I recently had the privilege of attending the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) convention in Anaheim, California. This four day event connects, equips, and edifies thousands of communicators from across the world.
Whether your goal was to meet top producers and filmmakers, pre-view upcoming films, pitch your project, listen to leaders in radio broadcasting and book publishing, discover the latest in marketing trends, or connect with Christian media and ministry professionals; FAITH was a part of every conversation.
FAITH TO WAIT
Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, both writers, producers, and directors, set out to make the movie “Unplanned” seven years ago. However, God said “not yet.”
“It was disappointing and we didn’t understand,” stated Solomon. “Then God reminded me that “not yet” didn’t mean “not ever.” Four years ago, God spoke to my spirit and said “Now”.”
“Even with God’s “yes,” getting this movie to the screen was a series of “no’s,” said Konzelman.
“Unplanned” is the story of Abby Johnson, the youngest clinic director in the history of Planned Parenthood, who after a life changing experience, left her job and is now an anti-abortion activist.
“No one told us this was a great career move,” laughed Solomon. “We’ve experienced spiritual warfare from the beginning.”
Despite multiple TV networks declining to air spots for the film and their twitter page being briefly suspended, “Unplanned” surpassed everyone’s expectations with a $6.1 million opening weekend at the box office, the second highest in Pure Flix’s history.
We must have Faith to wait. And Faith to move forward.
FAITH TO BE READY
As artists, most of us have “thrown everything together at the last minute and somehow pulled it off.” We’ve also experienced the defeat and frustration when we didn’t. “If I would have known… but… if…”
Like actress Shari Rigby said, “To be successful in this industry, you have to be physically, mentally, and spiritually ready at all times.” You also have to be ready for whatever God calls you to do…
“When God first brought me to Hollywood, I thought it was to be a star. But God quickly sat me down and said, ‘I brought you here for my women’.” Rigby is the founder of The Women In My World, a women’s group focusing on identity, purpose, ministry, and living life in Hollywood.
Rigby also stars in the Kendrick Brother’s upcoming movie, “Overcomer,” which focuses on a coach at a pivotal crossroads in his life who helps an unlikely runner prepare for the biggest race of the year.
““Overcomer” is about identity,” Rigby confided. “My hope is that it stirs people’s hearts. That it starts a revival in our church. That people will ask themselves, ‘Am I walking in my identity? What is my calling? Do I have my eyes on Christ’?”
Purpose is the key to breakthrough. Knowing who you are in Christ changes everything.
“I think we’ve lived in this space in our culture where we think our calling is about our job,” Rigby continued. “But it’s not. Our calling is the great commission. We are to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our gifts and talents are the tools He gave us to glorify the Kingdom so we can take more territory.”
FAITH TO OVERCOME
The Kendrick Brothers are definitely taking more territory. Their last film, “War Room,” made over $67 million domestically, nearly doubling what their previous films earned. “With each movie we get a little better!” said writer, director and actor, Alex Kendrick. “We took another step up in production value by getting better cameras and sets on “Overcomer,” but I’m even more excited about people learning who they are when they trust Jesus as Lord. Our characters struggle with common hurdles and questions, and the audience will relate to that.”
When asked if there were things they had to overcome while making the movie, Alex said, “We’ve come to expect spiritual warfare in every project. Anytime you work on something that can draw people closer to the Lord, there will be warfare. But we purposed to stay in an attitude of prayer every day. When weather prevented us from shooting, we gathered the team together and prayed again, and God opened up a window to finish all our needed shots.”
When it is a God idea—God will make a way. “Overcomer” hits the theaters on Aug. 23.
FAITH TO LET GO
Most artists start out with a “plan.” We leave our hometowns, jobs, friends, and comfort zones to pursue our dreams. And we know exactly what that looks like. But our own ideas can keep us from God ideas.
“Every day we need to ask God ‘Is this where you want me to be? Am I on the right path’?” says top casting agent, Beverly Holloway. “We have to be able to let go. God always wants to use our gifts, but it might not be in the way we see it.”
Holloway reminds actors that “your talent has to match your vision. You have to study your craft, have great headshots, reels—this is a business.”
FAITH TO BREAKTHROUGH
As Christians we have a unique opportunity to shine God’s light into a business that desperately needs it. “Don’t let the process take away your calm disposition,” stresses DeVon Franklin, President and CEO of Franklin Entertainment. “Praying on the set is great, but our tone and actions in daily conversations—the way we do business is vital.”
When asked how his upcoming movie, “Breakthrough,” compares to his previous blockbusters, “Heaven is for Real” and “Miracles from Heaven,” Franklin said, “It is more relatable. In one way or another, we all need a breakthrough.”
Premiering on Easter weekend, “Breakthrough” is based on the true story of John Smith, a fourteen year old boy who drowns in a lake, and his faithful mother who prays for him to come back to life.
““Breakthrough” isn’t just a movie. It’s a message. It’s a reminder,” explained Franklin. “This is the breakthrough year for the overcomer!”
One of the unique aspects of “Breakthrough” is that John Smith’s pastor, Jason Noble, has been involved throughout the entire process of the film. In 2015 Pastor Jason Noble got a call that John Smith had fallen through the ice. “Little did I know this story would unfold in such an incredible way. God showed up and did the miraculous.”
“Breakthrough” proves what prayer can do. It shows us what “believing despite the odds” looks like.
For additional information, check out the online sermon series and Pastor Noble’s book, “Breakthrough to Your Miracle.”
FAITH TO OPEN OUR MIND
When it comes to marketing, things are changing—and we need to understand what these changes mean to us.
Ash Greyson, Founder and CEO of Ribbow Media Group, explained the role digital advertising has in movie marketing, what works at the box office, and how Facebook is reaching out to churches.
Christian television is also attempting to broaden their audience. “Instead of telling people what we want them to hear, we need to listen to what they want,” said Greg Bogdan, COO of Total Living International.
No one understands this better than singer/songwriter Anthony Evans. Known for his worship songs, Evans released “Everything Else” last year which talks about “everything else that we sometimes seemingly ignore.” Evans reminded us that “Christians are suffering and they need to know they’re not alone.”
“Audiences crave authenticity. They are hungry for resurrection,” said Phil Cooke, Founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group. “We are feeding people’s souls,” agreed screenwriter and producer, Brian Bird.
FAITH IN ACTION
Christians need to come together like never before. “We should be the leaders, not the followers,” said writer, director and producer, Cary Solomon.
Groups such as the Faith in Film Breakfast Club make this possible.
The Faith in Film Breakfast Club, started by Barry Landis, Founder and Chairman of Ribbow Media Group and Rich Peluso, Executive Vice President of AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, gives artists the opportunity to come together and pitch projects, share resources, hear from professionals—and to succeed like never before.
The Faith in Film Breakfast Club has chapters in Nashville, Atlanta, Arkansas, NYC and LA. This group, as well as the annual NRB Convention, has something for everyone.
This industry takes everything you’ve got, and then some. We don’t just need connections—we need friendships, support, and prayer.
FAITH TO PURSUE PURPOSE
God gave us gifts. He created us to create. As artists, we have the ability to shape, to change—to guide our culture. As Christians, we have the responsibility to use our gifts wisely.
Actress Madeline Carroll urges us “not to be swayed by the world, but to keep the vision God gave us alive.”
Christian evangelist and author, Priscilla Shirer, encourages us to “seek His will daily.”
Cindy Bond, CEO and Founder of Mission Pictures International, reminds us to “Seek ye first the Kingdom.”
Pursue your purpose with passion and integrity. Pray, Work hard, walk in Faith, and Believe, “with God all things are possible.”
Written by Kirstin Leigh