Monday, April 30, 2012

Biola Media Conference Introduces PITCHFEST

Up-and-Coming Film and Television Creators Have Rare Opportunity to Personally Pitch Industry Experts in One-On-One Environment.

Studio City, Calif. –- For 17 years, the Biola Media Conference has been heralded as a premier event that gives entertainment industry professionals unique access to Hollywood leaders. This year, the conference introduces PITCHFEST to the schedule, which will provide attendees an exceptional face-to-face opportunity to individually pitch their stories and visions to industry leaders who can bring their projects to life.

In a forum reminiscent of speed dating, Pitchfest allows television and film creators to sit one-on-one with some of Hollywood’s top industry professionals to present their ideas. Creators are given a set amount of time to pitch their concepts, and to hear a response from the industry expert. After the bell rings, everyone moves to the next professional for another round of pitching.

Each participant will have the chance to pitch to a half dozen industry leaders in either the television or film track – all who have the unprecedented combination of experience, funding, networking and knowledge to take projects to completion.

Pitchfest attendees will be sitting across the table from industry luminaries and companies such as Downes Brothers Entertainment (Like Dandelion Dust,, Lin Pictures (Sherlock Holmes, Gangster Squad), Mission Pictures (Seven Days in Utopia, Like Dandelion Dust, Bella), Brian Bird (Not Easily Broken, Touched By an Angel), Dean Batali (That 70’s Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Leilani Downer (Growing Pains, A Different World), Owen Shiflett (Mad Men, AMC Network), and Susana Zepeda (Witness, 101 Dalmatians, The Truman Show), among others.

“We are thrilled with the addition of Pitchfest to the already impressive Biola Media Conference lineup,” explains Jack Hafer, Chairman of Biola’s Cinema & Media Arts department. “As a conference, we are humbled by the level of experts who have gathered to help lead and mentor the future of Hollywood. We believe this generation of storytellers has a desire to balance faith with art, and will undoubtedly change the landscape of entertainment. We hope the knowledge shared during Pitchfest will help guide our industry attendees to ‘FIND THEIR CREATIVE BREAKTHROUGHS.’”

Pitchfest is just one element of the 2012 Biola Media Conference, scheduled for Saturday, May 5 at the renowned CBS Studio Lot in Studio City, CA. With a stellar lineup of workshops and panel discussions hosted by industry leaders in film, television and digital media, Biola Media Conference already boasts a high caliber event of exceptional value. With the addition of the Pitchfest element, attendees now have the opportunity to discover the elements required to bring success to their ideas.

Pitchfest participants must be registered for the Biola Media Conference. A separate Pitchfest registration is required. Participation is limited and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Biola Media Conference attracts more than 600 industry attendees – making it the largest national event for people of faith working in the entertainment industry.  It is known for its intimate and practical conversations with Hollywood leaders, and professional training and instruction from some of the most influential individuals in Film, Television, PR, Media Marketing, Management and Digital Media. Conference topics cover every aspect of media related careers, technologies, and ministries from the creative, to the financial, to the production process.

The Biola Media Conference is produced and sponsored by Biola University’s acclaimed Cinema and Media Arts Department. The event is also a member of the FrontGate Media group, the #1 culture-engaged media group in Christendom. Sponsorship opportunities are available HERE.  Admission is $150 before April 26 and $180 at the door.  Lunch and coffee bar are provided.  For more information or to register online, visit Biola Media.

ABOUT BIOLA MEDIA CONFERENCEIn its 17th year, the Biola Media Conference exists to educate, inspire, and network media professionals while providing creative inspiration into the spiritual nature of any career in the media industry. The conference attracts participants who will benefit from direct interaction with acclaimed industry pros who are at the top of their craft. From CEOs to students, attendees secure valuable information, insight, and contacts that strengthen their character and their careers.

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For more information on Biola Media Conference, please contact:
Lori Lenz-Heiselman – FrontGate Media

Today’s Rant – Why are we not Changing the World?

If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ve probably asked yourself this question. Why isn’t the Body of Christ changing our culture and the world? If anything, it would appear that the culture is changing the Church. It’s a frustrating situation. No matter what you are trying to do in the Kingdom, including being a pastor, small group leader, youth worker, outreach leader or Sunday School teacher, there has never been a more challenging time to spread the Gospel. Why is this?

Why is it that most people three hours after leaving church cannot remember the pastor’s sermon, much less three days later? Obviously, the Bible says when we preach the Gospel, the Word never returns void. So there is always going to be some impact. But it is as if we are running against the wind in an ever ending battle with little or no results. It’s not as if I’m trying to make this worse or that I’m trying to ruin your day, but sometimes you just have to face the truth and ask the tough questions. Of course we want to be effective and reach people with the saving knowledge of our Lord. That’s what it’s all about.

So what is our main obstacle? The issue most people have failed to see or what I call the 800 pound gorilla in the room is today’s mass media culture? It is relentless. It is like a hurricane wind that continues to blow. The media culture never takes a day off. It surrounds us and engulfs us. No wonder we can’t remember what the sermon was about.

The media culture is more than movies or TV programs. It defines our culture, our society and our institutions. It creates its own reality, and it informs us what we should be thinking about. In fact, if we don’t find an answer to the influence of today’s mass media culture, we will continue to struggle in our ministries. Every Christian has a responsibility in solving this crisis. Unfortunately, most of us don’t recognize this. Let me put it this way. Have you ever worked outside on a hot summer day of maybe 100 degrees. It’s challenging and difficult, and you most likely get little work accomplished. What happens if you can turn the temperature down to 85 degrees or 80 degrees? Your productivity would increase dramatically. The mass media culture, just like a hot summer day, has the same impact on the effectiveness of the Body of Christ to proclaim the Gospel.

We will start to dramatically change the culture and the world when we recognize the issue we are facing is the mass media culture, and when we realize we all have a part in solving this solvable problem. What drives me crazy and what is at the core of today’s rant is when we continue to do the same things and expect a different result. Don’t you think it’s time to come up with a new game plan now that we know what we are facing?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Box Office Report: 'Think Like a Man' Trounces Competition With $18 Mil

The African-American themed comedy Think Like a Man grossed an impressive $18 million in its second weekend to stay at No. 1, while Jason Segel-Emily Blunt comedy The Five-Year Engagement came in No. 5 with a disappointing $11.2 million debut.

