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Testimonies of Transforming Hollywood, Part 2
Backstage at the 18th Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala
Interviews by Shirley Hunt, Krystal Grenseman, Ryan Reiter, Luke Sommer, and Tom Snyder. Transcripts by Victoria Kaplan and Shirley Hunt
Actor Delroy Lindo from UP and many other movies and television programs
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about why inspiring movies for families are so important?
DL: I have an 8-year-old son, and I sometimes despair of the world that he’s growing up in …while on the one hand it’s a world that’s bursting open and there are lots of opportunities, on the other hand there are lots of elements that seem quite harsh. And given that that is part of the world that we’re growing up in and my son will be growing up in, I think that any work that speaks to family entertainment, films that the whole family can go and see together, is a wonderful thing.
Q: Tell us a little bit about how you keep your son intact when he has that world around him.
DL: Oh. Oh, you know, unfortunately there’s no playbook for parenthood, right? So you make it up as you go along. All you can try to do is set the best example that you can, and guide them in what you deem to be appropriate directions. So. . .
Q: We’ve been so impressed by so many of the roles that you’ve played. It would take me a long time to name them all. So I just want to say how do you as a professional actor stay a positive role model on and off the set?
DL: You know, if you’ve seen some of the work that I’ve done, I’ve done lots of different characters on both sides of the law. Whatever I am doing I try to approach it with an integrity, with a view to illuminating whatever human being that I’m playing and try to present as three-dimensional a human being as I can.
Melora Hardin, from HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what’s important to have in an inspiring message to your audience?
MH: Well I mean I just think that, you know, when a script is written from someone’s heart then that’s going to naturally come through the performances and into the film, and it’s going to be very evident that it came from someone’s heart. And yeah, so I’m really excited to be here. HANNAH MONTANA, THE MOVIE that I starred in is being recognized tonight and being celebrated, so it’s very exciting.
Q: Now how do you stay a positive example on and off the set?
MH: I just try to stay true to myself and stay grounded and stay connected to my family and friends.
Matt Ward from CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN
Q: So Matt, why is MOVIEGUIDE® so important for families? Do you think watching movies that have good moral content is important?
MW: You know, I think it’s really important. I mean the thing is it’s always important to get a wide variety of things and I think that, yeah, family-friendly programming does get pushed to the back burner sometimes. I think it’s very important to come back and go to a place where we, I don’t know, have the moral aptitude to judge ourselves, right? That’s why I think the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards are very important.
Q: Who inspired you to be an actor?
MW: Spencer Tracy. He has a speech at the end of the movie that really inspired me to be an actor. It was such a great, I guess, I don’t know. Anyways, watch it: GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER. Amazing. Yeah.
Mark Hefti and Frederic Lumiere from WWII in HD
Q: Tell us a little bit about the project you recently worked on.
MH: Well, we were involved in a project called WORLD WAR II IN HD, which premiered on The History Channel, and it’s been doing great so far.
FL: It took a very long time to make, about a year and a half, and it’s the story of twelve characters who – true stories – twelve veterans, and what we did is we searched around the world for color footage of World War II that hadn’t been seen before and we stitched it together into an incredible ten-part series on History Channel which is actually airing tonight again. And what we did is that we took our skills as filmmakers of feature film and brought it to documentary filmmaking and really gives people the feel of a feature film in documentary. So it’s really the story of The War. It starts right before Pearl Harbor and ends all the way to the end of The War, and we have twelve characters that intertwine – a little bit like BAND OF BROTHERS – and Mark is one of the characters and what we do is we talk to the veterans as they are today and then we slowly merge with their voice to younger actors and transport ourselves into history, and go back to the forties, and tell their stories. So that’s what it is.
MH: Yeah, there were a lot of great actors working on it. Gary Sinise actually was the narrator and L.L. Cool J was in it, Tim DeKay, Rob Corddry, James Kyson-Lee, who was here already, right? I think he was here. A lot of great actors in it. It brought this other dimension of the modern mixing with the past and I think it really helped to bring World War II IN HD to life. And Frederic, who is the director and producer of it, really I think knocked it out of the park, and it’s a great piece.
Q: So can you tell me, is it important to have your children and every other member of your family view films that have good family content and moral values?
