Backstage at the 19th Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala
Interviews by Evy Baehr and Michael Boerner
Transcription by Janice Snyder
Actor Kevin Sorbo, Grace Award winner for WHAT IF. . . and from television’s HERCULES, and his wife, Sam
MG: Tell me about your success, and who do you attribute to your success?
Sam Sorbo: Me.
Kevin Sorbo: Oh my gosh. She would actually have a huge bit of it, but I had a lot of success before I met her, so….
Sam Sorbo: I am the handicap.
Kevin Sorbo: You know what it is, that’s what why I say. . . When people ask my handicap in golf, I say my wife. It’s an old joke. You know what, I’ve got to say my parents because I was instilled with a hard work ethic and another very good friend of mine before I left Minneapolis, before I moved to L.A. to pursue my dream, he reminded me that it is called show business, not show show. So, I treated it like a business when I got out here, and I just didn’t take no as a negative, I took no as a positive and I used those things as stepping stones to fuel the fire for what I wanted to do, and that was the axe.
MG: So, what made decide to come to MOVIEGUIDE® tonight? I know you are doing a lot of presenting, you’re the MC.
Kevin Sorbo: They took my presenting away because I am MCing. They figure I’m going to be up there enough. I am excited because my movie WHAT IF. . . is up for a number of awards. We got three of the actors, John Ratzenberger, Kristy Swanson, yours truly, up for an acting award and the movie itself, WHAT IF, is up for the best picture.
MG: We are happy you’re here.
Kevin Sorbo: It’s actually very exciting. So, I rushed to get here. Traffic was horrible. I was supposed to get here at 4:00, and we didn’t get here until like 5:30.
MG: You’re just rehearsing right now!
Kevin Sorbo: I ran up on stage and said, okay what are we doing? Okay, good. And, scene.
MG: We are so glad you guys are here.
David Weil, CEO of The Anschutz Film Group, CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOTAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER and AMAZING GRACE, winners of the Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring Movie of 2010 and 2007
David Weil: Every time we come here, good things seem to happen. So, this is the third one we have won and Walden has only been in business 10 years, so it’s a real tremendous validation for us and the kind of movies we are making.
MOVIEGUIDE® (MG): Okay, so how many more we have like six more. Is that what we are going to be honoring, and you’re going to be storing these on your shelf?
David Weil: Well, two of them now have been Narnia movies, and one was AMAZING GRACE and we are about to start, we hope, we are in discussions to make yet another Narnia picture which would be the fourth one, although it’s the first in the series, THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, which is the prequel to the whole Narnia series about the creation of the land of Narnia. With luck, maybe we will win another one.
MG: Yeah, that would be exciting. So, what is the one moral [in DAWN TREADER]. . . that families [should] get?
David Weil: Make the right choices in life. I think that probably covers a lot of the decisions that many of the characters in this movie have to make, and have faith.
MG: So, are you excited that you are here once again at MOVIEGUIDE® Awards?
David Weil: Thrilled, I mean, you know as I say, being honored by a group like this lets us know that we are doing the right thing with the movies we are making and, it’s you know a privilege to make these kind of movies and it’s doubly so to know that we seem to be hitting the right chords with our core audience. So, couldn’t ask for more.
MG: Sounds great. It’s a great message. It’s a great movie, so thank you so much for coming. . .
David Weil: My pleasure.
MG: The evening was about trying to really extol and bring movies that really are making a difference in the faith and values environment. What do you think of these kinds of environments, these kinds of award shows really to try to reward this kind of work?
David Weil: I think there aren’t enough of them, and it just wonderful that MOVIEGUIDE and Ted are doing this because it gives real validation to companies like ours and movies like these and I think sometimes they fly below the radar screen, and with events like this I think they get the recognition that they need to keep going and for more to be made.
MG: Do you think it’s helpful also to take a look at the analytics and kind of compare what is really working and what is successful in the marketplace?
David Weil: Oh sure, and I think you know there is a lot to learn. You know it’s a lesson that you would hope that the big film companies would learn as well that you know less violence, I think you know less profanity, less objectionable material means better box office for the most part. If you look at the films that perform best at the box office every year it’s the G and the PG movies, not the R movies, and those are the kind of movies we make.
MG: What is next for the Narnia franchise?
David Weil: Well, we are discussing whether we are going to do a fourth one now, and if we do it would be THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, which is the creation of Narnia. It’s the prequel to all the other books.
MG: That sounds very exciting. With a film at this size and scale, describe what it’s like to try to get that thing off the ground.
David Weil: I think that it’s probably like building an aircraft carrier probably. It is, this last film took over probably 3 ½ years. There was more or less nine months of shooting in Australia, about another nine months to a year in London in post production, and before we even got to the shooting there was probably a year’s worth of writing to get it all going so you know it’s a massive undertaking, very expensive, but with the kind of results we have been getting we hope to continue it.
Director Randall Wallace of SECRETARIAT, winner of the Best 2010 Movie for Mature Audiences
MG: You’ve got the enlarged Teddy Bear, so did this make up for all that traffic and stuff?
Randall Wallace: Yes, this made up for all the traffic. I was so gratified to hear SECRETARIAT called, especially at this, and I feel grateful for all the people that worked so hard on this movie; the producers, the writer, my editor John Wright, composer Nick Glennie-Smith, and Dean Semler, who shot the movie in such a great way. All of those people deserve this award, so I am glad to be able to share it with them.
MG: Yeah, so what is next? What is the next big project?
Randall Wallace: Well, I want to do another project in the BRAVEHEART vein, something that is a big historical epic. I’ve got that in mind. It’s called LOVE AND HONOR and Channing Tatum is set to star, and we are pulling together the rest of the cast right now. It’s something I have worked on for a long time I am really excited about.
MG: Okay, I think that’s going to be another winner. It definitely will be another winner. Are you going to come back?
Randall Wallace: I will come back, of course.
MG: Okay, well I am excited that you got it. Very excited. Your son, was he enjoying it in there?
Randall Wallace: Yeah. It’s a great night to see everyone. It’s a night about affirmation and it excites me to see that.
MG: So what would you say like the key moral in SECRETARIAT is for families to get out of it?
