Christian Film Industry leaders headline Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center Premiere

I had the privilege to join many good filmmaking friends at the Sept. 1, 2012 premiere of the Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Center at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  Many leaders and visionaries in the Christian Film Industry were on hand to engage in lively panel discussions and breakout workshop sessions on topics ranging from film finance to internet distribution.  Among them were Stephen Kendrick (Fireproof, Courageous) Rich Peluso (Soul Surfer), Paul Lauer (The Passion), Bobby Downes (Like Dandelion Dust), Chris Morrow (Redemption), and David Cook (Seven Days in Utopia).

The night prior to the Center’s premiere, the University screened Courageous and Seven Days in Utopia, opening up Q&A sessions with the filmmakers following.  One lady in the crowd was very touched by the film and Stephen Kendrick was able to give all the glory to God for a moving story well told.

Saturday opened with Jerry Fallwell Jr. and Executive Director Stephan Schutlze giving speeches on the vision they had for the center, while Dan Gordon painted a backdrop for how the center got its name through a touching saga of his son’s tragic death in an automobile accident.  Liberty boasts an distinctive approach to the critical task of training up the next generation of filmmakers.  They are trained using industry-standard equipment from “RED” camera packages to Avid edit bays, to THX certified surround sound mixing equipment.

Of particular interest to me were the panel discussions and breakout workshops.  The first panel explored the challenges of reaching a broader demographic with a Christian or faith-based film, and the second panel debated just what, exactly is a Christian film? In the breakout sessions I attended Rich Peluso, VP of Sony’s Affirm Films division discoursed on the strategies of getting Christian product into the market and then Chris Morrow and Bobby Downes, President of EchoLight Studios cast a vision for long term distribution strategies for the Christian market.

It was a profitable and enjoyable journey, one I hope will have a positive impact on Watchman Pictures’ feature film offerings!


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