FL: Oh yes, it is. And actually I have a three and a half year-old and a one and a half year-old, and whenever my three and a half years hears World War II she says, “Oh Daddy, that’s your film.” I don’t really want her to see it though, but ultimately yes it is. You know, you want to feel as a parent that you don’t want to be on the edge, you don’t want to be wondering what’s going to come next that is going to embarrass you or it’s something that you don’t want your children to see. So absolutely, I think it’s nice to know that there are films and productions and programming out there that is safe for kids, and yet also teach them some good lessons, you know, that evil loses, good wins, that sort of stuff. It’s just kind of like your babysitter, you know, that helps you out. You don’t want the TV to work against you. You don’t want the film to work against you – you want it to work with you. So yeah, absolutely, it’s very important to me.
Joe Fab, writer, co-director, producer, BEDFORD: THE TOWN THEY LEFT BEHIND
Q: What’s it like to win a MOVIEGUIDE Award?
JF: You mean besides an enormous shock? I mean, I’m a huge fan of TAKING CHANCE and some of the other films that I’ve seen. So, it’s totally unexpected and remarkable.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to honor movies like your movie that honor positive American values and present a positive view of America and American life?
JF: One of the things that I have a personal mission about is, I think it’s difficult for me to deal with the fact that we in America, we have this option if we take it today to, if we want to avoid certain bits of the news and the newspapers, we can sort of erase the fact that we’re involved in two wars right now. People in World War II did not have that option. The entire country was at war. Everyone was sacrificing; everyone was involved. So, one of the things I personally wanted to have the film do is kind of make people think about that. There’s a continuity here. There are families, there are people who are really sacrificing daily, and we must not allow ourselves to be not a part of that.
Q: What do you think so far of the MOVIEGUIDE Awards and their mission to honor faith and values in movies and television?
JF: There can’t be any question that we need to point out when values worth celebrating are reflected in films. No question. And, I appreciate that MOVIEGUIDE does that. I appreciate that when you look at the list of films that are included tonight, you’re looking at films that, where somebody’s given a second thought. They’ve considered it. They could have gone the easy way, they could have made it all about car chases or explosions or something, and they’ve instead decided to reflect some values. And, I certainly appreciate that.
David Bowers, writer/director, ASTRO BOY
Q: How does it feel to be part of the Best Family Movies of the year?
DB: I think it’s really great. I think it’s lovely that MOVIEGUIDE noticed ASTRO BOY and liked ASTRO BOY. It’s nice to win an award for the things that we thought were important. You know, we hear talk about redemptive qualities of storytelling, and ASTRO BOY is a very hopefully uplifting movie.
Q: Is it important to give family movies like ASTRO BOY recognition?
DB: I think there are a lot of great movies for families out there, but I don’t think there are enough. And, I’d love to see more. I have a four year old daughter, and the things I’d like her to see – you know, they’re very few and far between. There may be ten a year. And she loves going to the movies. So really with ASTRO BOY, we wanted to make a good family movie that hopefully parents take their kids to, and it’s a great movie for boys. That was really the goal.
Q: What do you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and its awards?
DB: I think it’s great. I don’t think there are enough family films made each year, to be honest with you. I’d like to have more movies to take my 4-year-old daughter to, and I think it’s great that these kind of movies do get honored by MOVIEGUIDE®.
Elizabeth Stanton of ELIZABETH STANTON’S GREAT BIG WORLD
Q: So what do you think about the MOVIEGUIDE Awards?
ES: I think they’re great just to honor movies that are good for all families, ‘cause I know how awkward it can be. Like going to movies with your parents that aren’t always appropriate. And these movies are just great because they’re good for the whole family, and they’re just family oriented. I think it’s just better because I know when I grow up, I don’t want my kids to be learning about really racy stuff and just going to movies like that. I want them to be going to like good movies like they’re showing in these awards.
Q: Do you think awards like this can have a positive impact on the entertainment industry and on children themselves?
ES: Definitely. I mean, just good movies like can definitely influence kids to do better because if like all they do is like promote racy stuff, then I guess kids will probably influence that instead of just learning good values and morals.
Jacki Levine, vice president of creative affairs for Walt Disney Studios, who accepted the award for DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Q: What do you think about winning this award?
JL: It’s a great honor. I’m accepting it on behalf of Bob Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey. Everyone put a lot of time and energy into the movie and really honored to win an award here. It’s a really great cause, and we’re very appreciative. We thank our company, Image Movers Digital and the Walt Disney Company. So thank you.
