The Ministry of Motion Pictures Podcast
By Todd Shaffer
In the 1930's Minister James K. Friedrich said, "The motion picture camera, like the printing press, is a gift from God. We can use it for God's purpose." The Ministry of Motion Pictures seeks to advance the Christian film movement by engaging with Christian filmmakers and examining the landscape of the Christian film genre, to understand what has shaped it in the past, and how it should be shaped in the future.
12 Westerns in 12 Months with Travis Mills
Making one or two movies per year is huge effort. In 2020, the year of COVID, indie filmmaker, Travis Mills, shot 12 westerns in 12 months, and in the following year he released those 12 films in 12 months. Travis is with us today to talk about this amazing feat of independent filmmaking. ministryofmotionpictures.org
July 18, 2022
MMP 60: The Youngest Director on Netflix with Rob Smat
He was at one time on of the youngest directors with a feature film on Netflix. Writer and director Rob Smat is with me to talk about his film The Last Whistle and a soon to be released documentary. Rob made his feature film The Last Whistle when he was just 23 years old. It won a number of awards at some film festivals and was picked up by Netflix. The writing and directing in this film demonstrates a maturity of someone much older than 23. Though it’s not intended to be a faith film, faith does play a role in this story. Rob is currently finishing a documentary called Walkout, and it’s making the rounds to festivals this year. This USC grad is just at the beginning of his career, and it will be interesting to watch his career develop over the next decade. ministryofmotionpictures.org
July 05, 2022
MMP 59: Make Me Want to Turn the Page with Richard Walter part 2
Legendary screenwriting professor, Richard Walter, is with us again in part two of my conversation with him. Richard was professor of the UCLA Screenwriting program, which is the most successful screenwriting program in the world. It’s harder to get into this program than it is to get accepted to Harvard Law School, and for good reason. Richard is a consummate storyteller, no matter what the medium, and that’s one of the things I love about him, every conversation is not only instructive, but a good story. And you can tell that he not only knows his stuff, he loves what he does. I often bring a guest on the show to test my assumptions, and pose ideas swimming around in my mind that need a good rattling, and no better a rattler of assumptions in film and screenwriting than Richard. ministryofmotionpictures.org
June 21, 2022
MMP 58: Don't Be Boring | A Conversation with UCLA Screenwriting Professor Richard Walter
My guest today is the legendary screenwriting instructor at the UCLA Screenwriting Program, Richard Walter. I’ve been reading books on screenwriting since my days in film school. I have more than any screenwriter could possibly read. When an aspiring screenwriter asks me what books they should read, the first one I recommend is The Essentials of Screenwriting, written by our guest. Of all the screenwriting books I have read, Richard’s is the most grounded, and that’s just what you would expect from a professor who was a driving force in the most successful screenwriting program in the last 20 years or more. And I’m not saying that to butter him up, this is why I reached out to him to be a guest on this podcast, which he so graciously agreed to do. ministryofmotionpictures.org
June 08, 2022
MMP 57: Faith Film Micro-budget Powerhouse with Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell is with us today to talk about microbudget Christian filmmaking. His company is scheduled to release 20 films this year alone and will launch their own streaming platform. ministryofmotionpictures.org
May 24, 2022
MMP 56: Story Well Told with Dr. Karen Swallow Prior
Literature professor, Dr. Karen Swallow Prior joins me to talk about novels, story, and Christian film. Given that Christian films tend to be very message driven, I was interested in learning at the feet of Dr. Prior as she walked her readers through these great novels. How did these time-tested storytellers communicate moral and spiritual virtues? I believe filmmakers should be readers of good fiction, especially given that we don’t have a very strong storytelling tradition in fiction or Christian films. Christians, historically, are a people of propositions, not stories. Good authors of fiction have a great deal to teach Christian filmmakers.
