How to Write Faith Based and Faith Friendly Films That Will Make It to The Screen

Hosted by Brad Wilson

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Brad Wilson

Webinar hosted by: Brad Wilson

Producer/Co-Founder at Higher Purpose Entertainment

In 1985 Brad Wilson began an eleven year alliance with Academy Award winning actor Robert Duvall, operating ROBERT DUVALL PRODUCTIONS in New York. This alliance encompassed eighteen feature films, among them: COLORS with Sean Penn, DAYS OF THUNDER with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, FALLING DOWN with Michael Douglas and the critically acclaimed WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY with Richard Harris and Shirley MacLaine. Wilson also worked with Duvall on some of his most memorable television roles, including the CBS miniseries LONESOME DOVE and the HBO epic STALIN shot in location in Moscow, for which Duvall won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. In 1992 the formation of BUTCHERS RUN FILMS was announced in Hollywood and Wilson as the company's Vice President of Development and Production. After only two months, the company had closed a deal with United Artists to make A FAMILY THING, based on an original idea from Duvall and scripted by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. The film was released in February 1996, and Wilson was awarded a Humanitas Certificate for his work as Co-Producer on the movie. Mr. Wilson acquired the rights to EICHMANN IN MY HANDS, based on the highly acclaimed autobiography by Peter Malkin. After Wilson sold the idea of the story about the Israeli agent who captured the chief Nazi executioner under Hitler, Emmy winner Lionel Chetwynd was hired to write the script THE MAN WHO CAPTURED EICHMANN, which aired on TNT in 1996 with Duvall as Adolph Eichmann. In December of 1995, Mr. Wilson became Vice President of Production of GREYSTONE FILMS. There Wilson produced their first feature production, LUNKER LAKE. This family film inspired the creation of INSIDE OUTDOORS, a weekly television show for TNN, on which Wilson served as Executive Producer. The film LEFT LUGGAGE marked Jeroen Krabbe's directorial debut and starred Isabella Rossellini and Academy Award winner Maximilian Schell. Mr. Wilson served as Co-Executive Producer on the film, which premiered at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival and took home four honors. In 2000 Mr. Wilson became Vice President of Development and Production and a producing partner at HEMISPHERE ENTERTAINMENT and produced a slate of films including THE GHOST CLUB staring Britt Robinson filmed on location in South Carolina and released in December 2003. His suspense thriller ONE OF THEM and the family film UNDERCOVER KIDS enjoyed successful releases. THE GRIFT a 1940s period film was shot on location in Tennessee and released in 2007 by SHORELINE ENTERTAINMENT. SET APART starring Richard Roundtree and John Schneider was released in September 2009 by PROVIDENT/SONY FILMS. ANGELS LOVE DONUTS with The Crosswise Players filmed in Dallas and BECOMING JESSE TATE with Amanda Waters and Bailey Ann Borders filmed in Nashville were both released in 2010 by BMG. THREE BLIND SAINTS, filmed on location in Kansas City, was released late 2012. His film SLIP TUMBLE & SLIDE staring Katharine Ross and Scott Wilson was released in 2015, the family film CHRISTMAS ON SALVATION STREET, which was released November 2014. MY MANY SONS, based on the life of the most winning basketball coach no one knew, Don Meyer, was filmed in Nashville and will be released in September 2016. The film MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS from the book of the same name has just completed principal photography and will be going to film festivals and released in 2017. Mr. Wilson also co-founded POWER IN FAITH and helped develop and produce the critically acclaimed TV drama series called BELIEVERS AMONG US. The first four episodes continue to air on TBN, SKY ANGEL, CORNERSTONE NETWORK, FAITH TV, and TCT NETWORK. The series has won two prestigious Telly Awards, the Aurora Award, two Davey Awards and the Millennium Award. Also under this label, the film THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE will be released in theaters January 2017. His films have won awards at the Berlin Film Festival, The America Cinema Foundation, The Chicago Film Critics Association, Emden International Film Festival, Nederlands Film Festival, Westchester New York International Film Festival, Stony Brook Film Festival and The Santa Clarita International Film Festival. Mr. Wilson is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a charter member of the National Radio Hall of Fame of Texas. Brad is partnered in HIGHER PURPOSE ENTERTAINMENT with Casey Bond. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Faith based and faith friendly films have been a steady, popular, and profitable industry and one of the hottest genres for success. It could be considered a niche audience, but it’s a powerful and dependable niche audience that has helped catapult films and filmmakers to success. Recent films like I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, GOD’S NOT DEAD, and THE SHACK have found popularity and impressive box office numbers by tapping into this audience and bringing out church-goers and other faith-friendly communities that might not be as eager to seek out films outside of this genre. And it makes sense that faith-based films are doing well. In challenging or negative times, people will more actively seek out positivity and inspiration, two ingredients almost guaranteed to be featured in a faith-based film. Considering how challenging and negative our current world can be, there might not be a better time to break into the world of faith-based films and write a script that can shine in this market.

