Tag: film

Off Camera . . . with Brian Bird

Producer/writer Brian Bird (Touched by an Angel, Captive, When Calls the Heart) shares personal insights with Mastermedia CEO Dan Rupple.

Dan: Brian, God has guided your career to the highest levels in film and television, and you have been a faithful witness for Christ. Has your faith ever been an obstacle?

Brian: To be honest, I have never felt that faith has been an impediment in my career. If you’re good at what you do and are willing to work everybody else under the table, there will always be a place for you. The entertainment business can be so terrifying, so fiercely competitive and alienating, that people are hungry for authentic, meaningful relationships. As Christians we can commit to loving on the people around us with no strings attached.

Dan: Can you share a time when God showed His faithfulness during your 30-year career?

Brian: In 2008, when the global financial meltdown happened, I was in Alberta, Canada, filming a movie. The day Lehman Brothers went belly up, so did our source of funding. We had to shut down the project halfway through filming and were left with $1.4 million in debts—a devastating time for me personally. I considered quitting the business until my pastor, Rick Warren, said to me, “There is no such thing as being ‘uncalled’ when God drafts you to a position of leadership. Persistence always beats resistance.” I took that advice to heart, and three years later we finished the movie. It was called When Calls the Heart, and is now a TV series for the Hallmark Channel and is in Season 5.

Dan: What’s different about your approach to mainstream projects and faith-based projects?

Brian: I think good stories are good stories, whether they are secular or faith-based. I have this theory that all good stories are faith-based in a way. Many of the top films of all times have contained transcendent themes of redemption, forgiveness and resurrection. Yes, resurrection. ET, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and many others had resurrection in them. That’s because mankind is wired for these stories. We are all hungry for stories of overcoming the mortal coil, so I try to approach every project in the same way.

Tell stories that stir up soul cravings in people, just like Jesus did with His parables. He used messy, authentic human situations that His audience could relate to in order to communicate eternal principles necessary for salvation and redemption.

Dan: Brian, thank you for sharing your heart with us. We in the Mastermedia community will continue to pray for God’s hand upon your career, your family and your life.

The Best Story Wins

Exec. Prod. Ralph Winter (left) on the set of “The Promise”

by Ralph Winter, Producer (X-Men, Captive, The Promise)

Storytelling—it’s all around us. It’s in a courtroom, it’s in politics, it’s in our business, it’s in religion. It’s history. It’s what we’ve done around the campfires in teaching younger generations about life through stories. It’s cultural. It’s what we do at dinner when we have friends come over. It’s in movies and TV and social media. It’s in Instagram. The power and persuasiveness is front and center—and the best story wins.

Sometimes the kind of things we do are not even on the faith community radar—but Mastermedia is there to support and understand what’s going on. I spend about 8-9 months a year on the road away from my family, and it’s people who pray for me and support me who keep me going. People like Buster Holmes and other friends, like my wife and my church community . . . people who hold me up while I’m doing this at a great distance, trying to make movies that have significance.

That’s one of the reasons to encourage and care for the filmmakers among us who are really “prophets” of the culture. In his book, Culture Care, my friend Makoto Fujimura says that believers who work in media walk in two different cultures—the secular and the faith community. They need encouragement, prayer, and people who understand what they’re going through as they prophetically try to show what the future is about.

In some ways, these filmmakers are like missionaries. They’re learning a new language and a new culture, and their values are different as they walk the border between two cultures. Let’s encourage our filmmakers as they’re doing that and being the prophets for this generation.

Star Wars’ Spiritual Legacy

Why has Star Wars endured for four decades? It’s simple—story.*

“On May 25, 1977, director George Lucas forever altered the cinematic landscape by introducing theatergoers to an exciting galaxy far, far away. He gave us Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, two lovable droids and arguably the greatest villain of all time in Darth Vader. This film went from a niche genre to being in the mainstream. Indeed, everyone knows about Star Wars now.”

Good Stories Transcend Generations. 

“The Star Wars narrative unpacks the far-reaching struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire for control of the galaxy through the respective journeys of numerous characters.

“The Scriptures . . . also unpack dozens of smaller stories, but they are all pointing towards one—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

Good Stories Accurately Portray What We Value.

“Values like courage, friendship, heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, redemption and hope are all evident in Star Wars—and all are rooted in the Scriptures.”

“Hope drives the narrative of Jesus, the son of God who took upon our sins that we would become reconciled to God. Hope in Jesus is never misplaced hope; it is mighty and lasting and reassuring.”

Good Stories Capture Our Imagination.

Why does Star Wars generate new fans year after year? It deals with big ideas: life and death, how we should live, and how to make a difference or have an impact in a sweeping conflict.

“The overarching story in Star Wars can be traced back to Genesis 1 . . . good versus evil. Unlike Darth Vader, who let go of his hate and saved his son from the Emperor, Satan, our enemy, will not release his seething disdain for those who cling to the saving, supernatural power of Jesus. His days are numbered . . . .”

A Force for Good

“Forty years ago, audiences watched as [Luke Skywalker] emerged as a new hope for the Rebel Alliance. Christ followers have a hope too. He’s not a fictional character . . . . He shaped all of the galaxies, and He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

“This man Jesus is not a new hope . . . He is the only hope.”

*Highlights and excerpts from Relevant Magazine 5/25/17