TCB Exclusive: Luke Smallbone Of For KING & COUNTRY Talks "Priceless"

Being distributed by Roadside Attractions, the for KING & COUNTRY movie, "Priceless," is set to release to select theaters in just hours (October 14). The movie stars Joel Smallbone, alongside Bianca Santos ("The Duff"), Jim Parrack ("True Blood") and David Koechner ("Anchorman"). Ben Smallbone served as director, and Dave and Luke Smallbone have producer credits. Inspired by true events, "Priceless" is a powerful drama/thriller about James Stevens (played by Joel) who was, at one time, a good man with a great life -- but that was then and this is now. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash -- no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering is actually who, he is compelled to save two beautiful and frightened sisters who are unaware of the danger that awaits them. For KING & COUNTRY's Luke Smallbone recently took a few minutes to talk with us about what to expect from the upcoming motion picture release.

In the past, you and Joel have both talked about how honoring a woman’s worth and charging men to be chivalrous has been part of the for KING & COUNTRY mission since its inception. But can you tell us how this opportunity to take the message to the silver screen came about?
We have been talking about this priceless movement for 5 or 6 years and what that movement really is. For women - culture tells you to talk, act, dress like you’re cheap. But we believe that there is a God who says you are priceless. And for men - it’s up to us to step up in our relationships and treat the women in our lives with respect and honor. And honestly when we first started this with our music, this is the message people left talking about. So about 2 years ago, we went to our brother Ben and started talking about how we were just scratching the surface of this message. And we got the idea to make a movie and call it 'Priceless,' and really structure the story around this movement. And that’s really the beginning of this film called 'Priceless' that is coming out October 14th.

This film is quite the family affair with you and Dave producing, Joel starring and Ben directing. What was it like working with your brothers on this film?
Well for better or worse, I don’t think we know how to work with anyone other than family. Growing up we worked together on whatever project it may be at that time. And so for us to work on this film together was a very natural thing. When you work with friends, not that there’s anything wrong with that, there’s always that chance that you really upset them and go your separate ways. But with family, you still have to do Thanksgiving and Christmas, so you are forced to address the issues and get to the bottom of things.

I’ve read a little about how on the first day of shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the project ran into some serious roadblocks. Can you walk us through some of the challenges the team had to overcome in filming and releasing this film?
We have had challenges every step of the way. And I think part of the reason why is we are all young dudes working on this project, and when you’re young you are usually pretty dumb as well. You just think, “let’s go make a film.” You don’t think about the fact you need to raise $2.5 million. Just one day filming in Albuquerque is $30,000. Just unbelievable amounts of money. It’s a very complicated process. And one of the things more recently is one of our investors was having an issue raising our promotion/advertising budget. A couple of weeks ago we were at $900,000 and we needed to be at $2.5 million to release the film, so we were starting to get pretty panicked. So then our investor felt God tell him to cold call this guy, which was just weird, but he did it to get it off his chest, not expecting even a phone call back. But the guy he called did call him back, and he told him about the film and they decided to meet the next day and it turns out they are 5 minutes away from each other in Minnesota. So they meet in person and the question is brought up of how much money is being asked for, and he says $1.1 million. He made two phone calls, and 48 hours later, $1.1 million was in the promotion/advertising fund. That’s a big example obviously, but a lot of those type of miracles happened along the way.

What was it like interacting with other stars of the film including Bianca Santos, Jim Parrack and David Koechner?
They have been nothing but the greatest! You never really know when you are working with these Hollywood actors, how they are going to treat you, how they were raised, their experiences. And so there was an element of intimidation from our end. But boy, they were just nothing but the kindest, most professional, always wanting to go the extra mile, and always wanting to get it right. And in my mind that’s what it takes to make a great piece of art. It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of people pulling in different directions to do the best they can.

What was your first impression of the film the first time you viewed the finished product?
The film you probably watched was 1:35 or 1:40 long, but when I first watched the film it was 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was long, and I realized we had something. But it was almost like whittling away at a piece of wood to make a spear out of it. You see a piece of wood that would be great, but you have a lot of sharpening to do. And that’s really what this process has been. There’s a scene where the main character, played by my brother, is out on the road and he goes around and opens up the back of a truck. When I saw the film first, it took 30 minutes to get to that point, and now in the final version it takes about 5 minutes. So as you can imagine there is a lot of pushing and pulling and that’s how you get the great art.

Are there any scenes that didn’t make the final cut that you wish would have?
There are always little things, but I think I feel really comfortable where everything left off. Everything flows nicely as it is, so I don’t think there is, since I’ve seen it in it’s full form and appreciate the way it’s been done.

Is there one certain scene in the film that you think is most powerful or inspiring?
There is a scene about three-quarters of the way through. It’s a montage and our song “Priceless” is played in a ballad version in the background. And every time I watch that clip, it’s just very, very moving. It’s probably my favorite scene.

Can you talk about what the reaction to the film has been in early screenings?
It’s been kind of overwhelming because you don’t really know what you have until it’s been released to people and we’ve only been able to do screenings over the last two months. The feedback that we are getting is this is a film that is gripping, entertaining, and needs to be seen. So we are going into this film with so much excitement because you never know how successful it’s going to be at the box office, but we have high hopes and are excited to get to the finish line and see how the masses respond to it.

When people leave theaters after watching “Priceless,” what do you hope is the 1 message or mission they take away from the film?
I hope they realize that their souls, their lives, are priceless. And maybe start to question relationships they may be in that don’t make them feel like that and are not being treated in a way God meant for people to be treated. Our hope is people will leave hope-filled and after watching this leave knowing they are now significant. God loves who we are and loves us. And I hope we get to see ripple effects of people watching this film and seeing a shift in who they are.

This past fall, the anniversary edition of RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG was released. I have to ask, have you even started that process of thinking about the next record?
We are in the midst of writing new music, but we have a pretty booked second half of 2016, with 'Priceless' the book, 'Priceless' the movie, a song, a fall tour and a Christmas tour. So we are trying to figure out ways between all that to write some more and get some new music out, but we don’t have a set date for what that looks like.

CHECK OUT OUR MOVIE REVIEW: "Priceless" Combines A Gripping Story And Masterful Production With An Essential Truth