Writing a faith based or faith friendly script can be tricky, as you don't want to fall into cliches and lose your audience. You might have a great idea for a script with an uplifting message and inspirational ending, but when does it cross the line from a traditional genre script to faith-friendly?  What does that audience actually look for and what do faith-based production companies seek out when considering a script? What elements in your story are off-limits and which will help you sell your script? There’s no crystal ball that can tell us 100% what works and what doesn’t in this genre, but there are patterns and constants that can be gleaned and applied to your own script. With a proper lay of the land, you’ll be able to better tackle this genre and write a script that can not only get on the screen, but inspire and uplift viewers at the same time.

Brad Wilson is the Co-founder of Higher Purpose Entertainment (HPE), a production company dedicated to telling stories in film and TV that encompass truth of character and strive to embrace inspirationally redeeming qualities. While at HPE he's produced a number of films including THREE BLIND SAINTS, CHRISTMAS ON SALVATION STREET, MY MANY SONS, THE MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS, and THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE, which was released last year in 1,100 theaters across the country. Brad is well-versed in the business of faith based films and has a keen sense of how projects thrive in this genre. He’s ready to share what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

Brad will walk you through how to create a faith based script that can both sell and have a positive impact within this specific community. Brad will begin with an overview of the faith based/faith friendly landscape and will give you a rundown of how this genre works both at a studio and in the independent space. He’ll then break down major screenwriting points of an effective faith based scripts, including average page count, characters, and plot structure. He’ll outline what makes a script faith based or faith friendly and at what point a drama script would be considered by a faith based production company. He will delve into what the faith based audience looks like and the best ways to reach them. Brad will teach you the elements that work best for a faith based script, including employing romance and a specific message. He will also go over elements to stay away from and how to balance a cross over script with “preaching to the choir”. He will also give tips on how to drive the story forward within this genre. He’ll discuss when to take feedback on your script and when to trust your gut and will give you tips on how to keep your writing real, even when it’s made up. Brad will also discuss the types of budget you should keep in mind for the best chance of success with your faith based script. Brad’s valuable rundown of the faith based genre will give you the tips and tools you need to create an amazing script that will excel within the faith friendly community.

Like what you heard from Brad during this webinar?

Brad will read your script and speak with you for a half-hour if you click here.

 

 

Praise for Brad's Stage 32 Webinar

 

"Brad was terrific! This was an excellent real world webinar. Very helpful in reinforcing some of the trends that I have been seeing in this category, and I learned a lot from today's discussion."

-Lew S.

 

"Brad was amazing. He laid out so clearly the genre and how to write for it in a practical way. He was an awesome instructor who combined practical info, inspiration, and was so "real." Loved it."

-Ricki L.

 

"This was the best webinar I've had so far at Stage 32. Brad's very seasoned and gave wonderful tips that will help me make my faith-friendly script" more marketable."

-Gayle R.

 

"A very honest, forth right presentation from a guy whose been there and done that, and knows the pitfalls and promises of the biz."

-Dennis H.

 

What You'll Learn

  • An Overview of the Faith Based Space
    • Studio vs. Independent
  • Faith Based/Faith Friendly Screenwriting Points 101
    • Page Count
    • Characters
    • Plot
  • When Does Your Script Stop Being a General Drama and Start Being Faith Based/Faith Friendly?
  • What Audience Are You Trying to Reach?
  • What Elements Work Best for a Faith Based/Faith Friendly Script?
    • Romance?
    • A Specific Message?
    • Things to Stay Away From
    • Cross Over vs “Preaching to the Choir”
    • How Do you Drive the Story Forward?
  • When to Take Feedback and When to Listen to Your Gut
  • How to Keep it Real Even if it’s Made Up
  • How to Write Keeping Budget in Mind for the Best Chance of Success
  • Q&A with Brad

 

Plus! Brad will share a script download from one of his recent successful films THE MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS, which reaches a more cross over audience, is not preaching to the choir but still faith based.

Stay tuned...in a future webinar Brad will also be going over how to produce a faith based or faith friendly script.

About Your Instructor

In 1985 Brad Wilson began an eleven year alliance with Academy Award winning actor Robert Duvall, operating ROBERT DUVALL PRODUCTIONS in New York. This alliance encompassed eighteen feature films, among them: COLORS with Sean Penn, DAYS OF THUNDER with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, FALLING DOWN with Michael Douglas and the critically acclaimed WRESTLING ERNEST HEMINGWAY with Richard Harris and Shirley MacLaine.

Wilson also worked with Duvall on some of his most memorable television roles, including the CBS miniseries LONESOME DOVE and the HBO epic STALIN shot in location in Moscow, for which Duvall won the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

In 1992 the formation of BUTCHERS RUN FILMS was announced in Hollywood and Wilson as the company's Vice President of Development and Production. After only two months, the company had closed a deal with United Artists to make A FAMILY THING, based on an original idea from Duvall and scripted by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. The film was released in February 1996, and Wilson was awarded a Humanitas Certificate for his work as Co-Producer on the movie.

