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‘I wanted to show how the story of Abraham and Isaac points to Christ’

‘His Only Son’, now screening in Europe after winning over audiences in the US, depicts one of the iconic scenes of the Old Testament. We spoke to the director, David Helling.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 16/Daniel_Hofkamp,5/Evangelical_Focus 29 DE JUNIO DE 2023 15:30 h
Abraham (Nicolas Mouawad) and Isaac (Edaan Moskowitz) on their way to Moriah, in the film His only son.

The independent film His Only Son, written and directed by David Helling, explores the story of Abraham, the well-known biblical patriarch whose life has marked the three great religions of the book.

It has the Christian perspective of its director, David Helling, who finds in this event, not only a proof of faith, but a symbol of what will happen two thousand years later with Jesus Christ being taken to the cross for the sins of the world.

The film achieved significant box office support in the United States, and despite its low budget, it spent several weeks in the top 10 in the country.

Watch the video interview with David Helling at the bottom of this article.

Question. Why did you choose to bring Abraham and the story with Isaac to the big screen?

Answer. I really wanted to tell the life story of Abraham, and in particular the account when the Lord tests his faith by asking him the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac. I did a number of different biblical short films for about a decade, but for about ten years I've wanted to work on this story.

After I got out of the Marine Corps, and studied film at a university in San Francisco, I encountered many non-believers, friends, who found it difficult to believe in God because of this story.

Whenever I talked about my faith, time and time again I found that this account in Genesis 22 was was a very common point of contention. They viewed it as this reason why they wouldn't worship God.

They said I was worshipping a God who would ask a man to sacrifice his son. That would be "cosmic child abuse". So I wanted to dive into the Scriptures and get to the heart of why God was testing Abraham in such a way.

What I found was that Abraham's life points to Christ's story of redemption. So I thought that if I could illustrate that for unbelievers, it would give them an answer and, by God's grace, show them the truth of the Gospel that their eyes would open they'd come to saving faith in Christ.

For believers, I found time and again my brothers and sisters in Christ did not know how to respond the scoffers and the skeptics in their own lives when they would bring up this same point.

So I hope that the film will give answers and equip believers in such a way that they're able to answer those hard questions with their non-believing friends and family.

[photo_footer] The shooting took advantage of the desert landscapes near Los Angeles (California), creating a compelling setting for the film. [/photo_footer] 


Q. What difficulties have you faced in developing such a big project?

A. I started working on this film five and a half years ago, and I didn't realize that I'd be entering into the most hard, difficult and heart-wrenching years of my life. I'm talking about every type of opposition: spiritual, physical, financial.

My whole life turned upside down and lit on fire and in many cases it still is on fire, but through that the Lord has shown his hand of grace and mercy, He takes us through the fire so that the world can see Christ, and everyone will know that it's by his strength alone and it's by his ability alone, and not mine.


Q. Abraham's faith was shaken in this story, was yours shaken as well?

A. Yes, absolutely. The Lord was so gracious in giving me this account of Abraham's life about what it really looks like to wait on the Lord when you don't understand what's going on, but you know that the Lord is doing something good in it and he keeps his promises through every dark and lonely night.

Abraham is not only called the 'father of faith', but he is also our great brother in Christ. Abraham is very much alive today, with the Lord in the paradise.

Waiting for that was much harder than anything I have to go through in my life today. Knowing that the Lord had a purpose in it was a big encouragement to me.

[photo_footer] Abraham's faith was challenged. [/photo_footer] 


Q. How did you manage to carry out the production without a big company behind you?

A. The film is fully independent, we didn't have a big studio behind us. Angel Studios (the production company of The Chosen), our distributor, discovered the film after it was fully finished.

I knew that our budget was going to be extremely low compared to other films. It was less than $250,000, while the average theatrical release is around $50 million.

We shot on a very tight schedule, we had just 14 main production days that we to shoot the film. The Lord blessed us with such beautiful locations all around the Greater Los Angeles area.

We shot it all around the desert in California and out in the hills, North of Los Angeles, just beautiful landscapes that really added a big amount of production value.

