ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - The Hallmark Movie Channel Original tells the story of a Rochester couple, whose story Action New has shared before . Now, everyone will get a chance to see it through Hollywood’s eyes.
The movie is called “The Color of Rain,” the same name as the book written by Michael and Gina Spehn. It’s a New York Time best seller that chronicles their journey from heartbreak to healing, and as they like to say, to growing new hearts.
It was Christmas day, 2005. Just hours after opening presents, Gina lost her husband Matt and father of her two boys to a rare form of cancer. Six weeks later, across town, Michael’s beloved wife Kathy died of brain cancer, leaving him to raise three kids alone.
The movie focuses on what happens after Matt and Kathy die. Michael and Gina lean on each other during their darkest days. Slowly, their grief clears, and love begins to blossom. Their kids, sharing a bond no child should have to, grow closer by the day. Two years after attending funerals, Gina and Michael get married.
Making the movie
The Spehn family spent two weeks in Vancouver as the movie was being filmed. They, and their 5 kids watched as their “movie family” brought their story to life. Actors Warren Christie and Lacey Chabert played Michael and Gina.
“They were the most generous and open people,” Michael says. Almost on a daily basis they would say what did you think? I’m about to play a scene. Do you have any thoughts, which was incredibly generous.”
I talked to Christie and Chabert about playing the roles.
“I think we both felt quite a responsibility that the story was told properly and give it the heart that it deserved more than anything,” Christie says. “I think it’s a really beautiful story, a really important story, because it gets people to understand about love, and life, and healing.”
“There’s always hope in every situation,” Chabert says of the movie’s theme. “And when you pull together, especially as a family unit, you grieve together and you heal together. They’ve been an amazing example of moving on, not forgetting the person you’ve lost, but realize it’s an honor to their life and their memory to live your life with as much love as possible.”
For Michael and Gina, the whole process has been surreal.
“It’s been a very unexpected journey. We didn’t know where this was going to go. When we set out to write a book, it was in part because we need to get this down for our children. And in part for ourselves, as part of the healing process,” Gina explains. “But it took off. It grew wings and took flight on its own. And we know, our faith tells us, that it’s God’s hands working through our lives.”
As for the movie…
“There are things that go into the movie that didn’t really happen in our lives, that they create for the sake of movie making,” Gina says. “But the way they did it I thought was so beautiful. I thought they were able to capture the essence of the story, which is a hope filled story, and a story of real love, and what it means to, as Michael says, grow new hearts. To me, that’s what’s it’s all about, loving people well.”
And those are word Michael and Gina live by. In 2007 they started the New Day Foundation for Families . They walk alongside families affected by cancer, helping them financially and emotionally. Thursday’s movie premiere in Royal Oak is expected to raise at least 50-thousand dollars for their foundation.
“There’s no sense in having a movie made about your life if you can’t do something really cool with it, like benefit a foundation like ours, that’s the bottom line.”
The premiere at the Emagine Theater is sold out, but you can watch “The Color of Rain” premiere on the Hallmark Movie Channel on Saturday, May 31st at 9pm.