THEMES LIKE A GOOD IDEA
We just chose the official theme for Act One next year. Every year since our founding, we have chosen a theme that seems to emanate from the ongoing journey of the program itself. That is, every year, a new subject seems to become the topic that all the journalists are asking us in interviews, and/or all the faculty seem to be hitting from different angles, and/or a weird zeitgeist of the staff, friends and students just seems to have put a certain notion in our collective frontal lobe.
The theme gets developed into a "look" by our graphic artist, and then becomes the background image for the entire year. Previous years themes have been:
2000 - "Training the Next Generation of Christian Screenwriters" (Okay, okay, that was a lame one. But it was our first year and we didn't think we'd ever be having another one.)
2001 - "Don't pay attention to that man behind the curtain!" (Actually, that year's theme was a play off this quote from The Wizard of Oz, indicating that we were challenging Hollywood's urgency to the audience to not pay attention to the people behind the curtain.)
2002 - "The Christian writer does not decide what would be good for the world and proceed to deliver it. Like a very doubtful Jacob, he confronts what stands in his path and wonders if he will come out of the struggle at all." (Flannery O'Connor)
2003 - "Man will be saved by beauty." (Dostoevsky)
2004 - "Escape is the main function of stories. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home?" (Tolkien)
And now, the theme for 2005...
2005 - "Giving the audience a seat at the table."
The table we mean is the "greenlight" tables in the entertainment industry. These would be the places in which decisions are made about what kinds of projects to produce. There are a few groups who are well-represented "at the table": Wall Street's large corporations, Madison Avenue's Marketing Machines, the elite and cluelessly out-of-touch creative celebs.
So, who doesn't have a voice? The global audience. Every other group gets to kill and dabble with projects to take care of their respective "needs", but the audience's needs are never even raised. "Will this help people? Or will it make them sick?" "Will this make people want to be heroes, or want to jump off roofs?" "Is this something that will draw people into community, or make them more suspicious, alienated and cynical?"
Act One is all about breeding up a new generation of entertainment professionals who will have the needs of the global audience at heart. When one of our students takes a meeting, he or she has the people on the other side of the screen right there in their pocket.