On Saturday, March 26, I attended the CMA Dallas meeting (Christian Media Association). The keynote speaker was Peter Spencer executive producer and director of “Return to the Hiding Place.” Peter has many other titles to his name besides filmmaker, including writer, actor, musician, film composer, minister, researcher, speaker…he is truly an amazing person. I had the opportunity to chat with Peter about his project last year before production began and realized at that time what a promising project he has on his hands. On Saturday, Peter showed the trailer and 6 scenes from the movie, some still rough cuts. The cinematography was spectacular with an equally incredible score. Just from this brief preview, it an obviously compelling story that will inspire viewers…and move them to tears! To view trailer, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTZtGgk-EqI
With a budget of only $1 million, Peter and his team were able to achieve a movie that looks like it was in the $30-40 million range. It was 15 years ago that the idea was birthed in him to do a sequel to the popular 1975 Billy Graham film, “The Hiding Place,” which tells the story of Nazi prison camp survivor, Corrie ten Boom. He related this as an instance of God’s perfect timing since in the 15 year period, all of his children were able to learn and become very accomplished in different aspects of filmmaking—producing, marketing & advertising, acting, etc. His daughter Petra Spencer Pearce, who was in attendance on Saturday, produced the film. “I have gotten something better than what I thought I had,” said Spencer.
Peter is very passionate about his craft and gave some very good advice to filmmakers. He said that since only 30% of movies are made in Hollywood, believers have been empowered to make an impact in this arena. He urged them that it must be done with excellence and that much study and research is needed in order to do so. Just as “The Passion of the Christ” was made for $30 million with a production value of $100 million, filmmakers can maximize their budget if they know the tricks of the trade. He also emphasized the need to plan. Even though it is tempting to opt for reshooting if needed, Spencer said, “No, do it right the first time!”
He also suggested that filmmakers choose stories that have success built into them. He gave these as the top story options: (1) sequels to successful films, (2) family films with faith themes, (3) action adventure, (4) teen oriented or (5) true stories.
Some of the other speakers were Skyped in, including CMA president, Tim Shields. He talked about the new CMA website that offers networking and resources for Christian media professionals. There is also a searchable media directory. For more information, go to http://www.christianmedia.org/.
Tommy and Mindy Thomas, producers of a movie entitled “God’s Man” also spoke by Skype. For more information, go to http://www.godsmanthemovie.com/. Student filmmaker Matthew Laughlin was present giving an update on his project, “Paradox,” a contemporary musical film which tells a story that resembles a modern day “Christmas Carol.” He is working with producer Chad Gundersen (“Secrets of Jonathan Sperry,” “The Trial”). For more information, go to http://www.paradoxmovie.tumblr.com/ or www.indiegogo.com/paradox. Suellen Roberts, president of Women in Christian media was also present and spoke briefly.
After the event, I enjoyed lunch with the Spencer family, Bob Higley, Michael Williams, Clark Ortiz, Jurgen Beck, Donnie McBride, and many others.
To stay up to date on upcoming CMA meetings, go to http://www.christianmedia.org/ or join the CMA Dallas Chapter on Facebook. For anyone interested in forming a CMA chapter in their region, contact Tim Shields through the CMA website.
Photo #1: Peter Spencer speaks at CMA
Photo#2: Cheryl Wicker and Peter Spencer
Photo #3: Peter Spencer interviewed by podcaster Jeff L. Vogt
Photo #4: CMA President Tim Shields speaks by Skype
Photo #5: Michael Williams, Cheryl Wicker and Bob Higley