Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Casting your vote

To those who receive my email feed, last week's post had formatting issues which did not show up in the edit screen or the preview screen, just in the email version. I'm a technological Neanderthal, so I have no explanation for this. My apologies.

A lot going on in the political arena these days, and we're thinking of who we might cast our vote for in the election next year, but there's another kind of voting we might want to think about.

A few years back as a finalist in a screenplay competition at the Gideon Media Arts Conference, part of my award was to have a private audience with producer Ken Wales. I also had the opportunity to take several of his classes. At the time, he had recently seen the release of his incredible film, Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce. But he had a host of other projects under his belt including Revenge of the Pink Panther, Christy, and Cagney and Lacey.

In my time with him, I learned so many interesting facts― he had been best man at Julie Andrew’s wedding to producer Blake Edwards (Ken’s dad had performed the ceremony). Walt Disney himself had written a check to sponsor Ken’s way to film school, and Ken Wales was on the set working with Edwards during the shooting of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In fact, he had so many interesting stories to tell, a large group of us was up until the wee hours of the morning listening to him.

Ken Wales, producer of Captive
 But the thing that struck me most about Ken Wales was the commitment he’d made to make films to the glory of God. I asked him about his next project and he told me he was on his way to Atlanta after the conference to start interviews for a new film project about the courthouse shooter in Atlanta.

Brian Bird, scriptwriter for Captive
A few years later, I would have a class with Brian Bird, also a committed Christian, who had just produced in conjunction with director Michael Landon one of Beverly Lewis’ stories, The Shunning, but had also completed many other projects including episodes of the television series Touched by an Angel.

Here on the heels of the successful War Room, I am happy to tell you that after many years of work, the project Ken Wales told me about so many years ago now entitled, Captive, has just released. Brian Bird wrote the script, and it looks like people are responding positively to the film as lines are wrapping around movie theatres to get in.

Dr. Ted Baehr
I love it. It’s a day that people like Dr. Ted Baehr of Movieguide have worked passionately toward for decades. Beher is responsible for the establishment of the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays for which, amazingly, I was also a finalist. Lest you think I'm bragging, I have an overwhelming sense that these awards I've won have hardly anything to do with me, and mostly have to do with God and the long, laborious work of others like Dr. Baehr. The Kairos Prize enables Christian screenwriters to get a start on their careers.

I consider it one of my highest privileges to just have rubbed shoulders with people like Ken Wales, Brian Bird, and Ted Beher. May their tribe increase.

They have served to inspire and help me and so many others more than I can ever say. I have a picture of Ken Wales and me on the wall behind my writing desk, and when I see it, I’m reminded of the calling we have on our lives as Christian writers. One of the things I learned from Ken Wales is the perseverance and commitment it takes to see a project to completion, because I heard him tell of several undertakings he’d had which fell apart after years of work, and yet Ken never gave up. He picked up the pieces and kept going, and because of that, with God’s help, he’s given us his extraordinary films.

Make your plans to see Captive this week (Take note it is definitely for mature audiences). Your ticket is like a vote for Christian filmmaking and makes it possible for more films like its kind to be produced.

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17).

MovieGuide review and interview with Brian Bird HERE.

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