It all started with two guys sitting at a coffee shop deciding to join together like-minded souls for a monthly breakfast. From there came the 1,500+ member Nashville Faith in Film Facebook group, the 1,000 members Atlanta group, and 100 member Los Angeles group. In addition to the monthly breakfasts, the Nashville group also hosts a yearly all day event in conjunction with Nashville’s Film-com. Yesterday was that event and what an event it was! Over a hundred filmmakers packed into the conference room. Attendees came from as far away as Canada and Hawaii and one woman rode a bus from Michigan.

Recording artist and worship leader Chris McClarney leading in worship.
Recording artist and worship leader Chris McClarney leading in worship.

Michael Kelly, Director of LifeWay Groups Ministry kicked off the day by saying that Nashville is a city full of people recovering from lost dreams. It was an opening that resonated with a room full of creatives and was a theme that was repeated throughout the day. Event coordinator Barry Landis shared his own story of how God took his lost dreams and led him to the creation of the breakfast group. He shared, “God has no plan B. He’s got a plan A for you.”

Steve Taylor, Rich Peluso, Bryan Coley, and Ami McConnell
Steve Taylor, Rich Peluso, Bryan Coley, and Ami McConnell

The story development panel session included a mix of artistic and business advice. Bryan Coley compared faith-based scripts to wing sauce. First, you have to start off with good chicken, but each person decides which sauce works best for them. Some like it mild, some like it spicy, but it’s important that we not judge just because someone else prefers a different way to incorporate their faith into their films.

Barry Landis with composers Tyler Smith, Paul Mills,  and Michael Whittaker
Barry Landis with composers Tyler Smith, Paul Mills,  and Michael Whittaker

We all know that music is an important component of a good film, but hearing directly from composers from their perspective provided a better appreciation of how the process works. Paul Mills said that a great composer has to be like Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. They need to be willing to serve the film. The same can be said for each and every other person involved in a film.

LifeWay Films manager Trey Reynolds with Woodlawn team members Bill Lorimer, Joe Knopp, Stephen Preston, and Ethan Ledden
LifeWay Films manager Trey Reynolds with Woodlawn team members Bill Lorimer, Joe Knopp, Stephen Preston, and Ethan Ledden

Woodlawn team members provided a behind the scenes look at the making of Woodlawn and included tidbits of advice that could be applied to all filmmakers.

Senior VP at Provident Ben Howard leads the distribution panel with Chip Murray, Ryan Dunlap, Wayne Zeitner, and Joan Takersly
Senior VP at Provident Ben Howard leads the distribution panel with Chip Murray, Ryan Dunlap, Wayne Zeitner, and Joan Takersly

Ben Howard began the distribution discussion by explaining that distribution is focused on getting movies on the shelf, whether it’s in theaters, streaming, television, or home video. He explained the importance of getting a way to get it to the audience.

Kris Fuhr, Scott Mills, Michelle Duffie, Laurie Chimento, and Bob Hutchins
Kris Fuhr, Scott Mills, Michelle Duffie, Laurie Chimento, and Bob Hutchins

Each of the marketing panelists stressed the importance of knowing your audience and marketing specifically to them. Laurie Chimento covered the need to engage the gatekeepers first and then the audience.

Faith and Film Summit 2016

Bob Hutchins addressed filmmakers depending on ministers to promote their movies. He explained that ministers have their own ministries. We need to create content to serve them not expecting them to serve us.

Kris Fuhr shared a very helpful bit of advice when she expressed how important it is to be selective about which scenes and artwork you release since once it’s out there, it’s always out there.

Bob Elder, Jennifer Lyell, Tim Byron, and Brian Mitchell
Bob Elder, Jennifer Lyell, Tim Byron, and Brian Mitchell

The final panel discussion of the day discussed how to monetize with merchandise, products, and resources. Publisher Jennifer Lyell explained the difference between publishing and filmmaking and the importance of understanding publishing deadlines.

Devon Franklin
DeVon Franklin

The day was long but the highlight was definitely the keynote address by DeVon Franklin. I’ve heard him before as part of panel discussions, but this was my first time to hear him preach, and truly that’s what he did. He shared his personal story of how God led him to Hollywood and how his faith has played a role in everything he’s done while there. He challenged each and every person there to step up our act and put God first, to truth Him even when it doesn’t makes sense, and to never compromise our faith. I left wanting more and immediately ordered a copy of his book Produced by Faith. Can’t wait to read it and learn more about this fascinating man and his work in Hollywood.

The filmmakers behind the upcoming movie Andy's Rainbow.
The filmmakers behind the upcoming movie Andy’s Rainbow.

As Christian filmmakers it’s important that we study our craft, both from an artistic aspect as well as a business approach, and that we always put our faith first. The Faith and Film Summit inspired our creativity, improved our business understanding, and challenged us as Christians to change the world through film.

Sharon Wilharm and Diana Schmitt
With actress Diana Schmitt

Special thanks to sponsors CBN and LifeWay!

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