From Sony's Screen Gems, Think Like a Man has earned $60.9 million in its first 10 days of play, making it one of the most successful African-American movies of recent times and already pacing ahead of the lifetime gross of most Tyler Perry films.

Otherwise, the domestic box office was decidedly muted, with revenue down a steep 30 percent from a year ago, when Universal's Fast Five opened to $86.1 million.

After Think Like a Man, the race was close between Sony's animated 3D pic The Pirates! Band of Misfits ($11.4 million), The Lucky One ($11.3 million), The Hunger Games ($11.25 million) and Five-Year Engagement.

The biggest box office headline was overseas, where Disney and Marvel Studios' The Avengers rolled out in 39 markets, grossing a massive $178.4 million.

Heading into the weekend, Five-Year Engagement was expected to come closest to beating Think Like a Man in North America. The pic reunites many of the principals from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which opened to $17.7 million, including Segel. This time around, he teams up with Blunt as they play a couple enduring a long-term engagement.

Universal says its financial exposure on the R-rated comedy is limited, between a modest $30 million production spend and co-financing arrangement with Relativity Media.

Five-Year Engagement, which received a B- CinemaScore, skewed noticeably older, with 57 percent of the audience over the age of 30. Females made up 64 percent.

"Although it opened slightly lower than expected, the movie will make up ground in ancillary markets," Universal president of distribution Nikki Rocco said.

Sony and Aardman Animations' The Pirates cost in the mid-$50 million range to produce, and has already earned $63.7 million internationally for a worldwide total of $75.1 million through Sunday.

"Pirates opened right in our sweet spot domestically," Sony president of distribution Rory Bruer said.
The weekend's other new offerings -- Safe and The Raven -- came in No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, both doing modest business.

Safe, directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Jason Statham, debuted to $7.7 million after receiving a B+ CInemaScore. Safe, distributed by Lionsgate, was fully financed and produced by IM Global.

The Raven, opening to $7.3 million, was directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and stars John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. FilmNation and Intrepid Pictures co-financed and co-produced the film, with Relativity distributing.

For full weekend results, see below.

Domestic box office, April 27-April 29
Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume
1. Think Like a Man, 2/2,015, Sony, $18 million, $60.9 million.
2. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 1/3,358, Sony/Aardman, $11.4 million.
3. The Lucky One, 2/3,175, Warner Bros., $11.3 million, $40 million.
4. The Hunger Games, 6/3,572, Lionsgate, $11.25 million, $372.5 million.
5. The Five-Year Engagement, 1/2,936, $11.15.
6. Safe, 1/2,266, Lionsgate/IM Global, $7.7 million.
7. The Raven, 1/2,203, Relativity/Intrepid, $7.3 million.
8. Chimpanzee, 2/1,567, Disney, $5.5 million, $19.2 million.
9. The Three Stooges, 3/3,105, $5.4 million, $37.1 million.
10. The Cabin in the Woods, 3/2,639, Lionsgate/MGM, $4.5 million, $34.7 million

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rebel Pilgrim Productions Launches with Multiple Projects

On May 1, Rebel Pilgrim Productions will launch a new office in Cincinnati, Ohio with three full-time employees. The company also has a Las Vegas office. Joe Boyd, President, and Jim Nyberg, CEO, mounted a capital raise to prepare the company to produce five new projects over the next four years.

Rebel Pilgrim produced the multi-award winning poker-themed comedy Hitting The Nuts, which signed a digital distribution deal with Cinetic Media this month. The company's first theatrical release set for early 2013 is A Strange Brand of Happy, a faith-based comedy starring Grammy Winner Rebecca St. James and Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones.

The capital raise will allow the company to produce a made-for-television movie in 2013, and four additional projects over the next four years.

The company hired Brad Wise (A Strange Brand of Happy) as Chief Creative Officer and Isaac Stambaugh (Smells Like Community Spirit) as in-house Producer. They have leased what were once the original executive offices of the Proctor & Gamble Company in the historic Gwynne Building in downtown Cincinnati.
The company's website is

How Do We Rise Up Visual Storytellers With A Missional Approach ?

So the question is how do we raise up visual storytellers who understand the power of story and have the ability to communicate it with a missional approach.

Whatever we do, we must begin early in their development - starting no later than middle school. To raise up these type of storytellers requires an intentional approach. I see it as a three-step process.

(1) We need to determine if they have an interest in media. What are their gifts or talents? Are they potential artists?

(2) We need to get them involved working on media and entertainment projects where they can have a hands-on experience.

(3) We must develop the messenger as well as the message. Do they have a calling as a media missionary? Could this lead to a possible career in media and entertainment, especially in Hollywood? We need to provide a program that will develop their talents and skills as visual storytellers. One of the most important things we can do at this stage in their development is to provide a mentor—someone who can advise them on the spiritual and practical aspects of being a visual storyteller.

One of the best places to start is in youth ministry. The youth pastor could play a huge role in helping to create tomorrow’s future visual storytellers. They are in the right place and time in the lives of those who could have a calling as a media missionary.

The youth pastor’s encouragement could make all the difference. Although most youth pastors have done a good job implementing the first two steps, they often lack the time or resources necessary to complete the final step. Media Missionary School wants to help by providing needed resources which are required to develop tomorrow’s visual storytellers.

I’m convinced media missionaries and visual storytellers do not happen by accident. We believe reading The Red Pill--The Cure for Today’s Mass Media Culture and The Media Missionary’s Journey—A Roadmap for Hollywood Success can provide the framework and foundation necessary for tomorrow’s visual storytellers. We want to create a network of mentors across the country who can help to develop the message and the messenger.

I encourage everyone to get involved. Perhaps, you work in youth ministry, or you have a career in media and entertainment. Your participation is critical. I suggest you look around to see where you can fit in. I’m sure that there is someone in your local church who could use your help and support. Think about becoming a mentor and making a difference.

Even if you are not in youth ministry, or you are not a professional in the media or entertainment business, your help is still crucial. I’m sure there is something you can do. Most young people are just looking for someone who will believe in them. You could encourage your youth ministry to be an active participant in developing future visual storytellers. We provide all the necessary information and resources on this website to assist you. Feel free to contact me for more information. E-mail me at I will be more than glad to help with anything I can.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Line in the Sand

If there’s one thing that we’re good at as Christians, it is drawing a line in the sand. The question is whether or not that’s what God wants us to do. Or are we doing it because of something we think we want God to do. To be honest, I think we do it because it gives us comfort. On one side is right. On the other side is wrong. This gives us a clear sense of how we should live our lives and clearly defines sin. But it’s just not that simple. We especially have problems when we apply this type of thinking to movies, music, television, dress, customs or other lifestyle choices. Sometimes the Bible is clear, such as in the case of murder, adultery or putting God first in your life. Other times, it requires the ability to listen to that still, small voice inside of us.

