Unplanned Producer Shares Thoughts on Abortion and the Purpose of His Film

At this point, most listeners have probably heard of a new movie called Unplanned. It’s showing in theaters now, including here at the Canby Cinema 8.

The film is based on the memoir of the same name by Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, who resigned her position in 2009 after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion. She has since become an author and a pro-life activist, and Unplanned, which tells that story on screen, has become a surprise hit since its release two weeks ago. Its box office take has more than doubled its $6 million budget so far, and it’s been receiving a lot of responses from both sides of the political spectrum.

It’s also been generating some buzz here in town. We had a few Canbyites ask if we might consider doing something about the film on our show, and one of the producers, Joe Knopp, was gracious enough to join us on a recent episode. Here are some of the highlights.

On the purpose of the film:

Our desire is for people to understand, on their own, what abortion truly is, and they decide if it’s right or wrong. The hope was that it would get enough awareness for people to be talking about it, because it’s an issue that our country is facing.

On the film’s production values:

From a movie standpoint, people do appreciate that it feels like and looks like a real movie. I think, sometimes, that’s not always the case in our space.

On moviegoers who have personal experience with abortion:

We have people who have been affected by abortion, either in their own life or in their own family, and there’s never a good time to talk about that. For the first time, they’re talking about it, and this is, hopefully, beginning a healing process for them, just like it did for Abby in her journey.

On striking the right tone in Christian films:

True stories are messy. All of our lives have ups and downs. We have success. We have failures. They’re complicated. What we like to do is just tell someone’s story, without leaving anything out.

On the film’s R rating:

They [the MPAA] were so emotionally engaged in the movie, they understood that the violence they saw on the screen was a child being murdered. And, because it was violence against humanity, they gave it an R-rating. They understood. They got it. They knew that what they were watching was violence against a little child.

On comparison to another R-rating film

A great comparison to make is The Passion of the Christ, where Mel Gibson, really for the first time, exposed the audience to the extreme suffering that Christ actually went through, in order to appreciate him dying on the cross for us. With Unplanned, it was the same thing: How do we take the audience, you know, right to the edge? And whenever you take an audience to the edge, what you understand is, a few will fall off. So, you try to have that sensitivity, of how do you take the audience to the edge, without entirely losing them?

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