Luke Smallbone Speaks

Joel and Luke Smallbone, known professionally as the two-time Grammy Award winning group for KING & COUNTRY, have enjoying phenomenal success since their debut in 2012. The Australian duo’s soaring melodies, driving rhythms, theatrical instrumentation and personal themes have compelled industry gatekeepers to offer them a seat at the table of ideas, resulting in Billboard Magazine naming them one of their New Artist’s to Watch for 2012. Along the way they have sold nearly 1,000,000 albums, topped the 100,000,000 mark in total streams of their music and headlined a U.S. Arena tour. Now the brothers are embarking on a new endeavor: filmmaking; with Joel starring and Luke executive producing the feature film, Priceless. Their other brother, Ben, makes his directorial debut.

priceless_officialposterLuke Smallbone took time from his busy, pre-release schedule to chat with’s Mike Parker about about the film.

Mike Parker: Tell me a little about your new movie Priceless, without any spoilers, of course.

Luke Smallbone: I have to go back a bit to get to the movie. Years ago we started the Priceless Movement, because we believe chivalry is alive and well, and we, as men, should treat ladies with respect and honor. We discovered that that concept really scratched an itch in society. We came up with the idea of expanding that concept into a feature film. Our brother Ben is a film director, so we went to him with the idea, and he jumped on board. We shot the movie in New Mexico over about a month, and we’ve been in post-production for a while. Over all it’s been about a two-year process. We’re excited to see it release.

Parker: Why this movie; why now?

Smallbone: When we started off talking about the Priceless Movement, we expected it to last for a season and then sort of fade away. But after a while we realized the themes we were talking about were really resonating with people, and the movement just kept picking up steam. So often Hollywood kind of puts out a message that objectifies women, and we that is a message that is just not true. We believe our culture needs some truth on this subject, and the truth is women were created to be loved and honored and held in high esteem. We wanted to make a film that would counteract that falsehood of objectification.

Parker: I understand this is your first feature film. It’s quite an accomplishment just getting a film made, but actually getting one made and getting a theatrical release is huge. Can you talk about the journey from concept to completion?

Smallbone: We started tossing out story ideas about two years ago. Once we came up with the basic storyline, we took the idea to some screenwriters in Hollywood, and worked with them for a few months to get a completed script. Now we had a film on paper, and that’s when the rubber really meets the road. That’s when we had to decide whether or not we were actually going to make the film. And that’s not a small decision. It comes down to how much money are you going to spend, and how are you going to raise that money? You have to go to investors and convince them that your film is worthy, which is a challenge, particularly as first time filmmakers. And then there is the money for promotion. It is not an easy process. Eventually you run out of rich friends.

Parker: What do you hope people take away from this film?

Smallbone: I hope people take away that they, as individuals, are truly valuable. Human life is priceless. At the end of the day, when you know that you are worth something, that God has gifted you uniquely in ways that nobody else is gifted, I think you carry yourself differently. When you know that, when you realize how valuable you are, then when people try to put you down or bully you, those attacks fall flat.

Parker: Tell me about your role as producer.

Smallbone: I was one of the guys who oversaw the story. I was in charge of raising money and bringing the cast in. We wanted to make sure that the roles fit the actors. As a producer you are kind of all things to all men. You are responsible for the results. When you are a producer, it’s amazing the conversations you get drawn into. It’s a tremendously challenging role, but also a really rewarding one. I’ve enjoyed learning about and being involved with the film industry.

Parker: So, now that you have your first feature film under your belt, are you planning on doing more?

Smallbone: Our hope is to do more. The young generation is being discipled by what they hear in their headphones and what they see on the screen. We want to make music that can compete with the best is what is out there, and we want to make films that can impact the culture. Now, that’s easier said than done. I don’t think we are going to make a movie every two years, but if we have the right story and the right message, yeah, we’d love to make more films. But we have to be intentional about it. And of course it depends on how this one does. It’s hard to go back to investors and say, ‘Hey, we know the last film bombed, but how would you like to invest in our next movie!’

Parker: You initially were focused on a career in sports, before an injury caused you to shift gears.

Smallbone: Yeah, sports was my identity as a person when I was in high school. I loved it. I loved competing. I still do. I pursued sports passionately in high school, and I prepared well, but in my first basketball game of my junior year, I tore my ACL. At that point in your career it is really hard to make up for lost time. I was at a crossroads. I actually went to my mother for counsel. She said, ‘I believe by the time you finish high school there will be one thing left for you, and you should pursue that.’ She was right.

Parker: You almost died. That has to change your perspective on life.

Smallbone: That has been one of the unique obstacles that life has thrown at me. When I first got sick I thought I could just ‘man up,’ just pretend things aren’t real. But I dropped down to 125 lbs. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was in intense pain all the time. I ended up having to get off the road for a few months and let go of the things that I was pursuing. It was a very tricky situation for a 26-year-old. I started asking questions I expected to ask when I was 75. I’ll say one thing for that experience; it has made me very intentional about the decisions I’m making now.

Parker: Last words?

Smallbone: We are thrilled to be at this point in our career. It’s crazy. In the music industry, when you release an album it’s the beginning of that journey. When you release a movie it’s more like the beginning of the end. Once the movie’s out there, it’s out of your hands. We are just excited about it and invite everyone to come out and support us and enjoy the show.

Priceless releases in theatres nationwide on October 14 through Roadside Attractions.