My Dream Beside Me – With Director Greg Robbins

I’m excited about My Dream Beside Me because like Flowers for Fannie, it’s a story with an older female protagonist. My Dream Beside Me is a romantic comedy based on a true story about two people who are far past their prime of life and yet they were blessed by God with a beautiful romance. The movie is making its theatrical premiere next month. Director Greg Robbins provides us a behind the scenes look into the making of the movie.

 What attracted you to this story?
The first thing that attracted me to tell this story is the passion this couple had at their ages. When Mary Kay Slesinger Rich welcomed me into her and Paul Rich’s life and I read his diary he kept from age 16 to 101 when he died, I was enamored with them. Then Mary Kay showed me videos of their life together and I was sure this story was inspiring and would be helpful to marriages.

What is the greatest challenge with shooting a movie that is based on a true story?

This is the fourth time I have taken a true story and made a movie out of it and each time they have their own challenges; with MY DREAM BESIDE ME it was two things. First, Mary Kay played herself and when we would be in a certain part of her life within the story, at times the overwhelming love she had for her husband would consume her and she missed him. I had to keep her “in the moment”. So when she was falling in love with him she had to actually “fall in love” and not display loss of love. The second challenge was we took the actor Jeff Rose and made him 85-101 through this movie. This took SFX make-up artist Renonda Anderson two to three hours per day depending on if he was to be in his 80’s, 90’s or 100’s.


Tell us about your lead actors.

Paul Rich was played by Jeff Rose; the interesting thing about this is we looked for several weeks for a actor that was at least 70 to play Paul and we never found someone that made Mary Kay or myself happy. My wife Sherrie said one evening “why don’t you get Jeff Rose and make him older” because she thought he looked like a young Paul. This was brilliant because Jeff did highly resemble Paul and he even used Paul’s clothes in the movie. In my personal opinion Jeff Rose gave one of the finest performances of any actor I have directed in my entire career. Mary Kay played herself and she is not an actor but she was able to delve into her life and there are moments in this story that she was thrust back in time and she did a strong enough job to make crew members including myself cry. The way we told the story is Mary Kay is being interviewed by a reporter when they had a party to renew their vows and Paul’s 100th birthday. I called on a wonderful talent Francine Locke; this is a role that needed to be powerful and consistent and that takes a seasoned professional or it could have been uneventful. I needed the reporter to fall in love with Paul and admire Mary Kay as she is told their story. Francine is brilliant, she keeps the story moving forward and the audience will feel her heart as she has told this remarkable story.


What was your favorite part of filming this movie?

My favorite part of filming this movie is bringing Paul Rich to life; Mr. Rich died before I met him and I consulted Mary Kay as she wrote the script in her home, I sat at Paul’s desk, I read his words and felt his heart. I actually mourn his loss and I never met him! Paul and Mary Kay have a love that is of God!!


What is your goal for the movie?

My goal for this movie is that people would see that romance in marriage has no age limits and that age should not dictate behavior. Paul Rich lived life to its fullest, at 100 he was still working, walking 2 miles a day, he and Mary Kay had a healthy love life until he went home to be with the Lord. This should inspire all of us to live life not exist in our lives.


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About the Author Sharon Wilharm

Christian speaker, Sharon Wilharm, is a popular media guest, award-winning female filmmaker, and women’s ministry leader, whose faith-based films have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the world, and on multiple television networks. Sharon has recently taken over as women's ministry director at her church. Her passion is to lead prayer retreats, engaging women of all ages to pray with each other, for each other, praying with expectation.

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