May 12, 2022
MMP 55: Attack of the Tenacious Filmmaker with Nathanael Sims
13 years in the making, and I don’t mean 11 years shopping the script around and 2 years of production. This no-budget film was 13 years in production. Writer and director Nathaniel Sims is with us to talk about his apocalyptic movie The Book of Wendy. ministryofmotionpictures.org
April 26, 2022
MMP 54: A Filmmaker in Nollywood with Obi Emelonye
In this episode, my guest is a well-known Nigerian filmmaker named Obi Emelonye. Two of Obi’s films have been on the top ten list of the most watched Nigerian films of all time. Those films are Mirror Boy and Last Flight to Abuja. Obi has made 11 films and two television series, one which is a Netflix series called Heart and Soul. Obi gives us a history of Nigerian cinema from a working, struggling filmmaker’s perspective, and shares the challenges he has faced in the past, and new challenges he faces today as he continues to make Nigerian films.And in the midst of his active production demands, Obi has recently taken a post as head of the filmmaking module at the University of Huddersfield in England. ministryofmotionpictures.org
April 11, 2022
MMP 53: Evangelical Nollywood with Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola
The Nigerian film industry is the second most prolific film industry in the world, and their faith-based films, that they label as evangelical themed films, are not fringe like ours, they’re mainstream. Today, my guest is Nollywood scholar Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola, in the second episode of my multi-part series on the Nigerian film industry phenomenon. ministryofmotionpictures.org
March 29, 2022
MMP 52: Nollywood as a Filmmaking Model with Jamie Meltzer
What is this country that has this titan film industry? If you haven’t guessed, I’ll give you another clue. It’s a country in Africa. It’s industry goes by the moniker of Nollywood. It’s the country of Nigeria. I am fascinated by the Nigerian film industry. While their films do get knocked for their lack of production value, they have something Hollywood doesn’t have. They make relatable films without Hollywood story models and connect to very large audiences. For those of us who have grown up with Hollywood, if we can overlook the clunky craftsmanship, their films can be very refreshing. This is the first of a series of episodes that will focus on the Nigerian film industry. Now, you might be wondering why I think Christian filmmakers need to know about Nigerian cinema? For starters, we’re filmmakers. I love cinema. I love cinema history, I love film theory, and I love the cinema of other cultures. And when I find a cinematic culture that challenges the assumptions that are so deeply rooted in Hollywood’s creative totalitarian rule, it excites me. And, there is something in Nigerian filmmaking culture that better aligns as a model for us who have chosen to be part of this oddity that we call faith-based filmmaking. The Christian film genre is a fringe genre. And I believe - and I could be totality out to lunch – that if Christian filmmakers spent less time trying to model ourselves after Hollywood, and more time modeling ourselves after Nollywood, we would see a faith film revolution. And right now, we are living in a very unique time in cinema history where this could work. My guest today, shares my fascination with Nollywood. But he is much more invested. He went to Lagos, Nigeria and made a documentary about the Nigerian film industry. The name of the documentary is Welcome to Nollywood. The filmmaker is Jamie Meltzer, who also teaches documentary filmmaking at Stanford University. And I hope this podcast encourages you to watch Welcome to Nollywood. It is a fascinating glimpse into this powerful grassroots industry. You’ll find links to Welcome to Nollywood, and some of Jamies other works, in the show notes of this episode.
March 14, 2022
MMP 51: Building Community at the Content 2022 Film Festival with Tim Shields
The Content 2022 Film Festival and Media Summit will be held at Capernaum Studios in Poolville TX next week – starting on Feb 28th and wrapping on March 3rd. Our guest today is a man who has had his hands in the world of Christian filmmaking for more than 20 years, and is co-director of the Christian Media Association. His name is Tim Shields and he is here to talk to us about Content 2022.
February 16, 2022
MMP 50: Building the Family of Faith Filmmakers with Paul Long of Kappa Studios
If you’ve been involved in the faith-based community you will be familiar with Kappa Studios in Burbank CA. Kappa began as a post-production house, and under the leadership of Paul and Brad Silverman, Kappa has become the post production hub for Christian filmmakers -- and it's growing into something much more. Kappa produced it’s own Christian film called Selfie Dad, directed by Brad Silverman. They’ve launched a Christian film finishing fund. And they’ve just recently announced a distribution effort – and Paul will give us more details about that. But as you listen to this interview, I want you to pay attention to the heart of Paul, and to the convictions he has as a Christian pursuing his business with trust in God and faithfulness to what God has given him.
January 24, 2022
The Power of Story & The Problem of Evil with Scott Christensen
Pastor/theologian Scott Christensen talks about story from a very unusual vantage -- that of the problem of evil and the sovereignty of God. He wrote a massive book called What About Evil? which wrestles with some weighty subjects. So what does this have to do with story and Christian film? Plenty, it turns out. What is so fascinating about Scotts book is that he isn’t just trying to find answers to difficult questions through academic tools, exegesis, word studies, and the like, the core component to how he seeks to answer the problem of evil is through our understanding of story. The Bible is God’s story. It’s sometimes called the Drama of Redemption. And in this book Christensen spends considerable time explaining story and how important it is in helping us to wrestle with this theological issue. His grasp of story in service to theological truth is profound. He is widely read, and quotes extensively from Aristotle, Milton, Tolkien, Lewis, Dostoyevksy, Leland Ryken, Brian Godawa, Northrup Frye, Andrew Klavan, and many others. In this interview we talk about his book, how story helps us wrestle through difficult theological issues, and what storytelling advice he can give to Christian filmmakers. ministryofmotionpictures.org
December 01, 2021
The Best of the Theologians on Christian Film