Q: What about making family movies and having them honored in a special awards like this? How important is that for your studio?
JL: Oh, it’s very important for Walt Disney. That’s what the basis of the studio is. And for us it’s equally as important, and making quality family entertainment is really a priority for us. So we’re thrilled.
Paul Baribault, vice president of special events for Walt Disney Studios, who accepted the award for EARTH
Q: What impact does this make, having an award like this for EARTH, your movie?
PB: It’s really a perfect award for this film. When we set out to establish the Disney Nature label, it was really a cornerstone of it to make films that were appropriate for all audiences, in particular the family audience. So, to be recognized with the award, with that sort of a focus, is really a perfect type of award for us to receive.
Q: What sort of impact does the MOVIEGUIDE Award have on a studio like Disney, not only in its nature films but all its other family branded movies?
PB: Well, the Disney Nature film label is really the perfect type of film label that’s designed to create content for the natural world, to give people the chance to see the planet like they’d never otherwise get to see. So, it really gives audiences a chance to see the world, experience it, enjoy it, and really make it a theatrical-going experience to explore that world.
Hoyt Yeatman, director of G-FORCE, and his son, Hoyt, Jr., creator of the story
Q: What do you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and its awards?
HY: Well, I think it’s great! Well “G-Force” is a family movie, but I think it’s fantastic to have awards that support that. You know, it’s really hard to make movies, in general, and so the more we can show that they’re box office successes, the better off all of us will be in making movies.
Q: What is the impact of having such an honor?
HY: Well, it really is an honor. It’s my very first film, and this is kind of a homegrown film for sure, around the kitchen table about six years ago. My son was five, and he came up with the original concept. He took the classroom guinea pig home and then told me the story about how a little guinea pig would save the day, and from that sprang the idea, and eventually a full feature motion picture. So it was a pretty amazing journey that we took, really from soup to nuts.
Q: And what’s your little guy’s name?
HY: Hoyt Yeatman….
HYIV: And I’m Hoyt again.
HY: I’m junior. He’s actually the fourth.
Q: How did you get such a creative story?
HYIV: I don’t know. I just kind of came up with it from the guinea pig and all that.
HY: He liked action films, and he liked Army men and stuff like that. So when you apply it to a guinea pig, it’s cute, and high technology makes some great characters.
Q: What’s the impact for the entertainment industry and on your movie to be at an awards show like this?
HY: Well, I think it’s great ‘cause it shows that it did very well at the box office. It has good morals, it has good family values, and it’s good entertainment. And I think that’s what really makes it, puts seats in the box office is it makes the studios happy. And Jerry Bruckheimer, I think, did a great job – it was a real leap of faith. It was a different type of movie than he’s ever made before. And he really supported me, which was fantastic. Walt Disney Studios was also really great too in releasing something like this, ‘cause it was a very different kind of movie.
Q: Hoyt, what do you think of your first award?
HYIV: It’s really cool. I’ve never had anything like it before.
Kevin Adams, animation director for 9
Q: What do you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and its awards?
KA: I love it, actually. I mean, it’s important to me when I create films that I do something that’s not morally reprehensible. I mean, I’ve been on projects and been asked to do projects that, you know, they don’t really raise anything up, and you feel bad for doing them, so I love that people are finally honoring that as a significant part of the filmmaking process. I think it’s great.
Heather Kenyon, Vice President of Sales and Development, Starz Animation, for “9”:
Q: What do you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and its awards?
It’s great it’s such a broad interpretation of what’s a positive message. Our studio also worked on Veggietales, which is brilliant and great and fantastic, you know. It’s some of the best, just most fun stuff for kids out there, which you can say clearly, “Oh, that’s Christian.” But there’s a lot of other ways to be very positive in media without necessarily kind of really hitting themes again and again. So I think it’s great to have something like this to say, look these are all different ways that you can get across really positive messages without it necessarily being, you know, quotes from the Bible….
Regarding the availability of family movies in theaters: This past summer it was kind of hard to find films that you could take your kids to that weren’t too scary, that weren’t too violent. So, a part of my job now is to begin to develop films for our studio to make, and that’s one area we’re really looking at just because in the feature film niche, there isn’t a lot of good stuff for families, like you’re also honoring G-Force here tonight, and that came out and shot to number one, the top of the box office because it was a fun movie that families could go see in a time when there really wasn’t much stuff like that out. So, I think that hopefully someone somewhere at a big studio is keeping an eye on that trend.