Randall Wallace: Well, for me, what the movie was about was that Secretariat himself did something that inspired everyone. He ran with all of his heart. A sportswriter said watching Secretariat running the Belmont, it was as if God had whispered in his ear, Go! And, he went. And I thought, how do we hear the voice of God, and how do we answer it? How do we give ourselves without fear of what happens to us that we really give ourselves to the race and run the way we are meant to run? That is what the movie was about for me.
MG: I love that. I love that line from the sportswriter. It’s an incredible story how he just came back from sprinting the last race, it was just incredible. And who was this horse? They didn’t even think that it was going to be someone, and then it turned out to be a great racer.
Randall Wallace: Yeah. No one thought that what he did was possible. In fact, it was almost impossible to think he could do it because no horse had ever done anything remotely like that before or since. And Secretariat had a bigger heart than most other horses, but so did the great horse he ran against, Sham, and no matter how big your heart is, you’ve got to give it. You’ve got to give it all.
MG: Well, SECRETARIAT, what an amazing movie. What do you think of this whole concept for MOVIEGUIDE® to be able to really elevate and honor movies like this?
Randall Wallace: Well, it’s good to be celebrated and to celebrate. I mean the audience is a big participant in the making of a story. The audience helps create the story and to focus on what is the key value, what strikes our hearts, I think, draws that out of the great filmmakers.
MG: When you created the first scene, was that always in your mind to start with the Book of Job in the first opening moments of the film?
Randall Wallace: The passage from the Book of Job was a late addition to the process. We were actually considering what an alternate title might be. I asked some friends of mine in Mississippi to think about it and some friends at an advertising agency in Jackson, Mississippi, the Serial Agency, were talking about it, praying about it, and one of them went home and was going through the Bible and sent me an e-mail the next day and said this passage is right to the heart of this story. I read the passage and we never changed the title, we kept the title SECRETARIAT, but that passage struck me as the perfect way to really announce what the movie is about.
MG: It sure hit home well. So, do you feel like this kind of work is going to help more movies like this be produced? Is this a good thing for the overall industry to realize that movies like this make more money and do better at the box office?
Randall Wallace: It’s certainly good to get that message out that these are movies that hit an audience that maybe isn’t the noisiest audience, maybe isn’t the most noticeable, but it’s a huge audience, an audience that really matters. It’s like what the backbone is. We see the skin, we see the muscles, but it’s the backbone that keeps it all together. I think this audience is about that.
MG: What else is next for you besides LOVE AND HONOR?
Randall Wallace: I’ve got a lot of things that I’m looking toward. I am doing a pilot with Carlton Ques, who was one of the guys who worked on Lost, and we are doing a pilot called Point of Honor for ABC.
Actress Kristy Swanson of WHAT IF. . . and numerous TV shows and movies
MG: So tell me Kristy, who do you attribute your success to?
Kristy Swanson: Who do I attribute my success to? Well it’s a lot of things. It’s a lot of things all coming together. You know. I never thought of that. You really put me on the spot, you. Oh my goodness.
MG: Well, wait. What inspires you about acting or about life, let’s do it even more general.
Kristy Swanson: I mean, there are so many, I mean you know I mean I started acting when I was such a young girl. I was nine years old, and so you know my mom and my dad, just being behind me and helping me through it and you know, and that’s the other thing like growing up as an actress, you know as a young girl and as a teenager and my early twenties, and you know a lot of people would always say to me how come you are so normal? Like, you are not like, I don’t know what they think I’m supposed to be, but they always say you are down to earth you know and I always would say I think it’s because of my upbringing you know. I think it’s because of my parents and the values that they taught me and stuff, so I think that they have a large part to do you know with where I am today.
MG: Yeah, so what of motivated you to do acting and stuff like that? What was the first thing that triggered?
Kristy Swanson: At nine. At nine. I actually literally was watching TV and I saw kids on a TV show or in a commercial and I was going how come, who are they? Like how come they get to? I want to do that. I could do that. My mom is like I don’t know, that’s in Hollywood somewhere you know. So it was one of those situations and I just, but prior to that was you know I would get involved in my church like musicals and plays and I would go to you know anything in the community that I could find that would have anything to do with acting that I could sink my teeth into or get involved with and so I don’t know. It just sort of happened
MG: So, what’s up next?
Kristy Swanson: Next I have well, WHAT IF has been out in the theaters, and then that is coming to DVD now. Then I have a sci-fi movie coming out this summer called SWAMP SHARK. That is with D.B. Sweeny and Robert Davi, and then I have another faith based film coming out at Christmas time.
MG: Oh, cool. So, what made you interested in coming out to MOVIEGUIDE® tonight?
Kristy Swanson: Well, I have heard about MOVIEGUIDE® all of my life because my Aunt Kathy, who is here, she is right over there, has been following your dad, or should I say Ted Baehr, she has been following Ted Baehr and MOVIEGUIDE® for 30 years
Kristy Swanson: Like she that has been her Bible of you know because she raised two teenage girls and you know like so you know that was her way of you know of you know finding out what movies should I go see, which ones should I not see and she always swore by it, and she just can’t wait to meet Ted tonight, so I am going to introduce her.
MG: I want to meet her. That’s awesome.
Kristy Swanson: Yeah, I know. She’s the best. Yeah, I want to bring her over. We’ve got to introduce her to Teddy.
Kristy Swanson’s Aunt Kathy: Okay I have daughters that are 38 and 41, 38 and 41,I’ve never done this, 38 and 41 and when they were teenagers 16, 14, 15 Ted had his MOVIEGUIDE®. I also at that time had a ministry at my church, at Saddleback Church, and I had it for 18 years, and I would get the MOVIEGUIDE® and I would run off all of the recommendations and I would put it out on my table. But my daughters say to me right now it’s really funny mom we never got to go to a movie unless it was in the MOVIEGUIDE®.
MG: I love it. I love this story.
Kristy Swanson’s Aunt Kathy: Yeah, so that was how many years ago. I mean they are now, you know that was 20 years ago.
MG: Wow, longer than me.
Kristy Swanson’s Aunt Kathy: So we really, that was our Bible.
