HIGHLIGHTS OF NRB 2020
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) convention in Nashville, Tennessee. 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, preview 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—NRB always has something for everyone.
Here are a few highlights.
THE FUTURE OF CHRISTIAN FILMS
“Make sure your story is one that people—other than your friends and relatives—want to hear,” began Rich Peluso (EVP of Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment). “And keep your mind open. You may picture it on the big screen, but there are incredible small screen opportunities, streamers, and digital platforms.”
When asked if we were in a bubble with Christian films, Cary Solomon (Writer, Director, Producer) responded, “We are in a dangerous place. Christian films have not evolved the way they should have. We’ve got to stop making Christian films about pastors.”
“Instead of the “A” story being about a Christian, have a story that is happening to a Christian,” added Cary’s partner, Chuck Konzelman. “And don’t be afraid of conflict. In life, we seek to minimize conflict and make everyone happy. When telling a story, you have to reverse this. As a screenwriter you are a conflict manager, and your job is to keep the fire alive!”
“We are in a culture war,” Cary concluded. “If the secular world had its way, we wouldn’t be here. We can’t allow this to happen. We are God’s hands and feet. We are the voice of Jesus. We have to stop being diabetic Christians. We have to make real movies! The time is now.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN SORBO
“Hollywood’s agenda is unbelievable,” said Kevin. “We started celebrating the anti-hero back in the 1960’s with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. These were bad guys who killed a lot of people. We glorified them, and we seem to be doing more and more of that. We’re creating hatred and anger. There has been such a fall away from faith…we need films full of hope and love more than ever.”
When I asked Kevin what advice he had for Christians in the entertainment world he said, “Be true to yourself. Go on the auditions and take the roles that you feel right about.” Kevin paused for a second. “An atheist recently stopped me on the street and said, ‘Hey, I saw that movie, God’s Not Dead. I don’t believe the way you believe, but it was a pretty good movie.’ That was a win for me.”
Kevin is the host and narrator of “Climate Hustle 2: The Rise of the Climate Monarchy.” Featuring world-renowned scientists, politicians and policy experts, the film challenges popular scientific claims about the climate change. It also showcases the hypocrisy of Hollywood’s green elite, examines media bias, political agendas, and other troubling circumstances surrounding the climate change issue. Are we in real imminent danger or is the movement simply getting out of control?
“Climate Hustle 2: The Rise of the Climate Monarchy” is slated for a one night nationwide release on April 21. For more information: https://www.climatehustle2.com/
INTRODUCING JD DEWITT
After a successful fourteen year career in the media business, from talent agent to literary management, JD sold her agency and combined her relationships in the entertainment business with her passion for working with authors and she began to connect writers directly with Hollywood.
In 2018, JD co-founded 5x5 Productions, a female-led literary management and production company. Since then, JD and her business partner, Robin McLain have optioned a project to MGM, sold a four movie deal to Amazon, and are slated to co-produce three films in Hollywood.
5x5’s specialty is book to film, which is how she met Lesley McDaniel, author of “Home Sweet Home,” the company’s first feature film. “I was teaching writers how to position their screenplays in a way that would attract producers during a week-long writing retreat. Lesley was working on four projects, but we honed in on “Home Sweet Home.”
I asked JD what made this script “pop,” and she said, “The story is built around a community service project—my immediate thought was how we could tie this in with a program similar to Habitat for Humanity. I also loved that the A & B stories revolved around young adults. We need more positive entertainment for this audience!” As a writer for this age group, I couldn’t agree more.
“Home Sweet Home,” starring Natasha Bure and Ben Elliott, centers around a flirtatious young woman, who in order to “get the guy” pretends to be a Christian and signs up to help build houses for people in need.
A preview screening will be held on April 24th at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with a global release set for May 1.
“Home Sweet Home” brings to light the powerful changes that happen within us when we selflessly serve others. Definitely a film your whole family will love!
To find out what’s next for this dynamic female driven company: https://5x5inc.com/
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS
As Christians, we know that God gives us gifts, He gives us ideas for projects, He is the author of our books, the Creator of our films.
