As the Film Commissioner of CBA, I am beginning to spend critical time focusing on some priorities related to the faith based industry who is marketing their products into Christian Retail. I've been meeting with some film studios, leaders in the film industry, actors, directors, exhibitors and more. There is much to be done. We have some very real problems which need to be addressed for the faith based industry and I want to use this blog to share my prayerful concerns to those of you in the V300, who are praying for us in our overall impact as a ministry.
The home DVD market place is changing as technology always changes and it begins with delivery. Ever since the early days at Disney with Jim Jimarro, head of Family Entertainment, we have identified there has been an evolving market even since the birth of the Disney Channel in 1983. Technology changes, delivery systems change and it impacts all of us in how we get product to our homes. Whether we had purchased VHS tapes, to DVD's, to Blu-Rays and now to streaming deliverables, the retailers are continually trying to find answers how they can be a part of a digital based product line, like motion pictures. What makes this hard, is the economic model is broken. You can buy a movie cheaper at Walmart than any Christian bookstore or ministry outlet.
Great faith based retailers like Hobby Lobby, whom I had the honor to serve for eight years at Every Tribe Entertainment have equally been plagued by optimal answers in delivery of products with a shrinking profit margin. This is a lot of commerce based modeling where answers are again, vague at best. So we need your prayer at every level.
The National Religious Broadcasters, the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association, the Gospel Music Association and the "Christian Market" voice found in the Christian Bookseller's Association is on the horizon looking for answers. Everyone needs to be involved to create a win win opportunity but this is going to be difficult. Already, the big box retailers like Walmart and others who have large chain buying power, makes it difficult on the independent ministry outlets out there.
I believe everyone is going to have to think "outside the box". We are going to need to do a better job of sharing the vision and dream of why films can impact culture, learn to live the golden rule and from retail to the filmmaker, begin meaningful dialogue that are solution based. While I normally do not write about a commerce based issue, I do believe we have to take a stand together for those things which are right. I'm so thankful for so many friends who are in the film industry and I am encouraging the film community and the retailing community to come together.
This year, in Cincinnati Ohio the CBA is putting on their international convention in June. Please pray for the FILM SUMMIT we are going to hold with all of these groups to openly discuss the importance of growing our industry. Thank you so much for being a prayer group who cares. I am thankful for John Dickey from Stillwater Hillcrest Baptist who is serving as our chaplain for our team. We need ministers and people praying for us who believe in a mission to use the visual language of film to impact culture.
May God bless each on elf you and let's get behind making a positive difference in the market.
Caring For Our Future,
Your CBA Film Commissioner
Many years ago when Doug Pethoud and I started Veritas Communications Inc, I had shared with him my dream of making films that matter in people's lives. Doug was a geologist and I had just finished with Every Tribe Entertainment as their CEO and was praying about my future. Through much previous pain and loss, I had personally been in a pretty dark place of feeling somewhat alone, isolated, betrayed and maybe even bitter. There are times in our lives when all of this happens, but Doug was really an encouragement to me and remains so, even today.
Late one night, I had a very unusual dream (I don't dream very much) and as part of this dream, it was about a book I had never read. When I woke up, I wrote about this dream and shared with those who were close that maybe God was prompting my heart to do something about this. Israel Hannah later would interpret my dream for me and it was a life changing experience and built a relationship with a man I love deeply to this day. The book that was part of my dream, was THE SHACK. Within just a couple days after this dream, I got a phone call from a life long friend Brent Price, formerly with the Houston Rockets and he shared with me that William Paul Young had come to Enid Emmanuel and Brent wanted to encourage me to talk to his people about a movie, I saw this as a sign from God.
I never have before or since received a call from Brent about anything remotely close to this call, but I knew he would not call if it were not important. There seem to be all kinds of "God winks" to what was happening, so I got all excited thinking about what God might be up to, but it wasn't what I thought, not even close.
