not a good sign. No.

Robert:
No, my sister… my sister’s a very religious woman and she said, “I don’t go to them anymore.”

Warwick:
The movie that you made, it made you laugh, cry, it was funny, it’s compelling, great acting. Being from Australia, obviously, loved the fact that the lead actress is Australian. Yeah, exactly.

Robert:
Peta Murgatroyd

Warwick:
That was so fun, so I mean, I applaud you for what you’re doing in really just ignoring the naysayers, the people who say, “Robert, give it up. Give it up. You’ll never make it. Okay?” Even now, they’re probably saying, “Okay, maybe this will work,” but you’re not going to be Christopher Columbus or Robert Zemeckis or whoever these people are, and you probably think, okay, so what? Okay? I don’t need to make movies that gross as much as Star Wars. That’d be nice, but then I’m sure you’d be quite happy if it didn’t gross that much. Right?

Robert:
Yeah. I think once God… you know Gary asked me the same thing, how did I get through all this? You know that the short answer, without being heavy handed, there’s no question about it. God had such compassion on me and such kindness toward me. There’s many a day I came in, I have an icon of Christ up on my wall and, boy, there’s been many a day that I came in and cried in front of that icon and said, “Thank you.” I mean, really, genuinely, if I said one thing over and over again in that moment, it was, “I owe you my life.” That’s what I’m going to do is, the parable of the talents, I’m trying to use whatever God gave me, whether it’s dancing or writing or editing, producing, whatever it is, because I’m hopeful when that moment comes when I am with him that he does say, “Well done my son,” and not, “Why weren’t you singing? I gave you talent to sing. What was wrong with you?”

Gary:
There is a line in Faith, Hope and Love, Robert, I was watching the movie on a Saturday night with my wife and I actually got up from the couch and wrote this line down because I wanted to ask you about it. It’s the scene where Jimmy and Hope are on the rooftop and he’s explaining his faith to her because she has no faith in the beginning and she’s intrigued by his faith and the hope that comes from his faith and it’s attractive to her. He’s explaining to her about the death of his wife and how that didn’t kill his faith, that actually helped augment it, it strengthened his faith. Your character says this in explaining to Faith why he was able to still have faith. Jimmy says that he prayed to God that if he could get me through that, his wife’s death, I’d never be casual about my faith again. That struck me when I heard that, Robert, that that wasn’t a line that Robert Krantz made up as a screenwriter. That was a line that Robert Krantz lived as a man.

Robert:
Not only myself, but when I’m sitting in screenings, I can feel that moment resonates with audience because it’s doing one thing. It’s allowing the audience to move into Jimmy’s shoes in saying, “Where am I on that spectrum?” I can feel it, that when he said that, “I was a casual Christian,” at the start of that speech, I can feel that moment has done so much more, Gary, than the typical thing that you’ve seen in movies, which is movies start out with somebody who’s very angry at God and then they convert. I didn’t want to go down that road. I wanted to show what I perceived to be, what I’ve gone through, and what I’ve perceived for friends and acquaintances go through, which is you’re in that boxing ring with life, and life hits you in the chops. You wobble and you’re trying to get your bearings and you’re trying not to go down for the count.

Robert:
I’ve always found that God is that hand that comes in and steadies you and gets your back up there. You’re right. That is what I try to do with my life is to not be casual about it and do things like this. Also, I don’t know if either of you’ve had a chance to go up on social media, or Rotten Tomatoes, we had a 97% audience approval. That movie, there is something about it that is just resonating with people and I think it’s the things that we’re talking about.

Gary:
This would be a great time, Robert, for you to tell listeners how they can get their own copy. It is now on DVD, came out in the spring of 2019, but now it’s on DVD. How can they get their own copy and see for themselves what Faith, Hope and Love is all about?

Robert:
If you go to… there’s one place. Do not go to Amazon. Apparently, there’s urban company up there that’s selling it and they’re giving out German copies for German. Maybe the people have the German rights to it and people are frustrated, so don’t do that. If you go to our website, and I’ll spell it for you. It’s called EllinasMultimedia.com. It’s E-L-L-I-N-A-S, Multimedia, M-U-L-T-I-M-E-D-I-A dot com, you can get the DVD and they ship out the same day and they get there in three to five days, so it’s EllinasMultimedia.com. As my friend, Elaine, says, “Could you have made it a longer dot com title?”

