Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Renewing the Dialogue Between the Church and the Arts

Here was a basic outline for a talk I gave tonight in Cincinnati...


In his Letter to Artists (2000) Pope John Paul II called for “a renewal of that fruitful dialogue that used to exist between the Church and the Arts.”

Clearly, you cannot have dialogue without a forum, a message, and without a speaker. Our investments in Hollywood as Catholics should be geared to establishing and fostering all three of these.

A “forum” – The Church in Hollywood needs a place from which it could host ongoing dialogues with the creative people who set the global entertainment and media agenda. We need a site around which Catholics in the industry could gather to network, pray together and support each other. We need a chapel for the arts. We need a theater in which to host premieres of good work. We need a think-tank which could provide media with commentary on cultural topics. We need a training ground for artists and filmmakers to learn to integrate their life as believers wiuth their work as professionals.

A “message” – In order to have a dialogue, we need to have something relevant and valuable to say to Hollywood. The Church needs to commission her scholars, philosophers and ethicists to brood over the whole arena of art, storytelling and entertainment, so as to translate theological and Scriptural principles into useful guidelines for Hollywood creatives.

A “speaker” – We need to prepare apostles for Hollywood who can bring the presence of God into the entertainment industry. We need to provide spiritual and ethical formation to those Christians who are currently in the industry. We need to raise up articulate spokesman who can question and challenge Hollywood from within, in the network, study and agency sets and offices.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Here's a little blip from this week's Daily Variety. Amy Snow, the writer here, is an Act One alumna. Kudos Amy!

Paramount nabs 'Kept Men'
Spec comedy penned by Fellowship scribe


Paramount Pictures has acquired the spec comedy "Kept Men," by Amy Snow, for Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher.

Pic revolves around three down-and-out pals looking for a shortcut to riches, who flaunt their youthful assets at a charity auction in hopes of becoming kept men.

Shamberg and Sher will produce, and Steve Crawford and Matt Luber of Nine Yard will be exec producers.

Snow came out of the Disney Fellowship writers program.

She's repped by Endeavor and Nine Yards.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"A Severe Mercy" Night in Philadelphia

On September 17th in Philadelphia, Origin Entertainment, will be hosting an informational evening about "Christians Investing in Culture" and also to introduce our recent feature project acquisition, A Severe Mercy.

We have created this night - which we plan to replicate in several cities around the country - to help inform potential investors about the process of mounting a feature film project, and to give them some good questions to ask the filmmakers who are looking to spend their money.

Some topics that we will cover include:

- What does Origin mean by "transformative entertainment" and how does it tend toward an overall goal of cultural renewal?

- How can some innocuous projects foster clout for Christian filmmakers, and why clout is a more strategic goal than a strategy geared to investment on a project-by-project basis.

- What is the Development Process and why is it so expensive? What are talent attachment fees, Guild minimums and how do you create a buzz? Why are stars worth the money they cost?

- How does a movie's budget get set? How does movie financing come together?

- What to look for in a production company team, BESIDES the fact that they believe in Jesus? Which parts of the team probably need to be believers, and which roles in the process can be considered doorways for evangelization?

- Why a coherent strategy for distribution needs to be a contingency of investment.

Then, Part II...

- Who is Origin Entertainment, and what is our thing among Hollywood production companies?

- Why are we so excited about A Severe Mercy and what makes us think it could be like A Chariots of Fire for this generation?

- How can people be part of bringing projects like A Severe Mercy to the screen?

The evening will take place at 7pm at the International Institute for Culture in Philadelphia. Representing Origin Entertainment will be our Founding partner and CEO, James Volk, our Corporate Consultant, Dick Lyles, PhD, and myself.

If you would like to find out how to attend this meeting or a future one in Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Boston or Los Angeles, please send an email to Jennifer@originentertainment.com.

Please do keep Origin, and A Severe Mercy in your prayers.

See Barb in Providence?

I will be back home in CT for a few weeks starting August 15th. If anybody wants to mount some kind of forum, I am probably available.

Send an email to barbara@originentertainment.com

Something to do in Cincinnnati?

I have a speech in Cincinnati on the evening of August 14th. But I fly in the night before and, except for a fifteen minute radio interview, I have nothing to do all day on the 14th. If anybody wants to pull together some kind of impromptu lunch or coffee for that day, I am up for it... as of this moment.

Send me an email if you want to make a plan: barbara@originentertainment.com

Friday, August 03, 2007

Live Free Plays Well

I am off to a conference in Wichita today, but I wanted to register a thumbs up for the latest Die Hard sequel now in theaters. Live Free or Die Hard is great fun with fleshy, funny characters and a great national crisis plot. It felt all too real that terrorists might disrupt our whole societal infrastructure just clicking away on computers. The film is a fun rush - losts of visual thrills, great stunts, and good fun traveling yet another punishing heroic adventure with Bruce Willis' great character, John McClane.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wicked Reprise

Thanks to Karen Hall's obsession, I got to see Wicked again tonight and I got even more out of it the second time. I find it very clever and layered, although Karen and I were fighting in the inter-mission over how many of the sub-plots and characters have a deeper symbolism. (I want to know what the animals being silenced ultimately means, and Karen basically responds to that question, "Oh, will you shut up?" I guess that makes me the silenced animal? Is it too late to be a gazelle?)

I'm not sure exactly what the ultimate theme of the play is, but I do know that there is a strong theme about how it is in holding of our differences in tension that allows us to grow. This is true between individuals, and in a broader way in society. If you bring in the idea of good and evil, it's a reworking of the tares and wheat growing up together parable. It is certainly true in drama that you need the darkness to probe the light. Friendship, in Wicked is two very different people accepting each other without having to remake each other in their own image. That dynamic of acceptance allows both friends to become better versions of themselves.

There is a lovely song in the play that comes near the end and is all about this. It is a haunting moment because it is lilting music and a great paradox.

"For Good"
(from Wicked, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz))

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn

And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you:

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend:

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun.
Like a stream the meets a boulder halfway through the wood.
Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood.

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better?

And because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good.

Both times the song had me musing on the friends in my life who have changed me for the better, and for whom I am very grateful. (Listening R268? God love ya -) The play doesn't show the point of friendship as being remaking our friends. It isn't us being tactfully corrective that is the grace here. It's the power in sheer delight. Being delighted in propels you into being better. In a paradoxical way, being embraced as you are gives you the power to be able to change, as in grow.

Anyway, I liked Wicked again. It isn't the deepest play I've ever seen - I think Phantom has a more coherent symbolism and theme - but it definitely has a thing to it.