Tag: filmmaker

Afflicting the Comfortable . . . at Windrider

We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away, and that’s what we’ve got to work out.” These profound words from veteran movie producer Ralph Winter challenged students and filmmakers participating in a Windrider Forum discussion, a part of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The panel was exploring the idea of “afflicting the comfortable” through thoughtfully crafted documentary films that may stimulate social action.

Winter, a Hollywood producer whose credits include blockbuster movies like X-Men and Star Trek, was asking, “How do we break out of [our natural tendency to want comfort] and discipline ourselves?” His insightful answer . . . “We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away.”

Craig Detweiler, former professor of communications and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University, expressed his perspective this way:

“Hollywood films comfort the afflicted—always happy, always a clean resolution, for the most part.

“Independent films afflict the comfortable. You come out feeling worse that when you entered. We don’t usually go to films for that. We don’t want to pay money to feel worse. But these are filmmakers with a prophetic gift who say, ‘This is what’s wrong with the world.’”

Detweiler says he comes to Sundance to cultivate empathy. “I come back here because I need to have my heart broken annually so I can go back to my comfort and work and minister out of that. That’s what the Windrider experience is.”

Dan Rupple, CEO of Mastermedia International, has partnered with the Windrider Forum at Sundance for 13 years, and Mastermedia is now a sponsor at Windrider.

When asked why it is important for Mastermedia to have a presence at Sundance and Windrider, Dan explained . . .

Robert Redford started the Sundance Film Festival to be a showcase for independent films that would never have the chance to be shown in theaters. Now 46,000 people come from all over the world. Hollywood executives come from all the major film studios looking for their next hit, and it’s a great opportunity for Mastermedia to connect with them.

Sundance is the launch pad for the talent of tomorrow . . . creatives, directors, writers, actors. For Mastermedia, it’s an opportunity to build a relationship and make a connection with someone very early in their career. It’s a chance to start a dialog, a conversation. The Sundance winner of today is the Oscar winner of tomorrow.

Our missional focus at Sundance is making connections that I can then go home and follow up with. This is often the beginning of trust relationships with these key contacts.

Paul, in the book of Acts, entered the marketplace in Athens and entered into the conversations they were having day after day about current ideologies . . . and that’s what we do at Sundance.

Peggy Rupple has served as Associate Director of the Windrider Forum for the past 14 years. Mastermedia International is a sponsor of the Windrider Forum.

Off Camera . . . with Todd Komarnicki

SullyMastermedia CEO Dan Rupple chats with Todd Komarnicki, producer of Elf and screenwriter of the soon-to-be released Sully—a biographical drama about Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard.


 

Dan: Todd, when I think about Christian believers who have made a significant impact within the film world, while maintaining a faithful witness for Christ, you quickly come to mind. I am grateful to call you, not only a dear friend of Mastermedia, but a personal friend of mine.

Todd: My gratitude for Mastermedia extends from my first coffee with Larry Poland, to my latest prayer time with you and your colleagues and my staff in New York City. I am humbled and so grateful for all the love that has been bestowed upon me by your beautiful souls.

Dan: You wrote the screenplay for a major movie opening September 9th, Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks. That’s some pretty rare air in terms of talent. Can you give us a glimpse into your journey taking Sully from page to screen?

Todd: When adapting a true story it all starts with spending time with the real-life hero. The bulk of my adaptations have centered around people long dead, so it was an incredible boon to the process that I could have exclusive and vulnerable time with Sully himself. By “memorizing” as much of Sully himself that I could, I had a huge running start when I actually started going to script. I could see the man not as an abstract character, but as a real human being, making real heroic choices, in real time.

Dan: Integrating your faith with your career can be a challenge. Can you think of a time when your faith presented an obstacle or perhaps threatened your career?

Todd: I’ve never seen my faith as a threat to anything, except the darkness. I don’t consider anyone in the movie business as the gatekeeper of my destiny. That’s in the Lord’s hands. Perhaps certain jobs didn’t fall my way over the years, but I never perceived it as having anything to do with being a Christian. I cling to Romans 8:28 daily, and trust that God’s plan is the only plan worth investing in. After nearly thirty years in the business, I am certain that I am still here only by the grace of God. And that gives me deep and abiding peace as I do my work.

Dan: How about a time when you were ushered through a difficult time and it had the fingerprints of God all over it?

Todd: My father always used to say, “Expect to see Him.” That curiosity and openness to seeing the Holy Spirit at work everywhere is something that I inherited from him. So I see God’s fingerprints constantly. Mostly in the sense that I feel held in the palm of his hand. And I can see his fingerprints anytime I just open my eyes.

Dan: Todd, thank you for sharing your heart with us. All of us within the Mastermedia community will continue praying for God’s hand upon your career, your family and your life.