MG: That’s great. I mean I’ll watch a movie and then I’ll go to the review and I’m like why didn’t I read the review before because it’s like it’s exactly what I was thinking during the movie.
Kristy Swanson’s Aunt Kathy: And he was so thorough he had everything, anything and everything in there that would be maybe objectionable to a Christian family. And so I just really appreciated it because I was very afraid that they would be going to the wrong kind of movie. So, he really helped me.
MG: Great. Thanks for the interview. Yeah, I love it.
Kristy Swanson: That’s my Aunt Kathy. She’s MOVIEGUIDE®’s number one biggest fan.
MG: I love it. I love it.
Larry Thompson, executive producer of AMISH GRACE, winner of the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Most Inspiring TV Program of 2010, and CEO of the Larry Thompson Organization
MG: Tell me about AMISH GRACE and the message in AMISH GRACE.
Larry Thompson: Well, you know God asks us to forgive those who trespass against us. Sometimes it’s harder to do than others, and in this small town in Pennsylvania, this Amish community, forgave a man for killing their children in the schoolhouse and then went to the wife and showed compassion. So, they set an example of forgiveness that we have never seen before. That made a very, very powerful movie.
MG: What inspired you to do it?
Larry Thompson: Well maybe it was a lesson I had to learn. I don’t know because I learned a lot in the making of the movie. And I think that is what a movie is about. It tests you. I know you’re supposed to forgive, but could you forgive someone who did this to your child? So it asks a very though question, and I think the movie will touch people in a very special way.
MG: So, tell me what you think about MOVIEGUIDE® and why you are here.
Larry Thompson: Well, firstly I am thrilled to be here, number one, with my family. This is my wife, Kelly, and this is Taylor and Trevor who both are in the movie. They play two little Amish children in the movie.
Larry Thompson: But I am very appreciative to MOVIEGUIDE® for recognizing faith based movies that inspires us and motivates us. It recognizes projects that get made. This is a tough town to get a faith based project made. So, it’s organizations like you that support it and motivate us to do more.
Actor Madison Mason of AMISH GRACE and numerous movies and TV shows
MG: So, tell me who do you attribute your success to?
Madison Mason: Oh gosh, the Lord.
MG: I like that response.
Madison Mason: I stay in touch, you know.
MG: Okay. So what inspired you to get into this industry?
Madison Mason: Well, I was just telling Lisa that you know my wife said to me the other day, we were talking about my son, who is 22, and he is you know trying to find out what he wants to do. He has moved to San Francisco, and I am saying why can’t he just choose something? She said Madison, you were blessed because you had a calling, and I did. I knew when I was six years old that this is what I would be doing. So, this is what I have always done you know and I have digressed in other areas and I am musically creative as well and I also paint and draw and I write and I do all those things, but I have always been an actor and I always will be.
MG: That’s great. So, what’s up next?
Madison Mason: I am going to Japan to do a movie, yeah next month, yeah.
MG: That’s great.
Madison Mason: I did a wonderful movie there about two years ago. I didn’t know what I was getting into, whether it was going to be some little Japanese indy picture or TV picture or something. It was huge. It was huge. And we shot it at Toho studios where Kurosawa shot all of his movies and where Godzilla was born and so we are going back to do another one with those people, so cool.
MG: What brought you here tonight at MOVIEGUIDE®?
Madison Mason: I just wanted to support the movie. You know, they invited me. I generally try to hide out from these things. I would rather sit around in my studio and play my guitar you know, but I really wanted to support this. I really believe in this movie. AMISH GRACE is a beautiful movie, and I can’t, I mean I’m a big gnarly you know tough guy, and I can’t watch that movie without crying because its heart is so in the right place, and its message is so beautiful.
MG: That message being?
Madison Mason: Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Love and forgiveness. That is the only thing that is going to heal this world. Isn’t it a beautiful piece of work! (Looking at trophy) I am stunned. I mean truly I am stunned. I did not expect it, and I had no idea this was going to happen. I didn’t know what I was getting involved in tonight. I came and I met your father and I saw everything that was going on and I heard everything that he was talking about and I am so 100% behind what he is doing. Anything I can do to help MOVIEGUIDE® and this entire organization, I will do it. And the numbers really impressed me. You know, all the statistics he gave us. I had no idea that we were making that powerful of a statement because you look around and you think it’s all just you know violence and sex and drugs and just the dark, dark satanic side of life, and it’s not. We are a real force out there.
MG: Yeah. The actual statistics that show it’s the numbers …
Madison Mason: No, it’s amazing and I am a writer and a musician composer. I mean I have written you know I have written musicals that I have directed off Broadway in New York, so I am going to write a piece. I’m inspired. Let’s just put it that way, I’m inspired.
MG: That’s great. I am excited. But what about your character in this movie? Tell me about him.
Madison Mason: My character was a man named Levi Brennerman who was the deacon of the community, the Amish community. He was the man who was sort of the solid rock, who as badly as he was hurt by what had happened; he made certain that we followed Jesus’ tenements to forgive. And it’s a beautiful story and it’s a true story and these beautiful Amish people went to the widow of the man who killed those little girls and then killed himself and said we forgive him. We want you to know that we forgive him and, not only that, we are your neighbors and we will do anything that we can to help you in any way you and your family.
MG: That’s an incredible story. Moving, very moving. So, very appropriate that it would win this award. Yeah.
MG: So, you won the Grace Award. Congratulations. What is it like to be in an award ceremony where they elevate faith and family values?
Madison Mason: Oh, it’s fantastic. It’s a gift from God. It truly is. I was sitting there earlier and thinking thank you, Lord. I have asked you for guidance and this is where you have put me. I didn’t see this coming at all. This came totally out of the blue. The whole evening. Everything.
MG: What do you think of Ted’s work to try to really continue to encourage this level of work?
Madison Mason: Oh, I am behind him 100%. I’ll do anything he wants me to do. No, seriously I never met him before, and when I met him we had a conversation right over here and I was just so profoundly impressed with him and what he is doing is, it doesn’t even seem to be a struggle I guess. He just does it so well. This is 19 years this has been going on, and it will go on certainly for another 19 and maybe beyond all of this. I hope so.
MG: Do you think that showing some of the analytics of how these kinds of films do well compared to all the rest of them is really helpful?
