Tag: interview

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.

Off Camera . . . with Susana Zepeda Cagan

Our guest on “Off Camera” is Susana Zepeda Cagan, Vice President Talent of the TCM network.

Dan: Thank you for being with us, Susana. I want to start at the beginning: What and when was the spark that set you on a career course in the media?

Susana: The spark happened for me when I was in middle school and in school plays. Plays led me to movies, and I just loved losing myself in a story. It was very therapeutic for me in a very turbulent childhood. During college I was a TV news writer/producer, a great beginning for me.

Dan: How does your faith shape your approach to your job?

Susana: That’s a big question. As a producer (seller), you work so hard packaging a movie, and I often found myself having to compromise with a studio to get my films sold. I got so tired of compromising and needed to reinvent how I work, who I work with, and what I work on. I changed a lot, and now I work with talent, building them up—it’s about people first. God has shifted this in me. It changed the focus of my career, and my life is better for it.

Dan: Is there ever a tension between your personal values and beliefs and what is best for the network you serve?

Susana: There is often tension when working with strong people in a creative field. I ask God to help me watch my tongue and act in a way that pleases Him, and He helps me so much in business. When joining a company, I try to be really honest about who I am, how I think, and how I like to work. People are hiring me for my judgment, so I’m very up front about that. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some jobs because of this, but that’s okay. I work at having a strong relationship with the head of the company so I can be heard during times of moral disagreement. I try to be fair, and if I’m not fair I do my best to make matters right.

Dan: Thank you Susana. Your friends at Mastermedia appreciate who you are as a Christian, a media professional, and a follower of Christ within the media. And we ask our entire Mastermedia community to continue to pray for you.

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.