Writer and director Brad J. Silverman doesn’t hesitate when asked what he hopes his new film, Grace Unplugged, which hit theaters Oct. 4, will accomplish. “I hope this is a catalyst for honest and transparent conversation within families,” he says. “We’re trying to portray a very honest story about an honest struggle within a family, and we try to do it in the most entertaining way possible.”
Grace Unplugged is the story of Grace Trey, a teenager with big dreams of musical stardom. Her one-hit wonder father, Johnny, traded in the music scene for ministry many years ago and is now dead-set against the idea of his daughter entering into that world. However, when Grace connects with Johnny’s former manager, Mossy, she lands a chance at a recording deal that she wouldn’t dream of passing up.
Grace leaves home to seek her fame and fortune, leaving behind heartsick parents and many of the values with which they raised her. However, as the industry asks more and more from Grace, she begins to question whether this sort of fame is worth the price it requires and whether the faith that was so much a part of her life was really ever her own. This thought-provoking film stars AJ Michalka as Grace, James Denton as Johnny and Kevin Pollak as Mossy.
The story of Grace Unplugged was born out of the real-life experiences and passions of Silverman and those close to him. He explains, “One of my best friends on the planet has five kids, and his oldest daughter was having some real conflict when she was about 17 or 18 years old. She ended up running away.”
As Silverman and his wife prayed and mourned with their friends through their heartbreak, it brought to the forefront of their minds the issue of teens who are raised in church, but leave their faith behind when they move out. That experience, coupled with their own ministry among the teens of their church, was influential in the development of Grace Unplugged.
Silverman continues, “It was just something we were very passionate about.” He hopes this movie encourages teens to consider questions about their own faith, such as, “Is the faith that they profess real? Do they really own it?”
Although Silverman is passionate about the story of Grace Unplugged, he didn’t rely on that alone to help him craft a meaningful story. Instead, he depended on prayer and Scripture recitation to guide his work.
“Writing is probably the most sanctifying thing that I do in my life. I’m praying through the script just constantly. There’s no other time in my life that I’m as praying without ceasing than when I’m writing a script,” he explains.
He prayed repeatedly during the writing process, “Lord, glorify yourself with this next word.” Another one of his prayer themes was, “Lord, you created everything out of nothing. If you want to come this script and this film to come to pass, this isn’t that hard for you.”
Silverman’s prayer and dedication has paid off, and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the early reception that this film has received from people of all ages.
“I think this film has equal appeal for kids ages 11 to 17 … and their parents. I don’t want to leave out their parents. That’s critical,” he says.
Beyond that, the movie is appealing to people in other demographics also. He elaborates, “We’ve been playing it at colleges, and it’s been going off the charts.” He admits, “It’s a broader audience than I originally anticipated. I’ve been shocked and excited and encouraged [about] the age range and place in life [of] so many different people who are resonating with the movie.”
Grace Unplugged is an entertaining and challenging film that your whole family can watch together. It opens Oct. 4, 2013 in theaters around the country. The movie is rated PG. Two companion books, Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson and Own It by Hayley and Michael DiMarco, are available now from B&H Publishing Group.