NASHVILLE – March 27, 2012 – OCTOBER BABY, by Jon and Andy Erwin, had the third highest per-screen average and closed at No. 8 in the nation for its opening weekend competing against THE HUNGER GAMES—one of the most successful Hollywood blockbuster openings ever—in more than 10 times as many theaters.* Opening in a relatively modest 390 theaters, Samuel Goldwyn Films/Provident Films OCTOBER BABY, also rode strong grassroots support and word of mouth to a No. 1 ranking for limited-release movies.
Though its story is apolitical, the movie quickly has become a lightning rod for those on every side of a highly charged issue.
OCTOBER BABY, starring John Schneider (Smallville, Dukes of Hazzard), Jasmine Guy (A Different World), and newcomers Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey, tells the story of 19-year-old Hannah, who discovers she’s adopted and the survivor of an attempted abortion. With friends from college, she hits the road to find answers and to locate her birth mother. Ultimately she finds the power of forgiveness.
AMFM SPOKE WITH LEAD ACTOR JASON BURKEY THE WEEK AFTER THE BOX OFFICE VICTORY:
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN OCTOBER BABY? I NOTICE YOU’VE WORKED WITH LEAD ACTRESS RACHEL HENDRIX BEFORE…Back in 2009 I worked with the Erwins on a television pilot along with Rachel along with some other fellow cast members and crew. When we worked on that project there was a chemistry that created a really close family. The pilot didn’t get picked up, unfortunately, but we all knew we wanted to work together again. A year later the Erwins said “We’re getting the band back together, we’re doing a feature.” They sent us the script for October Baby and had written the parts for us to play them. WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING WHEN YOU READ THE SCRIPT, DID YOU THINK IT WAS AS BIG AS IT’S TURNING OUT TO BE?
I was just excited to work with them again. When I read more into the script and realized it was about an abortion survivor, I was confused because I didn’t know the words “abortion” and “survivor” could be paired in the same sentence. I think we all felt that way. we started looking into that some more and John told us that his inspiration for writing it was hearing Gianna Jessen, the abortion survivor, speak. He was inspired by her story and we were all floored by that. We did some research and looked more into that whole issue, it opened our eyes. The script was well written, it was a beautiful story. I was proud to be part of it and to start filming it. I knew that it would have some effect on an audience, but I don’t think any of us knew quite the effect it did have, our minds are blown at the response we’ve gotten, it’s been incredible.
IT CLOSED AT NUMBER EIGHT IN THE NATION WITH ONLY THREE HUNDERED NINETY SCREENS. THAT’S AMAZING CONSIDERING IT WAS UP AGAINST THE MONSTER HUNGER GAMES. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT DO FOR YOUR CAREER?
That’s a good question, I have no idea. We’re taking it all one day at a time. Our marketing/PR team has done an incredible job, they did it all in five months. The fact that we were even in the top ten after opening weekend is incredible. Lovell Fairchild Communications is doing it, they’re teaming up with Provident Film and Samuel Goldwyn.
As far as our careers go, we’re all hoping that it will be a stepping stone of sorts. I think the most important thing though is the stories we’re hearing of people being healed by the film, and being part of that alone is an honor and that’s a reward enough for us. If anything comes of it, that would be great, but just connecting with audience is fantastic and I hope we can continue to do that.
YOU GUYS ARE ALL STUNNED RIGHT NOW AREN’T YOU?
Yes, this is all surreal I don’t think it’s really quite hit any of us – what’s happening.
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR CAREER AS AN ACTOR, HOW YOU GOT STARTED, WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHERE YOU’RE GOING. I grew up doing theatre from middle school through college and always loved acting. I studied film production in college in the Chicago area. I moved to Nashville three and half years ago. I wanted to start in a smaller market and work on the production end of film while pursuing acting as a hobby, but as soon as I moved there I switched gears, and thought if I was going to try this acting thing out I might as well do it now. So I dove in and have been incredibly blessed with opportunities. I’ve been able to work on some really fun quality projects and I hope to continue to do that.
THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN TRYING TO BREAK INTO ACTING FOR YEARS AND HERE YOU ARE THREE AND HALF YEARS INTO IT AND IN ALMOST FOUR HUNDRED THEATERS. WOW!
Moving to a smaller market helped because there was more opportunity to build a good resume, and a reel and get your feet wet. I’ve loved Nashville, it’s been a great place to start my career.
SO WITH A BACKGROUND IN FILM, ARE YOU PLANNING TO MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIES?
That’s a good question. There are a lot of actors that want to transition into the directing side
of things. Maybe. I’m concentrating on the acting. Later on if something leads to it I may try my hand. I really love script writing as well so I would love to continue to write screenplays. We’ll see.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS WILL BE OR ARE YOU STILL JUST WORKING THROUGH THIS?
Yes, I’m focusing on this. I worked on a few independent features last year that should be released this year. Not quite on this level, but doing the festival circuit and possibly having a DVD release later. So I’ll be seeing what happens with those, and continuing to hone my craft. There’s a possibility of more feature films this year, it’s a matter of getting funding together and working out all the details. I am auditioning for things out of Hollywood, TV shows, feature films as well. I do love independent features though, they are fun, and relaxed.
JUST WHO IS JASON BURKEY, EXACTLY?
I’m a really relaxed guy. I love adventure, and spontaneity. I’m all about new experiences, I get restless. I don’t like staying in one place too long, I love moving around and meeting new people. I think that’s one of the reasons I love filmmaking and being part of the film industry. You get to work with new people on every project. I love collaborating with other people to create something beautiful and that’s what I love about making movies. I’m just taking this entire career one day at a time and enjoying it as it comes. I’m not in it for money or recognition. I do it because I love it and
AND THAT’S THE MAIN THING.
And that’s the main thing. It should apply to all artists. You do it because you love it. You are gifted with expression and there are a lot of people that tend to get into this business for the wrong reasons, but if you are a genuine artist you do it because you love it.
THAT’S THE RIGHT ANSWER TOO.
You know what I’ve found? The pursuit of it is what brings happiness. I was waiting tables for a few years and doing that classic actor thing, but I was still happy because I was pursuing what I loved. The pursuit of it is as exciting as actually doing it, if that makes any sense.
DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE ACTING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
“I hope so. That’s the good thing about this career path. You can be like Betty White and be acting until you’re ninety. I hope I’m acting ‘till I croak.”
PLEASE NOTE: In support of its life-affirming theme, OCTOBER BABY producers have assigned 10 percent of the film’s profits to the Every Life Is Beautiful Fund. The money will be distributed to organizations helping women face crisis pregnancies, to life-affirming adoption agencies and agencies caring for orphans.