Dr. Darryl Fortson, a Munster family practice physician, has been writing for years.
But when his wife, Shelia, approached him with the idea of writing a screenplay, he was hesitant.
“She approached me about writing this after her prayers,” said Dr. Fortson, who has written newspaper articles, poetry and a book. “But I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t a screenplay writer.”
But she kept encouraging him, and nearly 10 years after the idea for The Beloved Physicians first began, the screenplay is now going into pre-production as a movie in New Orleans.
The movie is based on the Gospel of Luke, and tells the story of how a modern-day physician’s life intertwines with St. Luke, who also was a physician.
“It is the story of two physicians of faith,” he said. The modern-day physician relives stories of the gospel through the experiences and anecdotes of his acquaintances, patients and friends, Dr. Fortson said.
“The story weaves between the old world and the new,” he said. “Everything ties together.”
The movie is being co-produced by HMM Films, which is headed by Burns Harbor resident Matt Moran. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment will be arranging the talent and handling distribution of the film.
It has a budget of $60 million, and Dr. Fortson is hoping principal photography will begin in 2014.
“We have high expectations for this project. It’s not a small vanity affair,” he said. “It will appeal to a broad audience with a wide theatrical distribution. It will have an ensemble cast with names and faces that will be familiar.”
He said The Beloved Physicians will also have a soundtrack using well-known popular music as it’s soundtrack.
“The soundtrack will help bring the relevance of faith into modern times,” he said.
Dr. Fortson, who operates the Fortson Family Care and Wellness Center in Munster, said figuring out the technical aspects of writing a screenplay was a challenge for him, as well as finding the right people to finance the project and move it forward.
“We wandered in the wilderness with the project for years, until we met Matt Moran,” he said. “We really appreciate his efforts in this project, and helping us get to this point and believing in us.”
Prior to The Beloved Physicians, Dr. Fortson’s previous projects included the 2007 book, “Dear Cisco, Dear Keith: A Frat Brother’s Letters on God, his Love, His People and Their Struggles.”
Dr. Fortson said the screenplay is also a story of faith and healing and wants people to walk away from the movie thinking about Jesus Christ and the relevance of faith in their own lives.
“I want them to think about what Jesus Christ and the Gospel has to do with their lives, in our time,” he said. “What should it mean, and what kind of power and significance and value should it have.”
Dr. Fortson said even though the idea to write a screenplay was his wife’s, he considers the opportunity to do so a blessing from God.
“This has been a tremendous odyssey filled with twists and turns,” he said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without God’s blessings.”