Gary:
Well, it could have been your birth name dot come. That would have been extraordinarily long, too. As we start moving toward doing what I like to call land the plane, one of the things that Warwick and I wanted to chat with you about is Crucible Leadership is all about, not the end, but the goal of coming out of a crucible is to lead a life of significance. It occurs to me that Hollywood, and I’ve lived there, I worked in publicity for the film industry for three to four years, Hollywood is not an easy place to pursue significance, either professionally or personally. Professionally, in the movie business, opening weekend is everything. If you don’t do great there, people forget about you.

Gary:
Personally, look at the headlines and the stories of marriages that fall apart. It’s not an easy place to pursue significance and yet, you’ve been able to do it. I think one of the things… I want to ask you how you did that, but I want listeners to understand that it’s not where you’re placed, but what’s placed in you that paves the road to a life of significance. I think you’ve talked about that, Robert, but how have you found a way to live a life of significance, if not in Hollywood proper, in Orange County, and in the motion picture industry?

Robert:
First of all, I have nothing to do with Hollywood. I don’t go up there, I’m not part of that whole… I just don’t. I don’t like it. Nothing against it, but I just… it’s not me. There’s an element of heaven that’s going to be… I think I’m going to do Falling in Love with Sophia, the book I wrote next. There’s also an original screenplay that I’m writing that has an element of heaven in it, so I’ve been reading a lot about it. One of the things that I’ve read is kind of how I feel, how I want my life to be. I’m not saying that I’ve nailed this yet, but it’s definitely… we talk about a life of significance, I read when you get to heaven, God plays a movie and that movie is of you in all the moments in your life when you gave out love.

Robert:
I’ve thought about that and I think that what I constantly try to do… I’ve missed the mark, I’ve missed… there’s certain people in my life be going, “Oh, okay, what about… do you remember… Yeah, you forgot about that love moment,” but I think what I’m trying to do every step of the way with people I come in contact… whether it’s somebody that delivers something to our office, whether it’s one of my children, whether it’s an acquaintance, I’m doing my best to if you drop a pebble or rock or boulder in water, the pebble has very little ripples. The rock has more, the boulder has the most ripples. I’m trying to be that boulder with when I drop in, so it has all those ringlets that come out and I’m trying to touch as many people’s lives with goodness that I can. Not easy. I get pissed off like everybody else, but I’m trying to lead a life of significance that way.

Robert:
Paul was going out in the gospel, he was just going from town to town, person to person. It wasn’t like Paul, can you imagine, Paul must have said to God, “Invent the internet already. Come on. Speed this up. Let’s get this going.” You know what I mean? “What am I almost dying in this shipwreck for?” I mean… so I keep my mouth shut and I’m just trying to go from person to person, moments like this, and I try and just let God do what he does. If it ends up being there’s a hundred people I touch in my life, if it’s a million, whatever he decides I’m convinced my job is in this life of significance is to go out and put out these films, touch as many people as I can, and also my personal life, at the end of it, when they write my epithet, I want them to say, “He was a phenomenal husband, he was a phenomenal father,” and hopefully with these movies, “he was a phenomenal filmmaker that touched people with these faith-based films.”

Gary:
That is, I think, a great place to put down the landing gear and land the plane. Warwick talks all the time, Robert, he talks all the time about what do you want on your tombstone and one of the things that we discovered as we were talking about that concept is if you look at the three greatest singers in three genres, country, Johnny Cash, Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, standards, jazz singer Frank Sinatra. I looked up all of their headstones. Their headstones don’t talk about all the gold records and all the concerts and all the fans. Johnny Cash has a psalm on his, Frank Sinatra’s simply says, “The best is yet to come,” and Elvis Presley’s talks about being a son and a father. At the end of the day, those are the things that matter.

Gary:
Hopefully, listener, you have really, in our time together today, heard about some things that matter and it’s Warwick’s hope and it’s Robert’s hope, that out of this conversation that we’ve had today, out of Robert being so transparent, Warwick talking about his own crucible experiences, that you draw hope from that, you draw perhaps insight, ideas for how you, too, can live a life of significance beyond your crucible moment.

Gary:
If you’d like to learn more about Crucible Leadership, you can visit us on our website, at CrucibleLeadership.com. If you want to engage us on social media, you can go to Facebook and that’s found at Facebook/CrucibleLeadership. If you’d like to engage with Warwick and Crucible Leadership on LinkedIn, that’s at Warwick Fairfax, that is with the silent W in the middle, W-A-R-W-I-C-K Fairfax on LinkedIn. Until next time, when we talk about how to live and lead with significance, remember that your crucible moments, as Robert has described today, your crucible moments are not the end of your story. They are the beginning, they can be the beginning of a story, a new chapter in your story that leads to the best destination possible, a life of significance.

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