As this podcast approaches the 50th episode, I thought it might be interesting to create an episode of highlights, some of the best moments. The guests who were the most surprising, most unexpected, and who had the greatest impact, at least to me -- were the theologians. I expected these scholars and churchmen to have some pushback, even the ones who seemed to have a clear affinity for the arts. We live in a culture drowning in entertainment, amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman put it. Surely, these men must have some cautions and concerns for us. But what they gave us was a clear picture of the WHY Christian films are important, and the WHAT’S that Christian films should be. They painted a very noble view of the importance of good Christian filmmaking. These 3 men helped to frame a strategy and glorious purpose for Christian filmmakers. I met Dr. Mark Coppenger when I visited the Franklin branch of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mark helped me form an advisory board for Glorious Films and has become a good friend. More than once he walked me off the ledge when I was close to abandoning Christian filmmaking. Dr. Coppenger was a Professor of Christian Philosophy & Ethics at Southern, where he supervised -- and this is where it gets interesting -- he supervised a graduate program called Christianity and the Arts. And within that program, Mark was responsible for a track called Aesthetic Theology. So Marc has spent a significant part of his career thinking about the relationship between theology and aesthetics, and he wrote a book called “The Skeptic’s Guide to Arts in the Church.” Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer wrote a book called Pictures at a Theological Exhibition. The title intrigued me, and I bought it, but it sat on my shelf for some time -- until I had to fly to a shoot for a commercial I was directing, and I threw this book in my bag to read on the plane. I couldn’t put the book down. In fact, I couldn’t get out of the first chapter. I had to read it, underline it, and then write out what engaged me in this book. When I told Dr. Vanhoozer that he took it as a critique that he had not written well enough. But that wasn’t the case. What his book expressed were ideas so new to me, and I wrestled with them to apply the lessons to being a Christian filmmaker. It was like water for a parched filmmakers soul. I knew I had to try to get him on the podcast to engage with him on these issues. Dr. Vanhoozer is a prolific author, and Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. It was an honor to have him as a guest. I knew Dr. Coppenger and Dr. Vanhoozer both had an affinity for the arts, but I wasn’t sure where the men at 9 Marks Ministries stood. I’ve listened to almost every podcast 9 Marks produced, and I wanted to know what they thought about Christian film, so I reached out to them and the editorial director, Dr. Jonathan Leeman, accepted my invitation. Jonathan did not disappoint. He gave me a lot to think about, and he introduced me to the brilliant concept of a right moral ecology. While he is an editorial director, a pastor, and author of a number of books -- he is also an adjunct professor for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary. So there you have it -- three theologians who believe there is an important role that Christian filmmakers can play in the life of the church.
November 16, 2021
The Busiest Faith Writer-Director You've Never Heard Of with Chris Dowling
You may not know his name, but this writer-director-producer has made more faith films than the Kendricks and Erwin Brothers. His name is Chris Dowling, and he's been at this for nearly two decades. As a screenwriter, he not only writes for himself, he writes for the biggest names in the faith-based film industry. He's best known for his work on Blue Miracle, Where Hope Grows, Run the Race and the unscripted series, Repo Games. He has directed A-list actors such as Jason Alexander and Patrick Warburton. Chris also teaches screenwriting at the newly formed online school for Christian filmmakers called Aspire Circles. In this episode, Chris talks about his lengthy career in the faith film industry.
October 25, 2021
The Satire of Church People with Christopher Shawn Shaw
Christopher Shawn Shaw is the director of the movie Church People, which was written by the film's lead actor, Thor Ramsey. Church People is Shaw’s feature directorial debut. Christopher is no stranger to acting or filmmaking, he owns a production company called Anchor Productions, he has directed and produced a comedy cooking series called Something Smells Funny, and he’s been quite involved in the 168 Film Project. In this episode Christopher shares with us the 10 year plus story of how Church People was made, and I’ll give you one spoiler, it involves a gold fish. ministryofmotionpictures.org
October 11, 2021
Feature Filmmaking at The Master's University with Matt Green
Writer and director Matt Green began his career making music videos and produced the faith-based film No Greater Love for Lions Gate, directed by Brad Silverman. Matt is also a professor at The Master’s University where he helms the Cinema and Digital Arts program. In January of this year the University released its first feature length movie, The Man From Nowhere, which was written and directed by Matt and made by 27 of it’s students. For more information visit The Ministry of Motion Pictures ministryofmotionpictures.org
August 02, 2021
Breathing Life into Church History with Documentary Filmmaker Stephen McCaskell
Documentary filmmaker Stephen McCaskell is best known for his work on the Media Gratiae films Puritan, Luther, The Church, and a series he made with Tim Challies called EPIC: An Around the World Journey through Christian History. His work has given him the opportunity to travel all over the world. He has recently taken a position with Ligonier Ministries as Supervising Producer. ministryofmotionpictures.org
July 12, 2021
The Actor, The Director, and The Playwright; Life in the Theater with James Egan
My guest in this episode is an old friend. Though he has worked in film and radio for over 30 years, his primary passion has been the theater. He’s a man who wears many hats, as many of us have to do to make a career, and sometimes that involves wearing a fedora. He’s an actor, director, stage manager, playwright, screenwriter and a novelist. He was a founding member of the Santa Susanna Repertory Company in the LA area. He’s worked on a litany of productions from MacBeth and The Christmas Carol, to War of the Worlds and South Pacific. When I found myself writing a musical, he was the first person I turned to for help. And, yes, he is a lyricist, as well. His name is James Egan. James is always working on numerous projects at any given time, whether for the stage or film, and always has a novel or screenplay in the works. He has a lot of experience in both secular and Christian theater productions. I invited him to the podcast to gain his perspective on Christian film, and to talk about the similarities between Christian theater and Christian film. ministryofmotionpictures.org
June 28, 2021
Cultivating a Better Media Landscape with Dr. Ted Baehr
Dr. Ted Baehr has been an undying champion for the Christian faith and values in Hollywood for almost 5 decades. You may know Dr. Baehr for his organization MovieGuide which provides movie reviews and entertainment news related to our faith. Dr. Baehr is also actively involved in equipping Christian filmmakers to work in Hollywood, and promoting their efforts through the MovieGuide awards and the Kairos Prize for screenwriting. His book "How to Succeed in Hollywood Without Losing your Soul" is a classic among Christian filmmakers.
