From Banker to Screenwriter, the Man behind "Tapestry"
The latest Christian film starring Stephen Baldwin is a window onto how God allows pain and setbacks to draw us closer.
Turning an idea into a movie is quite a mean feat, even for seasoned industry insiders. As a veteran of the faith-based genre - Kevin Downes - said in a recent social media post, it "always seems like a Herculean effort."
So imagine what the journey must have been like for Rob DePalo when he first put pen to paper, as it were, for a short story based on his own experiences. In the finance industry his whole life, he had enjoyed writing as a boy and even considered getting into journalism after college. Things didn't work out that way, though.
It may sound clichéd, but God works in mysterious ways. About a decade ago, He began to lay the groundwork in DePalo's life for what would become Tapestry, a film that stars Stephen Baldwin, Tina Louise - who was Ginger on Gilligan's Island - and Burt Young, best known for his role as Paulie in the Rocky franchise. That groundwork came in the form of setbacks - both professional and personal - that would also bring DePalo into a closer walk with the Lord.
He was demoted at work and transferred from Brooklyn to an office in Manhattan. His mother then fell ill and he was undergoing difficulties in his marriage and with his children. In an interview with Christian Cinema, DePalo says a seemingly chance meeting with an old acquaintance he hadn't seen in 30 years served as the catalyst for change.
"He asked me why I didn’t become a writer because I had always been good at it as a young guy...Then more people I met talked about how I should be writing and got me thinking about the role God was playing. I came to see those interactions as God-orchestrated events."
DePalo eventually showed his short story to a co-worker at the new job site, Mike Yacovone - he would go on to serve as producer and actor in Tapestry - who had connections in the film industry. He encouraged DePalo to turn the story into a screenplay. Once that was done, the plan was for DePalo to fund an ultra low-budget production of about $30,000 with unknown actors.
But someone had a connection to Stephen Baldwin, a committed Believer and fixture in the Christian movie genre. When he saw the script, he said he wanted to play the lead character, Ryan, who endures many of the same hardships DePalo had and is ultimately led closer to God. That changed everything. The budget went up to about $200,000 and more seasoned actors were brought in to round out the cast.
It took five years of what DePalo called "clawing and scratching" to finish the project, on which he was also a producer. But the journey, despite all the difficulties, really strengthened his faith.
"Since writing the story and making the movie, I really sense that God is present in my life. I never saw God as an active participant in day-to-day life. Now I see God is with us."
DePalo has apirations to make more movies, though he is still currently working in the banking sector in the New York area. If you'd like to see his inaugural effort, Tapestry, you can do so via ChristianCinema.com or Amazon.com. In the meantime, the trailer below will give you a better sense for the film.