I had an encounter a few years ago that helps illustrate my point when we draw a line in the sand that makes absolutely no sense. I was producing a television program called The Zone which was airing on major cable and satellite outlets across the United States. The program had a live audience, and I was talking to a youth pastor about bringing his kids to be part of one of our tapings. Now mind you, this was a fairly large church located in the suburbs of a major city. This wasn’t in the backwoods. The youth pastor told me I was wrong to produce a program such as The Zone. And he had no interest in being part of it. He believed I was leading kids to commit sin.

We were playing contemporary Christian music. That doesn’t sound sinful to me. He didn’t have a problem with the lyrics. His problem was with the beat. He was convinced it would lead to the moral degradation of our society because it encouraged our youth to fornicate. I can’t make this stuff up. He had drawn a line in the sand. Does the Bible have anything to say about the style or the beat of any musical type. I don’t think so. Is this any way to engage the world?

Here’s another example. When I was in Bible college, during daily chapel, the President of the college made these remarks: He had stood on the corner in downtown Cincinnati and observed the coming and going of the daily commuters. After one hour, he had concluded that he had not seen one Christian walk by. He went on to make his point that our society was turning away from God. What did he base his conclusions on? What evidence did he see? His standard was on personal appearance. What type of clothes were they wearing? Makeup? Jewelry? Hairstyle? That was his standard for holiness. He drew a line in the sand. If you were on the wrong side, you were in sin. Did God ask him to do this? I suppose it makes our job so much easier if we can just look at somebody and determine if he or see is a believer. Perhaps, it gives us some comfort.

Final thought.

Yes these are radical examples. But I’m sure on some level we’re all drawing a line in the sand when it’s not necessary. I know we do it because we want to know what we have to do to be right with God. Just give me a list and I’ll follow it.

I know the Bible is our guide, and the Holy Spirit does instructs us. But we have to be part of the process to understand how to live our life in order to honor God.. And often, there is no clear line in the sand, but that doesn’t give us a license to do anything we want. I also don’t have any interest in creating obstacles for those who are seeking a relationship with Christ. Maybe this will give us fresh eyes when we think about movies, dress, and other such issues.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What are Images?

Images are pictures. However, in our culture, pictures have become tools used to elicit specific and planned emotional reactions in the people who see them. Images are created to give us pleasure when we watch them. They are also created to make us feel anxious. Images work best when they are vivid and emotionally saturated. For example, the American flag depicts very powerful emotions. The flag works as an image because it suggests a long list of stories and myths that are buried inside of us. Picture images that evoke deep memories can be very powerful and also very spiritual. By calling up these deep emotions and memories, today’s image makers are using images to take on new meaning and have created new myths that are shrouded, often deliberately, by those deeper memories.

The New Myths

Traditionally, a myth has been defined as a story or idea that helps to explain customs of a people group or society in general. Myths are the motivating stories or ideas that help to define cultural practices. Often they motivate daily behavior.

The key to recognizing new myths of today’s modern media culture is to think of them as ideas that emerge from long exposure to certain patterns of images. These myths are unconvincing unless you think of them as emerging from a huge array of images, which come from many sources, including advertising, entertainment and news.

Today’s images must be read on two levels in order to understand how new myths are created in our society. Myths are generally something that is not completely true but are accepted by society as truth. For example: your body is not good enough; the good life consists of buying possessions which cost lots of money; and happiness, satisfaction and sex appeal are readily available at the next consumer purchase.

First, we have an immediate emotional response wherein we recognize, for example, the image of a flag, a cross, a sunset, or a house, which leads us to react in a way that taps into our inner emotions, past stories and experiences.

Second, we view that image within the context of hundreds of other similar images. By doing this, the new myth that the image is communicating is clearly seen. Otherwise, it cannot stand apart because it would be obscured by powerful stories and the emotional connections that are used to sell the image.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Disconnecting the Cable

I have worked in the media and youth ministry for years. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a parent tell me that the solution to solving negative media influence was to disconnect the cable box. They were convinced that their kids were now protected from the evil influence of today’s media. It’s a nice fantasy. Perhaps, it might help you to sleep at night, but it doesn’t work. Disconnecting the cable box is not the answer.

Media influence is everywhere. In fact, it’s led to a media culture where media and culture have combined a force that is capable of creating its own reality and truth that we accept as normal. If you think about what I have written, it can be an unsettling feeling. You could run to a bunker, but of course that’s not the answer either. It used to be much simpler before the age of mass media

Back in the 19th Century, most people lived on farms and rarely traveled more than twenty miles. They had little or no contact outside of their immediate family or community. Media influence was practically nonexistent. But when people started moving to the big cities, everything changed. Now we are forced to deal with it whether we like it or not.

The first step is to recognize that media does influence us, often in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways. But the key to understanding media influence is to think of it as a process that occurs over time and takes place through five distinct levels.

Level I – Direct Contact. Is there any question that we are influenced by the movies, music and television programs we view and listen to?. I can offer you study by study about media influence. But here’s the best example that I think we all can relate to. Advertisers spend billions of dollars to convince you to buy their products and services. Who in their right mind would spend $3 million on a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl if it didn’t work? Most people don’t want to believe that they are being influenced by the media. But the facts don’t lie.

Level II – Indirect Contact. You and I are influenced by the people around us—our friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The people you know have been influenced by the media just as much as you’ve been. Chances are by movies and other forms of media that you have not directly been exposed to; therefore, you will be influenced whether consciously or unconsciously by the people you come in contact with. The important thing to remember is much of the media influence in your life will come from sources other than you being directly influenced by consuming it firsthand.

Level III – Institutional Contact. We are influenced by people we will never meet. How is this possible? This occurs through our institutions—schools, churches, government, business, and the media in general. Nothing exists within a vacuum. Our institutions are influenced by you, the people you know and the people you don’t know. Our institutions are made up of embedded values that develop over time. For example, our schools in some cases are changing text books and may be in the process of rewriting or erasing history. There has been a big controversy over this recently in Texas. But does history really change? By changing history, we change what people think as truth. Just because someone doesn’t have the same view, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And whose version of history are we talking about? For years, the media has questioned and continue to question the role that Judea-Christian values played in the founding of our nation. Today, that view is being reflected in what is being taught in our schools.

