By: Rachel A. Hare
While some movies are purely entertainment, and some are made for shock value, still others are made with a message meant to be shared for the greater good of the world. Academy Award nominated “Alone Yet Not Alone” is one of those films.
“Alone Yet Not Alone”, starring Kelly Greyson and Natalie Racoosin, is a period piece and begins in the year 1755. The film is based on a true story, and Tracy Craven, who penned the novel on which the movie was based, is a direct descendant of the two main characters.
The story is about two young girls captured by Native Americans during the French and Indian War, and how their faith helped them overcome seemingly impossible circumstances including being separated.
We talked with Craven and the film’s co-writer, co-director and co-producer George Escobar to dig a little deeper.
Tracy Craven about the book:
Embolden: What was your inspiration for writing Alone Yet Not Alone?
Craven: When I was around nine years old, my grandmother read to me the story of Barbara and Regina Leininger. Though distantly related, I was so taken by the historical tale of these colonial American sisters caught in the conflict of the French and Indian War that I went home and wrote my first draft of Alone Yet Not Alone. That draft was put on the shelf and I didn’t complete the book until years later. But the seed was planted and the dream of it turning into a book grew. Their story of faith and survival in the middle of unimaginable trials is an inspiration and continues to challenge me as an individual.
E: How did you see God working as you wrote?
C: While writing Alone Yet Not Alone, my dad and I went camping in the Alaskan wilderness to hunt moose and grizzly bear. Not only was it an exciting outdoor adventure, but also a great cultural experience as we developed relationships with the owners of the hunting operation, a wonderful Native Alaskan family.
One morning while we were out hiking in the mountains, a heavy fog rolled in and we became lost. After hiking in the rain for hours without food or water and with nightfall quickly approaching, we stopped to pray. Within minutes, God answered our prayers and opened up the clouds long enough for us to see the river in the distance – a landmark that would eventually guide us home. I was amazed how God answered our prayers when we finally stopped and asked Him for help.
Though the landscape of the Alaskan wilderness looks different from Pennsylvania, I understood, in a small way, how alone and helpless Barbara must have felt being miles away from civilization and yet having a heavenly father to depend on.
E: How does the movie compare to the book?
C: The story takes place during the French and Indian War and follows the dramatic events of the Leininger sisters’ capture and escape from the Indians. The book tends to focus more on relationships and I describe the intense scenes with a younger audience in mind. The movie spends more time on action and adventure and is intended for a broader audience.
E: How have you seen God use your work?
C: Over the years I have enjoyed getting letters from my readers sharing how they have been inspired or challenged by the message in my book. If I can cultivate a love of learning and inspire my audience with stories that give hope and share God’s love and grace, I am fulfilled in my purpose as an author.
E: How can the church better support your ministry/writing?
C: Prayer is always appreciated and I love to hear from my readers. I can be contacted through my webpage at www.tracycraven.com or through Zonderkidz, my publisher.
In addition to supporting my books, churches can support the June 13th nationwide movie release by buying blocks of tickets before and during the opening weekend at www.seatzy.com.
E: Is there anything else you would like to share?
C: This is a wonderful book to read with your kids. One of my fondest memories growing up was of my dad reading to us before bed. It became our bedtime ritual that he used to motivate us to get to bed on time. He would read different types of books, such as the Bible, historical fiction, biographies and poetry. To me the most impactful books he read were the ones based on true stories.
Barbara and Regina’s message of faith, hope and determination is certainly a great starting point. When growing up, some of the most powerful conversations for me were the ones that began with discussing a message in a book or Bible story and ended up with my parents or teacher talking about a faith-building moment in their own lives.
George Escobar about the movie:
Embolden: How did you become producer for Alone Yet Not Alone?
George: I attended an event where I was asked to talk about my first movie, Come What May. A gentleman, who became the executive producer of Alone Yet Not Alone, asked me to read the novel. I read it overnight. It was a great young adult historical book. I sent him a treatment of how I would approach the novel as a movie. A year later I was asked to complete a screenplay from a manuscript the executive producer provided. Then they asked me to help produce and co-direct, in addition to co-writing the movie.
E: How did you see God work during the filming of AYNA?
G: From the very beginning, adapting the novel to a treatment to a manuscript, then finally to a screenplay, God showed Himself strong in the storytelling about true events when He intervened in the lives of the Leininger family. When we were on location, God gave us the exact weather we needed for key scenes. An example was the landing in the shores of America. It rained, allowing us to have “Papa Leininger” to genuinely give thanks for the “sweet rain” that would bless the fertile soils of the New World. Many stories of cast and crew sharing their faith, strengthening one another through the inherent difficulties of production and many moments of prayer were offered to accomplish the best we could for the resources we had to make a film that matters.
E: Did the book or script impact you in any specific way?
G: I’m an immigrant myself, coming to the U.S. as a 10-year-old from the Philippines with my family, then growing up in Southern California, but spending most of my life in Virginia. The family in the movie immigrated from Germany and settled in the western frontier of Pennsylvania. The two daughters in the movie, Barbara (11) and Regina (9), who were taken captive as children, were true historical characters with whom I could very much relate. I know what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land. Having faith that God is loving and faithful to keep His promises is what helped sustain me growing up, as it did for Barbara and Regina.
E: How have you seen God work since the production of AYNA?
G: God is amazing and has a great sense of timing and humor. He is putting Alone Yet Not Alone right in the middle of this amazing SURGE in audience interest and support for Christian films. Son of God was a hit, so is God is Not Dead. Then Heaven is for Real became a hit, and now Mom’s Night Out, followed by Alone Yet Not Alone. Earlier this year, God focused attention to Alone Yet Not Alone when it was nominated for a 2014 Oscar for Best Original Song, only to gain even more attention for the movie when the nomination was rescinded. We trust and pray that God will give His blessings for this movie once again. It’s an adventure making movies for His glory.
E: How can the church better support this ministry?
G: Churches can show the trailer to their congregation, encouraging them to see it. Churches can also buy out screenings as a group, encouraging their congregations to vote for more movies like Alone Yet Not Alone, by giving of their time and treasure. In exchange, this movie will be a powerful and memorable reminder of God’s love and faithfulness in times of plenty and adversity. You will be encouraged.
E: How can the church better support the ministry of Christian filmmaking as a whole?
G: Churches have the benefit of a captive and engaged audience every Sunday. Christian films and filmmakers make films that support the Sunday morning sermons, but they are not a replacement to hearing from pastors from God’s words in Scripture. Rather, films are emotional manifestations of Scriptural truths. If audiences want more edifying and morally upright stories, they must support these movies when they come out in theaters first, then later by buying DVDs or online rentals.
E: Is there anything else you would like to share?
G: Alone Yet Not Alone is a true story about God’s love and faithfulness during the French and Indian War in 1755. That’s just as true now about God as it was back then. We want families to watch and enjoy this movie together. Then take their friends and other family members to watch it so they can witness God at work in our lives at ALL TIMES.
Alone Yet Not Alone will be receiving its second release this year on June 13. The release will be limited, currently 200 cities, but through Seatzy.com you can reserve seats or work to bring the movie to a theatre near you!
To reserve tickets, bring the movie to your city, or donate tickets, go to www.seatzy.com.
For more information about the film including videos, downloads, resources and more, visit www.aloneyetnotalone.com.