It’s unusual for me as a screenwriter to come across someone’s life story that I feel so compelled to chase on my own. Normally, producers find stories, option the rights, then hire to me to help draft the scripts. Two recent movies I co-wrote were Extraordinary and Indivisible both based on true stories. One comes out in Fall 2017 and the other in 2018. Even though I love coming up with original works of fiction, there’s just something about working on true stories. People relate to them because of that raw honesty that can come from people’s life experiences.
Marcus and Maryann Kauffman
What has turned into the screenplay, Joy Comes, is the story that captured my heart and hasn’t let go since I started working on it.
It’s about firefighter, Marcus Kauffman, who was shot in North Carolina during a home invasion robbery in Dec. 2013 when his wife, Maryann, was 7 months pregnant with their first child. The aftermath of what happened to this family and how they responded to the shooters is extraordinary. The way the family, especially Marcus’ parents and Maryann, were outspoken about their faith really caught my attention in news stories and videos. I felt for this young woman, facing life as a new mother without her husband. I couldn’t imagine going through what she went through. Seeing what God has done with her life since shows me how big our God is.
Even though I followed their story from Facebook newsfeed shares, what really caught my attention was an article that Christian Healthcare Ministries wrote about Maryann in March 2014, after her baby Landon was born. I hadn’t really thought of it in terms of a movie story at that point. It was the way the family lived through this tragedy that inspired me through their online presence.
Sheila Walsh once wrote in one of her books about how she looked at a situation someone she knew was going through but didn’t understand how they were able to make it through the tragedy. Then she felt God whisper to her spirit that she didn’t know how she’d deal with it because it wasn’t her trial. God hadn’t given her the grace to go through it like she’d given her friend.
That concept struck me deeply.
Especially as I watched this remarkable young woman, Maryann, go through an extreme trial I found unimaginable–as a newlywed myself at the time–with such grace and forgiveness on her heart.
In 2015, after my husband and I had relocated from Los Angeles to Georgia, I thought of her, since she lives in Georgia as well. I checked online to see how her life was progressing for her and her son. As I read the updates, that’s when the idea for sharing her story through a film was born. Thankfully, after reaching out to both sides of the family and meeting with them, they were open to giving this a try. They allowed me to option the rights to try to produce this as a film. And I recently completed the screenplay.
My hope is to honor Marcus and share Maryann’s story and honor God through a feature film that I hope to produce in Georgia. Joy Comes still needs a lot of elements to make that dream come true. But I’ve believed this story must be told from the beginning. I hope God leads and that others will help me pull that off.
Meeting both Marcus and Maryann’s family has been life changing for me. Here are some photos that my husband and I took during our visits with Marcus’ family in North Carolina and Maryann’s family in Georgia:
Cheryl, Linda Kauffman, David A. Kauffman
David, Landon, Maryann, Cheryl
Sarah, Barbara Ann, Ashley, Maryann, Cheryl, Margaret
David, Maryann, Cheryl, Chris
Margaret, Sarah, Milton, Barbara Ann, Seth, Ashley, Maryann, David, Landon, Cheryl
Brian, Josiah, Cheryl & Cheryl, Linda, David
I don’t want to blog too much about their full story to save some for the potential movie to come. But I have no doubt the world will be blessed by getting to know this family. It’s a story that shows, “Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, WEB)
“I love how God turns the devil’s curses and things he throws at us to try to trip us up into some of the biggest blessings we could ever imagine. That’s my God.”
– Marcus Kauffman