Miracle At Manchester: Director & Star Eddie McClintock 

Miracle at Manchester is an inspirational drama that tells the true story of Brycen Newman, a high school athlete who is diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. Even in his darkest times, Brycen’s father (Rick) becomes his greatest support and advocate. As their father-son bond grows they find their friends, community and strangers are praying for Brycen resulting in something miraculous.

We caught up with director Eddie McClintock who also stars as Brycen’s father in the film to talk about relationships, faith, locations and more.

Interviewed for Risen Magazine

Risen Magazine: I was so excited to see this film. I actually went to college in San Diego and worked in the news media so to see Cathedral Catholic on screen was so surprising and fun. Talk to me about this true story and how you found it.

Eddie McClintock: I became affiliated with JCFilms through a friend of mine, a guy by the name of Dean Cain. The next day I was on the phone with Jason Campbell from JCFilms. He and I hit it off. I taught a few acting classes for him and was in a few of his films. And one day he just said, “Eddie, I think you’re so good with the actors. Would you like to direct a film for me?” I saw the script and it was about a man’s undying love for his son, and community, and hope, and faith. What’s not to love about all that? I was excited and nervous. There’s always that component of fear that comes with something new. But I find that when I’m afraid of something or I want to avoid something that that’s the best time to walk towards it as opposed to walk away from it.

It’s a true story. It has a strong faith component. I didn’t have some calling spiritually necessarily, I just wanted to work. That of course, shifted as I grew to just love these people. I’m from the Midwest. We sat down and said prayers before we ate dinner, and it was comforting and to be around such a group. I feel like I’ve come a long way just in my quest to find my own spiritual path. And so just that part of the component has been very powerful for me. I hope that it could help someone maybe either be more compassionate towards those who have faith or maybe even consider maybe strengthening their own spiritual path.

RM: Well, that’s one of the things that I love about a true story is you can’t dispute what really happened and how it happened. And Brycen’s story is so interesting because he’s just your typical high school student that’s well liked and playing sports. And then one day gets these headaches and finds out that it’s a lot more serious than that and the school rallies around him. Did you get a chance to sit down with the family or did they come to set at all, or was that all after? What did that look like?

EM: I play Rick Newman in the film. Also, I directed it and I play Rick the father. And Rick picked me up every morning for work. So it’d be five in the morning and I’d be like, “Eh.” Rick’s like, “Okay, good morning, Eddie.” Whatever water he’s drinking, I’d like to have some of that because he is a man filled with energy and positivity. We spent pretty much every day together for two weeks. So I got to know him really well. And Brycen, who’s now down getting, he’s a graduate student at Texas A&M, and he was in the film. He was like Waldo. We put him in a bunch of different places in the film. So I got to know him. As you said it, it’s a true story. And a lot of times when the film says based on a true story, there’s like a scintilla that’s actually part of the true story, and then a lot of it is made up. But we tried to keep it as close as we could to the way it really happened.

And here’s the thing. I talk to people about the film, and I say, “It’s called Miracle at Manchester. Because we all have free will, you can decide for yourself whether it was a miracle.” Or you can say it’s a coincidence and that’s on you, and no one’s going to tell you that you need to, or you are compelled to think one way or the other. I think that you attract a lot more bees with honey than vinegar. So that’s the way we went about it.

RM: Absolutely. And at the crux, it is this father/son story because we see their relationship, not that there aren’t others involved, but it is focused on them. I know you have sons, you have a special relationship with your dad… maybe talk to me a little bit about what you went through in dedicating the film to your own father and how that played out in your life?

EM: Thank you. Look, my dad, he basically raised me by himself. I was not an easy kid. I was into a lot of stuff. And my dad got me up in the morning for school. He made sure I ate my breakfast. He made sure I was showered and dressed. He got me to school, and he did that for years. He was my best friend and my hero. He was always worried about me in Hollywood. Because it’s just such a here today, gone tomorrow. So he just wanted some stability for me, and he always worried about me. And then a couple of years ago, out of the blue, he just said, “Hey, I’m praying for you.” And that was new, and it really struck me.

