This Fairy Tale Is Focused on Miracles, Not Magic
An Interview With Yellow Day’s Catholic Writer and Producer
Yellow Day is a modern-day fairy tale about a young man’s quest to become a knight. He longs to rescue his damsel in distress, albeit a modern woman with strong opinions. The one bright light in her life is Camp Grace, founded by a king of sorts, aka a tycoon, in memory of his devout wife, Grace, his “queen.” It’s an idyllic setting where disadvantaged kids go to experience a little taste of heaven through encounters with nature and with counselors who look out for them. The week culminates in a celebration called “Yellow Day.” It is to Camp Grace on “Yellow Day” that the “knight” goes to seek his lady. This family movie features a talented cast and blends live action with vibrant animation. The writer and producer, G.P. Galle Jr., spoke with the Register about the film before Christmas. The film opened in select theaters on Christmas Day and nationwide on Jan. 8.
How do you blend the fairy-tale characters of king, queen, knight and others with modern-day characters?
There is the idea of the spiritual office: There’s a way that the world sees people, and there’s a way that God sees people — the idea of the founder of the camp being a businessman, but in the eyes of God, he’s a king. I’m heavily influenced by the Victorian and the Romance eras. To some extent, they’re out of fashion. They’re usually lampooned. I thought it would be interesting to bring that narrative back. There is a spiritual pursuit that can be displayed with the archetypes that we’ve had for 500 or 600 years.
How do you handle the theme of faith in the movie?
A lot of times when faith is confronted in a film, it is usually a challenge about whether or not God is real. The exploration that I was looking for in the movie — and why I used the knight — is somebody who is not challenged on whether God is real, but is challenged on the suffering [he encounters]. When good men see something go bad, and they want to protect [others] and they can’t, they risk despair, and the cross becomes scary. That’s the spiritual burden that we see a lot with people who have really deep faith. You can aspire to be more than a dark hero. You can experience conflict and spiritual suffering, while still being a good person.
How does Yellow Day portray a culture of life?
In the framework of St. John Paul II, one of the most impactful works in my life was Love and Responsibility. He had a very clear idea of human dignity and human identity. When going about Yellow Day, one of the things that was important to me in conveying [themes] was the human dignity in someone who has special needs. There is intrinsic value in that person. I wanted to reference that value on camera in a way that parents and grandparents could discuss with their kids. Like Krisanna’s story — Krisanna was a real person. She passed away when she was 15. People ask the question: Was it worth it? A young lady who died at the age of 15 is tragic. This is true, but look at the value of her life and what she represents. Her favorite place in the world was Camp Grace. She went there every summer. Krisanna’s concept of yellow — living in yellow — came because when she found out she had six months to live, the doctors asked her to name a color for the days she felt well, and that color was yellow. So we took that idea and built this fictional Yellow Day. There’s actually a real Yellow Day at the real Camp Grace now.
Camp Grace is a real place?
Yes it is. Camp Grace really has this mystical, charismatic element. There are so many different people who have had their lives changed at Camp Grace.
Were any other elements of Yellow Day based on real life?
Actually, the whole movie is built on true stories. What we did was take true stories from our community, and we blended them into a fairy tale that is focused not on magic, but on miracles. David (real name: Michael), who has cerebral palsy, has a great faith life. He talks about his witness and the fact that God has not allowed him to be healed because he serves as such an example to people, not only to understand their own talents, but to look at what he can do in his own life. It was really important to have him in the movie. On camera, a lot of times, we look at superheroes with superpowers. But I think God gives us these [real-life] superheroes to represent how grace can operate in our lives and to understand and appreciate what we do have.
Do you see Yellow Day as ecumenical?
Yes. We have a very strong cross section of people who came together to make it. I’m Catholic, but some of my main investors are either Baptist or evangelical. I intentionally wrote it so that the camp would have an evangelical flair to mix with St. Joseph’s Chapel, which is overtly Catholic. The idea was to help bring about an openness and dialogue because we have a lot in common. Building on those commonalities is important, and the arts and beauty really help that.
How did Yellow Day come to be?
I was at Auburn University. I had a theater scholarship. I majored in English literature there. I had a number of successes there. I was mentoring under some very accomplished people. When I graduated, I wanted to do things that were of quality, compelling and also had an integration of theology and philosophy into [the concept of] story. I was confronted with the fact that there was really nothing in the marketplace like that. So I decided boldly and brashly (I was around 24 years old) that I was just going to build a company. So I went to law school [in order to educate myself so I would be able] to build the company named Idyllic. I started producing. I saw an opportunity in the faith sphere. There were some faith films that were succeeding, and so I set out to do this feature. The thing is: There are a lot of adult dramas in the faith-based film space. Our film really appeals to families and kids 6-14 years old. I was blessed with a community that really got behind it. So we brought in qualified professionals, high-grade cameras; we went through a casting agent in L.A. We flew people in to Mobile [Ala.] and shot at St. Joseph’s Chapel at Spring Hill College and also at Camp Grace [also in Mobile].
Susie Lloyd writes from
- Jan. 10-23, 2016