December 08, 2020
Gear Up For Your Micro-budget Indie Film with Joseph Palma of B&H
We are living in a very exciting time to be a filmmaker. An industrious filmmaker can build a powerful production package of equipment for very little money. But where do you begin? There are so many options, and so many pitfalls, that if you're not a gear head, you can easily get lost and spend money on things you don't need or can't use. I have invited Joseph Palma of B&H Photo & Video to help us navigate the gear landscape.
September 07, 2020
No Shame Filmmaking with John Grooters
John Grooters is a Michigan-based filmmaker who has traveled the world making films and media content that promotes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with Paul's conviction expressed in Romans 1:16 -- no shame. John produces a wide variety of productions, and has created films about persecuted Christians for Voice of the Martyrs, including the docudrama Tortured for Christ which is based on the biography of VOM's founder, Richard Wurmbrand.
July 30, 2020
Mutiny Pictures: A New Kid on the Block with Colleen Butler & Ben Yennie
We have an exciting episode today, and one that may be marking a very interesting development in the film industry. Would you ever consider a faith filmmaker a voice of diversity? Well, it is, at least for a new independent film company called Mutiny Pictures. Mutiny is a new effort founded by Colleen Butler and Producer Ben Yennie, who was my guest on this podcast back in April. Ben has been focused on helping independent filmmakers navigate the shark infested waters of Hollywood, and now he is taking the next step by forming a company that will develop, market and distribute their own projects. Colleen was part of the marketing effort of The Passion of the Christ. She's spent many years working in marketing and development, and now she's Head of Development at Mutiny. In this episode we'll spend some time getting to know Colleen, talking with her about the marketing campaign for Passion, and then Ben joins us to talk about Mutiny Pictures.
July 13, 2020
Media On Mission with Stephanie Quick
I love filmmakers who are bold and think outside of the box. My guest, Stephanie Quick is a producer who has done just that. In fact, in the past 7 years she and her nimble team of missions workers have produced 8 movies, armed with DSLR's and Black Magic Pocket cameras, with their studios based in home bomb shelters in the Golan Heights. The organization is called Frontier Alliance International, founded by Dalton Thomas. They are a strategic aid effort, and a missional media production company. Their films are, what I would characterize as, cinematic documentaries, and they are available to watch on Youtube for free. Their film that caught my eye was Sheep Among Wolves II which is about the explosive growth of the church in Iran. It has been watched over 600,000 times. They produce numerous podcasts covering Middle Eastern issues, and they offer video Bible teaching that focuses on Israel, prophecy, and eschatology.
June 29, 2020
Shepherding Ideas & Talent with Ben Howard
Ben Howard was the driving force behind Sony Provident for a great many years, and has recently formed his own media company called Third Coast Content. Some little known facts about Ben, he began his career as an intern for Josh McDowell, and Ben is a weather buff and has been a storm chaser who has chased tornadoes. I think that has something to do with his success in the film business. In this episode, Ben and I talk about his experience in faith-based filmmaking in the past 20 years and what is happening with his new endeavor, where he sees his role as a shepherd of ideas and talent.
June 14, 2020
Dare to Critique with a Few Jokes Along the Way with Kevin McCreary
We have a fun episode here with my guest, Kevin McCreary, the young man behind the YouTube Channel -- Say Goodnight Kevin. Kevin is, what I would call, an entertaining film critiquer. You heard me right -- not a film critic -- a film critiquer. Kevin is like a good script doctor who has a keen eye to tell your story back to you in order to point out it's weaknesses, problems, and strengths. And, what's more, Kevin is wildly entertaining. Film criticism is, generally, not very exciting stuff for the average person. Our relationship to film critics is the same as our relationship to Consumer Reports. It's rare to find entertaining film criticism. Remember the TV show Siskel and Ebert? Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were both informative and entertaining, not because they were fun, but because they were serious -- and they were often pitted against each other on merits of a film. They were far more entertaining when they disagreed. Kevin McCreary is serious and fun. You're always guaranteed some laughs as he unwinds the film to offer his keen insight and constructive criticism -- and I emphasize constructive because he's doesn't just criticize films, he is instructive. His motto is -- "Holding Christian films to the same standards as Hollywood." As I've said in previous episodes, the faith-based film genre needs good film critics in order for it to grow and thrive. Kevin stands among the best.