Level IV – Cultural Contact. You, the people you know, the people you don’t know and our institutions eventually form our cultural framework. Culture is more than just going to the opera. Culture helps to define our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. We soon understand what’s important and what’s not important by their inclusion or exclusion. We take our cues from culture, and culture takes its cues from the media.

Level V – A Shared Consciousness. Culture eventually leads us to a shared consciousness, a collective way of thinking. Think of it in this way. We are wired and programmed to think in a certain way by the values and principles the culture believes are true. Our myths become reality because the media has the power to influence you, the people you know, the people you don’t know, our institutions and our culture.

Our collective consciousness leads us to an understanding of what is right or wrong. For example, why do men and women use separate bathrooms? We know instinctively that it is wrong for a man to use the women’s bathroom or vice versa.

Although, this concept is cut and dry, others are not. As a result, our collective consciousness has led us to some disturbing trends in the past few years. Our media culture is teaching us that truth is relevant. You and I, therefore, must now determine our own truth based on our circumstances and situation. The collective consciousness defines truth as a moving target. It is not consistent. This is in conflict with our Judeo-Christians principles where truth is defined by God’s Word.

Another example would be that our shared consciousness has embraced the importance of consumerism and materialism. We are defined by the things we own. Remember the car commercial that goes something like this: the things we make, make us. The products we now use are an extension of our lifestyle. We are the products, and the products are us. How did we get to this point to believe and accept such things? It’s very simple. The media culture is shaping our worldview and our shared consciousness.

Bottom Line: There are no easy answers to media influence. But pulling the cable box, dismantling your satellite, or dropping out of society is not the answer. Begin paying attention to what you see and hear on television, especially the commercials. Look for media that supports and embraces a positive influence which can lead to positive change in you, the people you know, the people you don’t know, our institutions, our culture and, ultimately, our shared consciousness as a people.

If you want to research this subject, check out my book, The Red Pill, The Cure for Today’s Media Culture. I have spent several years researching this topic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

From The Page To The Big Screen

By Cheryl Wicker
Christian Movies Examiner

Best-selling author Richard Paul Evans is no stranger to Hollywood and is best known for “The Christmas Box” that was also made into a movie of the same title in 1995. The made for TV movie starred Emmy-award winning actor Richard Thomas and Hollywood legend Maureen O'Hara. To date, over 14 million copies of all his books are in print with “The Christmas Box” itself selling 8 million copies.

Evans, a former advertising executive, transitioned into the writing world in 1993 when he decided to self-published a novella titled 'The Christmas Box' simply because he couldn't find any publisher or agent willing to help him out. It was a book about a parents' love and the true meaning of Christmas. Two years later, the book reached the top position for both paperback and hardcover editions on the New York Times Bestseller list, sealing Evans' reputation as a bestselling author.

Evans believes in writing stories from the heart and wrote “The Christmas Box” specifically for his two daughters. “If had known my mother would be the only one to read the story, I would have still written it,” says Evans. “To let someone know that I understand their pain over losing a child is enough for me.”

The Utah-born author eventually wrote 18 novels, four of which have been produced as movies for television. Besides Hallmark's “The Christmas Box,” the other movies are “The Locket,” starring Vanessa Redgrave and also on airing on Hallmark, as well as “The Timepiece” starring James Earl Jones and Ellen Burstyn; and another Christmas movie, “A Perfect Day” with Rob Lowe and Christopher Lloyd.

Continue reading on From the page to the big screen: Getting to know Richard Paul Evans - National Christian Movies

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Box Office Report: 'Think Like a Man' Beats 'Lucky One,' 'Hunger Games' with $33 Million

Ensemble comedy Think Like a Man scored one of the best openings in recent memory for an African-American themed film in debuting to $33 million, and continues Screen Gems' winning streak at the box office.

Think Like a Man -- adapted from Steve Harvey's best-selling advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man -- gets bragging rights to being the film to topple Liongate's blockbuster The Hunger Games, which has now grossed $357 million domestically.

The film, whose cast includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall and Kevin Hart, is about four men whose love lives are disrupted when their partners begin using advice from Harvey's book and received an A CinemaScore. Males turned out in force, making up 63 percent of the audience. Think Like a Man skewed older, with 62 percent ove the age of 30.

Think Like a Man, made for a modest $12 million to $13 million, follows the success of Screen Gems' The Vow and Underworld Awakening earlier this year, and marks another victory for Screen Gems' Clint Culpepper.

"It worked because it is so damn funny. It doesn't matter whether you are a man or a woman, you are going to have a great time," Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer said.

In terms of African-American themed films, Think Like a Man exceeded many of Tyler Perry's recent films. Perry's Good Deeds debuted to $15.6 million earlier this year, while last year's Madea's Big Happy Family opened to $25.1 million last year.

Warner Bros.' film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' The Lucky One came in No. 2, turning in a better-than-expected $22.8 million in a boost for Zac Efron.

The seventh film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Lucky One received a B+ CinemaScore. It wasn't able to match the $30.5 million debut of Dear John in February 2010 or the $25.3 million debut of The Last Song over five days in March 2010, but is nevertheless considered a strong start.

"What a nice weekend at the box office. Zac Efron is clearly the guy, and Nicholas Sparks is the best," Warner Brox. executive vice president distribution Jeff Goldstein said.

Overseas, Lucky One opened to a strong $3.8 milion from only nine territories, with $2.5 million coming from Australia, where it bumped holdover Battleship from the No. 1 spot.

After ruling the domestic box office for four consecutive weekends -- the most since Avatar -- Lionsgate's Hunger Games fell to No. 3, grossing $14.5 million for a domestic total of $357 million. Overseas, the tentpole has now grossed $215.8 million for a whopping global total of $572.8 million.

The third new film of the weekend is Chimpanzee, Disney's latest nature documentary, which placed No. 4 Friday with a pleasing $10.2 million, a record for a Disneynature film(Earth was the previous best at $8.8 million). Some proceeds from opening-weekend earnings will go to the Jane Goodall Institute.