Madison Mason: Well I was amazed at the numbers, weren’t you? Yeah, really. Let’s do more of this.
Producer Dean Zanuck of GET LOW
MG: Tell me about your film.
Dean Zanuck: GET LOW?
MG: Yes, I loved GET LOW.
Dean Zanuck: Thank you.
MG: I shouldn’t …
Dean Zanuck: You can say that. Well, you know GET LOW was a labor of love for many of us involved in it. It started back in 2000 when the first script arrived on our desk and you know it immediately spoke to us on a thematic level; love, loss, regret, reconciliation and moreover it was very original and there wasn’t anything quite like it. We knew immediately that it was a story that we had to tell, and once we had Robert Duvall’s interest there was really no going back.
MG: Great. That was such a great character for him.
Dean Zanuck: Yeah, I know. He responded to it right away and you know he had a lot of patience with us as we tried to raise the financing for it which is very difficult these days, and we weren’t looking for a lot of money, but it’s a period drama with an older set of characters and those kinds of films just aren’t really getting made, and it doesn’t matter if you have three American icons with Bill and Sissy also involved, but eventually we found you know backers that believed in the story and believed in the filmmakers and got it made.
MG: So you’re kind of in this heightened effect of this movie that is so great, and you just came out and stuff like that, but what is next? What is the next big goal and the next big thing coming up for you?
Dean Zanuck: Well, as a producer you always have to have a bunch of films in the hopper, and I’ve got a couple of good ones, always aiming for a real sort of level of quality and just making movies that first and foremost appeal to me. I am not trying to chase the market or the trends, just you know if I connect with them I think I’m a pretty good judge and you know ultimately they will connect with others.
MG: So what inspired you to come to MOVIEGUIDE® Awards tonight?
Dean Zanuck: Well, I think we are nominated so yeah it is a first for me. I have never been to these awards. We are sort of at the tail end of a really long run with this film and a lot of events and festivals. Any time you have a chance you know to be honored or recognized you know it’s important to give back and support the people that are supporting you, so that is why we are here.
MG: We are so glad you are. Thank you for the interview.
MG: So, you won the award. Way to go. What is this like to be at the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards where we kind of elevate faith and values?
Dean Zanuck: It’s fantastic. I wish there were more organizations supporting this type of story-telling and content. You know, it’s nice to have a balance to all the sort of sensation and exploitation that we are sort of bombarded with on a daily basis and nights like this are extra special because you know they come from a real grounded you know space you know of morals and just you know strong integrity.
MG: What do you think of this contrast of the actual analytics of the film business where they actually measure what does well and what doesn’t?
Dean Zanuck: It’s pretty intense. I never you know did that well in any sort of mathematics, but I am just a firm believer in telling you know a good story will find you know a good audience and the fact that this one happened can’t contain those elements you know the thematic content of you know forgiveness and redemption and regret and reconciliation and love and loss. All those all sort of you know combined to tell a very interesting tale you know that moved people in a way that I wish more films could.
MG: You worked with some serious talent on this film. What was it like to have all those guys together?
Dean Zanuck: Oh well, you know, I would have to pinch myself everyday walking around the set and there was Robert Duvall and Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek and you know those are three American acting icons and I always call it the you know the hat trick of filmmaking to get such quality performers like that. You just hope you get one movie with one of them, but to get a chance to work with them all is really a special thing.
MG: What was that like to try to attract that level of talent and get them all involved in your film?
Dean Zanuck: Well, it’s never easy and there are a lot of forces conspiring against it from happening, but it starts with a very strong screenplay, which we had, and then once Robert Duvall came on, and he was the first one to come on, he is like a magnet. You know, the credibility factor goes way up and he helps you know draw others in. That is what happened with GET LOW.
Executive Producer and Animation Supervisor Glen Keane of Walt Disney’s TANGLED
MG: What was the inspiration for TANGLED?
Glen Keane: Well, originally the inspiration was from the Grimm’s fairy tale.
MG: Yeah, but your movie is a lot lighter than this.
Glen Keane: Yes, yeah, and that movie I mean there was quite a few things that Disney we always change from it. But what drew me to the movie, and I started on it 14 years ago, so I have been working on it for 14 years, was this idea that this girl is born from this magical flower and has this healing power inside of her and it is a gift that she’s got to share with the world, but she is being held back. She is being kept back and held in this tower. Even her hair is like a symbol of this irrepressible, uncontainable spirit that she’s got. That is what really drove me. That is the thing I think that inspired me to want to do this story.
MG: I love it how you explain it like that. I mean it definitely, to me, sounds like a faith aspect to it.
Glen Keane: Yeah, well I mean right from the beginning you see that drop falling from the sky. It’s very much an illustration of every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the father of heavenly lights, and that little drop is a symbol of that and that final tear, when it comes out of her eyes, that is still an expression of that same gift that is inside of us and it’s very much something I believe that God has given each of us something to share a potential that in Christ we realize that. It’s a story that also that you put a lot of your own life and faith and your family into it. Like Rapunzel I was thinking, well what does a girl do in this tower? You know, 18 years living in this tower, 18 years, how do you survive? How do you not go nuts? I was thinking, well, if it was my daughter I know what she would do. Even when my daughter, Claire, was like six years old she wanted to paint her walls and her ceiling. She was always asking my wife, and my wife would say we’re not going to have a six year old painting the walls. Well, when I did the movie Claire had just graduated from art school in Paris, so I hired her, and so when Rapunzel paints on the walls it’s actually my daughter Claire.
MG: Great. I love that. That is wonderful. I love that you added that. So, has this been one of your big passions the last 14 years?
Glen Keane: Yeah, this is, I just have been driven to try to get this movie done. We did a couple of other films during that time, but for the last, well since 2001, this is the only thing I have been working on. It feels so good to be done, oh! And that the people are….
MG: And you have a great product.
Glen Keane: Yeah, yeah. You can’t always say that. You can work really hard and sometimes the film doesn’t turn out, but this was absolutely beautiful and to do it in computer was quite a challenge. There are 140,000 individual hairs that we were animating. That was really crazy sometimes just figuring that out.
MG: Well, her hair is beautiful. It is so great.