June 01, 2020
Reaching the Rising Aspirational Audience with Andy Peterson
Andy Peterson is Senior Creative Media Executive of Aspiration Entertainment where he has helped launch dozens of feature films and series projects. He is also leading Aspirations documentary initiative called Docs/ology, and in 2012 he founded the Justice Film Festival which is held in NYC every November. Aspiration has a unique grid that they use in developing and marketing projects. While they do aim projects at a faith-based market, their target audience is a lesser known, yet potentially larger consumer that they identify as the "rising aspirational audience." This audience includes much of the faith-based audience, but also reaches those who feel they are not being serviced by the existing dimensions of faith-based media.
May 12, 2020
The Collision of Content and Consumer for Impact with Bob Elder
My guest is Bob Elder, the Chief Impact Officer of Collide Media Group which specializes in helping creatives bring their projects to market through marketing, branding and partnerships. They've worked for film projects such as Hacksaw Ridge, Overcomer, I Still Believe, and Apollo 11. Bob has been working in Christian retail and marketing for decades, and has seen the faith-based market develop into what it is today. He has weathered many dramatic changes, including the demise of brick-and-morter Christian stores, and with all of his experience, he has developed a keen sense of today's market.
May 04, 2020
An Insiders Guide to the New World of Indie Producing with Ben Yennie
My guest in this episode is Ben Yennie, the founder and CEO of Guerrilla Rep. Media, which is a consulting firm for media producers, helping them with business planning, financing, distribution and marketing. The Mission of Guerrilla Rep media is To Help Filmmakers build more sustainable companies from their projects.bI invited Ben to talk about the changes we're experiencing in the film marketplace and to speak directly to the needs of faith-based filmmakers. But whether you're in the faith-based arena or not, Ben offers a lot of valuable insight to independent filmmakers.
April 27, 2020
A Reel History of Faith in Cinema with Tyler Smith
I love film history. Last year I interviewed Dr Terry Lindvall who wrote two in depth books on the history of Christian film. Today's guest, professor, critic and podcaster, Tyler Smith, has also contributed to the study of Christian film history, not with a book, but with a wonderful documentary called REEL REDEMPTION. What I appreciate about Smith's film is that he identifies patterns and motivations for each period of film history, and provides his own commentary on their merits and flaws. And at the end, he gives Christian filmmakers a call to action, which comes from one of the leading figures in the French New Wave, Jean Luc Godard. I absolutely loved this documentary. It is far from exhaustive. You might find some things missing from it, but this is not it's purpose. It's meant to put Christian film as a movement into an accessible and easy to understand perspective to help Christian filmmakers know where they are and see their way forward to becoming a movement that can cinematically contend with the best.
April 20, 2020
Faith & Grit in Indie Production with Doug Vail and Reed Lackey
How do you survive losing your lead actor half way through a production, in a difficult location, with half your production budget spent, and it's your own money, AND it's your debut film? This is what Douglas James Vail, and his screenwriter Reed Lackey, are here to tell us about on their production of 40: The Temptation of Christ, which released last week. This was only the beginning of the challenges they would face. One of the most important lessons to learn from these men of faith, is that, when crises arise that threaten the project itself, we can let our challenges make us bitter and give up, or we can face the setbacks as God's opportunities, and move forward with grace, grit and hard work. Doug and Reed are as passionate about their film as the lessons God taught them in the trenches running a challenging production.
April 13, 2020
Making 40: The Temptation of Christ with Douglas James Vail & Reed Lackey
My guests are the filmmakers behind 40: The Temptation of Christ, which will release tomorrow. Tuesday April 8th. This Douglas James Vail's directorial debut, and he joins me with the screenwriter, Reed Lackey. Very often, the production behind the film is as dramatic and interesting as the film itself. It can also be very instructive. Making an independent film is no easy task, whether Christian or not. They attempted to crowdfund it's budget -- but it was unsuccessful. They would have to finance the film themselves. This was only the beginning of the challenges they would face. One of the most important lessons to learn from these men of faith, is that, when crises arise that threaten the project itself, we can let our challenges make us bitter and give up, or we can face the setbacks with grace and hard work. Doug and Reed are as passionate about their film as the lessons they learned in the trenches about running a troubled production with grace and dignity.
April 06, 2020
A Primer on Hong Kong Cinema with Dr. Gary Bettinson
It's back to film history class today as we travel east to look at the third largest movie industry in the world. It's a cinematic culture which produced one of my favorite film directors, Wong Kar-Wai, and that is the HONG KONG CINEMA. Our guide into this cinematic world has written numerous books on the larger Asian film industry and teaches it at Lancaster University in the UK. He's been with us before -- his name is Dr. Gary Bettinson.
March 31, 2020
The Filmtrepreneur Alex Ferrari
Indie Film Hustler Alex Ferrari is with me again in part 2 of my interview with him. In this episode we talk about his new bookThe Filmtrepreneur -- which you need to get into your hands. The Filmtrepreneur is a detailed, and well organized, business plan for filmmakers to survive and thrive independently. There's a wealth of hard won information packed into these pages.