At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics saw a solid result for Lawrence Kasdan's Darling Companion, starring Daine Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins. The film grossed $46,269 as it opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $11,574.

For full weekend results, see below.

Domestic Box Office, April 20-April 22
Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. Think Like a Man, 1/2,015, Sony, $33 million
2. The Lucky One, 1/3,155, Warner Bros., $22.8 million
3. The Hunger Games, 5/3,752, Lionsgate, $14.5 million, $357 million.
4. Chimpanzee, 1/1,563, Disney, $10.2 million.
5. The Three Stooges, 2/3,482, $9.2 million, $29.4 million.
6. The Cabin in the Woods, 2/2,811, Lionsgate/MGM, $7.8 million, $27 million.
7. American Reunion, 3/3,003, Universal, $5.2 million, $48.3 million.
8. Titanic 3D, 3/2,505, Paramount/Fox, $5 million, $42.8 million.
9. 21 Jump Street, 6/2,427, Sony/MGM, $4.6 million, $127.1 million.
10. Mirror Mirror, 4/2,930, Relativity, $4.1 million, $55.2 million.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blue Like Jazz Doesn’t Miss a Beat

By  Isaac Stambaugh
Rebel Pilgrim Productions

“Don’t suck. Please don’t suck.” That was my main thought as I entered a pre-screening of “Blue Like Jazz” this week.

I have seen many films in the last ten years that attempt to blend the medium of film with topics of faith. Nearly all of them embarrass me as both a filmmaker and a Christian. Some of them lack adequate production quality, but most of the time, the lacking is more in the story itself. I think part of the problem is that faith-based movies prefer to promote answers rather than ask good questions.

“Blue Like Jazz” asks good questions. And it doesn’t suck. It was actually pretty great. I don’t want to go into too much detail as to not ruin your viewing experience (I feel I should tell you that I haven’t read the book) – but I am going to touch upon the movie’s scope and style.

It offers a look into the life of someone willing to explore God, suffering, creation, and purpose. Reed College, the university attended by protagonist Don, provides the perfect setting to explore some of life’s hardest questions with fairly balanced diverse perspectives. These topics are explored alongside solid cinematography, good acting, realistic dialogue, a great indie rock soundtrack, and a heavy dose of fun not usually afforded to such subject matter. Jazz culminated into a theatrical experience I have longed for – a wrestling match with serious issues while managing to not takes itself too seriously and the acknowledgement of a few of the dark realities of life while delivering a little authentic hope.

If you’re a fan of well-done indie cinema such as “Lars And The Real Girl,” “Juno,” or “Little Miss Sunshine,” or you are interested in spirituality, or you appreciate the quirky humor served up by the TV show Portlandia, then there’s a good chance you will enjoy Blue Like Jazz.

Media Training Commences

It’s always exciting to start something new. There are all sorts of possibilities and opportunities to explore. Here at The Bridge Community Church, we’ve launched our new media ministry. Several volunteers are now involved with training. It’s a good group who is eager to learn and get things up and running. Their dedication and commitment are definitely going to pay off in the months ahead.

We want to thank the leadership of The Bridge for taking this huge step forward. I have no doubt that the work we have embarked upon will have a major impact in the Kingdom of God. The bottom line is we want lives impacted; therefore, the media team is dedicating our work to help support the vision and mission of The Bridge Community Church.

I want to thank John Calhoun for teaching our camera workshop on the Panasonic HVX200A. John worked with me at both Victory Videos Ministries and UndergroundZone. He is one of the best videographers and editors in our city. Currently, John works at the Vineyard Community Church in the video department.

Our students were given an opportunity not only to learn about basic camera operations but were also presented with a hands-on approach. We learned about aperture, iris, light balance, work flow, how to set up and tear down a tripod, audio inputs, and many other functions of the Panasonic camera. For many of the students, it was their first chance to work with high-end, professional gear. Who knows how many of them may actually go on to have a career in either the film, TV, or media industries?

But more importantly, we also talked about the spiritual applications of media making. After all, it isn’t just about shooting pretty picture. The big question is: Why do this in the first place? We spent our first session talking about the importance of media and the impact it is having on our culture. We want to know what God has to say about all of this. I think for many of the students it was an eye-opener. The truth is if you are going to change anything, particularly in today’s modern culture, it most certainly will be through visual storytelling. In the weeks ahead, our students will come to learn and understand this important truth.

We’re building a team of media makers who are going to want to change and impact our society through visual arts. After all, we’ve moved from a word-based to an image-based society. In order to fulfill the Great Commission and be a witness for Christ, we must use media to communicate our message to a world that is looking for hope and redemption.

As I said, it’s not just about pretty pictures. Media is powerful. John showed us how to use the camera, Hopefully, we’ve laid a foundation on how to use it effectively to communicate our message. We think that something exciting is beginning here at The Bridge Community Church.

We ask for your prayers and support in the weeks and months ahead as we take our first steps in establishing The Bridge Media Team.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath

By M. Enois Duarte - High-Def Digest

John Ford's 'The Grapes of Wrath' is more than just your standard rites-of-passage viewing for burgeoning movie-buffs. It exists beyond any semblance or notion of a timeless classic because its name and the images from this most excellent motion picture have ingrained themselves into our cultural collective consciousness. The film is best watched as something to be experienced, one which successfully captures a particular moment in time with genuine honesty and concern. The Darryl F. Zanuck production of John Steinbeck's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel is an enduring masterpiece of American cinema, permanently etched into history because it forever carries the immense weight and emotion of the period it so brazenly and accurately depicts.

Even before Zanuck optioned its adaptation rights, Steinbeck's novel about a disenfranchised family making the arduous journey from Oklahoma to California had already garnered a great deal of controversy. Rumors and talks of it being made into a movie only added fuel to the fire, even catching the attention of government officials like J. Edgar Hoover for a short while. Many, including the book's publisher, feared the plot could be perceived as "red-baiting" or generating sympathies for socialist left-wing causes.

Told from the point of view of families competing for strenuous, low-paying labor in order to survive, it's easy to imagine their apprehension over how audiences would react. As Roger Ebert has pointed out in his "Great Movies" review, the fact the movie was ever made is also ironic because both Zanuck and Ford came from staunch conservative backgrounds.