Glen Keane: Well, if her hair doesn’t work, you don’t have the movie.
MG: What was the thought on doing it in 3D, because originally it was going to be in 2D?
Glen Keane: It was originally going to be a 2D film. At that time Michael Eisner was the head of the studio, and he wanted the film to be as cutting edge as possible, so he said, well I want you to do this in CG. I said, well Michael do you like the drawings that I am showing you? He says I love those. I said, well you can’t do that in CG, and he said but that is why I want you to find a way to take everything that you love about hand drawing and bring it into CG. That was the joy of doing this movie. It was just. I did an enormous amount of drawing, and I think there is something when you see this film there is something extra. If feels more organic than regular CG film. We really tried to bring all the organic hand drawn feel into a CG film.
MG: Yeah. So how do you feel about winning a MOVIEGUIDE® Award or just being here?
Glen Keane: Well, it is wonderful. I mean I am very aware of Ted Baehr’s work through the years and, as an artist working in Hollywood, I think you need encouragement to stand up and express yourself, your faith and who you are and what you believe in your work. So, I mean I’d say that Ted’s influence to me personally gives me courage to stand up and be who I am as a believer in the industry.
MG: I love that response.
MG: So, what are your thoughts of the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards? What is this like to be able to have something that elevates the faith and values of films?
Glen Keane: Well, for me it’s like a recognition of something that I very intentionally wanted the film to have a truth. I guess I feel like that there is this river of truth that really is from God’s word and it’s underneath everything and when you do a film and the tap root goes down into that people sense it, they feel it, they are lifted up by it. I mean this story to me is about a girl who has this incredible potential inside of her to become something, a purpose in life, and she is being held back. The more you hold somebody back from that it creates this uncontainable energy and they have to go out and realize that. I mean that is so much about what God has a purpose for all of us, and it just feels really right to have that be recognized.
MG: Well said. What do you think of the work of Dr. Beahr? Do you think he is making a difference trying to really lift these films up?
Glen Keane: Well, I have heard of Dr. Baehr’s encouragement for a long time. I have been at Disney 37 years, and it seems like at least half of that time or more and he has been out there encouraging artists like myself to take a stand and to express your faith, express what you believe for others. I guess what he does is he makes it easier for us to stand for what we believe, and so he is having a huge impact because I feel it. I did it. I mean I am really living proof that his organization impacts us.
MG: Lastly, what is it like to take a film from script to screen, from idea to concept to all the way out there in the movie theater? What is that like? That is a herculean effort. What has that been like for you?
Glen Keane: Well for me this film started off 14 years ago. I know it’s like way too long to work on any one movie. Fourteen years and a lot of people work on it and what I found is that you’ve got a lot of other people that come in with great ideas and you really can’t claim it for yourself. I got to work on something that was wonderful, but ultimately it’s a gift that God gives us to tell a story and we get to participate in it. I mean at one point on this film after 12 years I had a heart attack on the film and I stepped back from directing and gave the directing to Byron Howard and Nathan Greno, so I was executive producer and oversaw the animation. Then I thought then what is going to happen to the film? How am I going to follow it through all the way to the end, and found that these guys brought something wonderful to it that I never would have thought of and it was better. You know it’s just a really wonderful lesson.
Executive Vice President of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Simon Swart, distributor of the Epiphany Prize winning VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER and other MOVIEGUIDE® Award winning movies, including THE KING’S SPEECH and MAO’S LAST DANCER, winner of the Faith & Freedom Movie Award for Promoting Positive American Values
MG: So, tell me about your success and what inspired you to get into this industry.
Simon Swart: Oh my gosh. That is a very big and broad question. I think I’ve always been excited about the industry, I mean being a kid growing up in South Africa I could have never imagined I am doing what I am doing now, to be honest with you. I started off as an accountant and I think things worked and came together and Fox is actually now the number one supplier of sort of faith based movies in North America. And it’s very cool to be involved with projects like CHRONICLES OF NARNIA which are epic theatrical events and just a beautiful fantasy film. It is light, it is bright, it is adventurous and it just has all these aspirational values. I mean we are releasing it just before Easter on April 8th, which I think is a perfect release date certainly for the Christian community, two weeks before Easter, with a movie with such a redemptive theme in it, so.
MG: So why do you think that you are so excited about these redemptive themes?
Simon Swart: Personally, I like movies that really make a difference and really encourage people to be the best people they can be. I know that sounds a little trite, but I think movies that you watch and you enjoy they are entertaining, they are funny, and they inspire you to be more than maybe what you were before you saw the movie, or at least try. You know, I love those kind of movies where it’s great story telling. It’s just brilliant entertainment and they are well told, so it grabs your attention and it impacts you in some way. I think that is the beauty of this art form.
MG: Definitely. So, why did you decide to come to MOVIEGUIDE® tonight?
Simon Swart: I am a regular here I am afraid. I have been coming for many, many years and I just you know support Dr. Baehr and the concept of recognizing films for the values that they represent, and you know some of those as I say those universal human traits and those qualities that are featured and are prominent in most of movies that are recognized here tonight.
MG: Tell me about MAO’S LAST DANCER.
SIMON SWART: It’s an amazing movie. If you haven’t seen it, it is really inspirational. It’s beautifully told. It’s the true story of a young Chinese peasant boy who grows up and gets the opportunity to perform and study in Houston as a ballet dancer and he basically makes the decision to defect. You know it’s really a fascinating story and clash of cultures where you know he is really educated and brought up in a very strictly communistic environment and he is told to be very careful about freedom and you know being corrupted by the American system, and he comes here and he finds it’s nothing quite like what he expected, and the amazing thing about this story is that it’s a true story. You know, the main character is actually living and working in the U.S. now. It’s just a really powerful story, and we have a releasing on DVD on May 1st. It will be a Target exclusive for the first few months. But they are really excited about it.
MG: That is wonderful. It sounds so appropriate for the Faith and Freedom Awards for MOVIEGUIDE®.
