The new faith-based thriller “Hunter’s Creed” features the big-screen debut of Duane “Dog” Chapman aka “Dog the Bounty Hunter” releases Oct. 6. Also starring Wesley Truman Daniel, Mickey O’Sullivan, and Ann Sonneville, and directed by Justin Jackola, the story centers on a man who loses his wife and reunites with his church friends to film a hunting show before encountering an evil presence in the woods. Chapman, known for his popular high-octane television show, plays himself.
In this exclusive interview, Jackola discusses the journey of the film, what viewers can expect, and how “Dog” became involved.
How did you become involved in the project and what was the journey behind the scenes?
I had already written two other scripts with my co-writers that were higher budget projects, but I had a group of investors that were looking for projects in the $200-$250k range. So, I wrote this script with my writer, Ken Miyamoto, pitched to Chicago Media Angels, got the funding, and off we went! We wanted to write something that was budget-friendly with few actors, few locations, and affordable stunts and VFX. We filmed in Savanna, Illinois, in a 120-year-old log cabin on 107 acres of pristine hunting property. The cast and crew were absolutely amazing. The film was inspired by the following three questions—Why does God allow bad things to happen? Are there wrong ways to present Truth? Do one’s spiritual beliefs change when they are about to die? The main character, Dave, is based on my personal journey—I’m currently asking God who He really is. I wanted to make a film based on someone who has known God, rejects Him, and then comes face to face death, and what they do at that moment
“Hunter’s Creed” is described as “not a typical faith-based film.” Describe what makes it unique.
We wanted to make a film that walks the line between faith-based, and thriller, which is an interesting line to walk. The Bible isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and can often be deep, dark, and mysterious. We wanted our film to reflect that but in a beautiful family-friendly way. It’s also a film meant for individuals who are interested in who God is, but they may not know yet.
I know Duane Chapman is a man of faith and this is his first film. What attracted him to the project and as a director, what do you think he brings to it?
When my producer’s reps brought Dog’s name to me for the role, I knew he was exactly the right person. He was the perfect choice for “Hunter’s Creed” for a number of reasons. First off, Dog isn’t afraid of his faith. He’s open and honest about what God’s done in his life on, and off-camera. In his television show, we have literally seen him pray on camera for help in finding his next bounty. It’s also a film about a man’s intimate response to losing his wife to cancer, and Dog has experienced exactly that with his late wife Beth Chapman passing away to cancer.
The timing was also divine. Dog told us that he had been sitting at home thinking “I wanna do a feature film” and our team reached out to him for the role the next day! Dog is a reality TV star, so that wasn’t normal at all! Him being a reality star, he brought a lot of amazingly natural improv to his performance. Instead of memorizing pre-written lines, we’d have Dog riff off the story beats and give it a beautiful life of its own.
What do you think will most resonate with audiences?
One thing that’s already resonating with the online community is the theme of loss. This film was created to garner the conversation of loss, and dozens have already reached, sharing their struggles with loss, and the hope that’s getting them through it. Without giving away the ending of the film, we hope people will walk away with a sense of awe. God’s sovereignty and plan may be more beautiful and complex than you could ever imagine. We also want people to think deeply about what they truly believe. If you were face to face with death, where would your heart really rest?
Watch a clip from “Hunter’s Creed” below. The film opens on-demand, digital and DVD on Oct. 6 from Cinedigm. For more information, click here.