The Producers of KNOWING
Q: We’re live backstage with the fine gentlemen, the producers of KNOWING. Tell us a little bit about your inspiration for your film.
Prod. Jason Blumenthal: It’s a story that we’ve been developing for – it took about 10 years to bring it to the screen. It’s something that we started with a basic simple premise of how far would a father and son go to protect each other. The movie developed and evolved over the years to something much bigger than what we started with, but the core central message of hope and that the potential for life to keep moving forward is embodied within the piece that we envisioned. So, we’re excited about that.
Q: Why do you think family values are so important in films?
Exec. Prod. David Bloomfield: I think that’s a universal message, and that’s what people go to the movies for is to relate to something. This was a movie that really we set out to make a science fiction film, but you have to embed a story in it that people are going to relate to. That’s what we ended up with, and it was a commercial success partially, because I think it really appealed to a broad audience all the way across the country.
Q: Do you think MOVIEGUIDE has the power to relay a good message to families all around the country?
JB: I think as the faith-based audience continues to grow at such a rapid pace, it’s inevitable that movies will start to really embrace the messages that those audiences seek out. We found something that we were able to do on a creative and a commercial level that attracted that audience. I think more producers and filmmakers that are able to really embrace that will find much more box office success, and their films become more valuable to a commercial audience.
Maureen Crowe, music supervisor for THE YOUNG VICTORIA
Q: Being connected to music, how do you feel music and the media have an influence on our culture?
MC: I think it has a great influence on our culture, and I think that in YOUNG VICTORIA, for example, we had a beautiful theme written because we really wanted to portray the strong emotion that these people had for each other, that it was something that they felt their love only was for each other but also was of service to their country, and they wanted to do greater good. With that theme we were able to create an end title song. The theme was written by Ilan Ezekiel, a wonderful composer, who also composed THE STARDUST. And, we got Pam Shay and Nicky Anders to write these beautiful lyrics that were expressing that only you can understand how I feel, and with you I can do all these things. So, the song became really about empowerment and the empowerment that comes from true love.
Greg Carlson, writer of THE GOOD DOCTOR, the grand prize winner for the $50,000 Kairos Prizes supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation
Q: So, right now we’re with Greg Carlson, one of the finalists for the Kairos Prize. Greg, can you tell us a little bit why the Kairos Prize is so important?
GC: The reason why it’s so important is because for screenwriters who have not had something made before this is a fantastic opportunity to be seen and be heard and have an opportunity to possibly get our screenplay read by some big studio stuff, so it’s really exciting.
Q: So we heard that your dad and you co-wrote the script and your dad actually had an accident and couldn’t be here tonight.
GC: Yeah, he’s 77-years-old, and he was skiing and he broke his ankle and so he had some issues with that, and he couldn’t be here tonight. So we’re bummed, but we’re real happy to be here anyway.
Q: So why is it so important to have good family values and standards in film?
GC: Oh, man, ‘cause that’s what everybody really, really wants. Look at THE BLIND SIDE. Look at all these films that have done so well. People want to have good values; good stories and they’re usually with some sort of spiritual Christian center to them, and Hollywood’s finally kind of gettin’ it. So it’s exciting.
Q: Can you sum up the meaning of MOVIEGUIDE® to you, like what it means to you and if it has some sort of impact on audiences.
GC: Well it’s really the only thing out there that a family can look at to see what films have been viewed first, and then have some sort of guide. . . especially with the little kids.
Q: Why don’t you give a shout to your dad.
GC: He Dad, I love you so much. This would not have happened without you. You’re my best friend, my co-writer. And, I just pray you get better. This is for you and me and for Uncle Paul (the person on whom the script is based).
Sherry Cook, first runner-up in the Kairos Prize Competition
Q: So we’re live backstage with Sherry Cook, one of the Kairos Prize winners. Sherry, how are you feeling tonight?
SC: Oh, extremely excited and honored to be here. I love what MOVIEGUIDE is doing, and it’s really an honor to be here.
Q: What do you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and its awards?
SC: I just think MOVIEGUIDE®’s a great organization. As a mom of six, I really appreciate the fact that they are trying to bring faith and values back into the movie and film industry. Like I said, I screen all the things my kids watch, and my kids use it also as a tool, because they don’t want to watch all this extra stuff in movies. They want to see things that are good and uplifting and that glorify God and bring up hope and different things.
