Rodney Marett and his wife Lori are the directors of the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival. They plan, schedule, book, and do pretty much everything else for Gideon. It’s a 365 day a year job. And just to make sure there is no confusion, they are not affiliated with the Gideons that distribute Bibles.
Tell us a little of the purpose of the conference.
The purpose of our conference is to give those who have a calling from God in the media arts a chance to learn, network and showcase their work. Lori is a screenwriter and has been told she is a good screenwriter but the only way she was going to succeed in the business was to move to the west coast and Lori felt that God wanted her to stay on the east coast. So, far she has been successful with one feature length film under belt (PureFlix’ Meant to Be). So, we started it for the “little guy” trying to get his or her start.
What do you think distinguishes it from other similar events?
I think Gideon is different because we make sure it is a family atmosphere. Less business like and more one on one networking. Our faculty and speakers are accessible, they don’t mind looking at a project and giving that person an honest accessment of the project. If one of our faculty or guests just wants to do their workshop or keynote and then they want to camp in their hotel room and not talk to our students, then we won’t have them back or won’t book then in the first place. One of the other things that separates us from other events is our networking. Our students and faculty sit around after workshops or screenings for hours discussing projects, how to do something better or plan an upcoming project. A good example is Jon Erwin and Cecil Stokes, before the first Gideon conference, Jon and Cecil didn’t know each other, had never met. After that year, Jon and Cecil became good friends and then teamed up to make October Baby. Those are the things that come out of our conference.
Why was the conference moved from Ridgecrest to Orlando?
We moved to Orlando for a couple different reasons, for the first five years of our conference, LifeWay, which owns the Ridgecrest campus, was our financial sponsor. After five years, LifeWay felt they wanted to go in a different direction, which they are doing with a lot of conferences at their facilities and campuses. After they told us that they were “breaking up,” Lori and I decided that we needed lengthy prayer to see what direction God wanted us to take. During that last conference, several people mentioned to Lori that we should move Gideon to Orlando, that lots of conferences and conventions used the Orlando area. So, after lots of prayer, I felt God calling us to continue Gideon. We put out feelers in Orlando and came up with the Orlando Airport Marriott. The reason we picked the Marriott is because it was close to the airport and offered free shuttle service, which saves our students money, and we liked the down home feel of the hotel.
We think it might help our numbers but only time will tell on that. The one thing we don’t want to loose is our hospitable, family feeling.
Tell us about the line up for this year’s upcoming event.
We have some great films that we are screening, Isaiah 9:10 Judgement a documentary from George Escobar (who will also be our keynote speaker for our banquet) from the best selling book, The Harbinger by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn; we are also screening the film, God’s Country and a Q & A with actress Jenn Gotzon and her husband and director, Chris Armstrong; we have some films that are award winning from other events, like Return to the Hiding Place; also, casting director, Katrina Cook, is doing live auditions for the film, 8 Days, which will only be open for registered Gideon students. One thing I almost forgot, we are hosting a special concert on Saturday night, July 13th, with singer, Erica Lane, for a non-profit group, Give Kids The World, that helps children with life-threatening illnesses. The event is open to the public and all proceeds go to Give Kids The World.
What are you most excited about at this year’s event?
Just being back in the Gideon family. I missed last year’s conference because of my job working as a flight medic for the US Embassy in Iraq. Lori did an incredible job running the conference in my absence but she said that she would not do it again without me. So, when momma speaks, everyone in our house listens.
You can learn more about our workshops, schedule, faculty, and registration at our website, www.gideonfilmfestival.com