Friday, February 18, 2011

Ralph Winter - Filmmaker

Ralph Winter is perhaps the most well-known Christian filmmaker working in Hollywood today. He has produced some of Hollywood’s biggest hits, including the Star Trek, Fantastic Four and most recently X-men series. How has Winter accomplished what seems to be the impossible—a Christian who has been accepted by the mainstream Hollywood community?

Winter is trusted with over $100 million budgets on a regular basis. Perhaps no other Christian working in Hollywood can make that claim. I have been fortunate to hear Ralph Winter speak on several occasions. What strikes me is Winter is a down-to-earth sort of guy, a man with balance, substance, and common sense. He believes his success is based on his integrity. A studio will respect you if you keep your word, stay on budget and on time. As a producer, he routinely delivers projects that are marketable, entertaining and, above all, profitable. With that kind of success, Winter has built a reputation as a Christian that can be trusted.

He is very open about his faith. He makes no apologies for his Christian beliefs and will pray for anybody who wants prayer. Winter makes every effort to inject Christian values into his films but will not turn them into Christian films. I have heard Winter say on many occasions that film is a good place to ask questions but not a good venue for giving answers.

His entry into mainstream Hollywood seems almost effortless. Winter studied history at Cal-Berkley. He took a job at Broadway Department Stores and ended up producing training videos. He took that experience and found his way into the post-production department at Paramount Studios. It’s amazing how many people go to film school and never end up working in the industry, while many working in Hollywood have no film degree or educational background. As in the case with Winter, there are many pathways into this industry.

In many ways, Ralph Winter has become the voice for Christians who are working in Hollywood today. He has found a place of acceptance by building relationships and keeping commitments. He states his family and ongoing Bible studies keep him grounded. He also says that having a life beyond the film industry is vital. Winter is also dedicated to helping the next generation of filmmakers who are Christians. He is part of the Biola Task Force and a regular contributor to conferences and seminars on Christians in Hollywood.

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