Nathaniel Bluedorn at ChristianFilmmakers.org has just posted some great video clips HERE from the Biola Media Conference 2009 that he snagged from ConversantLife.com. Some really good stuff in there but wanted to call out one clip in particular.
It’s an interview with Veteran Producer/EP Ken Wales who talks about a life changing week he spent with the legendary Walt Disney over 40 years ago. In it there’s this quote:
Walt Disney “Everybody that tries to copy what we do doesn’t quite get it right, because they make it too saccharine, too syrupy sweet, too nice. Life isn’t like that. You know you have to remember 2 ingredients that have to be in every film: there needs to be JEOPARDY and DANGER.
Bambi’s mother has to be killed by the hunter. Bambi has to run through the forest fire. It’s what Bambi does with all that, that’s the story .”
What is hard to believe is that we’re still discussing this after 4 decades in Christian Film 2.0 (the new and improved Christian Film industry developing today). It’s one of the most oft-quoted mistakes in Christian filmmaking that they’re too “saccharine, too syrupy sweet, too nice” and everything resolves nicely and neatly and they all live happily ever after.
Listen to the masters. Add Jeopardy. Add Danger.
Raise good questions, don’t answer them all.
Your good guy can only be as good as your bad guy is bad. You want an awesome Hero? Create a monstrous villain. Luke Skywalker would not be near so great if Darth Vader’s worst transgression was a tendency to talk back to his elders and believe the wrong Tribulation theory. BOR-ring!
Also, a movie’s high point where stuff starts to finally work out can only be satisfactory depending on how low the low point is. Drama=Conflict. Conflict=Drama. No drama? No Conflict. No one cares about your characters.
If Bambi just loped around the woods with the skunk and the rabbit, we might not ever have heard of Walt Disney. We’d never have known what being “twitterpated” is all about. It would have all gone down like the Laugh-O-Gram.
Changing people’s lives through Film and Video is not a new idea. Even for Christians. It’s at least 100 years old. Let’s stand on the shoulders of giants and pick up the convo where they left off…we don’t need to reinvent the film wheel.
As Ken Wales talks about below, Walt Disney picked him up and carried him on his shoulders. And Ken has repeated the process for countless other young filmmakers. That’s how we make progress. That’s how we grow an industry.
Let’s make a movie!
PatrolMag.com writer Gail Patches had a chance to interview WOLVERINE Producer Ralph Winters recently at the Biola Media Conference and got some good stuff. One of my favorite answers was this one because it shows both his experience and candor:
(EXCERPT) Winter: The better question is, “What possessed you to think you could do Christian films?” I set out to make Left Behind as a movie that would entertain people about what the Bible says about how the world will end and to put that movie out in the world in 2000 when people were hysterical about what was going to happen, “Is the world going to end?”
Yeah, um, and it went south with the filmmakers who really wanted to make an evangelistic tract out of it. That’s not what I wanted to do. Because I don’t think that has the same kind of power as a journey through the process of how the world ends. So it was successful in Christian circles. I mean, a lot of people saw the movie, but you know, the movie wasn’t that good. So I’ve since dabbled in some other stuff that is darker. Like The Visitation, Hangman’s Curse, House, Thr3e. You know, it’s been a tough struggle. We have not done as well in some of those as we thought. Lately we’ve been thinking that maybe we’ve been aiming at too specific, too narrow a market. We frankly struggle with what it means and what we’re going to do with it.
Making a movie is near to impossible, the experts will tell us. Making a GREAT movie then takes a festivus miracle! Balancing message and entertainment, form and content and connecting with your audience is a game of inches we like to say. It’s not nearly as easy as some make it look. Go too far one direction and all you’ve got is MR AND MRS SMITH (fun to watch, no point to it whatsover) go too far the other direction and you’ve got BATTLEFIELD EARTH (you know, the Scientology commercial).
Anyway, good to hear that great filmmakers like Winters are hashing it out alongside the rest of us.