But on top of that, I knew that I would have to wear 'a lot of hats', as I've grown accustomed to doing with all of my short films over the decades. I had to teach myself how to sew costumes and do all the visual effects; little did I know that those hard years of doing that for those little biblical shorts, the Lord was actually honing skills in me that I would need to incorporate into His Only Son, due to the budget constraints.

With His Only Son there was like over a hundred costume pieces, so that I sewed almost all. There was over 325 visual effects shots in the film that you wouldn't realize when you watched it, that includes making miniatures out of cardboard and paper towels, and doing a lot of green screen work.

That all took years, that's why it's been five and a half years since I started and now it's just coming out, with whole lot of a whole lot of sweat, patience and prayer.

[photo_footer] The role of Sara is played by actress Sara Seyed.. [/photo_footer] 


Q.  The film has already been released in the United States and other countries. How was it received?

A. I've seen many very touching comments. Audiences have received the film very well. Even the critics have given the film good reviews.

It was a huge success in the box office of course, making it into the top 3 only behind John Wick and Dungeons and Dragons, and standing up with big boys that cost like tens of millions of dollars.

Some of the greatest comments that I see time and time again are from people coming away so moved by the film, that they immediately dive into Scripture and go and read for themselves.

That's my whole reason for wanting to do Bible films, to draw people to the Word so that they could have their eyes open to the truth of the gospel for themselves.

The film has ministered to a lot of people, and what's really encouraging to me is seeing my brothers and sisters in the Lord on Christian media, who are very, very cautious about biblical films, receiving it very well and saying that is the best biblical film they have ever seen.

I saw a comment like that from a brother who is super solid and super strict when it comes to media, for her to say that is very encouraging.


Q. The character of Abraham in the film is that of a person who has difficulties and doubts, not that of a "super hero". Do you want to show his struggles?

A. Some biblical projects that have been done throughout the hundred years of Hollywood history have depicted the Biblical characters like the character of Jesus... and it's not like that!

In your own life, if you are walking by faith and in obedience, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, even Paul when he's writing in Romans 7, he says: 'Oh Wretched Man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death'.

There's a war, not only going on in the spiritual world, but there's a war going on when we're redeemed when the Holy Spirit dwells within us at our point of conversion, we want to do what we're not doing and we're doing what we don't want to do.

We could see in Scripture that Abraham struggled with fear, that's why he lied about his wife, saying, she's not my wife, she's my sister.

The Lord, the sinless God man Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane prays to the father, let this cup pass from me not my will but yours be done.

Hopefully all this resonates with people and shows them that those we read about in the Bible were just like us today, they had to go forward walking in obedience by faith alone, through God grace alone, and all they had to hold on to was God's word alone.

[photo_footer]Nicolas Mouawad plays Abraham. [/photo_footer] 

Q. Seeing that the film has had this positive response, do you think there is more room in Hollywood for biblical or faith-based films?

A. The success of biblical and Christian films at the box office shows that there is an interest, and the more these films succeed, the more the majors will invest in films with such themes, because they are ultimately driven by money.

But my advice to Christians who make this kind of content, and also to Christians as viewers, is that as more projects are made, we should be wiser to discern, because just because it bears the name of Christ does not mean it is Christian.

Let us be like the the Bereans, and search the Scripture and see that what's being said in the film does line up with God's word, don't just believe everything you hear.

[photo_footer] David Helling during the interview. [/photo_footer] 


Q. Are there any other projects you are working on, or would like to do in the near future?

A. My heart is to continue working chronologically on the Scriptures. I want to make biblical films, and if the biblical part was taken off, I would no longer want to make films, but perhaps teach the Bible in other ways.

Lord willing, I just want to keep making one film after another that walks through Scripture and right now through the Old Testament, to show the prophecies and promises that point to Christ.

Now I'm working on the script and preparing the budget for what would be a film that would go through the life of Jacob, from his birth. I'm excited about this project that I hope can go ahead, if it's God's will.





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21:01 h
Having watched the film as a disciple of Jesus & can understand its appeal to believers, but I am interested to know the reaction of Muslims to it? Since they are taught it was Ishmael (not Isaac) who was to be sacrificed, there is an obvious obstacle 'for starters' in even watching it; let alone the Biblical quotes in the film & crucifixion. So, have they watched it & with what reactions? Has it been shown in any Muslim countries & with what reaction? Eid al Adha 2023 has just ended too!

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