With great blessings from the pastor of Enid Emmanuel Baptist Church, Wade Burleson, in my own enthusiasm I connected with the author who had come to Enid where Brent was in 2008 about making THE SHACK into a movie. At the time, through his people they communicated their desire to make this dream a reality. Awesome news as my opportunity to follow my dream was playing out, but my dream was not GOD's dream. In fact, the team for the book, THE SHACK were already talking to blockbuster director and producer Ron Howard.
Often we think everything is about us, but instead it is about our journey, helping others and recognizing when to step away and be an encouragement. This would be a time of testing and also a time to ponder the reality of ensuring my dream was truly HIS dream.
We had several conversations and they asked me to put a proposal together which I did. But most importantly, I encouraged them to go where "the capital" was that could make the dream of this book into a real movie. Did I do the right thing and did I let God down by not doing more? I wasn't sure, but I knew Doug and I didn't have the money and if God wanted us to do this, He would have provided. Mainly, I felt compelled to share with them to always make sure Paul was personally involved in the writing, because of his anointing. In the meantime, I sat down, read the book and wept with compassion. What a blessing Paul Young is to the world and I would have never even personally spoke to him, but only his "handlers".
Almost a decade later, I am appointed as the new Film Commissioner just a couple weeks ago from the CBA. My first job was to follow up on new faith based films for the Christian Market. Guess who was the first call I made to do my new job? It was about the movie THE SHACK.
I had the honor to contact Paul Lauer from MOTIVE ENTERTAINMENT about his feature THE SHACK which was produced by the producer of LIFE OF PI and BLINDSIDE. Paul is well known for his excellent support in placing films of faith like THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and many others into the market. Isn't it amazing how God does things? You see, when we plan, when we have dreams, often our dreams are not God's dreams. It doesn't mean we still can't help, but just not the way we planned. He may have something different and something wonderful we have no idea about. This is why trust and faith are so important.
Today, I am promoting THE SHACK and the feature release which opens in March. I am not being paid to promote this film, it's something deep within me that says this film, just like THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST has the potential to be such a huge blockbuster. The lessons learned of going through pain and loneliness are integral for all those who suffer from trying to answer the question, "Why me God?" Some people are not believing in it because it is written as an allegory, but I am an ambassador for this movie. Not just because I had ANYTHING to do with it, but to intercede in prayer for William Paul Young and his team of pros who had the blessed fortune to make this into a movie. I love allegories, fiction and great fun entertainment that inspires. This film however, teaches about the trinity and is so powerful.
Never underestimate how God uses you and how you can learn from dreams, great authors and your own journey of finding His will for your life. Never devalue yourself by listening to the enemy within, but always focus on God's forever hand being with you. You were made to be a CHAMPION IN THE END and one day, you will have the chance to meet the Lord and stand for everything you did. I am so thankful God forgave me when I did wrong and I am so thankful He loves me in spite of my sin. Are you?
Do you realize He is working a plan for your life right now, this minute and all He wants is your obedience. Say yes to Christ and see how He uses you. It may not be the very plan you believe is for you. Get out of the way if you need to, give up your dreams if they are selfish and allow God to do what He wants to do. He may have something even more special and great, but it will require true faith.
As a filmmaker, we pray every day for God to guide us and this is why we asked to have a prayer team as our VERITAS 300 are people who committed every single day to pray and to be part of asking God to do great things through the visual language of film. I am going to be using my FILM COMMISSION appointment at CBA to grow the VERITAS 300 prayer partner team. I am asking you, if you are reading this blog to join us. All you have to do is sign up at www.veritasmissionfilms.com and you can be added and a part of our team. Pray every week that God uses us and just stand back and watch what happens.
In the meantime, please go to THE SHACK and I pray you are moved as I have been by this amazing story and also pray for Paul Young and his entire team. May God bless films of family, of faith and freedom. I am thankful there are writers who think "outside the box" to stretch us to be more. We need THE SHACK in our lives and the lessons learned will forever change you. I thank Curtis Riskey for giving me the opportunity to be a voice for this wonderful film. Yep, the story continues and the dreams will too, so get in on what God is doing, and see what happens.
I love you,
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.