Simon Swart: I made the mistake of actually watching the movie. I asked for a screener because I thought, wow, it was sort of a foreign film; it looks really interesting, but they gave me a screener and I was watching it on my laptop. You know, we don’t all watch all movies in screening rooms like they have you believe all the time, especially not us home video guys. I was watching this movie sitting up on the plane, and I hate to say it, it’s like I’m not a very weepy and emotional guy, but I was crying. I’m like why do you guys not tell me that I should watch this at home? It’s really odd sitting there and the stewardess is coming by going, are you okay? But it’s really powerful. If the last ten minutes don’t break you up then you know you don’t have a pulse. So it’s very relatable. It’s just a great human story.
MG: It sounds absolutely wonderful, so
Simon Swart: I hope everyone goes out and watches it and buys it because you will not be disappointed.
MG: So, what are your thoughts about having an awards ceremony like this? What are your thoughts about having elevation of faith and values?
Simon Swart: Well, I have been coming here for about the last eight years, maybe nine; I am losing count now, so I believe in supporting it. I think it’s a worthy event. I appreciate that really what it is celebrating is a sort of the appeal of the human experience. I don’t really see it as being as necessarily about faith and values. I see it as being about aspiration. I see it about hope. I see it about just humanity, really. And I think it is really recognizing those things that bring out the best in us, and that is kind of how I see the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards. So, pretty supportive, I would say.
MG: What are your thoughts about that kind of combination of analytics of how you measure the movies and how good faith and friendly values based films really do better at the box office?
Simon Swart: Well obviously we have had great success with that. Fox Home Entertainment is actually the number one supplier of Christian film, and so that is speaking succinctly to the faith audience so that is a market that we have recognized for many years as being an underserviced and a very influential market, and I think in all of our years of serving that market we you know have actually recognized the core values and the core tenants of people’s faith where we wouldn’t violate that. We have a certain trust with our consumers where we don’t ask them to buy something that may not fit with that. Now, certainly we do all of the main stream flux products as well, so we have great success with very broad-reaching blockbuster movies also, and I think you have something like that in CHRONICLES OF NARNIA where it’s broad based and it’s just great fun. It’s fantasy. It’s imaginative, and it’s all about being the best you can be. So, we do have great examples of these brilliant blockbuster movies that really bring that out also.
Composer Al Kasha, winner of a special Crystal Teddy Bear Award for “Communicating and Living the Good News”
MG: How is it going? How do you feel?
Al Kasha: Oh, I feel elevated. I am ebullient, enthusiastic. I am thrilled about this award because I saw how MOVIEGUIDE® started from just two sheets of paper to what it has become today. So, if we can be of help we are there to help.
MG: Who do you attribute your success to?
Al Kasha: To Jesus Christ. God is first, my wife is right behind God and, of course, all the people in the industry that have helped me by the way. I have had special favor I feel this in my belief in God. There is a saying that when you take care of God’s business, God takes care of your business, so never be ashamed of the Gospel.
MG: I like that response. I love that response, actually. So, tell me how do you guys feel about MOVIEGUIDE® and your extra large teddy bear here? Are you going to be sleeping with it tonight?
Al Kasha: I don’t think I’ll be sleeping with it, but I’ll put it on my shelf you know and I will look at it and share it with my grandson.
MG: So this evening life time achievement award how was this evening for you? What are your thoughts about events like this?
Al Kasha: Well, the thoughts that I have is that how big this MOVIEGUIDE® has moved from just a small newspaper and has moved to touch people internationally now, and to be a part of that is wonderful. I am a big fan of Ted Baehr, and in fact the very first couple he met in California was Ceil and Al Kasha and he has been to our Bible study a few times and I just pray for Ted and his wife, Lili.
MG: What is it like to see the impact of the major studios being here and them seeing all of the different things that really have impacted this whole industry?
Al Kasha: Well, there is saying what is good will last, what is not will be passed, so keep giving good material that will last. Rogers and Hamerstein have lasted and candidly I have lasted you know, so try to write some good music, and at the end of the day that will last. Look at Spielberg and Scorsese. Spielberg’s pictures make millions of zillions of dollars. Scorsese, a great filmmaker, but they are negative generally. They don’t do nearly …they are not in the same league so do something positive. The line that I like to say is, “Do Christians belong in Hollywood? As long as there is not too much Hollywood in the Christian.”
Screenwriter Andrea Nasfell and Director Helmut Schleppi of CHRISTMAS WITH A CAPITAL C, winner of the Faith & reedom Award for Television for Promoting Positive American Values
MG: How is the award bearing?
Helmut Schleppi: It was good. It is nice, it is a very beautiful award, and it’s heavy, too.
MG: It’s a globe.
Helmut Schleppi: Yeah, it’s great and Andrea is happy, too.
MG: How are you feeling?
Andrea Nasfell: Great. It’s very exciting to win this.
MG: How do you guys feel about your movie?
Helmut Schleppi: Of course we’re very proud of it, but I honestly didn’t think after seeing the competition that we would win this. You know, it was really a surprise. It’s amazing, and I am very happy. Thank you, Mr. Baehr and Mrs. Baehr. But, yeah it’s great. You know great is an American word, they use it for everything. But, it really is great. Yeah.
MG: Well, we are glad you came and you got the award, so thank you so much.
Helmut Schleppi: Without Andrea, it wouldn’t have happened. She got me into this.
MG: Tell me about that.
Andrea Nasfell: Well, I came on first because of writing the script, and they were still looking for a director and so I said hey, if you still need a director I know some people and sent home with their ways so I was really pleased, but somebody I knew that I knew his work, they chose him to direct the film and he did a terrific job of it. I was really proud of how it turned out.
MG: What motivated you to write the script?
Andrea Nasfell: They called and said do you want to write a Christmas movie? And I had actually just the week before been watching a Christmas movie with my daughter and I said I should write a Christmas movie, shouldn’t I? She looked at me and she was like you really should. Literally a week later Pureflix, the producing company, called and said do you want to write a Christmas movie? I said yes.
MG: I really like how they did that. And then the one character who had the, I probably should know the specific name, who had like the the he got angry at one point, but I just like loved how you put that in the script and he was so passionate about his faith and stuff like that. I really liked that aspect about it, and I thought that that was great, and I guess he is up for a Grace Award for that. Just for that. What do you think of this idea of this idea of being able to have the MOVIEGUIDE Awards where they really elevate the faith and value in a film?
