Based on a events which happened to its director, The Stray was part of the personal journey of Mitch Davis. Starring Sarah Lancaster (Everwood, The Judge, Chuck), Michael Cassidy (Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Men at Work), and Connor Corum (Heaven Is for Real), The Stray is a family-friendly feature involving a stray dog. The movie — which Davis collaborated on with son Parker — opens nationwide in theaters on Friday, October 6, 2017.
On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of speaking with both leading actress Sarah Lancaster and director Mitch Davis. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Davis was an executive at Walt Disney Studios and Columbia Studios. His credits include Newsies, White Fang, and Dead Poet’s Society. A prior director’s credit for Davis was 2001’s The Other Side of Heaven, which was Anne Hathaway’s first known film role.
More on The Stray — a new release from Purdie Films — can be found at www.thestray.movie and followed on Instagram via @thestraymovie.
This movie is based on your personal experiences? What inspired you to make this film?
Mitch Davis: This movie tells the true story of events occurring in my family 25 years ago. Our youngest son, who is 23 — and the only one of our five children who was not alive when these things happened — came up with the idea of making this movie and wrote the original screenplay on which the movie is based. So what inspired me was the persistence of my youngest son, Parker, who knew there was a movie in this story before I did even though it was my story.
Was it challenging to work on something personal?
Mitch Davis: It wasn’t any more challenging than working on anything else. If anything it was easier, because whenever an actor or someone else came to me with a question about how a scene should be played or costumed or shot, I knew the answer because I actually lived the story. I mean, I was actually there when it really happened.
How did you wind up working on this film, Sarah? Was there a traditional audition?
Sarah Lancaster: This project came in as an offer. I read the script and loved some of the themes. I was also intrigued that it was a true story. I hadn’t yet played a real-life person.
Had you worked with Mitch or anyone from the cast before being cast?
Sarah Lancaster: None of the cast, although we shot in Utah and some of my Everwood crew was on-board. That was a bonus.
You have been part of several long-running television shows. Is there a role or kind of project that you’re still hoping to get?
Sarah Lancaster: I’ve been really fortunate… I hope to keep that momentum going for a long time. There’s so much great television out there. I’ve been pretty focused on having my kids the last few years. I’m ready to start exploring as an actress again.
— Sarah Lancaster (@SarahMLancaster) May 28, 2016
Is writing or directing in your future, Sarah?
Sarah Lancaster: I actually optioned a book I’ve long been a fan of, I co-wrote the screenplay with the author. We’re going to shoot top of the year in New York. It’ll be my first producing endeavor as well.
Do you have any goals for the movie, Mitch?
Mitch Davis: My goal is for as many millions of people as possible to be entertained and inspired by the movie over a long lifetime.
Is there a message you want viewers to come away with?
Mitch Davis: I want them to know that no other success can compensate for failure in the home; that families and the marriages they are built on matter more than anything else. And that angels come in many forms. In our case, our angel was a stray dog who saved us in more ways than one.
Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
Mitch Davis: Hmm. Probably it’s the scene where the mom and dad — my wife and I — have a heart to heart about whether or not we want to stay in Los Angeles and stay in the movie business. That scene shows two people who love each other, who disagree about the future of the family they are creating together. They are both good people and firm in their views. And they disagree without being disagreeable until life experiences steer them both in a new direction. Together.
— Sarah Lancaster (@SarahMLancaster) August 26, 2017
Once you’re done promoting this film, any idea what you will be working on?
Mitch Davis: I have an inspirational sports movie I am working on called Coach Tony. It is Blind Side with basketball. I am very excited about it.
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
Sarah Lancaster: With my family. I have two young boys that keep me running. I also love to travel, read, workout, and have “early bird old lady” dinners with my friends, as we say.
Mitch Davis: I love to be with my children and grandchildren, and I love being in the mountains, either skiing or hiking or fishing or some combination thereof.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Mitch Davis: Nothing matters more than the people who love you the most and who you love the most. Hopefully, that is your family. If you don’t have a happy family now, make a vow that, when you are a mom or dad, you are going to build a happy family. You are going to put your family first. And maybe that family should include a stray dog.
Sarah Lancaster: Be kind to yourself. And don’t forget to floss!
[Featured Image by Mitch Davis]