Head over to Patrol and read the FULL ARTICLE
Patrol is an independent daily magazine where young writers explore their interactions with art, culture, politics, and technology. We’re based in New York City, but you’ll find our contributors all across the globe. Patrol began in 2006 as a blog covering Christian and independent music in Washington, D.C.
Did you feel the earth move on Saturday? Me neither. Prolly cause I’m wayyyyyy out on the East Coast. But from the sounds of things, the Biola Media Conference had a massive impact on attendees and speakers alike. As usual at Wired4Film, we’ve plumbed the news and gossip wires and pulled feedback from blogs and tweets and twubs and Facebook…I know, I know…I had you at Twub.
Anyway, let’s hop into the mind of Phil Cooke and peek through his eyes for a moment as he observes on his blog (PhilCooke.com):
Short of receiving the final numbers, it appears this weekend’s Biola Media Conference was the best yet. Great speakers, fantastic attendance (even in this financial crisis), fabulous sponsors, and a great program all added up to a really eventful day. Co-director’s Kathleen Cooke and Peggy Rupple did a remarkable job organizing the event. We started out with an incredible performance from the “Groovaloos,” who won this year’s Superstars of Dance competition. Then I interviewed Mark Zoradi – President of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. After a 29 year career at Disney, rising to the top of the industry, Mark had a lot to say about his personal faith, his commitment to excellence, the Disney brand, and advice for others in the industry. Memorable quote: “Always over-deliver. If you consistently over-deliver in your work and expectations, people will want you on their team.”
Then we had a talent panel led by Kim Dorr, that explored how important the talent factor is in putting projects together. Writer and actress Susan Issacs sent us to lunch with a sobering and challenging thought: “So many people are “called” to Hollywood, but what if God called you there for only 3 good years out of 30? What if you had to struggle 27 of the 30 years? Would you still go?”
We broke up into numerous workshops on issues like legal, marketing, new media, alternative financing, ethics and ambition, and more. Memorable quote: When an attendee asked that as a Christian, is Ralph Winter (Producer of X-Men) films, concerned about the violence in his films? Ralph replied, “There’s no question that Wolverine has claws and uses them, but ultimately, I’m not as worried that God is pleased with my movies, as I am that God is pleased with me.”
When pressed further about that last comment, Ralph Winter explains: “It is more about who we are becoming on the journey of life. That is what journey of faith is about in following Christ.”
He also added, “The Biola Conference was great. Our seminars were well attended, lots of comments on my page. Probably the largest conference ever for Biola. And Joe E. was terrific – an inspiring message.”
Cooke filled in a few more details on the mysteriously inspirational Joe E.
In the afternoon, our keynote speaker was Joe Eszterhas, legendary Hollywood Animal (as his biography states), who has written films like Jade, Sliver, Flashdance, and Basic Instinct. He was paid $3 million for the script to Basic Instinct, and his movies have made more than a billion dollars at the box office. Joe smoked hard, drank hard, and lived hard. But in 2001, after a battle with throat cancer, he experienced a powerful encounter with God, and it transformed his life. His talk was frank, honest, rough, filled with grace, and brilliant. During my interview afterwards, he was very vulnerable and human. He shared from his heart on the change in his life, how it impacted his marriage and family, and how it has impacted his perception in the industry. He also gave us some great advice. Memorable quote: “If you’re a writer, protect your vision. Don’t be too quick to let others change your work. Fight for it. It all starts with you.”
Along the way, a handful of those on the inside were Twittering away to keep those of us on the outside, in the loop. Here now are this year’s Top 17 Tweets in order of ceremony.
TOP 17 #BMC09 TWEETS
13. larissalamchiu: al kasha award winning compser ”study the word, study the masters” to improve your craft
15. TheGroveCenter: Joe Eszterhas interview, screenwrtiter of Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, 16 films…1billion in sales…from throat cancer to God…wow
Thanks all for the comments and feedback!
For those who want to learn more about this crazy little thing called Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/c5ep92