Mr. Wilson acquired the rights to EICHMANN IN MY HANDS, based on the highly acclaimed autobiography by Peter Malkin. After Wilson sold the idea of the story about the Israeli agent who captured the chief Nazi executioner under Hitler, Emmy winner Lionel Chetwynd was hired to write the script THE MAN WHO CAPTURED EICHMANN, which aired on TNT in 1996 with Duvall as Adolph Eichmann.

In December of 1995, Mr. Wilson became Vice President of Production of GREYSTONE FILMS. There Wilson produced their first feature production, LUNKER LAKE. This family film inspired the creation of INSIDE OUTDOORS, a weekly television show for TNN, on which Wilson served as Executive Producer. The film LEFT LUGGAGE marked Jeroen Krabbe's directorial debut and starred Isabella Rossellini and Academy Award winner Maximilian Schell. Mr. Wilson served as Co-Executive Producer on the film, which premiered at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival and took home four honors.

In 2000 Mr. Wilson became Vice President of Development and Production and a producing partner at HEMISPHERE ENTERTAINMENT and produced a slate of films including THE GHOST CLUB staring Britt Robinson filmed on location in South Carolina and released in December 2003. His suspense thriller ONE OF THEM and the family film UNDERCOVER KIDS enjoyed successful releases. THE GRIFT a 1940s period film was shot on location in Tennessee and released in 2007 by SHORELINE ENTERTAINMENT. SET APART starring Richard Roundtree and John Schneider was released in September 2009 by PROVIDENT/SONY FILMS. ANGELS LOVE DONUTS with The Crosswise Players filmed in Dallas and BECOMING JESSE TATE with Amanda Waters and Bailey Ann Borders filmed in Nashville were both released in 2010 by BMG. THREE BLIND SAINTS, filmed on location in Kansas City, was released late 2012. His film SLIP TUMBLE & SLIDE staring Katharine Ross and Scott Wilson was released in 2015, the family film CHRISTMAS ON SALVATION STREET, which was released November 2014. MY MANY SONS, based on the life of the most winning basketball coach no one knew, Don Meyer, was filmed in Nashville and will be released in September 2016. The film MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS from the book of the same name has just completed principal photography and will be going to film festivals and released in 2017.

Mr. Wilson also co-founded POWER IN FAITH and helped develop and produce the critically acclaimed TV drama series called BELIEVERS AMONG US. The first four episodes continue to air on TBN, SKY ANGEL, CORNERSTONE NETWORK, FAITH TV, and TCT NETWORK. The series has won two prestigious Telly Awards, the Aurora Award, two Davey Awards and the Millennium Award. Also under this label, the film THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE will be released in theaters January 2017.

His films have won awards at the Berlin Film Festival, The America Cinema Foundation, The Chicago Film Critics Association, Emden International Film Festival, Nederlands Film Festival, Westchester New York International Film Festival, Stony Brook Film Festival and The Santa Clarita International Film Festival.

Mr. Wilson is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a charter member of the National Radio Hall of Fame of Texas.

Brad is partnered in HIGHER PURPOSE ENTERTAINMENT with Casey Bond.

FAQs

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Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

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How to Produce Faith Based and Faith Friendly Films That Will Make it to the Screen

It's not talked about as often, but faith based and faith friendly films have been a steady, popular, and profitable industry for a while now. It could be considered a niche audience, but it’s a powerful and dependable niche audience that has helped catapult films and filmmakers to success. Recent films like I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, GOD’S NOT DEAD, and THE SHACK have found popularity and impressive box office numbers by tapping into this audience and bringing out church-goers and other faith-friendly communities that might not be as eager to seek out films outside of this genre. And it makes sense that faith-based films are doing well. In challenging or negative times, people will more actively seek out positivity and inspiration, two ingredients almost guaranteed to be in a faith-based film. Considering how challenging and negative our current world can be, there might not be a better time than the present to break into the world of faith-based films and write a script that can shine in this market. The faith-based arena might be lucrative, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cinch to succeed in. It can be a complicated and difficult world to navigate. Faith based films exist firmly within the larger film and television landscape, but they still have their own specific companies, leaders, and expectations to understand. Breaking into any aspect of the film industry is hard, but there are challenges that come specifically with the faith friendly market. It’s important in this world to create a product that is wholesome and accessible for all ages and sensibilities, and navigating this tight rope is tricky, ensuring you don’t turn off any particular group. As a producer or filmmaker wanting to work in this space, it’s your job to understand this world and the different players within it. Having a strong sense of how everything works, what kinds of films succeed in the space, and how to avoid the land mines that come along with this genre is critical. With a proper lay of the land, you’ll be able to better tackle this genre and produce a film that can not only succeed financially, but inspire and uplift viewers at the same time. Brad Wilson is the co-founder of Higher Purpose Entertainment (HPE), a production company dedicated to telling stories in film and TV that encompass truth of character and strive to embrace inspirationally redeeming qualities. While at HPE he's produced a number of films including THREE BLIND SAINTS, CHRISTMAS ON SALVATION STREET, MY MANY SONS, THE MEANEST MAN IN TEXAS, and THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE, which was released last year in 1,100 theaters across the country. 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