March 23, 2020
The Indie Film Hustler with Alex Ferrari
My guest in this episode is not a faith-based filmmaker, but he is an independent filmmaking force -- a hustler (as he calls himself). He runs a highly respected indie film website called INDY FILM HUSTLE, which I have been following for many years. He recently launched an indie film streaming service called IFHTV, and he makes independent films, his latest was shot during the Sundance film festival and released this past January called On The Corner of Ego and Desire. If ever there was a time for Christian filmmakers to cultivate a fierce independent filmmaking spirit -- it's now. And one of the most accessible, and generous indie filmmakers who is marching in advance of the frontlines of contemporary filmmaking, showing us what to do and what not to do, is my guest -- a man who defines the hustle of indie filmmaking -- his name is Alex Ferrari.
March 16, 2020
The Making of The Chosen with Dallas Jenkins
Dallas Jenkins is the director behind The Chosen, an episodic series on the life of Christ as told through the eyes of others, namely, the "chosen." The series recently finished 8 episodes for the first season, and Dallas and his team are beginning work on season 2. The Chosen is self-distributed outside of the conventional channels. It's free to watch on The Chosen app, with a pay it forward plan to finance it. Not only is it a unique series, it is forging a unique distribution model, and perhaps a model that will become more normal in the coming years.
February 28, 2020
Travelogues to the World Church with Tim Keesee
Tim Keesee is the executive producer, and host, of the documentary series of videos Dispatches from the Front. In this ever growing series, Tim takes us on a tour to visit pastors and congregations of churches throughout the world in gospel-deprived regions. Tim talks about how the series of videos got started and what he and his filmmaking partner, Peter Hansen, have planned for the future.
February 02, 2020
The New Hollywood Cinema of the 60's & 70's with Dr. Gary Bettinson
Dr. Gary Bettinson, a lecturer in film studies from Lancaster University in the UK is with me to talk about an era of film history that is often overlooked, especially by someone like me because -- this the era of cinema I grew up in. It's called the New Hollywood Cinema, and stretches from the late 60's into the 70's. These were the days before the age of the blockbuster, and it's a very interesting period that made significant contributions to the history of cinema. You might consider it to be the American response to the French New Wave. The key directors of the period include Sidney Lumet, Richard Donner, Arthur Penn, Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Steven Spielberg, and even George Lucas.
January 13, 2020
The Reel Deal Guys Indie Film Duo with Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck
My guests in this episode are the filmmaking duo of Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck. Both are actors, writers, directors and producers. Together they formed a production company called The Reel Deal Guys and produced their first feature film, Adam's Testament. Rafael and Jason are also the ORGANIZERS of the Canadian International Faith and Family Film Festival, known as CIFF, which I spoke with them about in the previous episode. In this episode Rafael and Jason talk about the realities of producing films for the Christian marketplace. In spite of the struggles, these two filmmakers face the challenges with joy and expectation.
December 23, 2019
The Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival with Rafael Kalamat & Jason Barbeck
At only 4-years-old, The Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival is fast becoming a significant player among Christian film festivals, and inside of Canada, it is the one to attend. It's held every Fall in Toronto on the coat tails of TIFF (The Toronto Film Festival.) The festival is the work of two Christian filmmakers, Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck. They are my guests on this episode.
December 04, 2019
Reflections on Terrence Malicks The Tree of Life with Peter Leithart
When I first saw Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life I knew I was watching the work of a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller. This film was a revolution in the way I thought about the cinema. But for all my admiration, there were things about it that perplexed me, and stumbled upon a book called Shining Glory: Theological Reflections on Terrence Malicks The Tree of Life. I read it in about 2 days and watched Malicks film again, and new windows were opened up into my understanding of this marvelous work of cinematic art. When I started this podcast, I knew one of my guests had to be the author of this book Dr. Peter Leithart.
November 13, 2019
The Correlation Between Film History and Church History with Terry Lindvall
Dr. Terry Lindvall is with me again to continue talking about Christian film history. In this episode we zero in on the subject of his latest book, God on the Big Screen which considers the correlation between cinematic history and church history by looking at the prayers found in films. We also talk about the new horizons opening up in the new world of distribution, and talk about Terry's favorite films. Dr. Livdvall is the author of two books on Christian film history -- Sanctuary Cinema which covers the silent era, and Celluloid Sermons which covers the sound era up to 1986. He currently occupies the CS Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian thought at Wesleyan University.
October 27, 2019
A Christian Film History Primer with Terry Lindvall
The Christian film movement has a historian -- and his name is Dr. Terry Lindvall. Dr. Lindvall has written two books on Christian film history. Sanctuary Cinema chronicles the history of Christain film in the silent era, and his follow-up book, Celluloid Sermons, co-authored with Andrew Quicke, covers the era of the 1930's up until 1986. He currently occupies the CS Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian thought at Wesleyan University, and today, Dr. Terry Lindvall is my guest.