Helmut Schleppi: Well I heard about MOVIEGUIDE®, and I didn’t know it was that big to be honest. And you know, this whole movie has opened a whole world for me that I didn’t know existed. It is a great world, it is good it is there, and I am going to tell everybody about it I think. Yeah.
MG: Excellent. So what has this been like for you to be here tonight?
Andrea Nasfell: It has been fantastic. It is uh, you know I actually read MOVIEGUIDE® when I was I in high school because I was interested in film and my Dad was in Christian radio and would interview Ted Baehr from time to time, and so it was kind of part of my little journey on towards Hollywood so I remember. I have known about it longer than Helmut has.
Helmut Schleppi: You know, she was born in this country and I wasn’t.
Andrea Nasfell: That’s true.
MG: Congratulations. Where are you from?
Helmut Schleppi: Holland. Yeah. See, the other thing I was saying, in Holland, a movie like CHRISTMAS WITH A CAPITAL C would never get made. It certainly will never win a prize. It just would not happen. I am actually glad that I came to this country, and I think that people should be happy that it’s the country it is now.
Actress Abigail Mason of SAVING SARAH CAIN
Abigail Mason: I won the Grace Prize a couple of years ago, and it was funny because I was just trying to get a ticket to the event, and when I first came to L.A. the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards was actually one of the first introductions I had.
MOVIEGUIDE® (MG): Really.
Abigail Mason: Yeah, I came as a guest and I just landed. I had these preconceived notions that L.A was pretty jaded, which at times it very much can be. So I was super blessed to be able I came here and I had no idea it was Christian, I had no idea it was positive and I sat down and I was like what is this? Is this L.A.? Am I, you know. am I in the wrong spot? And so after that, just to get nominated was such a blessing and then to win was awesome.
MG: I guess it’s kind of like reassuring when you came here and it just makes you feel comfortable.
Abigail Mason: It was. I definitely felt like my past has kind of been guided so just I mean that this is my introduction and then that you know just with the award and just the people I worked with that year is just is kind of it was awesome to be surrounded and be encouraged by people who are making films I want to be a part of and that I also want to make and that you know Ted Baehr is giving me statistics and I am sitting around and there are executives from every network and I am like this is amazing this is so important you know.
MG: So, what’s up next for you?
Abigail Mason: Well, I am working on I am exec producing and starring in a movie called THE SLAVE ACROSS THE STREET, which is based on a novel, and it is a true story about Teresa Boraz who was actually trafficked out of her home for two years in the U.S. Yeah, it’s a powerful story, but at the same time it’s one of those that when you read it you’re like this is crazy that this happened to her, but then you realize that this is happening to hundreds and thousands of girls in the U.S. It is going to be incredible, and I’m just looking forward to it.
Singer Ace Young
MG: We’re here with Ace Young, who is going to sing tonight during the show. What is going on?
Ace Young: Thus far, I actually have been working really hard on production. I started a whole new company. It’s a production company for new artists, and we are literally splitting costs with the actual major label on the artists and we are pushing hard as a music company.
Ace Young: So, I am doing that. I am going to be one of the artists coming out this year with a company. I am also writing for a lot of different acts because I have been doing that for a long time.
MG: Well, great.
Ace Young: I really like Dautry’s first single, “It’s Not Over.” Lost my Grammy to Bruce Springstein, but I wrote some more hits that are coming as well, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.
MG: So, why are you here at MOVIEGUIDE®? What inspired you to come?
Ace Young: What inspired me to come is one of my friends, who’s actually a big involvement of this actual awards show, invited me and asked to be part of it. And, I never turn him down. So, he’s a good friend of me, and he told me what the actual awards are all about. It’s about family and pushing forward and making sure everything matters on the home front before you push into the business, and I’m totally down for that.
MG: Great, you are a supporter of that?
Ace Young: I have four older brothers, and if I wasn’t a supporter of the family, I’d be homeless.
MG: Yeah, I have three older brothers.
Ace Young: There you go.
MG: Thanks for talking with me. I can’t wait to hear what happens in there.
Ace Young: It’s nice to meet you.
MG: You, too.
Actress Bailee Madison of LETTERS TO GOD and many other new and upcoming projects
MG: What is your next movie? A princess movie?
Bailee Madison: No. But, that would be fun. Yeah, the next film is with Christian Bale, and I am really excited about that one. It’s a ballet film, so it will be fun. Right now I am actually doing A TASTE OF ROMANCE, which is a new Hallmark movie and it’s a wonderful film that I hope will be here next year because it has a really nice message.
MG: So, tell me about the movie that is up this year, LETTERS TO GOD. Tell me a little bit about that.
Bailee Madison: LETTERS TO GOD is based on a true story. It is about a little boy named Tyler who is battling cancer, and basically he writes these letters to God, you know just asking Him I am not feeling well today, can you help me? Those letters carry around the world and more and more people start writing letters to God. So it’s this really powerful story, and I think it leaves you like breath taken. I mean it’s so incredible. I get to play his best friend who is always there for him and by his side, and it’s just a wonderful role. It’s a wonderful movie. I was completely honored to be involved as it is based on a true story.
MG: I saw it, but I liked it a lot and I liked your part. That was cute. Why did you come to MOVIEGUIDE® Awards tonight? Why are you here?
Bailee Madison: I am here to just recognize all the movies out there that are positive and that have the wonderful message of the Lord, and I think it’s really important that we have films out there and I am just here to recognize all of these people who have been doing great work because of the Lord, and it’s just so wonderful to be here again, and I am just completely honored.
MG: I love that response. That’s great. What do you think about this idea of bringing out faith and values in movies for the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards?
Bailee Madison: I think it’s the best idea. I mean if we didn’t have these films, and we really need these films because at the end of the day if it’s a long day at school or a long day at work, I mean the fact of the matter is that all of the families just want to sit down and watch a good movie that can make them feel good and healthy and feel like the Lord is looking down at them, and I think it’s a wonderful idea that MOVIEGUIDE® is still continuing to do these awards that are recognizing some of those very few people who are putting out films based on the Lord. So, I think it’s really wonderful, and I am so happy that I could be a part of one of those films.
