At the age of 98, Laurence Jaffe is an aberration of sorts. Quick to share stories about his time serving in the Marine Corps during World War II, it seems Jaffe would be content to live out his remaining golden years sharing memories from the good old days.
But Jaffe believes he still has a lot of life to be lived. So much so, that the nonagenarian who worked in marketing during the “Mad Men” era has a new vocation … movie mogul. Say that again? Yes, rather than constantly looking back on life, Jaffe has chosen to be perpetually looking ahead. It is this mindset that has led him to produce his first feature film that will open in theaters this Easter weekend.
The Girl Who Believes in Miracles is about a young girl named Sara, who takes God at His word and prays for people in her small town to be healed. Starring well-established Hollywood veterans Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Peter Coyote (Patch Adams), and Kevin Sorbo (God’s Not Dead), the movie focuses on an innocent and beautiful quality … the ability to trust once again.
Jaffe hopes the movie earns enough money for him to establish a major initiative to help disadvantaged children in the Gainesville, Florida area. Doing so, would be a personal miracle for him.
I recently spoke to Jaffe about what attracted him to the movie business two years shy of his 100th birthday, the overarching message of The Girl Who Believes in Miracles, and how this film echoes the life of Jesus.
You were born in an era of silent movies. What inspired you to want to break into the movie business in your late nineties?
Well, it was just a series of events that happened. I was kind of interested in a script. I became a partner in that script (with a guy) and then his partner and I fortunately had a connection to another script writer who had connections in Hollywood. I took action to sort of make things work. I didn’t expect to be in the movie business, but here I am. I’m happy with it. I’m enjoying life. It’s a very exciting.
What was it about this story that attracted you to this project as a producer in the first place?
I happen to be alive because of a miracle. So a story about miracles was sort of a natural kind of a connection for me. I’ll tell you a little quick story about what happened to me. I was in the Marine Corps during World War II. We had an activity that had me walking down a railroad track. All of a sudden some power outside of all of this earth picked me up and put me on the platform at that station. Seconds later, an express train came barreling down the track I was walking on. I’m talking to you today because of a miracle. And so, a story about miracles was a natural attraction for me.
What do you believe is the overarching message of The Girl Who Believes in Miracles?
This is a girl who tries to help others. Empathy is such a very important part of her life. And I want all of those who see the movie to get this message, that engineering empathy as part of their life will make their lives worthwhile. And lives that are worthwhile are joyous because people who give will get as much joy out of giving as those who are receivers as to the amount of joy they get out of receiving. So, when you can think of others and have empathy, it enriches your life. And this is what the main character little Sara Hopkins tells us.
What can you tell me about the program you created to help disadvantaged kids in the Gainesville, Florida area?
I’m hopeful that this movie will raise enough money for me to get into a disadvantaged community to reduce the income disparity that exists between the poor and the rich. I think we have to uplift the poor and my program attempts to do that, to improve the education of devoted individuals in this community. I also believe it will be education that will get these children out of poverty. I believe it’s going to take a lot of joy. I want to do a total upgrade of this poverty community and raise the spirits of the everyone there. I believe the movie will be very successful and will help me help these kids.
Final question, how does this movie echo the life of Jesus?
What this movie does is, it shows us how faith can bring us in touch with Jesus. We have a little girl here. From the first time she was brought to church and she heard that faith can move mountains, something happened inside of her. She had more faith than her parents. She had more faith than her brother. She had more faith than her friends. What this did to her was to recognize that faith can bring a miracle. And then, one day, she came across a dead bird. She couldn’t pass that bird up. She took that bird in her hand. She went down on her knees and prayed for eight hours. That amount of faith and her belief in miracles caught Jesus’ attention. And He came and brought that bird back to life. Her family saw this and spread the word around about what their sister did. And she became a very famous young lady in her community. It was her tremendous faith that did this. And we believe that people with faith will have special lives. We hope they’ll get that feeling from this movie.
Watch a Trailer for The Girl Who Believes in Miracles: