Excellent Artists, Diligent Investors | A Match Made in Film Heaven

Because there’s never been a more powerful way to fulfill ‘The Great Commission” than by investing in Christian film and TV production, CNJ is bringing you the “Excellent Artist” series.

Did you hear the one about the sci-fi musical with catchy Christian show tunes? If you’re saying to yourself, I know those words, but never in that combination, you need to find out about the next generation of Christian producers.

These aren’t your father’s Christian movies.

Award-winning filmmaker, Matthew Todd, “the next Andrea Bocelli,” trained at the Royal Conservetoire in Scotland. Composer of award-winning sci-fi musical, Planet Bablia , and co-founder of Fellowship Film, Todd told Christian News Journal, “God is working to redeem [the media.] The Creator of all that is creative has written His Truth on the hearts of believers and empowered them to tell His stories.”

Chris Watt, founder of children’s charity Out of the Box (Scotland) Ltd., told CNJ, “Planet Bablia was filmed during a creative arts week we ran for young people aged 10-15. There was zero budget, although we probably spent a few hundred pounds on material for costumes.”

One of the most creative films in Christendom. Produced for free. By a children’s charity. In one week. With kids.

Comedian Kerri Pomarolli, who was on The Tonight Show 29 times, trained at the famed NYU Stella Adler Conservatory. 

“If Christians really want to make a difference in the world they can’t stay in their own sandbox,” Pomarolli, who has some exciting projects in the works, told CNJ. “We have to be trained and excellent at our craft, compete outside of our bubble. You wouldn’t wanna’ go to a Christian Burger King who burned all the food, just because they love Jesus.”

Iraq War vet Jerry Della Salla starred with Matt Damon in Green Zone, has a Masters in Apologetics, and studied with Stella Adler herself when the top acting coach was alive. He affirms small investors in The Great Commission can make a difference via film. “Producers can make a movie today for under $1000, if the story, script, character and casting are the focal point.” 

Lauren LaStrada www.laurenlastrada.com, winner of 6 Best Actress awards, told CNJ, “In many communities the performing arts have been stripped of their funding. This has caused a domino effect that causes job losses and opportunities to become very slim.” 

LaStrada is in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming feature film No Sudden Move with Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro and Ray Liotta. The actress, who just won the 2020 Wilde Award for Best Supporting Actress – Stage, in Ain’t Misbehavin’, said, “With investors, the arts will continue to thrive and with your seed will be planted towards the gifts, calling, and purpose of a person God has chosen to share his many talents through.” 

Former Marvel and DC artist, Al Nickerson , is a professor of Sequential Art: Comics Illustration, at Orange County Community College. Nickerson told CNJ his comic, “The Sword of Eden’ allows me the opportunity to create Christian comics that Christian readers can enjoy without feeling insulted, or feel as if they are compromising God’s principles.”

Reality TV is economically produced, award-winning producer Sheila White told CNJ. “Society benefits from the arts in entertainment when funding is available for great programming, like The Spiritual Ballerina,” as well as White’s other shows large networks are vying for.

Culinary artist, Debra Murray, a former food stylist for Paula Dean, Wolfgang Puck and Suzanne Sommers, is an author of 17 cookbooks. “I believe God has gifted everyone with a special gift which is unique to that person,” Murray told CNJ. “When a person realizes their gift, they will work with such passion and enthusiasm it creates a magnet to opportunities to use that gift. This has been my experience.”

The Whole Loaf is a holistic cooking and relationship show Murray co-hosts as a volunteer for her church. Her pastor, Rev. Dr. Paul Burtzlaff, who has a Ph.D. in family counseling, offers lively relationship advice coupled with interesting anecdotes. 

Murray said one of her favorite Scriptures is Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” She said, “I work as hard cooking and teaching for nothing as I do when I am getting paid,” because “[t]he truth of the gift is the factor. Truth is very powerful!”

Cameron McCormick, an award-winning actor and pastor’s son, is shooting Healing Embers in April, and has a critically-acclaimed superhero script, Kevin 11. “Coming from a family who rarely allowed PG-13 movies in my house, I understand how important it is for investors to invest in projects that will be good enough to compete with blockbuster films, as well as appropriate and healthy for families to watch together,” McCormick told CNJ.

Award-winning filmmaker, Nathaniel Schexnayder, has a future blockbuster as well, the highly anticipated superhero comedy, Night Guard. “It’s critical to find and support Christian filmmakers who can share the biblical worldview through film as well as their Hollywood counterparts share theirs,” Schexnayder told CNJ.

Night Guard comic lead, Jonathan Wessel, an award-winnng actor who studied the Meisner Method, told CNJ, “”As Christians, we should produce the highest-quality films, better than Hollywood, because our work is a direct reflection on our Creator.  If we produce poorly-written, poorly-acted, and in general, poorly-made films and then say that’s okay because our hearts were in the right place, we’re not being good and faithful stewards of the talents and gifts God has given us.”

Please pray for these believers who excel in the arts, and others who will be in this “Excellent Artist” series.

Kristen Collier has a BA in English Literature and is co-founder with her husband, and Roku developer, of Creative Motion Network, a cutting-edge, free indie Christian Roku channel. She is also co-founder and animator of Collier Animation Studio, producer of Benny the Barnacle (2021).

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