Dan Reynolds Never Could Have Prepared for the Impact of LoveLoud
By Ashley Morton
The Imagine Dragons singer and main subject of Believer opens up about how the documentary has affected his own life.
HBO: Did you have any reservations about your life and experience being documented in a film?
Dan Reynolds: For sure. I’ve always been pretty closed off and introverted — one, by nature, and two, because I just don’t like to offend or disappoint people. Having people in your house every day and seeing those raw moments was not my favorite thing, but it was necessary to tell the story properly and open up people’s eyes to the process of becoming an ally. I knew it was something I needed to do in order to live a full version of my life.
HBO: How did you select the stories and people you featured in the film?
Dan Reynolds: It was an organic process. When we met Savannah at Encircle, it was infuriating to hear that this beautiful, innocent, young girl who just wanted to speak her truth could be so offensive to leaders at a church that they unplugged her microphone.
In my 30 years of being at the Mormon Church, I’ve never seen that happen in a testimony meeting. It was frustrating, and I felt like it was a story that needed to be told. That just shows why this is such a problem. How can we expect our youth to feel accepted and loved when they can’t even express their truth over the pulpit like everyone else?
HBO: How has making the documentary impacted you?
Dan Reynolds: It’s been very divisive. I’ve had people tell me that, when I die, God is going to shame me for making more kids gay. But on the flip side, I’ve had so many families reach out and say their child felt safe to come out because of LoveLoud. So that’s what I focus on.
I couldn’t have prepared for how this would’ve gone down. It’s led to a lot of difficult conversations in my family, who are very conservative and Mormon. That’s been hard, but also great because those are conversations that needed to happen.
HBO: What was the most challenging scene to film and be a part of?
Dan Reynolds: Sitting down with Stockton’s parents, and seeing the heartbreak of two Mormon parents who lost a child to suicide because of the guilt he felt from the religion was overwhelmingly sad and infuriating. It just made me want to shake the Church, and say, “How can we all be this indifferent to this?”
HBO: Do you have any fears about what the film’s release might mean for your own relationship to the Church and community?
Dan Reynolds: I hope Mormons watch it and understand that I’m trying to approach this from the most fair and loving place I can. From an authentic place, as a Mormon myself. I’m not going at this to try to undermine the Mormon church or Orthodox religion. I just want change. I want the suicide rate to change, I want our broken culture to change.
HBO: Since wrapping the documentary, have you seen any positive effects?
Dan Reynolds: I can’t tell you how many countless letters I’ve gotten, or fans that have come up to me that have said they have a better relationship with their parents because of the festival or the statement the Church made supporting it.
These are baby steps, and we have a long ways to go, but we’re getting somewhere. I spoke with one of the people in the Church three days ago, trying to get them involved. So the conversation is still alive, and we’re still working to try to find common ground.
HBO: Are you planning a new LoveLoud festival this summer?
Dan Reynolds: Yes, July 28 in Salt Lake City, at the Rice Eccles Stadium. It’s double capacity, so we have double the musical power and speakers. It’s going to be an incredible event.
Believer is now available to stream. Looking for more? Read an interview with the filmmaker Don Argott.