No matter the changes or difference between the novel and its adaptation, Ford's 'Grapes of Wrath' stays true to Steinbeck's telling of a family's epic struggle to remain intact and endure at a time of terrible socio-economic crisis. Because of its frighteningly uncanny parallels to our current financial situation, the tale becomes a universal one which any working-class family can relate to. The chase for the ever-elusive American dream is tragically hindered by those with the wealth and ownership of the things people need in order to live. One of the film's most powerful and touching scenes comes from Muley's flashback of farmers forced off their land by the banks. The story's message of social justice is unmistakable, a major focal point of the narrative that rings just as true as ever.

Tom Joad, played to absolute perfection and a persuasive earnestness by Henry Fonda, is our perennial hero. Or better yet, he's an accidental anti-hero, a man desiring simply to do good for his family but slowly discovering the real fight to be against an uncompassionate system effecting more than his immediate circle. Recently paroled, Tom's criminality and position as social outcast, along with ex-preacher Jim Casy (John Carradine), provides him with the freedom to expose the faults, inequities and weaknesses of modern civilization — a common element in some of the best works of fiction. It is mostly through his eyes — the eyes of a convicted murderer and lawbreaker — that the audience comes to also realize the unfairness of society and of those with power. And Fonda does a phenomenal job in having us see beyond the character's past and identify with the good man he is.

The movie also contains other amazing performances within the Joad family, a name which alludes to the Biblical Job — their will and drive to persist in light of their situation continuously tested by uncontrolled, outside forces. Jane Darwell, who won an Oscar that year for her role as Ma Joad, is one such example that is as memorable as it is inspiring.

Aside from the performances and story are the technical details of the production and Ford's expert eye, directing this wonderful motion picture with the strokes of artistic genius. With gorgeous cinematography by Gregg Toland, the film captures the era and ordeals of working-class families with somber, striking realism, employing elements of the noir genre to express the anxieties and fears of the people who miserably lived it.

'The Grapes of Wrath' is a marvelous masterpiece of American cinema that should be more than merely watched for its historical value and importance. It is a piece of art that is experienced for beautifully capturing and expressing a particular period in history, drawing viewers' sympathies to its epic tale of survival, conveying the human spirit's will to endure in spite of the outside forces wishing to crush it. It is a film that struck a chord with audiences when it first premiered and it lives on as a poignant story.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Wilderness Experience

It goes without saying being a Christian is very much a journey. There are plenty of mountaintops as well as valleys you must encounter. One part of the journey that we will all experience sometime during our lifetime is the wilderness experience. Whether we physically go to the wilderness or symbolically, we will all go there. It’s a very biblical concept. Jesus faced his wilderness—his 40 days alone where he had to overcome temptation and sin. Also, during Jesus ministry, he had to withdraw from the people and get away.

Recently, I went to the physical wilderness. I’m talking about totally off the map. No cell phone service or hi-fi spots. Yes, I’m talking about getting back to the basics. There are three things I learned from my wilderness experience that helps me to better understand my relationship with God.

First, the wilderness experience helps us listen to the voice of God. Out in the middle of nowhere, there are no distractions. It’s just you and God—a simple life. I often ask myself this question, “Is it possible in our advanced society with all of its distractions to really hear what God is saying to us? Even with our best intentions, practically every moment of our lives are filled with some activity. There’s something about getting away from it all that allows us to be in a place where we can hear from God.

Second, the wilderness experience allows us to connect to God and to be in his presence. If you think about it, the society the Bible reflects is connected to nature, specifically the land. God can be found in creation. And part of his creation is the world we live in. But in our modern society we become disconnected with nature and the land.

When I’m in wilderness, I marvel at his creativity. I see God in the mountains, in the lakes and in the streams. I feel his presence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we don’t feel his presence in the modern world; but there’s something special about being in his creation (the outside world)—his handiwork.

Third, the wilderness experience teaches us to depend on God. When you’re in the back country, you might have your compass and backpack, but you certainly need God. You’re miles from any help. You never know what’s going to happen or what challenges you might face. There is no 911 to call. There are storms, weather, bears, etc., who knows what you might face. You are keenly aware that you need God and his protection. I think in the modern world we’ve forgotten this. Our provider is our employer. At the supermarket, we have an abundance of food and supplies. We have no idea where our food comes from. It just magically appears. So the question is, “Do we ever enter into a state where we depend on God.”

Final Thoughts

Maybe it’s time for you to get back to the basics. A trip to the wilderness could be a good thing even if it’s just a couple of days. It can get you back to a state where you can listen to God, connect to him, and become dependent on his provision. As I said, at some point, we will all face the wilderness experience. Perhaps going there will give you some practice in learning to cope and deal with whatever your wilderness experience will be.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Six Things You Must Know To Make it in the Film Industry

From comes this invaluable excerpt from Barbara Doyle.  As a coordinator and production supervisor in television and film and now as the Chair of the Film Division of Chapman University, Doyle is an expert at the mistakes people just entering the film industry make. Here, in an excerpt from her new book Make Your Movie: What You Need to Know About the Business and Politics of Filmmaking, now available from Focal Press

REPUTATION IS ALL YOU HAVE. In a business where much of the deal-making and negotiations are verbal, your word and your reputation is EVERYTHING. The film industry is small. Everyone who is established can easily make contact with anyone else or can get the straight scoop by making a few calls. How much you are paid, your title on a project, how hard you work, how honest you are, how you treat people— there are no secrets. The business is populated by talkers. Even “enemies” communicate all the time. There is no place to hide. If you are seen as creative, reliable, capable, and easy to work with, you will find luck. If you are seen as difficult, a primadonna, high-strung, or irrational you will be known that way even by people who haven’t met you. No one cares that you’re tired or have had a rough day. With no track record, it won’t matter how talented you are. When it comes to a decision as to whether or not to work with you, the decision will be negative. They will say, “Life is too short.” If you promise things and don’t come through, that will follow you and you will have damaged your credibility. Delivering what you say you can deliver is key. Extenuating circumstances don’t count. You’re trying to break into an industry of impatient people. Rationalizations won’t work. These people have seen it all and maybe done it successfully themselves.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE ABOUT HISTORY, NOT FRIENDSHIPS. The word “relationship” is possibly the most overused word in the film business. Someone gives someone a chance because he and the other person have “a relationship.” Person X always works with Person Y because there is a “relationship.” A producer would prefer that a director hire a particular cinematographer but won’t interfere with the director’s first choice because the director and the second choice have “a relationship.” Relationships are not about friendship, they are about history. In the Industry people come and go and a shiny new flock of ambitious competitors fly and drive in every day. History—having worked together on a previous project, gone to school together, and experienced something together in the past—can feel like protection against the hostile unknown factors that arise when trying to make a film.

