The new independent thriller “Sound of Freedom,” featuring the true story of Tim Ballard, has already made a splash at the box office, earning more than $10 million in pre-sales even before its release. The movie stars Jim Cavizel as the former government agent who left his job to journey into some of the darkest places on earth to save children sold into slavery.
During premiere week, Ballard spoke with DeWayne Hamby about the feeling of the film finally being released through Angel Studios, how his wife and children sacrificed for the cause, and how his faith in Jesus kept him going, even if he failed in his mission.
What a powerful movie. What a powerful story. What does it feel like, here three years after filming, for it to finally come out and for your family to experience it last night?
Well, to wait this long has given me a different perspective. At first, they approached us right after almost right after the operation happened. To be able to see that these operations are continuing through the organization I founded, called Operation Underground Railroad, and the one that I’m the CEO of, the Nazarene Fund, these stories you’re seeing, and some of them are continuing to happen. So, that allows people to be part of it. Last night was very special, as you pointed out, because my family was here. Most of them hadn’t seen the film, and especially my children, who’ve sacrificed so much not having me around because of these continuous operations. I’ve talked to them a little bit. I’m gonna talk more to them. But I’m hoping they can see that their sacrifice was a real one, the sacrifice of me, and my wife sacrificed so much, living a life sometimes of a widow almost, and that they could be blessed, and I hope they are blessed for their sacrifice and helping children. That’s what the ultimately sacrificed for as well.
When you’re watching the movie, you just can’t even hardly believe this really happened. But what was it like – the island sting – which was a brilliant operation? What was it like being there?
Well, it was October 11, 2014. And you saw at the end of the movie, they showed some real footage. But there’s a lot more where that came from. And there’s a documentary that’s coming out that Angel is also distributing called “Triple Take.” It’s won 3 Emmys two Tellys. No one’s seen it, but it’s the full story of what happened on that island. It wasn’t 54 rescued, it was 122, I believe. They didn’t even have the bandwidth in the film to tell that entire story. But it was very emotional. It’s one of the few times I went to the set of “Sound of Freedom” was there. They filmed that scene about a mile or two from the actual location, the actual Island. And I fell apart. I broke down watching, because it was so incredibly accurate. They made it look exactly like it was. They made the kids look how they were the reaction to them after they were rescued. It was it was very, very touching to me very emotional, somewhat triggering, but also beautiful to experience that scene and experience it over and over and over again watching the film.
You’re talking about being away from your family for so long. But then let’s say you come back to your family. There has to be some kind of decompress or PTSD. How do you how do you adjust to normal life again?
It’s very difficult because PTSD is a real thing. It’s definitely something that I have to deal with. And the decompress time is important. But sometimes you don’t know when it’s gonna’ hit you. It can be a week later, two weeks later, I’ll be in a movie, be at church or just be sitting on my couch, and it hits you it’s just a wave you can’t control it’s like some, some energy or something trying to get out. I don’t really understand it. But you can’t prepare too much for it. You can just continue to train, train your mind and spirit. To me, faith is very important, a very important tool for healing. And it’s something you have to deal with. If you’re going to get into dark work like this. There’s no way around that piece. And it’s part of the sacrifices is part of what you have to do.
When you’re in the dark corners of the world, and you see so much darkness, how do you remind yourself there’s good and that God is still there and in control?
For me, I think a lot about Jesus, to be honest with you, I think about the fact that even if I fail, He is coming again. That’s my faith. That’s my belief and that there will be healing everywhere. To know that, I don’t know that I could make it otherwise, that the kids once rescued, that they can be healed, maybe not fully in this life, but eventually that will happen. The other thing that helps me through it is words that Jesus said. They’re words that show up in the film, because Jim Caveizel ad-libbed it into the script. And I won’t say where he says it, because almost it almost seems out of context. Then you realize it’s right in context when he says he says, “Better than a millstone be wrapped around your neck and you tossed it out of the sea, than you should hurt one of these little ones.” Well, he didn’t realize that’s a refrain, that’s the scripture I quote myself as I’m going into dark places. Because I know this much—that Jesus is violently opposed to children being hurt this way, so much so that He uses language that can’t be just called anything but violent. But He’s expressing how he feels. And if He feels that way then I know he’s got my back, and that I will have the courage knowing that that God is with us.
“Sound of Freedom,” directed by Alejandro Monteverde and starring Jim Caviezel, Mira Sorvino, Bill Camp, José Zúñiga, and Eduardo Verástegui, is now playing in theaters. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here. Watch below for an exclusive conversation with Tim Ballard and DeWayne Hamby.