making the 5th quarter [an interview with rick bieber]

movie,football,faith,adversity,abbate,wake forest

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

April 19, 2011

movie,football,faith,adversity,abbate,wake forest

There’s a new movie out called The 5th Quarter. If you enjoy movies about faith and football (like I do), then this in one that you’ll definitely want to check out.

It’s a movie about the real-life story of the Abbate family and the tragic loss of their son/brother Luke Abbate. More importantly, it’s a movie about healing and finding purpose, even when things don’t turn out like they were supposed to. Check out the trailer…

[youtube DpExyzcT47E nolink]

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Writer, Director, and Producer Rick Bieber to ask him about making The 5th Quarter, and this is how that conversation went.

Dan: I know that this is probably a silly question, but what about this story made you want to do this? Why was it important to you to tell this story?

Rick: This story is about family, faith, football and the gift of life. It’s a true and inspirational story that not only entertains, but deals with very real and relevant issues (loss and grief, the prevention of reckless youthful driving, the need for organ donation) and can teach and inspire as well. It’s a film that evokes emotion, and provokes thought and discussion for the entire family.

Dan: I know that you poured yourself into getting to know the Abbate family in preparation for this movie. Why was it so important to you to do the level of research that you did?

Rick: I spent countless hours speaking with, and interviewing the Abbate family both at their home in Powder Springs and over the phone. When you tell a true and still very recent story, you feel an enormous responsibility to the people who become the subjects of your film. I wanted to maintain the integrity of their most personal and intimate family story. I wanted to know how they spoke to and acted with each other. The inflections of their voices … the expressions on their faces. They were incredibly open and courageous with me, as they revealed the most intimate and detailed descriptions of their experience. Their family has become an extension of my family, as I’ve kept them completely involved in the process of producing and distributing The 5th Quarter. I simply wanted to maintain the integrity of the story, the Abbates and of Luke’s memory, and make the movie “real.”

Dan: What did you learn the most personally from the Abbate family as you got to know them?

Rick: The Abbate’s are a loving family who have relied on their faith and the support of family, friends and their community to deal with Luke’s loss each and every day. They are incredibly generous of their time and spirit, and in their commitment to turn Luke’s tragedy into doing a terrific amount of good work for the benefit of others.

Dan: I want to take a look at a scene from the movie. It’s a scene called “You Don’t Understand.” Help me set this up… How would you introduce this scene to someone watching…

Rick: Jon is a young man who has been taught to love God, and feel protected by His presence. When he suddenly loses his young brother in a senseless and tragic accident, his grief turns quickly to anger. He questions his faith, and blames God for allowing something so inconceivably cruel to happen to his family. It’s a real and thoroughly understandable response. He can’t be expected to understand that accepting God’s will can often be a long and difficult process. He can’t, at that moment, be expected to understand that from the ashes of Luke’s tragic death, many great accomplishments may result – including saving the life of a young mother who just gave birth to her second child. The scene accurately depicts how many of us would react if in Jon’s place.

[youtube GtvVzKHlHjc nolink]

Dan: In this scene you seem to be dealing with two things. First I want to ask about Jon… He seems to be struggling with the need to not forget, or grow numb to, his brother’s death. What can you tell me about this need he seemed to have to never forget something so painful?

Rick: In his desperation, he suffers an anxiety attack – that he’ll some day forget the details of Luke and the events surrounding his death. He helplessly turns to his girlfriend, pleading for her to make sure he never forgets. Regardless of the pain, we always want to remember every moment and detail regarding those we love.

Dan: The other thing that I see here is this questioning of God. It’s a question that we all ask when something tragic happens… “If God is so good, then how can He let bad things happen to good people?” Why was this an important question for you to tackle in this movie, and what role does God play in finding answers to something like this?

Rick: Even the most devoted are susceptible to encountering a crisis of faith when confronted by the unbearable pain of an unexpected tragedy. It’s okay to be angry and ask questions, and it’s often a long and challenging process to again understand that God is greater than we are, and that He understands how difficult it is to overcome the pain. But, it’s in the process that we learn how to deal with loss and grief, and come to realize that lessons are revealed that speak to the hope and optimism of life – and the joyful surprises that might be just around the next corner.

Dan: What advice would you have for someone who’s dealing with some sort of tragic event in their life?

Rick: The only thing that we can be certain of in life – is that nothing stays the same forever. Change is inevitable – whether welcome or not. Relying on sources of faith and family and the support of others can make all the difference in the world – not only helping to heal our wounds, but in also teaching those around us how to deal with the inevitable, no matter how difficult.

Dan: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us about this. I definitely recommend this movie, and I think it will be one that’ll easily find it’s way into my DVD collection. I just pray that it’s message continues to reach and touch people, and help them find their way through difficult times.


  1. Brenda Coats

    Oh my word. I want to see this movie!! Looks like one we should bring a case of tissues to though … 😉

    • @bibledude

      This looks like a really powerful movie! But it looks like it’s very limited in the theaters that it’s being shown in. People should call their movie theaters and request this movie! I think it was in one theater in my area for like a day, but I missed it… but even if I can’t watch it on the big screen, you can bet that I’ll have the DVD sitting right next to Remember the Titans, Blind Side, and Facing the Giants!

      I just love the story of redemption and hope that oozes from a film like this one!

  2. Duane Scott

    Going to netflix now…

    • @bibledude

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s out on DVD yet… so look for it in the theaters. It’s a pretty powerful story, so it’ll be worth the watch no matter how you get it (or how long you have to wait for it to hit DVD).


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making the 5th quarter [an interview with rick bieber]

by Dan King time to read: 5 min