'Machine Gun Preacher': Next up, the Sam Childers documentary
The real-life subject of the new film "Machine Gun Preacher," Sam Childers has long had a conflicted relationship with Hollywood. As the real-life gun-wielding preacher who started an orphanage in Africa, Childers came to the attention of Hollywood back in 2005 when his unique story -- drug addict-turned-African-vigilante -- was featured on "Dateline NBC." Once that program aired, offers for book, television and film deals flooded into his modest Pennsylvania home that Childers shares with his wife, Lynn.
But Childers, who had come to Hollywood before trying to drum up interest in his charity, the Angels of East Africa, to little avail, wasn’t a big fan of the town. However, he was interested in raising more money and awareness for his organization in the Sudan, which houses hundreds of orphaned children and feeds thousands on a daily basis. He knew that Hollywood's ability to telegraph messages to the masses was unparalleled.
During the initial flurry of interest in his story, the one piece of advice he heeded was from an attorney who told Childers to write his book first, then move on to the Hollywood feature film, followed by a documentary about his life.
Childers has done just that. His first book, “Another Man’s War,” from Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, debuted in 2009. “Machine Gun Preacher,” from director Marc Forster and starring Gerard Butler in the lead role, opens in limited release this weekend before going opening wide next Friday. And if all goes as planned, a documentary on Childers’ life will debut in February or March of next year.
“It all worked,” said Childers of the plan to write the book first, which would in turn get more people interested in his cause, making it easier to make a movie and ultimately a documentary, which Childers can control. “We got some of the top 10 in screenwriters, the top 10 in directors and the top 10 in actors,” said Childers of the filmmakers who collaborated on “Machine Gun.” “God gave us the top of the line.”
Childers is happy with the feature film starring Butler but says that for those who want a more in-depth look into his life, a documentary that spans from his childhood till now will be out early next year. Childers, who owns the film, hasn't yet nailed down distribution.
In the doc, Childers says there are interviews with people he went to high school with and people he was involved in shoot-outs with in the U.S., in addition to congregants of his church in Pennsylvania and some children in the Sudan.
“Everyone tries to tell their story,” Childers said.
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: Sam Childers and Gerard Butler at a "Machine Gun Preacher" screening in New York
Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images