KNOW THAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH GAMBLERS. The people with the power to say yes to you are educated gamblers. They plays the odds, hedge their bets. An abundance of anxiety accompanies most decisions, and the most anxiety-provoking of all decisions are those that lead to the spending of cash. These decisions are rarely spontaneous. This philosophy extends even to something as minor as hiring someone for an assistant spot. In a business where most people work their way up from assistant—and on set from Production Assistant (PA) to almost every other position—the decision to hire someone at the lowest rung of the ladder is about potential. If you received a good reference or if someone with influence made a call for you, you must be at least OK


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Way

The Way is perhaps one of the most spiritual movies I have seen in some time. The filmmakers describe their film as a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges we face while negotiating this ever-changing and complicated world. I would say they hit those themes straight on the head.

The Way is most certainly a “message” film. But don’t let that scare you or deter you from seeing it. It’s a message we are all living one way or another. This film is about a journey and finding meaning and purpose in life. We are all trying to do that. The Way is a family affair featuring father and son: Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Sheen holds down the main acting role while Estevez serves as actor, director, producer and writer.

The premise or idea for the film was inspired when Estevez’s son, Taylor, began a pilgrimage on the Carmino De Santiago. Some call it the “Way of St. James” in which pilgrims began a walk which starts in France and continues for several hundred miles to a massive cathedral ending in Galicia, Spain. The reasons for the pilgrimage is as diverse as the people who take the journey.

Estevez says the movie is meant to be a film that is pro people, pro life and not against anything. The story starts with Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) an ophthalmologist who lives the good life in California. He learns about the death of his son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), who dies in the Pyrenees Mountains while he is attempting the walk of Carmino De Santiago. Thomas and Daniel have not seen eye-to-eye over the years. Nor have they spoken in some time. Daniel decided against finishing his doctorate and wanted to see the world. His father obviously objected and couldn’t understand why he wanted to throw a potentially brilliant career away.

After arriving in France, Thomas makes the decision to cremate his son’s body and decided to finish the pilgrimage for his son. Walking the way, he plans to spread Daniel’s ashes along the road. Perhaps, it’s a way for Thomas to reconnect with his son in a way he couldn’t do in life.

On the road, Thomas meets an assortment of characters that are on their pilgrimage’s for one reason or another. Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger) is a Canadian who wants to give up smoking. Joosh (Yorick Van Wageningen ) is from The Netherlands. His reason to walk The Way is to lose weight. Jack (James Nesbitt) is an Irishman who suffers from writer’s block.

At first, Thomas isn’t exactly looking for company. But soon, the four form a community and begin their quest. As the journey continues, it requires each pilgrim to examine his/her motivation and the real reason they are on this walk. Each of our characters may have a stated reason, but the truth is something altogether different. They all are looking for meaning and to make sense of life. The way of Carmino De Santiago is a personal journey, but our characters cannot do it alone. Perhaps, that’s one of the most interesting themes of this film. Our healing is tied to the journey and to community.

As the pilgrims are forced to walk for what amounts to two to three months, they have to come to terms with themselves and with what they really need from this pilgrimage. As I said, this is a spiritual movie. It’s not a religious movie as some of those who participate in the walk do not do it for religious purposes.

People have been making this pilgrimage for nearly a thousand years. The film as well as the walk is about loss, community, faith, and restoration. It’s a powerful film, beautifully shot and photographed. No question, it was a labor of love for both Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The crew and the actors had to walk several kilometers to make this film.

If there is one line in the film that would sum up the entire journey, it would be this: “We don’t choose a life. We have to live a life.” Perhaps that’s the real secret behind the entire purpose of the Way of St. Thomas. Maybe the journey teaches us how to embrace and live life to its fullest while at the same time we connect with God in a more meaningful way.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Report: Four-in-a-Row for 'The Hunger Games'

Male moviegoers were split between the three new releases this weekend, which allowed the female-skewing Hunger Games to take the top spot at the box office for the fourth-consecutive frame. Among the new movies, The Three Stooges fared best, though The Cabin in the Woods also had a decent showing. Lockout, on the other hand, didn't even reach the modest levels of other recent Luc Besson productions. Without any breakout opener, the Top 12's estimated $107.7 million gross was off eight percent from the same weekend last year.

The Hunger Games eased 35 percent to an estimated $21.5 million, which is its best hold so far. It's the first movie to take the top spot for four weekends in a row since Avatar achieved this feat in January 2010. The Hunger Games currently ranks 22nd on the all-time domestic chart with $337.1 million, and it should have no problem ending its run with over $370 million.

The Three Stooges took second place with an estimated $17.1 million. That's off from most major TV adaptations, including 60s adaptations Get Smart ($38.7 million) and Bewitched ($20.1 million). It did open three times higher than The Honeymooners, though, and it wasn't far behind big-budget disappointment Land of the Lost ($18.8 million). It was also The Farrelly Brothers' best debut in over a decade, and third-highest ever behind Me, Myself and Irene ($24.2 million) and Shallow Hal ($22.5 million).

While the Stooges slapstick humor has been incredibly influential in modern comedy (look no further than the Farrelly Brothers' Dumb and Dumber for evidence of this), the movie's decision to bring the characters in to modern day (and in color, no less) gave the initial batch of advertising an oddly anachronistic feel. To counter this, recent marketing seemed to embrace the absurdity of the whole thing, and a handful of commercials framed the Stooges antics with some kind of other humorous premise. A prescription drug parody for "Stoogesta" was a noteworthy one, and a recommendation that women send their men to the movies while they spend a day at the spa was also a stand-out. Oddly, though, women didn't outright reject the movie, and instead made up 42 percent of the audience. The crowd was also on the young end (52 percent under the age of 25), and the audiences members under 18 years of age awarded the movie an "A" CinemaScore (that dropped to a "B-" across all age groups).

The Cabin in the Woods opened in third place with an estimated $14.9 million. That pales in comparison to some of distributor Lionsgate's non-supernatural horror movies (most of the Saw series, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, and the first Hostel movie), though in general it isn't a terrible start. In fact, among horror comedies, The Cabin in the Woods's debut ranks seventh all time behind the four Scary Movie flicks, Ghostbusters II and Zombieland.

