A Conversation with Dave and David…about a Ragamuffin Movie
Meet the Davids >>
Rich’s little brother (12 years younger)
Occupation: School Chaplain / Pastoral Ministry
Location: Recently moved to Florida
Favorite Rich Mullins Song: Everything on A Liturgy, a Legacy & a Ragamuffin Band; “If I Stand” is regularly at the top
First-time dad of a perfect baby girl
Favorite Rich Mullins Song: “Elijah” is hands down one of the best; “The Color Green” holds significance as first Rich Mullins song
How It Began >>
The process started 13 years after the accident—the one that took the life of singer and song-writer Rich Mullins.
“Rich [Mullins] was a big inspiration to me growing up,” shares David Schultz, director of Ragamuffin. “He was one of the key figures that God really used to draw me to Him.”
But it wasn’t just Rich’s music, it was his life. Even before Schultz started making movies, he had friends who would encourage him to get the rights to make a movie about Rich Mullins’s life. Schultz would daydream about what the movie would be like, but with no intent of it actually happening.
In 2010, Schultz had what he calls a “God’s sovereignty thing.” One of Schultz’s friends brought him to a church in Indiana—a church that happened to be where Dave Mullins, Rich’s younger brother, was a pastor.
Before their friendship however, there were cornfields and a conversation. When the two first met in Indiana, Mullins invited Schultz to go for a drive. After a couple of hours cruising through the cornfields and talking about life and faith and getting to know each other, Mullins knew that Schultz wanted to do a movie on his brother Rich. But with Schultz working to make ends meet and Mullins in the ministry, he figured it was no more than a dream.
Down the road, the two met again. Mullins was in Los Angeles, working on a project for his church’s sermon series. Others from the church knew Schultz, and one night after they had been hanging out, Schultz and Mullins started to go their separate ways. Schultz yelled out, “Hey, I still really want to do that movie about your brother.”
Mullins replied, “I know.” And turned and walked off. Mullins confesses now, “Everything in me wanted to turn around and see the look on his face.” Although it was an honest response, he still believed that nothing would come of it.
A couple of months later, Mullins received an email from Schultz. There were people willing to financially support the movie if Mullins was on board, otherwise he would go a different direction.
Mullins approached his brother and sisters with the concept for the first time. Their response was “I don’t know if we really want to, but ok.” Everyone was on board—with one stipulation.
“If we’re going to tell this story, we’re going to tell it true,” Mullins recounts. “We don’t want this to be just the good side [of Rich].”
The Moment of Truth >>
“God is a storyteller,” Schultz begins. “And He doesn’t pull any punches when He tells an honest story. The goal was, we just want to tell an honest story about Rich.” At the same time, Schultz adds, “I’m definitely an evangelist at heart. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus and I want all people to come to know Him.”
During the film-making process, Mullins was studying the book of Philippians. Philippians 1:6 where Paul says, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus,” became especially meaningful to him.
“For me, the movie is a picture of that,” Mullins explains. “In the movie, you see God beginning a work in Rich through his childhood and through the church and through family. And then you see God carry it on to completion.”
“It’s not nearly the story that I think Rich would like it to be,” Mullins admits.
True, most of us would prefer a nice, neat life of faith. However, through the ups and downs of Rich’s life, his brother hopes that people will see for themselves that when we struggle, it doesn’t mean that God’s not doing a great work in us.
“I think it’s a more genuine, more transparent view of a person’s real-life faith struggle than most movies,” Mullins says.
It Was a Process >>
Much of that authenticity came from using monologues from Rich’s concerts and interviews—it was his words. For Rich’s brother Dave, that was nice to hear again.
“This is an accurate story,” Mullins continues. “Is it the only one? No. But one of the challenges of doing a movie that covers 35 years in a little over two hours is you really have to pick what is the heart of this story in the story we’re telling.”
One of the difficulties that came with that was deciding which people from Rich’s life would be depicted in the movie. There were people who had a huge impact in Rich’s life who weren’t in the movie, and that was because Ragamuffin was about the story being told.
“Dealing with some of the brokenness and the wounds and the goodness of God in the midst of that . . . this is the story that was on David’s heart,” Mullins concludes.
As far as casting, Schultz shares, “It wasn’t really a light bulb moment, it just felt right to make this a really personal thing.”
In Ragamuffin, the part of Sam Howard’s dad is played by Sam himself, Rich’s real-life college roommate. Dave Mullin’s son played the part of young Rich Mullins. Michael Koch, who is Rich Mullins in Ragamuffin, was David Schultz’s roommate. Schultz kept coming back to him. And when he auditioned, he “knocked it out of the park.”
Besides a better choice for the budget, Schultz admits, “They were just really great at being honest.”
A Story is Told >>
Although it was a long process, Mullins says, “I don’t think there would have been a project much earlier than that because there couldn’t have been clarity.”
After acquiring the rights to the film, they shot the principle movie in the summer of 2012 and made adjustments over the next year. Then, in the beginning of 2014, they launched the world premiere of Ragamuffin in Wichita.
As people watch Ragamuffin, Mullins hopes that they “would start watching it, thinking they’re watching a movie about Rich and partly through realize they’re watching a movie about God.”
For Schultz, what he hopes the movie will accomplish, has already been happening.
“We’ve heard stories of people getting saved, we’ve heard stories of people who have totally walked away from God and recommitted their lives to Christ, stories of raging alcoholics who have been 37 days sober, emails from a 50 year old women who struggled to believe in the love of God and now felt like they’ve experienced it for the first time. . . . We hope it continues, but it’s beyond satisfying to say, what we hoped would happen has happened.”
But perhaps the story behind Ragamuffin is best summed up with the words of Rich Mullins himself:
“So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That You will pull me through
And if I can’t let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
If I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home”
-Rich Mullins, “If I Stand”