Mr. Molina said, “I had to type my story on a type writer in the law library and we had to buy our own typewriter ribbons in the commissary. That was a chore because you are only allowed to buy one ribbon a week. Because inmates were taking the ink and making tattoos out of them.” Things would get even tougher for the aspiring screenwriter and producer. One day, the guards came into his cell to do a “shake-down” and they found a dozen ribbons in his locker. Molina recounted, “I had to into “the hole” (solitary) because of all of my typewriter ribbons. Finally, the lady running the prison’s Education office said “this man is out here every day minding his own business. He helps guys with typing. I’ll hold the ribbons and give them to him as he needs them.” So she kind of came in and saved the day for me.“
I’M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL tells the story of Miles Montego (played by Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins) and how Miles’ love for a special woman brings him a second chance at life and an against-the-odds relationship with a Higher Power. The film is loosely based on Molina’s own life and it is his and his producing partner Israel Houghton’s first foray into film production.
An independent, Christian, faith-based film, I’M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL follows in the footsteps of films such as FIREPROOF, FACING THE GIANTS and COURAGEOUS. Molina said, “We raised the funds privately through investors. I figured that I should model this on the record business… either be a great singer who goes to a label for money or be a great singer who does their own record, shops it and gets a better deal. So, I took the latter approach. Let me create the movie and once it is done, then maybe we’ll get a better deal and that is what we did. Studios wanted to make this movie, but they would have been a different movie. Kind of like “Good Fellas.” We didn’t want that.”
Molina and Houghton have done something which may be a first for a faith-based film - find Hollywood-name actors like Michael Madsen, Vincent Pastore and Stephen Baldwin to cast in his film. These big names are in addition to music rapper Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins and actress Adrienne Bailon (playing Vanessa Leon) as the film’s leads.
Long-time actor Stephen Baldwin (who plays “Agent Jason McDaniels”) said, “I’M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL is the first mainstream Christian movie that was made with [a mainstream] sensibility. You have a film with Michael Madsen, Vincent Pastore, Adrienne Bailon and Ja Rule in a movie with me. This isn’t your normal faith-based movie.” Regarding her participation, Co-Star Adrienne Bailon said, “To do a film with such an incredible message that your past doesn’t determine your future, meant so much to me. I can’t wait for people to see it and leave feeling inspired.”
Baldwin sees faith-based projects to be surging right now. “I was just offered my own reality show based on my family, my faith-based activities and my life. The Producers said that “Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon because Christianity has become cool because of Mark Burnett’s BIBLE series on the History Channel.” Baldwin continued, “I think what we are about to see in the next three to five years is many of the studios and networks understanding that the market of faith-based consumers are going to respond to content geared towards them. As long as it is made with excellent production values that can compete with what mainstream Hollywood has to offer.”
Competing with Hollywood was all part of Molina’s plan. To turn his screenplay into a film required a characteristic that he says is necessary for making a film or to succeed at any endeavor. “Hustle. Some people may use that as a bad word, but it is all about hustle. Do you want to hustle more than the next guy? That goes for whether you are in the street, the record business or at Apple Computers. That doesn’t matter. Good, honest hustle. Your “yes” is a “yes” and your “no” is a “no.” ”, Mr. Molina stated.
Baldwin said, “When Galley told me that Ja Rule would be playing himself in the film, I knew that he “gets it.” We live in a digital age and with the right cameras, people and talent… you can make a $1M film look like a $5M film. Galley was smart enough to say, “I’m not going to make a nice film just for the Christian audience. I am going make a full-blown, unapologetic Christian movie that hopefully the Christian audience will respond to, but I’m going to tell the story in a hardcore way.”
I’M IN LOVE WITH A CHURCH GIRL opens Friday, October 18th nationwide. For more information, visit www.iminlovewithachurchgirl.com