My dad’s my hero, and it made me say, “Well, if my dad, my hero is headed down this road, maybe I should head down that road with him.” He was very excited that I was going to direct this film. Unfortunately, he passed before he was able to see it or while I was making it. He had just passed away. And then I was going in to make this film about a man and his love for his son. So that’s one of the things that Heather Campbell who is really strong in her own personal faith, I leaned on her. I started asking questions and she said to me, “Eddie, there are no coincidences. This is the path.”

And the fact that now I’m going to be making this film about a father and a son when my own father had just passed, I like to believe that my dad’s in every frame of this film. It was just made out of love. It’s the love of Brycen and Rick, and my love for my own dad, and my love for these people. Like I said, I wasn’t really looking to find a new family, but the fact that I feel that I have, it’s changed a lot of things for me.

RM: Yeah, you can see that on screen. I think you were able to capture that really well, and especially in some of those larger shots where you see the whole school come together at the stadium. Talk to me about filming and access, shooting at Cathedral Catholic, at the hospitals, in the newsrooms. Larry Himmel was very prominent at the time. So talk to me a little bit about actually getting locations.

EM: Look, one thing I learned about being a director is that if it’s, what is it? Murphy’s Law. If it can go wrong, it will. And so we daily were putting out fires. Things almost hardly ever went the way we had pictured them. I had an amazing director of photography, a guy by the name of Matt Ruby who’s really an artist with the camera. He can shoot without words and tell a story. And so a guy like that who can then shoot and then with words, it just makes things that much better.

For instance, during the football game scene, we were supposed to have 60 kids show up, and they were all supposed to shave their heads. And of the 60, we had 10. And then of the 10, only five agreed to shave their heads. It’s just fires like that came up every day. But we were a team and we became a family. It would be 2:30 in the morning, and the crew would be looking at me because they can’t sleep in the next day. They know they have to get up at 6:30am or 7:00am in the morning. There were times when we went over and I just said to them, I go, “Look, man, I know that we’re in deep water here. I believe that if we do this the right way and we make a good film, at the end of the day we’ll look back, and we’re really tired, but we made something special.”

RM: Absolutely. Well, okay. Having that newfound insight, you being an actor and your first time directing, was that exciting for you? Did it feel like, “Oh, we’re in the middle of game time and you got to be nimble?” Or were you like, “Okay, let’s see. I’m going to be very specific when I take my next project?”

EM: No, I loved it, especially when… Initially Jason had just said, “Eddie, just come in and work with the actors. Just make sure the actors are on point.” I was like, “Okay.” And then by day two, Matt and Jason and I had a little meeting. And Matt was like, “Look, I need more. Eddie, can you do more?” And I was like, “Oh, yeah.” So for me I was like, “Yeah.” I started blocking all the scenes and became much more involved, which is what I wanted to do. But I didn’t want to step on any toes or go beyond what Jason wanted me to do. But Jason is very cool, and he was like, “Do it. Do whatever you need to do.” So then I was like, “Okay.”

There are some scenes in the film that virtually didn’t exist in the script. We made them up. We were like, “What do we need to tell here?” The weightlifting scene was just made up on the fly. I talked to Matt and I go, “What if we did this, this, and then we tie this in and then we do that?” And he was like, “Let’s do it.” And I let everybody know. I love putting out fires. I have a puzzle game. I love putting puzzles together. It was exciting. Not for a minute did I regret taking on the responsibility of directing and acting in that film.

RM: Well, I love that we’re able to stream this and see it on Pure Flix and watch it with our families and have that miracle seep into our house or hope and what that can look like. Maybe talk to me a little bit about how the landscape for media has changed and why theatrical releases are amazing that we now have streaming platforms gives us the opportunity to view so much more content. And on the flip side as an actor and director, to be able to make and create so much more.

EM: In today’s society, we need stuff right now. So the fact that it’s accessible to anyone that wants to go on to Pure Flix and get this film, I think it’s a great thing.

Miracle at Manchester is streaming now on Pure Flix


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