DeVon Franklin Details How Creating A Marketing Campaign For ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ Led Him To Faith-Based Movies — AVPSummit

DeVon Franklin has opened up about how working on The Pursuit of Happyness led him to want to dedicate his life to making faith-based movies.

The Miracles from Heaven producer, who recently signed a multi-year deal with Tyler Perry, had interned for Will Smith since he was a freshman and worked with him for several years before being asked to forge a faith-based marketing campaign for 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, Franklin told today’s AVPSummit in south Italy.

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“As a person of faith that movie really spoke to me,” he said. “Domestically it almost made as much as Casino Royale and a lot of people attribute the faith-based marketing campaign to its success.”

The success of Pursuit of Happyness “was the first time I said, ‘Oh, who I am as a person can be good for the movie biz and the bottom line,” Franklin said. “That was the beginning of me merging faith and film,” he added.

He has since worked on movies with “spiritual elements” such as Smith’s Seven Pounds and Queen Latifah-starrer Miracles from Heaven.

Last month, Franklin struck a deal with Perry and Netflix to make faith-based films under a multiyear, multipicture first-look. The first pic under the new partnership is R&B, written by Mike Elliott (Brown Sugar) & Cory Tynan (Play’d).

Speaking to the deal, he said it demonstrates that he “believes in the stories that I was created to tell,” while “no matter what goes on in the business, storytelling never stops.”

A “powerful” medium

Franklin, whose father died when he was nine, said the medium of movies “remains incredibly powerful to shape lives, hearts and minds in a positive way.”

“My mum didn’t have money for us to go to therapy after my father died so it was all about watching entertainment and going to church,” he added. “That’s why I wanted to get into entertainment. I remain curious about what those stories are that will connect with people on a deep level.”

He urged up-and-coming producers not to try and “do it all” but instead said they should “find a mission and commit.”

Franklin’s latest production was last year’s Flamin’ Hot, directed by Eva Longoria. He was speaking on day two of the AVPSummit. Earlier, the Italian confab heard from Sony’s Wayne Garvie and WGA negotiator John August.

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