The audience was 57 percent male and 65 percent over the age of 25, and they gave the movie an awful "C" CinemaScore. That score, along with the modest opening, is indicative of the challenges associated with selling satire (which Cabin in the Woods most definitely qualifies as). The title and stock characters (the jock, his girlfriend, the geek, the stoner, and the virgin) are intentionally generic, and from a cursory glance it would appear that the movie isn't even trying to be original. That probably kept the movie from reaching a larger audience, though the group that did show up was predominantly expecting a straightforward horror movie. By delivering something much different, the movie delighted a small group of audience members while generally frustrating those whose expectations were subverted. Moviegoers like to know what they are in for when they go to see a movie, and when it turns out to be something different the movie tends to get punished in exit polling.

Titanic 3D took fourth place with an estimated $11.6 million, which is a light 33 percent decline from last weekend. That's a better hold than that of all recent 3D re-releases except The Lion King (27 percent drop). Through 12 days in theaters, Titanic 3D has earned $44.4 million to bring the movie's overall total to $645.2 million.

American Reunion rounded out the Top Five with $10.7 million. Its 50 percent drop was slightly better than that of American Pie 2 (53 percent) and American Wedding (54 percent), though its $39.9 million total is way off from the $87.3 million and $65.2 million, respectively, that those movies had earned through the same point. It's now a foregone conclusion that American Reunion will be the first American Pie movie to fall short of $100 million at the domestic box office.

All the way down in ninth place, Lockout opened to an estimated $6.25 million. That's off from all recent Luc Besson productions including Colombiana ($10.4 million), From Paris with Love ($8.2 million) and Transporter 3 ($12.1 million). The audience was overwhelmingly male (65 percent), and it was split evenly between those older and younger than 25.

The Raid: Redemption expanded nationwide to 881 locations but only managed to gross just over $1 million. That translates to a terrible per-theater average of $1,138, indicating that the movie might not remain at the nationwide level for very long. So far, the Indonesian action thriller has grossed $2.57 million.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Does this film go beyond just making a movie?

Thanks to the latest development in digital video, it seems that everybody has become a filmmaker. That’s especially true in the world of Christian filmmaking. I’m sure you know the story of Sherwood Baptist Church. They have written the book on how to make low-budget Christian films.

What if you were approached to donate or invest in a Christian movie? What would you look for? How would you know if it was a good investment with tangible results? If you’re a filmmaker ask yourself if there is more to this than just making a movie? In other words, is there a bigger picture beyond the Christian movie?

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before you invest in a movie or decide to produce one:

1. Does this movie have the ability to point people to Christ? Of course, that’s the main reason most Christians get involved in filmmaking in the first place. But it’s more than just making a Christian movie. To be more effective requires us to expand our horizon. A redemptive, transformation, or cautionary tale can be more Christian in terms of its nature than most Christian movies are in terms of their content. You want something that’s effective and has an impact. Forget about just reaching a Christian audience. Can you go beyond that and actually attract a mainstream audience to your movie?

2. Does this movie provide opportunities to reach out to nonChristian media professionals? Most often Christians only want to work with Christians. What an opportunity we miss. Filmmaking is a collaborative process that presents opportunities to build trust, relationships, and friendships; therefore, our movie crews should have both Christians and nonChristians working together. Looking for outreach opportunities? Well you just found one. I can’t think of a better way to have an impact on the industry.
3. Does this movie have opportunities to train and mentor the next generation of Christians pursuing a career in media and film. Are we disciplining future media missionaries? My experience has taught me that most Christian filmmakers are pre-occupied with the process of making the movie. They don’t see this as a golden opportunity to help the next generations of Christians who want to be filmmakers. I realize working with interns and students who don’t have experience is a time-consuming process,. But I believe the whole point of making the movie in the first place is to provide opportunities for future media missionaries. That’s big-picture thinking.

But making the time and effort to train people requires first a determination to do it. You need a plan on how things get done. You need a buy-in from department heads such as the director of photography, production manger, production designer, etc. You also need a budget because it will take more time to work with inexperienced interns. You also will need to think about designating an education coordinator who’s responsibility is to oversee interns and students. They need to create a discipleship model as well as providing training before the production process starts.

The final ingredient is access. The best education you will ever receive is on-the-job training. That means the key people on your production must make themselves available and be willing to teach as they are in the process of making a movie? Unfortunately, none of this is easy. Few people do it because it is just easier to make the movie.

Final thoughts

One movie is just one movie. Today most films have a very short shelf life. You get your 15 minutes of fame, and you’re off the stage. What is going to last and stand the test of time is the impact that we have on the lives of the people who worked on the film. Let me put it this way. Future filmmakers can go on and have a career spanning 40 years. Think about the number of projects and films they will work on throughout their career. How many people will they come into contact with who are nonbelievers? How many opportunities will they have to share Christ? Yes, making your film is important. But there is a bigger picture to think about. So the next time you are approached to give or invest in a movie, maybe, you should ask the questions: Does this film go beyond just making a movie?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Leonard - The Story of Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knight" Documentary

By Cheryl Wicker
Christian Movies Examiner

Forty years ago, a troubled drifter came to believe he was called to tell the world, “God is love” and created the colorful desert artwork known as Salvation Mountain in his quest. Documentarian, Patrick Rea, who has been chronicling the life of the folk artist, Leonard Knight, since 2007, began a Kickstarter funding campaign for his documentary film “Leonard” on April 5, 2012.

It was just as the world’s most famous hobo “went viral” as a result of his cameo in the film, “Into the Wild" that Rea was captivated by Knight’s story. After capturing nearly 50 hours of footage over the past four and half years, Rea is seeking the funds to finish his film through the now infamous crowdfunding site, which has selected Rea’s film “Leonard - The Story of Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knight” for a 40 day internet funding campaign.

After twelve years, Knight who is affectionately known as “Leonard,” tried one last time to launch his “God is Love” hot air balloon, from the remote desert squatters camp of Slab City, near the Salton Sea, in 1984, and failed. He decided to stay and find a different way to honor God, and after decades of trials, developed engineering innovations with natural materials. The structure that resulted is now known as Salvation Mountain, the largest adobe art Installation in the world. To date, over half a million people have visited the mountain and listened to Leonard talk about God.

Continue reading on Patrick Rea launches Kickstarter campaign for documentary film 'Leonard' - National Christian Movies