MG: Wow, who is your mother? Amazing. So, what do you want to do with your career for the future?
Bailee Madison: Hopefully I am here again. I just hope that I am in the position that I am in right now. I mean there are so many things that have been like all the doors have been opened. I have [a children’s foundation] I am working with. I do Kids of the World. I have Alex’s Lemonade Stand. And, I have just been so blessed with all of the opportunities that I have been able to do. So, I am very blessed and very honored to be here tonight. . .
Co-Producer/Writer Chuck Konzelman, Producer/Director Dallas Jenkins, Co-Producer/Writer Cary Solomon of WHAT IF. . .
MG: How are you all feeling about these little crystal teddy bears?
Cary Solomon: It is a surprise, it is a surprise, especially for this type of work. I have been in the business for a long time, over twenty years, and this means more than anything else that we have ever done. You know we have won other things, but you know this is what matters because it’s pleasing to the Lord. So that is what counts.
MG: Tell me what inspired the project of WHAT IF. . .?
Dallas Jenkins: Well, there was an idea for this movie a couple of years ago, but they didn’t quite know what to do with it, and they found Chuck and Cary, these great writers, and then I met Chuck and Cary because I met the guys who were making this movie and he said we are looking for a director and I said that I’m looking for a good script, and we actually shared the same taste in films, and our favorite film of all time was IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and this movie is kind of a reverse of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and so we just clicked so quickly, and so you know this moment right now is actually so interesting knowing that we first met at a restaurant two years ago first talking about this and now to see it rewarded in this way means we were on to something and God was really orchestrating our paths.
MG: That is a great answer. Now you guys are the writers, so I want to hear the inspiration there. When it started, kind of the history of what all went on in your head first.
Chuck Konzelman: We actually lay claim to the idea so we knew when we had heard the basic concept it was great we wanted to go to work on it. We serve a God of second chances and we needed second changes ourselves, so it’s a story about a second chance. We just fell in love with it.
MG: Great idea. So, tell me the story has faith aspects in it, and okay so…..
Cary Solomon: It’s about faith, it’s about you know the title of the movie is WHAT IF. . ., and so we all ask ourselves what if had I not done this or I had done that or if I had married this person instead of that person and had I known the Lord back then or not and that is exactly what our hero goes through, Kevin Sorbo, Basically he gets a second chance without realizing it’s a second chance and he fights against it like we all do, and the Lord knows what is best for him and he keeps fighting and fighting and fighting and he ends up with a family and children that he doesn’t want and he ends up with pastor which he is not even Christian, and he ends up in the end going back to his old life and he realizes it’s what I want. And so his “what if” comes to fruitition, and it’s really wonderful but you know it’s magic if people fall in love with it and you know that is what we hope for.
MG: I like it. That’s great. What is the next big thing? We working together again? Is this magic going to happen again?
Dallas Jenkins: Well, I hope so. I mean you know I have made a few films, and I have said it before that this is the first film where I have had a safety net of a great script, not just a good script, and when you have a safety net of a good script you can then take chances and you can explore and you can make a film and kind of let yourself get carried away by artistic inspiration knowing that at the end of the day you still have the script to fall back on. So I think I would be stupid to not at least try on some level to work with these guys again. It depends upon the project of course, but it’s always going to be an attempt.
MG: I agree.
Cary Solomon: We are at The Lord has done a mighty thing with us, and He has called us to do THE RESURRECTION, the equivalent of the movie after THE PASSION, and so we are writing and directing and producing that, and that is what we are doing right now so we are very, very excited about it.
MG: It’s going to be a great movie. A MOVIEGUIDE® is going to the event. It will be your second or fifth teddy by then. Tell us, what do you think about this idea of having an awards show that honors faith and value?
Dallas Jenkins: Well, it’s like I said when we got the award, there is an old Chinese proverb that says it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and I think that the faith based community is often times known for the latter for complaining about Hollywood and saying they don’t reflect our values and Dr. Baehr is all about saying okay, we are going to point out the bad but more importantly we are going to lift up the good and point out the movies that actually are lighting that candle, and so it’s an honor to be mentioned among those movies that he is honoring.
MG: Excellent, well said gentlemen. What are your thoughts?
Cary Solomon: I just think why shouldn’t there be an awards ceremony like this? I think this will grow bigger. I think the market is growing bigger. I think this type of event is going to grow and grow and I think the other side of the movie industry is going to diminish. I think that this is what America wants, and you k now you can tell by the numbers. The only people that are lying and saying that it’s not what they want are the people that are making the other type of movies, so.
Chuck Konzelman: I think there’s a lot of people in Hollywood that actually want to do this kind of work, they just don’t know that there is a chance for it and that it exists.
MG: It’s nice to see the stats back up the vision. It’s excellent. Congratulations. Thank you.
Singers Tina Campbell and Erica Campbell of the Grammy Award winning contemporary gospel group Mary Mary
MG: So what is going on?
Erica Campbell: We are excited to be here and singing our single from our new record and just knowing that this is an event that honors you know people who are respecting and giving entertainment that is safe for families. I think it’s fantastic. It’s amazing to be here.
Tina Campbell: I think just that being part of something in Hollywood that is by, for and about positivity. That is not common, and so it’s completely our honor to be here because that is what we are about, that is how we exist, you know our careers what we do musically it’s all for, by and about that so we are completely one with this event.
MG: That’s great. I love that response. Who do you guys attribute your success to?
Tina Campbell: The favor of God.
Erica Campbell: Yes.
Tina Campbell: Because you know what? Really, you know I hate it when people always oh God, God, God you know and it doesn’t seem real. But, we have a gift and we have a talent. Who was it given to us by? God. We can perfect it, but He had to give it to us to perfect. You know what I mean. The doors that have been opened to us and the platforms we have been able to be on, if God has favored it and allowed us to end up in those places then we would not have been, would have been in the kitchen doing our best concerts on a fork. You know what I mean? So we are completely in His face because God has blessed us and favored us, and I mean I don’t want to do anything but tell the world that I thank Him for that.
Erica Campbell: Yes.
MG: I love that. That is such a great response.Do you enjoy articles like this? Click here to become a monthly donor and receive a copy of GOD'S NOT DEAD on DVD!