Q: How did you hear about the Kairos contest?
SC: Well, we’ve followed MOVIEGUIDE® for years. I always screen movies before all of my six kids watch them, and we use it and we just found out about it on the website.
Q: Do you think it’s encouraging for aspiring screenwriters to be able to submit their screenplays that way and earn a prize?
SC: I do. I think it encourages more people to try to write scripts that can glorify God and bring back faith and values into the movie industry. I think there’s a great need for it, and I think it also encourages the movie industry to know that, yes, people want this and to make more films like that.
Johnny Davis, writer of LION OF THE NORTH, the second runner-up for the $50,000 Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters
Q: We’re live backstage with the Kairos finalist, Johnny Davis and his mom. Mom, what’s your first name?
Q: Tell us what the title of your screenplay is.
JD: It’s LION OF THE NORTH.
Q: Give us a little background about your screenplay, and give us a brief synopsis.
JD: This is about King Gustav Adolphus, the national hero of Sweden. He was king during the 1500s at a time when the Church was almost destroyed by the Hapsburg Empire. And he laid down his life both literally speaking in order to save the Church and to save Sweden. But even before that, he had to choose to give up his own happiness in order to fulfill God’s calling upon his life. So he’s very much a Christ-like king, and I really consider him to be the greatest king of the Church age.
Q: That’s amazing. So would you say that your mom has been a lot of your inspiration behind your writing?
JD: Well, my mother’s been very supportive. I was always closest to my mother, and she’s always been supportive. So she’s been hearing about this for a long time.
Q: Mom, when he told you he was going to enter the Kairos Prize, what did you think?
Mom: To tell you the truth, I didn’t think anything would ever come of it. (LAUGHTER) But, I didn’t say anything. You know, as far as everything he’s ever done, I told him he could do anything he wanted to, that he could. And I’ve always encouraged him, and I’ve always been there when he needed me to give him support. I’m very proud of him. But, we really need to give all the glory to God.
Q: Amen to that. Are you excited as a Christian screenwriter for what your future holds?
JD: Oh yes, this is very much what I want to do. I want to honor God with this, and really historical drama is the real thing that I really would like to do because I’ve always been into history. I view history not as some dry history like a lot of history professors I run into, but I view it as all one great novel written by God and you can see the hand of both God and Satan throughout all of history. And, all of it is relevant, no matter what part of history of mankind we’re talking about, ‘cause it’s all heading towards the end that God has already written.
Dr. Alan Sproles and Lizanne Southgate, writers of THE TRANSLATOR, a story about Walter Tinsdale, which tied with Johnny Davis for second runner-up to the Kaiors Prizes
Q: The title of the screenplay is THE TRANSLATOR. And you both co-wrote the script?
AS: She’s the brains of the outfit, and I’m – what am I?
LS: The doctor. (LAUGHTER)
Q: You doctor it up, right?
AS: I doctor it up, right.
LS: He’s the energy. He creates the ideas, and when I come up with an outline, then he goes, “And, we need this.” So Alan can put all the pieces together. I just write the pieces.
Q: That’s amazing.
AS: We have a formula. We work together well.
Q: Speaking with you earlier, you basically said the idea of THE TRANSLATOR means that the character died for words. Is that correct?
AS: He died for words. Once he started translating The Bible into English, Henry the Eighth and the Pope was after him. And they eventually got him.
Q: They got him?
AS: They got him; they got their man. But not before he translated most of The Bible into English.
Q: They got him, and we got The Bible.
LS: Yeah, we ended up with the King James Bible eventually.
Q: I just think that’s an amazing story that you both chose to write about. And it’s a great dramatic piece, and we’re so excited to get to be able to watch it.
LS: Well, I hope it gets made. Then you can see it. Then we’ll come back and pick up a Family Values Award for movies.
Q: Then they’ll win a MOVIEGUIDE® Award.
AS: You can thank the Huntington Museum for giving me the idea for THE TRANSLATOR. They had an exhibit there.
Q: Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
LS: We’re working on ANNIE OAKLEY.
Q: Annie Oakley, nice.
AS: We just finished her script on Annie Oakley’s real life. The Annie Oakley you’ve heard about before is not the real Annie Oakley.
Q: Well, maybe we’ll see you guys next year again.
LS: That would be good. We’d be honored.