October 14, 2019
A Sacred Aesthetic - An interview with Brett McCracken
Brett and I talk about our shared love for the films of Terrence Malick, and how his work demonstrates, what Brett calls, a sacred aesthetic. What is a sacred aesthetic and how can filmmakers reach for this. Brett also provides some helpful advice for young filmmakers.
September 22, 2019
Engaging at the Intersection of the Arts and Theology with Brett McCracken
Brett McCracken is a senior editor of The Gospel Coalition, overseeing content related to culture and the arts, and his favorite art form is film. Brett isn't just a self made cinephile, he studied film at UCLA. He knows his stuff, and he's here to talk about Christian film.
September 09, 2019
Bringing the Vision of Creatives to Market with Brian Mitchell of WTA Group
Brian Mitchell is the Chief Operating Officer of The WTA Group, formerly known as Working Title Agency, which helps creatives develop, finance, produce and market films, books and other products to the faith market, and beyond. Brian has been working in this marketplace for over 30 years, and he has seen it grow and change. He has a wide range of experience working for artists from Amy Grant to the Kendrick Brothers. In this interview Brian explains what WTA Group does, how it works with creatives, what kinds of content they want to see, and how theatrical release is still key to the work they do in film. Brian also talks about how WTA recognizes that their role puts them into the position of being a gatekeeper, and their conviction to make sure their projects are biblically solid. And just recently, WTA Group is expanding it's operations and Brian shares with us the exciting things that are brewing behind the scenes.
August 22, 2019
The Faithful Filmmaker with Brad Silverman Part 2
After Grace Unplugged was released Brad chronicles his experience through a long dry period and recounts God's faithfulness during that time as he parted ways with one producing partner and was sought by a new one. This is the "anti-how-to-make-it-in-Hollywood" seminar.
August 14, 2019
Grace Unplugged in Christian Film - A Conversation with Director Brad Silverman
Brad Silverman is the writer/director of No Greater Love, Grace Unplugged, and the soon-to-be-released film, Selfie Dad. Brad is a filmmaker who has as strong commitment to sound, biblical theology and has an undivided trust in God in the direction of his life and career, even through the difficult periods. This episode is part 1 of Brad's career as he chronicles his entrance into filmmaking to directing Grace Unplugged.
July 28, 2019
A Right Moral Ecology - The Instinctive Nature of Christian Films with Jonathan Leeman
If you've been around some of the more reformed circles of Christian ministries you will be very familiar with the ministry of 9 Marks. 9 Marks is devoted to equipping local churches to be healthy churches. I've followed, and benefited, from 9 Marks ministry for years. Jonathan Leeman, the Editorial Director at the ministry of 9 Marks is my guest on this episode. Having made the jump into the Christian film industry later in my career, I have to admit, I've been bewildered by how poorly this genre of film is represented, and how difficult it is to get anything produced and distributed. Filmmaking in general is a very hard nut to crack, but it seems Christian film has a double dose of difficulty, and I often wonder if God really cares about his people, or his church, utilizing this medium for his purposes. Are Christian films valuable to the church -- to the world, or are they just a frivolous amusement? This is why I invited Jonathan Leeman on this podcast, to give me a biblically solid, reformed churchman's perspective on Christian film.
July 12, 2019
Rich Peluso's Ten Success Factors for Faith-based Films
Rich Peluso of Affirm Films talks about the exciting developments for faith-based productions in a streaming environment, what he hopes to see happen in the next five years, and he gives us ten success factors that he uses to gauge the potential of any faith-based film. If you're a Christian filmmaker, this is not an episode you will want to miss.
June 06, 2019
The House of Faith-based Cinema with Rich Peluso
Affirm Films has been one of the most significant players in the modern faith-based movement since the rise of the Kendrick Brother's films. At the helm of Sony's faith-based imprint is Executive Vice President Rich Peluso. Rich helped found Affirm Films and has been leading his small team to build Affirm into the faith-based Titan it is today. In part one of my interview, Rich talks about how Affirm was founded, he gives us a brief history of Christian film, and describes the characteristics and challenges of the modern era of faith-based films.
May 28, 2019
Cinematic Revolution of the French New Wave with Richard Neupert
We're going to do something a little different in this episode. We're going to get a practical crash course on The French New Wave. I know some of you are asking why. But the reason is simple. The French New Wave, in my opinion, offers a near-perfect role model for advancing the art of Christian film. Christian filmmakers have always felt themselves to be on the margins of cinema, and so did most of the French New Wave filmmakers. Christian filmmakers feel unsupported and believe they face an impossible task with impossible limitations. So did the French New Wave filmmakers. But guess what? The filmmakers of the French New Wave revolutionized cinema. They told their stories their way with little intervention. Their stories and methods were completely unorthodox and scandalous. And they did so with meager budgets, industry resistance, and limited options for distribution -- and to top it off, their films were made in the french language. And they created the most single most significant revolution in the history of cinema. My guest in this episode has written one of the most lively, insightful and readable books on the French New Wave, titled A History of the French New Wave. He's the Wheatley Professor of the Arts at the University of Georgia, teaching film history and theory. His name is Professor Richard Neupert.
