Director Andy Erwin Makes Films That Make a Difference

‘Ordinary Angels’ captivates moviegoers with Erwin’s retelling of a dramatic true story on the big screen

Scene from ‘Ordinary Angels’
Scene from ‘Ordinary Angels’ (photo: / Lionsgate Entertainment)

The latest production of the Kingdom Story Company epitomized their producers’ goal: to bring their Christian fare to audiences hungry for wholesome, family-friendly films.

Andrew Erwin and his brother Jon — together recognized as simply “The Erwin Brothers” — have long focused their attention on creating positive films that prioritize faith and ignite hope in their viewers. Their organization Kingdom Story Company, in partnership with the Canadian-American entertainment company Lionsgate, has produced titles such as Jesus Revolution, American Underdog and I Can Only Imagine.

Andy Erwin took time recently to talk about the work of Kingdom Story Company, focusing especially on his latest film Ordinary Angels. 


Ordinary Angels: How a Town Came Together to Save a Child’s Life

While Erwin acknowledged that most of the stories his company receives are fiction, the script for Ordinary Angels was based on a true story. When a widowed father (played by Allen Ritchson) needed help to save his daughter’s life, Hilary Swank’s character, hairdresser Sharon, enlisted people from her church and her community to help. Erwin explained:

The story, for those who wouldn’t know of it, was that a young man’s wife had just died of a rare liver condition. He was severely in debt, and he found out that his 5-year-old had the same condition. An unlikely hero, hairdresser Sharon Stevens, came along and began to rally the community to provide the help needed to save little Michelle’s life during the biggest snowstorm in Kentucky history.

Moviegoers will be captivated by Erwin’s retelling of the story on the big screen: Traffic was at a standstill due to the apocalyptic snowstorm of 1994, and the governor had ordered the interstate highways closed, but Sharon, learning of a child who faced almost certain death unless she received an organ transplant, was relentless in her pursuit of solutions. Enlisting the help of local radio station WHAS, Sharon identified a private pilot willing to transport little Michelle and her father by helicopter from a church parking lot to the Louisville airport, which was inaccessible by car in the threatening storm. Then from the airport, a commercial plane would transport them to Nebraska, where a hospital stood ready to perform an emergency liver transplant. The problem, Sharon learned, was that the helicopter would need a well-cleared landing spot, and the parking lot was buried under inches of ice and snow. With only minutes to spare, a local citizen turned to God for help. “Lord,” she prayed, “if you want this to happen, you need to use us and make this happen!”

People began to arrive in the church parking lot — first, Sharon’s neighbors; then others, encouraged by pleas from the radio station. They were equipped with hand shovels or four-wheel-drive trucks, even a tractor with a big blade. In all, over 200 people left the comfort of their warm homes to shovel the ice- and snow-covered parking lot in sub-zero temperatures, enabling a helicopter to land. 

Viewers will welcome a happy ending, of course. The helicopter lands on the cleared parking lot; then the suffering child and her worried father climb into the aircraft while weary citizens, shovels in hand, wave and cheer. Little Michelle and her father are safely transported to Nebraska, where a donated liver awaits. Her surgery is successful.

Energizing Audiences: Erwin Offers Inspiration, Not Just Business

With Ordinary Angels, Andy Erwin implemented his plan for touching audiences with a positive message. He explained:

What we are trying to do is inspire people. It’s all strategic: It’s not about business, it’s about effecting change, reaching out beyond our church doors and making an impact for Christ. There are other movies, like Jesus Revolution, that also attempt to show Christianity in action.

Erwin was intentional in his plot selection, believing that this story would encourage the Church to reach out to a community in need. He reported:

For years, as Christians, we complained that we wanted a seat at the table — that we were considered irrelevant when it came to entertainment, and we were being pushed out as Hollywood made films which lacked Christian content. But we weren’t being ‘pushed out’ — we gave away our seats at the table. … Christianity had led the arts for years; and now, in 2023, we finally allowed our voices to be heard once again. And for the first time, studios are beating down our door, saying, ‘We want to do more movies!’

As proof that Christian ideas had recaptured audiences’ attention, Andy Erwin pointed to two successful films from last year: 

  • Sound of Freedom, directed by Alejandro Monteverde and starring Jim Caviezel, which told the story of a former government agent turned vigilante who rescued hundreds of children from sex traffickers; and 
  • Jesus Revolution, directed by Erwin and starring Jonathan Roumie, about a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s. 

Erwin promises that even more uplifting films will be released in 2024. 

  • Ordinary Angels, with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, is currently showing in theaters. 
  • Unsung Hero, opening in April 2024, tells the story of the popular band For King and Country, beginning with their family’s challenges as immigrants to the United States from Australia. 
  • Unbreakable Boy, directed by Jon Gunn and starring Zach Levi and expected to launch in February 2025, tells the story of a young boy with both a rare brittle-bone disease and autism. 
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, with director Dallas Jenkins of The Chosen, is currently in production in Canada and will be released at Christmastime 2024.