If you didn't already know, Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate, is now a Hollywood executive. Yes, you read that correctly. It's a fascinating position to be in, considering his conservative outlook on politics and culture in America.
TheBlaze interviewed Santorum earlier this summer about his plans after taking on the CEO role at EchoLight Studios, a Christian production company located in Dallas. With news this week that the studio's first big theatrical release, "The Christmas Candle," is coming out in November, we reconnected with Santorum to discuss the project, his latest career moves and his views on the Republican Party.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. (AP)
Santorum admitted that preparing for the film's release has been "a challenge." With so much to accomplish, the task has been monumental, but one that Santorum has clearly appreciated and learned from.
"There's a lot coming at you all the time and yet I feel like we've had tremendous opportunities," he said of EchoLight's growth.
As for "The Christmas Candle," he believes the film, based on author Max Lucado's book by the same name, is going to have massive reach and scope. Described as "a timeless holiday film for the entire family," EchoLight's role is distribution, ensuring that the movie will show in 400 to 500 theaters across the nation starting Nov. 22.
According to the film's synopsis, the movie isn't your typical secular, holiday-themed fare. "The Christmas Candle's" plot is overtly faith-based:
Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end.
When David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a progressive young minister, arrives in Gladbury, the villagers discover a new formula for miracles: good deeds and acts of kindness. While David's quest to modernize Gladbury sets him at odds with the old world candlemaker, he finds an unlikely ally in the lovely skeptic, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Now, the fiery candlemaker must fight to preserve the legacy of the Christmas Candle. But when the candle goes missing, the miraculous and human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the village of Gladbury has ever seen.
Santorum told TheBlaze that he's proud of the final product and said he specifically liked the movie and decided to come on board because it's unlike most of the other holiday blockbusters that hit the market.
"It's a beautifully done film that has a great message for the Christmas season," Santorum said. "It's a message of people going through challenges of their faith and despair -- and it's all about receiving the miracle of Jesus and understanding the great gift that the Christmas season is."
Set in the 1890s, the movie takes viewers back in time while also showing them that doubt, despair and overcoming the odds are challenges that humans has always dealt with.
"Tell me the last Christmas movie that was out that had anything to do with the actual meaning of Christmas," Santorum said. "This is a story that people can take their kids to. It's a PG movie."
Photo Credit: EchoLight Studios
Santorum is hopeful that "The Christmas Candle" will spark discussions in American families about what Christmas is really about and wants parents and children to leave theaters inspired and looking to "be a miracle in [other] peoples' lives."
The former senator said he's found that work in the entertainment industry isn't wholly different from his life in politics.
"It's about communicating a message. It's about telling a story," Santorum said of his role at EchoLight. "One of the reasons the GOP has done so terrible is because we're not really good at telling stories. We're good at charts and bar graphs but we're not good at telling a story."
Just as he believes Republicans have failed at conveying their story, he said conservatives have been equally poor at ensuring that their world views are heard in Hollywood -- "or anywhere else." Rather than beating moviegoers over the head with values-based messages, Santorum said that it's entirely possible to make good films that invoke emotion and deal with important themes.
Instead of preaching sermons in movies, story lines can convey positivity in a more viable way, he argued, saying liberals have done it successfully for years. Conservatives must "tell stories about the truth, about values and virtues."
In the end, it's all about producing quality entertainment, Santorum said.
"Be inspiring, be uplifting, be helpful," he said. "That's what people are looking for. They want to be inspired. They want hope."