May 12, 2019
The Drama of Doctrine with Kevin Vanhoozer
Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer discusses how the dramatic nature of doctrine can be a helpful framework in the creation of Christian films. This metaphorical guide opens a door for filmmakers to use the artistic strengths of our cinematic medium to envision profound displays of practical theology. He begin by talking about how today's cinema has a preoccupation with darkness and distopian views of the world, and provides an example of how the Christian filmmaker can answer that. I also ask Dr. Vanhoozer about films and novels that he enjoys, and he leaves us with sound advice for the advancement of our genre.
May 06, 2019
The Theological Potential of Cinema with Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer
A few years ago I got on an airplane with a book called Pictures at a Theological Exhibition. I thought I'd be able to get through 5 or 6 chapters. I only made it through half of the first chapter. I crawled through the chapter bit by bit, reading and rereading, underlining and taking notes on the end papers - Not because it was hard reading, but because the concepts and implications were fascinating. It took the return flight home to get through that first chapter, which was titled The Discarded Imagination: Metaphors by which a Holy Nation lives. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. A few months later I took the same flight and same book again, and returned to that same chapter to digest it even more. The author of that book is my guest on this episode. His name is Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer. Dr. Vanhoozer is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He's written numerous books, including Biblical Authority After Babel, Faith Speaking Understanding, Everyday Theology, and soonto be released - Hearers and Doers, A Pastor's Guide to making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine. Dr Vanhoozer is also a classically trained pianist. What contribution does Dr. Vanhoozer's work on the drama of doctrine provide the Christian filmmaker? That's what this podcast is about.
April 26, 2019
The Need for Truth-likeness & Cinematic Craftsmanship with Dr. Mark Coppenger
What are some core values that Christian filmmakers should strive for in their work? According to Dr. Mark Coppenger, who supervises the doctoral program in Aesthetic Theology at SBTS, two of those values should be "truth-likeness" and cinematic craftsmanship.
April 22, 2019
Why Is Christian Film Conflicted? Dr. Mark Coppenger
What place should Christians have in the cinematic art form? It seems in the not-so-distant-past, Christians and their institutions considered going to the cinema as verboten. Given the power and reach of film, why didn't the church embrace the cinema as a tool to reach the world with the Gospel? As we answer these questions we do need to recognize the real challenges that Christian filmmakers face, that making film is a massive and costly team endeavor, and that the world rejected Christ, so we should not be surprised when the cinematic powers-that-be reject our films. These questions are just some of the conundrums Dr. Coppenger and I wrestle with in this episode.
April 09, 2019
Aesthetics & Theology with Dr. Mark Coppenger
Have you ever wondered why the church, particularly in Protestantism, has historically had a hands off position when it comes to the arts and creativity? In our efforts to remain faithful to Scripture, with the exception of music, we seldom engage in, or encourage the pursuit of, any of the other art forms. And it seems many Christian circles completely reject the arts. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the cinema. Is there an incompatibility between the arts and theology? My guest in this episode supervises a doctoral program at SBTS called Christianity and the Arts. His particular focus in this program is a track called Aesthetic Theology. He is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, and his name is Dr. Mark Coppenger. Dr. Coppenger is also the managing editor of the Kairos Journal, and is on the board of Bible Mesh. He's written a number of books including Moral Apologetics For Contemporary Christians, For Such a Time as This, and is editor of the book A Skeptics Guide to Arts in the Church. He's also led the advisory board of my film company, Glorious Films. Since Dr. Coppenger has spent so much time studying the relationship of aesthetics and theology, in this episode, I wanted to tap Dr. Coppenger's thinking on a Christian view of aesthetics before we start wrestling with issues of Christian filmmaking, which we'll get to in the next episode.
April 01, 2019
Surviving the Christian Film Industry Sean Paul Murphy
Screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy has more than a decade of experience in the Christian film industry. In this episode he gives us his hard-hitting, experienced perspective on the current state of the Christian film industry, and talks about distribution, church support, Christian worldview, and "one-man-bandism." He also encourages filmmakers to be very clear on the goals of their films, and talks about the difficulties navigating in the current streaming market. Follow the MMP OFFICIAL WEBSITE INSTAGRAM FACEBOOK
March 21, 2019
A Screenwriter's Career in Christian Film: Sean Paul Murphy Part 2
Screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy continues to chronicle his decade-long career in the Christian film industry. With 12 produced films under his belt, Sean's experience provides a window on one segment of the Christian film industry, and despite the limitations he faced, his desire to reach people with the gospel often succeeded in surprising ways. Sean's experiences are sometimes exciting, sometimes cautionary, but always entertaining.
March 16, 2019
A Decade in Christian Film - Screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy
With 12 Christian films under his belt, and more than 10 years working in the Christian film industry, Sean Paul Murphy has a valuable perspective on the last decade of this unique industry.
March 05, 2019
The Mission of the Ministry of Motion Pictures
We embark upon a journey to engage with Christian filmmakers and the landscape of the Christian film genre, to understand what has shaped Christian film, where it is today, and where it should be going.
February 10, 2019