Priceless, on DVD/On Demand, releases today,
February 14th, on Valentine’s Day.
I was honored to spend some time talking with Joel Smallbone from for King & Country and the film, Priceless. He was so gracious with his time and his honest responses. I came into our interview overly prepared and many of my questions were left unanswered but I in no way finished our conversation disappointed.
First, let me be one of the first people to tell you that for King & Country has a new album coming out next year. This is great news! Be watching for it. I know I will be.
Which came first, the album or the film?
The album, Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong was released in 2014 and the film was released in 2016. Throughout their tours, there were murmurings of a bigger message with a bigger platform but without clear direction, they carried on promoting the message of a man’s call to be chivalry and the woman’s need to be valued.
“We finished the record. Afterwards, we had been talking about the film a little bit. It was after the record that we really started leaning in. In the middle of all of the research and script writing and preparation for the production, Luke and I wrote Priceless, the song. Then we put it on a deluxe variation of the record about a year after the record’s release. It was in many ways inspired by the film. The message of the song Priceless had been with Luke and Joel for a while. It always eluded us. It wouldn’t come off right. It was a gift really. It was the right song at the right time.” ~Joel Smallbone
To be honest, Priceless was not a particularly enjoyable movie for me to watch but it was worthwhile and incredibly powerful. I came into the interview from a personal perspective of being invested in human trafficking and having friends who are survivors of human trafficking. I was encouraged by the film’s purpose in raising awareness for this epidemic but I was also surprised to discover that human trafficking was just one element of the film’s purpose.
Is Priceless a movie about human trafficking or about romance?
Smallbone: “I would have to say neither. If it is a romance, it’s a story about how love can find its way in the most awful, polarizing scenarios. It is set for a moment in the world of human trafficking for the purpose of illustrating the simple question, “If every human life is priceless, what’s the antithesis of that?” And that would be that a human life can be bought. If I had to put a label on it, it’s much more of a drama and love story than one about human trafficking or romance.”
There was a scene in the movie that as a parent was painful for me to watch. James, played by Joel Smallbone, had a young daughter. In a dream, he saw his daughter coming out of the van holding the pimp’s hand. As I thought about this, I realized that this was a nightmare for James but it was the reality of many fathers.
As a follow-up to this scene, I asked Joel if the making of Priceless was personal for him and his family.
Smallbone: “Making Priceless was personal in many ways. In the grander scheme of a woman’s worth and chivalry and charging us as men to love extraordinarily, it’s something that Luke and I as a band carried with us from the beginning. That’s really how the film came about. Luke and I shared a real simple message from the stage. First of all, charging us as men to be chivalrous and how we love and celebrate a woman’s worth”.
They took their bigger picture idea to Ben, their filmmaker brother, with the possibility of taking this message to the silver screen. It was then that this truly became a family project.
The film is releasing on DVD on Valentine’s Day. What message do you hope will be conveyed as a result of this chosen release date?
Smallbone: “I do think it’s very timely. Valentine’s Day in America is an interesting day. In many ways, a wonderful one. But it also brings feelings of slight confusion. Are we celebrating romance, love, sex? Is this just the one romantic day? In that case, it is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing kind of day. It’s even indicative of films released on Valentine’s Day. We ask, is this what love is meant to be and it’s confusing? It was very timely to release in on DVD on Valentine’s Day as it is a love story. A love story between a man and woman, two sisters, father, and daughter. But it’s also a story that hopefully provokes a bit of thought and conversation.”
What changed in you as a result of being a part of this film?
Smallbone: “When you’re writing about something so serious, you invite that into your life. You just weep at the realities of it. It changed the way I interact with my wife – in a good way.”
What did you find most helpful in preparing for your role in the film?
Smallbone: “Being a part of it from the very beginning. Being a part of the script writing, part of the story, the character. I felt like by the time I got in front of the camera, I knew James so well.
Joel mentioned that one of the most challenging elements was working on his American dialect. He mastered it because as I watched the film, I completely forgot he was from Australia.
If a survivor of human trafficking is watching this film, what message would you want them to take away from it?
Smallbone: “That no matter what has been done to them or said about them, that their worth is not found in that. Their value is found under God.”
If a parent is watching…
Smallbone: “To encourage their daughter to understand the reality of the world she lives in. Continue to instill the greater principles of who she is as a woman. As a son, to encourage him to be diligent in knowing that by even us purchasing a picture of a naked woman or watching a video that we are feeding the monster of this epidemic and treating a woman as an object, you’re buying her. Without hard conversations in the family, it’s an easy thing to do because we live in such a commercial society that it just doesn’t feel wrong.
If a teenager is watching…
Smallbone: “Naturally you would think the teenage is being faced with watching explicit material or dating and the question of sexuality as a teenager. Coming at this from more of a biblical foundation, but even so, if you want to separate yourself from that, you could argue that statistically, pornography is affection marriages and relationships and extracurricular and casual relationships are affecting men and women statistically. AS the saying goes, ‘even a dead fish can go with the flow’. For young men and young women, it really takes diligence and heart to stand up and stand out but you’re better for it and your future husband and wife will be better for it.”
If a man is watching…
Smallbone: “As a man, it’s an internal look at what are my circumstance who am I how am I interacting with women in general, married or not, and socially what’s my responsibility. When we really take an honest look, trafficking is a supply and demand issue. By and large, the demand is men. The hope for us is to take an internal look and ask, who am I? Am I encouraging this thought of objectifying a woman in how I love my mom, sister, wife. Publicly, what am I doing?”
If a woman is watching…
Smallbone: “If I had a hope it would be one that ladies would be able to take an inside look at themselves and ask if they’re finding their worth in their work, their form, figure or face or the man they have on their arm or are they finding their worth in the fact that they’re fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in my mother’s womb and an image bearer of God no matter what’s been done or said to them. Then secondly, what am I doing as woman socially to thwart this epidemic.”
While this isn’t your typical “feel good” Valentine’s Day romance, I would encourage you to watch the film on the merit that it is a good film, a love story, and drama and one that will promote some great conversations and hopeful changes in the way our culture views chivalry and objectifying women.
Who is this movie for? I believe it is for men, women, married couples, singles, teenagers, Christians, and non-Christians… you. Due to the mature nature of some elements of the film, I do not advise this for younger children. I sincerely hope this film ends up in your watch list soon. I wholeheartedly believe that Priceless will make better use of your time than others which have recently released.
For more about the film, read our staff writer’s review of the here. Movie Review: Priceless