However, when it comes to pitching your projects, Phil Cooke (Founder-CEO, Cooke Media Group) had some great advice. “Lead with your talent not your faith. If not, you will get laughed off the studio lot. Show them you’re an amazing director, actor, DP, or makeup artist. When you have their respect, they will listen to what you have to say.”
“Be more interested than interesting,” added Mark Fincannon (Casting Director/EP, Fincannon & Associates).
“And pray about whether God has really called you to this industry,” urged Dr. Ted Baehr (Founder & Publisher of Movieguide). “It is not enough to be a Christian. You have to be excellent in your craft.”
“While you’re in school, study every aspect of the industry, said Cooke. “But when it comes to pursuing a career, narrow it down. Being good at a lot of things doesn’t get you noticed. Be extraordinary at one thing.”
Ash Greyson, Founder and CEO of Ribbow Media Group, explained how marketing has changed dramatically over the last two years and will change even more in the next two. “We are entering a time in the digital realm where targeting people based on their beliefs is going away. Facebook is still popular within the faith realm, but you have to know your audience—and meet them where they are.”
While we can’t always have one on one conversations with marketing pros, groups like The Faith in Film Breakfast Club, which now has chapters in Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, NYC, and LA, give us the opportunity to network with like-minded artists who can share what has—and has not—worked on their own projects.
The Faith in Film Breakfast Club, started by Barry Landis, Founder and Chairman of Ribbow Media Group, Rich Peluso, EVP of Affirm Films, and Ben Howard, Head of Third Coast Content at William Morris Endeavor, gives artists the opportunity to come together and pitch projects, share resources, hear from professionals—and to succeed like never before.
This industry takes everything you’ve got, and then some. We don’t just need connections—we need friendships, support, and prayer.
BETRAYAL IN HOLLYWOOD
Can you believe it? Even more surprising is that it happens in the Christian industry. Every day.
Phil Waldrep, founder and CEO of Phil Waldrep Ministries, knows first-hand how life altering betrayal can be. “It feels like the end—and it is the end of some things—but it doesn’t have to be the end of you. It doesn’t have to color every relationship you have for the rest of your life. As Christians, we want to trust. But trust is earned.”
To read Phil’s harrowing account of betrayal within his ministry and discover tools that will help you activate healing, forgiveness, and the strength to keep believing, check out his powerful new book, Beyond Betrayal.
And if anyone makes you feel “less Christian” by asking questions and requiring that a deal is signed… keep walking. Desperation leads to costly decisions. Dreams and dollar signs can temporarily steal our vision. Love and loyalty can make the truth hard to believe. Our dreams, and every decision involved with them, require discernment.
FAITH TO MOVE FORWARD
Betrayal can make us wiser. It can also cause us to doubt the dreams God placed inside us, which leads to restlessness, depression…even addictions. Abide, the leading sponsor of NRB is shining light on this.
Abide is the No. 1 Prayer and Meditation app in the country. Both the app and their life changing healing channel empower you with God’s strength, encourage you with His love, and remind you of His promises. Go to Abide.co and download the free app today!
I mentioned earlier that NRB has something for everyone—they really do. I had the honor of sitting down with mental health expert, Dr. Gregory Jantz. He is the best-selling author of 39 books, including his latest groundbreaking Healing Depression For Life. He is also the founder of one of the top recovery centers in the United States. If there is a need, please visit: https://www.aplaceofhope.com/
I used to think that being strong meant “pretending everything was fine.” I was wrong. It takes strength to ask for help. And we have to be at the top of our game… fully available for God to use us.
It’s like Cary Solomon said, “There is a time upon us right now that will never again occur in history. There is a vacuum that the main industry has created—most of America can’t go to the movies or watch TV, to the point where they’re turning it off. The Oscars are down, all the shows that are throwing politics around are down. We have an opportunity! But we have to raise our game. Stop talking about what you are going to do. Get fired up—and get to work.”