Tag: storytelling

Off Camera . . . with Producer Howard Kazanjian

Mastermedia CEO Dan Rupple talks with Howard Kazanjian, producer of Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Dan: Thank you for being with us, Howard. Before you began to chart a course into the movie industry, what and when was the spark that drew you to this career?

Howard: The spark, as you call it, was my parents handing me their 8mm spring-wound camera at the age of 11. I was taken to the movie theaters at a very young age and was captivated by the idea of recreating a world of storytelling by visuals.

Dan: Transcending cultures, nations, and age, Star Wars has become the global folklore of the 21st Century. What do you think it is about this epic story that resonates so powerfully?

Howard: First and foremost, credit must be given to George Lucas because he created a new way of storytelling. We all grew up hearing fairy tales, but George created a new fairy tale for the screen.

Stepping “out of the box,” Star Wars combines traditional Hollywood filmmaking with fabulous elements and techniques of storytelling through exciting visuals, great music, sound, special effects, creatures, captivating characters, eye-catching sets, and tight editing. This was new-world technology with fast action. It was a new road to filmmaking that captured the imagination, first of America and then the world. Most important, it had story that didn’t end two hours later.

Dan: During your early years in the industry there were relatively few Christians working in the media. Now, thankfully, Christian media professionals are too numerous to count. What changes have you seen through the years in the Christian presence within the industry? And what changes have you seen in the media’s perception of the Christian community?

Howard: Today, there are more Christians working in the media. But media now has hundreds of thousands of employees—more than ever before. The industry has become even more secular, and I would say increasingly negative toward Christians. What we need is more Christians in the decision-making areas of our industry. We need Christians as attorneys, executives, agents, and those who can green-light projects.

Dan: Working within the mainstream film world, how does your faith inform your role as a producer?

Howard: My faith keeps me going. My faith is my hope for tomorrow. My faith is my rock.

Dan: Has the Christian community ever questioned why you produce mainstream, “secular” fare, as opposed to explicitly Christian films?

Howard: Christian films are rarely approved by studio heads. I choose my films rather than have them assigned to me. I am very selective of the films I work on and, hopefully, they are appropriate for family.

Dan: What advice would you have for the young Christian who feels a call to the film industry?

Howard: Be strong in your faith. Be tough, yet soft. Learn your craft well. Work hard and long hours. Shine for the Lord. This is not an easy road to travel. As you get to a certain level you may find that there are no executives who will agree with your thinking and push your project to the top.

Dan: Howard, your friends at Mastermedia are proud of who you are as a Christian, as a media professional and as an example of a follower of Christ within the media. We ask our entire Mastermedia community to continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you!

The Power of a Good Story

“Tolkien believed so much in the power of a good story to reflect God that he wasn’t bothered that the Gospel themes weren’t as accessible in his writing as in C. S. Lewis’. He knew humans crave the meaning good stories give, drawing us closer to God.” —Philip Long

“The gospel is the true myth . . . the great fairy story. In the gospel of Christ all the elements of truth in the pagan myths find their fulfillment.” —J. R. R. Tolkien

“Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under cover of romance without their knowing it.” —C. S. Lewis

“We believe the gospel is good beyond words. If it seems tired and dusty, we’ve forgotten the

unfathomable depth of God’s story.” —Philip Long

Nourished by Story

Excerpts from “The Nourishment Business,” by children’s author John R. Erickson


blue-bloods-w-caption

My mother, Anna Beth Erickson, was an excellent cook . . . . She regarded cooking as more than drudgery and more than a process of blending ingredients and spices into palatable concoctions. In her view, there was no job more important than monitoring the source of her family’s food supply and tending to its preparation.

She also recognized that there was a spiritual dimension to eating. We took our evening meals together as a family. For that one hour, we became more than individuals racing off to meetings and school events. We were the Erickson family. We said grace together, ate in a mannerly fashion, and talked.

Mother was a nutritionist, a student of the science of wellness and wellbeing—the chemistry of Life. She understood that what we eat, and how we eat, contributes substantially to who we are, both physically and spiritually.

I often compare what I do with what my mother did. There is a spiritual dimension to storytelling that equates to the chemistry of food preparation. A good story satisfies the appetite for entertainment, but it can also reveal truth, structure, justice, humor, and beauty, and when that occurs, a writer has the opportunity to make readers better than they were before.

People need good stories just as they need wholesome food and clean water. Stories that enumerate chaos and absurdity leave us weaker and diminished. Those that reveal beauty and meaning in human experience nourish the soul.

We who were given the talent to write (or compose music or make movies) should use our gifts to strengthen the people who use our products. Like humble cooks, we’re in the nourishment business, and that changes the focus of art from Me to Us.

“Us” is who we are as a people, the human family. In this country we share a core of traditions and beliefs that we call “civilization.” For at least 3,000 years, philosophers, prophets, and preachers have told us we should preserve it, protect it, and pass it down to the next generation.

The Founders of our nation accepted this as common sense. So did Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Luther, Bach, and C. S. Lewis. It used to be taught in great universities, and I hope it still is.

Are we making our readers stronger or weaker, better or worse? That’s a question that anyone in the nourishment business should be asking every day.

*Posted July 23, 2016 at https://world.wng.org/2016/07/the_nourishment_business