An interview with Rick Santorum on his new gig in the film industry

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

Just because Rick Santorum is taking a new job leading a Christian movie studio doesn’t mean he’s ditching politics or the idea of running for the White House again.

“This really doesn’t change things as far as I’m concerned,” the former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate said in a phone interview with The Daily Caller on Tuesday.

Santorum announced this week that he’s becoming CEO of EchoLight Studios, a self-styled “faith-based” company in Dallas. The Republican agreed to answer several questions from TheDC about his new gig.

TheDC: What exactly will the job entail? And will you be involved, creatively, in helping to come up with movie ideas?

Santorum: I’ll be involved in every aspect of the business. So the answer is yes. I’ll be involved in acquiring intellectual property. I’ll be involved in determining what intellectual property we acquire, helping in the development of the scripts and producing the films. Obviously, I’m not going to be doing all of those things, but I’ll be overseeing all of those things. We’ve got really good industry folks, and we’ll be bringing in even more talented people from all over — including Hollywood — to write scripts and to produce and direct, and act and do post-production. The whole nine yards. We’re gonna do our best to try to attract the best and the brightest to come and work with us. And we want to make inspiring content.

TheDC: Any ideas yet for movies you’d like to see produced?

Santorum: Well as a matter of fact, we have a slate of four movies that are in – as they say – in the can. I have not been involved, obviously, in the selection of those films, or the production of those films, other than a very minor way with the last one. My involvement in those films was frankly raising the money. I’ve been — even before I was CEO — I was involved as a member of the board of the company and I was sort of tasked with the responsibility of going out there and seeing what we can do to raise the funds to make these movies.

TheDC: Why do you think you were appealing to EchoLight?

Santorum: We’re making faith and family films, and when it comes to faith and family issues, I think I have as good of brand as anybody in the country. If we put out a film and say it’s faith and family, then I think people can go out, send their kids to it and they can buy it for their families or go to the theaters and watch it…We’re going to hopefully send out a very strong signal that we’re going to produce quality content. I feel very comfortable with the films that we ‘have in the can.’ But my hope is that we’ll continue to improve on the quality. I think the quality is good. But our objective is for every film to be better than the last one.

TheDC: How much time will this take out of your day, and will you be working out of Dallas?

Santorum: I’ll be spending time in Dallas. But I’ll be doing a fair amount of traveling around the country. Actually, it dovetails well with what I’m already doing. I don’t think most people understand that when I wasn’t running for president, I was working. Because I have to earn income. I have three kids in college. And three in school. And I have a little girl that has a lot of special needs. So I’ve got to work for a living. I was working already.

This will just focus my energies more on one thing as opposed to a whole bunch of different things on the business side. In addition, as I have been doing for the last 18 months, I also staying involved and active with Patriot Voices. So this really doesn’t change things as far as I’m concerned.

My work with Patriot Voices actually dovetails very well into the work I’m going to be doing with EchoLight. I’ll be traveling around the country, doing a lot of radio interviews, a lot of media interviews, so I don’t see that as all inconsistent.

I really think what I’m doing here is trying to really energize — not just for the benefit of EchoLight Studios but for the benefit of the culture to try to — people of faith, people who hold to the traditional American values, to get active and involved in the culture and the popular culture. So hopefully, we’ll invigorate that cause, if you will, with conservatives around the country.

TheDC: Will this affect your decision at all to run for president in 2016?

Santorum: Again, I come back to what I was just saying before, which is I was already working. I have to earn an income. I have to provide for my family. So this is just — instead of doing a whole bunch of different things for a variety of different companies and different ventures — I’m now focused on doing one thing. Some of those other things will have to go to the wayside.

TheDC: Liberals dominate Hollywood. Are conservatives capable of making good movies?

Santorum: Of course we are. I mean, there are conservatives in Hollywood who make good movies. They just don’t make conservative movies because that’s not what gets funded. So I’m absolutely thrilled. I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me already, many from Hollywood, who said, ‘Gosh, we’ve been waiting for the opportunity to go out and make some really good content and the fact that you’re going to be in this space, and you have access to capital and to distribution’ is very exciting to them. I have no doubt that we’ll be able to attract some of the best and brightest.

And look, there’s no litmus test to working for us other than producing good content that’s consistent with the values that our audience, that we believe the audience in America, families in America, want to see. I can guarantee you there are people that have worked on our movies who didn’t vote for Rick Santorum, who voted for Barack Obama, and who don’t necessarily share those values but are willing to do stories that are true and heartfelt and genuine and inspiring and are very happy to have the work. I can tell you one actor who worked on our latest film told our director that he’s excited to finally have worked on a film he can go home and tell his mom about and be proud of. There is an opportunity for folks who want to do good quality work go do uplifting and heartfelt content.

TheDC: Last question. Do you have a favorite movie?

Santorum: I have lots of favorites movies. I say this only because it’s a favorite movie because it’s a sport I love. I’m a huge baseball fan. There are movies I like as much as this, but I sort of single this movie out because I’m a baseball nut and that’s Field of Dreams. That’s always what I put on top, not because it’s necessarily the best movie, but it just pulls at my heart string more than any others.

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