Students in Liberty’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center worked on the project that premiered in theaters this week.
The following is a rush transcript from The Todd Starnes Radio Show. Listen to the program live Monday – Friday from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. Click here to listen to the full interview.
TODD STARNES: [01:21:45] Well, we were telling you earlier in the program about a terrific, family friendly movie that’s in theaters tonight. It premiered last night. It’s a Fathom event, and the movie comes to us from our great friends at Liberty University. I want to go to the Patriot Mobile Newsmaker Line right now, and we’re honored to have the film’s director, Michael Sajbel with us. The name of the movie: “The Mulligan,” a Parable of Second Chances. Michael, what an honor to have you with us today. [01:22:17][31.3]
MICHAEL SAJBEL: [01:22:18] It’s great to be with you, Todd. [01:22:19][1.1]
STARNES: [01:22:20] Michael, first, I’m curious to know what it was like working with Liberty University on this great project. [01:22:26][6.3]
SAJBEL: [01:22:28] Well, I mean, when I was presented with the concept of doing a professional motion picture, but with students on the crew, I was a little taken back. But the movie I did just before this one, I had about four to six, somewhere in there, trainees, actually advanced seniors in high school and they, within a day or two, really picked up the pace and were, you know, doing their functions. So knowing that Liberty really does a great job training students and preparing them for the movie business, I did not have a big fear going in. However, they told me that halfway through the movie, everybody’s going to flip and take up a new position. But that gave me pause as well. But Liberty came through flying colors, as they say. [01:23:20][52.5]
STARNES: [01:23:21] Well, tell us about the film “The Mulligan,” a Parable of Second Chances. [01:23:24][3.2]
SAJBEL: [01:23:26] Well, I mean, it’s a beautiful allegory crafted by a former professional golfer, Wally Armstrong and Ken Blanchard, who wrote the bestselling books, “The One Minute Manager.” And these guys have the ability of taking a simple concept and expanding it a little bit, making it very understandable. And I liked the idea of “The Mulligan,” because in golf, you know, when you’re playing with your friends, that is, and you hit a really terrible shot, which I’m probably going to do in about 15 minutes after this interview. You know, your friends might say to you take a mulligan which just means have a do over, you know, a second chance. And the film follows the life of an executive who’s successful in everything but life itself, and he definitely needs a do over in his life. And it’s a faith based film. It’s inspirational, and it’s allegorical to, I think, almost everybody’s life at one point or another. [01:24:36][70.1]
STARNES: [01:24:37] So I’m kind of excited to see that Pat Boone is a part of the project. That must have been pretty cool. [01:24:42][5.5]
SAJBEL: [01:24:44] Unbelievable. I mean, with the book and then the script called for an old pro, somebody who is clearly old, which is rarely a requirement in Hollywood, and somebody who, you know, knows their way around the golf course, but somebody who’s also spiritually aware and attuned in their Christian faith. And when it came time to cast this role, my producer said, what do you think about Pat? And you know, as a kid, I saw “Journey to the Center of the Earth” with Pat Boone, which was done in 1959, and of course, the famous “Cross the Switchblade” movie in the early 70s, I believe. And so, Pat was just absolutely phenomenal. And you know, he’s just, you know, he steals the show, as they say. And I told my assistant director, you know, this guy is up in his 80s like high 80s. Let’s just give him a couple of pages of dialog every other day, but no, Pat was a trooper. He did up to six pages of dialog a day. He was flawless in his delivery. It was just amazing. I’m not going to give away the movie, but something tells me he’s not going to be in the sequel. [01:26:07][83.5]
STARNES: [01:26:08] Tanya Christiansen, Eric Close, Charmin Lee among some of the stars. And also, you’ve got some great golfers and broadcasters. I understand there’s a special appearance by Jim Nantz and PGA champ Tom Lehman. [01:26:23][14.7]
SAJBEL: [01:26:24] Yeah, There’s a sequence at the very beginning and I wanted to make it look as real as possible. Golf on TV these days is covered so well with, you know, like 50 cameras and drones and all of that. And you know, we wanted to have that absolute stamp of authenticity, so we went after Jim Nantz, who is the voice of the Masters. He’s the voice of the NBA Finals and, you know, even does some football broadcasting. And Jim was a very good friend of our star, Eric Close, and so we had to go through all the channels and make sure that CBS approved of it and Jim approved of it and managers, and nothing was in conflict. But when Jim Nantz shows up, you get him a hundred percent. He’s the most sincere, incredible man to work with and totally involved. And so that was an incredible blessing. The book originally had Davis Love III as a golf pro, and Davis was not available. He was working on keeping his tour card alive. And if you’re into the world of golf, you know what that means. And so we went after Tom Lehman and Tom said, I can give you one day, and when you see the movie, you’re going to say, I can’t believe you got all that in one day, and it was raining that day, too. So we went indoors and outdoors, and then went indoors again. And so Tom Lehman just adds that perfect another bit of authenticity to a movie that has golf as a background. I wouldn’t call it a sports film per se, and women seem to really respond positively to the message as well. So I think we checked a lot of boxes in our casting. Tanya Christiansen, you mentioned her, Charmin Lee, but just great, great performers who brought their A-game to the film. [01:28:29][124.4]
STARNES: [01:28:29] And I know we have a lot of listeners in the North Georgia area, the North Georgia mountains, home to a lot of golf courses, and you guys actually did some filming, I believe, in Toccoa, Georgia. [01:28:39][9.7]
SAJBEL: [01:28:40] Yes, Toccoa is a town that I’d never been to before, I had never even heard of it. And it’s kind of on the small side. In fact, to say this, they don’t even have a Chic-fil-A. The town welcomed us. They were patient. The Chamber of Commerce, Julia Paysen, and others really rolled out the welcome mat. And there’s a golf course up there called the Currahee Club, which is developed, I think originally from some Atlanta Braves and maybe Falcons and some other people. And it’s just a an enclave of beautiful golf course carved out of the same area where the band of brothers trained for World War II. It’s hilly, it’s a lot of elevation and it’s groomed, it’s beautiful. And they welcomed us with open arms to make our movie, as did the members of the community there. [01:29:39][58.4]
STARNES: [01:29:40] Michael, we’re going to have to leave it there. Congratulations on this great film. I’m looking forward to seeing it tonight here in Memphis, Tennessee, and I know folks all over America will have the opportunity. By the way, folks, you go to our live show blog, and click on the link, and it’ll show you where the film is playing in your zip code, so you can check that out. But Michael, we’d love to get you back one of these days and enjoy the the great film [01:30:05][25.4]
SAJBEL: [01:30:07] Any time, Todd. You have my number, and yeah it’s special event to watch tonight only before it goes to other digital media and streaming. [01:30:15][8.3]