Category: Christians working in Arts and Media

Bishop Robert Barron Launches New Streaming Platform, Talks Faith at Facebook

Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate has gone digital with a new streaming platform.

From the bishop’s message that landed in my inbox today:

We are offering a new way to view our content on this cutting-edge streaming site, and you’ll be able to watch any of my programs on any device and at any time.

With a Word on Fire Digital subscription, you will instantly have access to ALL of my video programs.

You’ll also be the first to gain access to new releases, as well as other content that will be added throughout the year.

Here’s how it works…

You can pay a low monthly price to access everything, or you can purchase programs individually, rent them for a limited time, or effortlessly send them as a gift.

I am confident that Word on Fire Digital will be another new way to reach souls with the Gospel via the new media.

Click this link to learn more and watch the new video trailer: http://WOFDigital.org

Click here for the trailer; and here to sign up for a free trial.

Now, you can have Bishop Barron all the time, and share him more easily with friends, family and faithful seekers.

This appears to be part of a new digital outreach by Bishop Barron, who headed to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Sept. 18, to talk about how to discuss faith on social media.

From Catholic News Agency:

Bishop Barron said authentic faith is not opposed to reason; it does not accept simply anything on the basis of no evidence.

He compared faith to the process of coming to know another human person. While one can begin to come to know someone by reason, or through a Google search or a background check, when a relationship deepens, other questions arise.

“When she reveals her heart, the question becomes: Do I believe her or not? Do I trust her or not?” he said.

“The claim, at least of the great biblical religions, is that God has not become a great distant object that we examine philosophically,” the bishop said. “Rather, the claims is that God has spoken, that God has decided to reveal his heart to his people.”

Click here to watch the full Facebook video.

Word on Fire Digital is not the only place to find great Catholic content online. Of course, there’s always the Vatican Website, but that’s just the beginning.

Try the Augustine Institute’s Formed streaming service, which aims to be “Catholic Netflix.” It features hundreds of Catholic videos, movies, audio content and ebooks. You can try a seven-day free trial or subscribe as a parish. Click here.

Catholic TV can be seen on several platforms, including Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or on your iPhone or Android phone. But it’s also available online, just click here.

Of course, premier Catholic network EWTN is available on cable and satellite TV, but it also posts many of its shows on its Website and YouTube channel, and streams online live, right here.

So, if you can’t find anything good to watch, you can always find something to watch that celebrates truth, beauty and goodness.

And, as you see at the bottom of the post, you can also visit our YouTube and Ustream channels, and coming soon, we’re adding our catechetical Web series “Catholic Central” to the mix. For a preview and to learn more about our great young hosts, Kai (Kaiser Johnson) and Libby (Elizabeth Slater), visit CatholicCentral.com.

Image: Courtesy Word on Fire

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Jim Caviezel Plays Luke in Apostle Paul Drama from Sony’s Affirm Films

Affirm Films, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company focusing on faith-based films — it was behind last year’s “Risen” — has started principal photography in Malta on “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”

Andrew Hyatt (“Full of Grace”) wrote and is directing; David Zelon (“Soul Surfer”) and T.J. Berden (“Full of Grace”) are producers.

Starring are James Faulkner (“Game of Thrones,” “Da Vinci’s Demons”), Caviezel, Olivier Martinez (“Mars,” “Texas Rising”), Joanne Whalley and John Lynch.

From Variety, which broke the story:

The story covers Paul, portrayed by Faulkner, going from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Jesus Christ’s most influential apostle. The movie will follow his last days awaiting execution by Emperor Nero in Rome under the watchful eye of Mauritius, Mamertine Prison’s ambitious prefect, who seeks to understand how this broken old man can pose such a threat.

Martinez is portraying the prefect. As his days grow shorter, Paul works from prison to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and embolden his followers to stand strong in their faith against Roman persecution.

“Next to Jesus, no one played a more central role in the growth of early church than the Apostle Paul,” said Affirm Films executive vice president Rich Peluso. “He wrote a vast swath of the New Testament and traveled more than 10,000 miles by foot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

From Deadline.com:

“Paul changed from murdering Christians to becoming their unlikely leader. His life personifies ‘forgiveness’, a concept that seems almost impossible today- but desperately needed,” says Berden. “We at ODB Films are overjoyed to be working alongside Sony Affirm to share this much needed story with the world.”

ODB Films is a Catholic ministry devoted to spiritual movies.

Set to film through the end of September for a 2018 release, “Paul, Apostle of Christ” is Caviezel’s first Bible role since “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004. He previously worked with Zelon on “When the Game Stands Tall,” a football drama from Affirm.

Image: Courtesy Affirm Films

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘The Stray’: One Dog Movie Worth Finding

If you love dogs, or just want a movie for the whole family, “The Stray” may be for you.

I have been noticing that the family film doesn’t really exist in theaters anymore. Now, I’m not talking about animated motion pictures from Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks and others. No, I’m referring to live-action films, with actual people in them, made for families.

If parents have kids that are too young to watch superhero films – and I’m a firm believer that the PG-13 rating that most of these film receive is a warning parents should believe – then there is almost nothing for families to watch together other than cartoons and the occasional gem like Dolphin Tale.

I think we have another such gem launching nationwide on Friday, Oct. 6 — The Stray. Going back to the basics, this is the story of a man and his dog, or in this case, Mitch Davis (Michael Cassidy), who is trying to live his Hollywood dreams while supporting his wife and three kids, and the stray dog that literally wanders into their lives.

Trying to make it in the movie business has increasingly taken Mitch away from being a husband and father. He suggests getting a dog to be an emotional four-legged crutch, to provide the companionship he can’t, as he works nearly 24/7 at a major studio. Before Mitch can go buy a dog, his son, Christian Davis (an older Connor Corum, who played the adorable five-year-old from Heaven is for Real), finds a dog – or it finds him – when he’s facing bullies on the playground.

This canine from nowhere comes to the boy’s rescue and follows Christian home. Since Mitch already announced the family would have a dog, he can’t see how he can say “no” to this one.

The stray, however, comes into a family in turmoil. The mom, Michelle (played by Sarah Lancaster), informs Mitch that his absence has effectively estranged his son and is putting a strain on everyone. As Mitch works to save his family, he finds an ally in their new pet. This wandering mutt stands with the Davis family, ultimately showing that sometimes a dog can save the day.

Ostensibly, The Stray is as story about a loyal pet, but it’s really a story about family. On an even deeper level, it is a metaphor about love and how true love is sacrifice, with the one who loves us the most being God. Yep, there is a healthy dose of faith in this film, but not in an over-the-top kind of way, but from the fact that the Davises are people of faith.

To be clear, The Stray is not a religious fairy tale or holy parable, since the movie is based on a true story. But, like many of the big events in our own lives, this family’s story points to a bigger truth. I know it sounds there is a lot going on in what seems like a small movie. Also, I know this is the kind of film that I think many parents may be tempted wait to watch until it reaches Redbox or Netflix. However, I would argue that if families do that, they will miss a rare treat in a moviegoing experience.

First of all, the film features beautiful footage of landscapes and vistas that just won’t have the same impact on your TV or iPad, and there are some epic moments that will definitely lose something on a small screen.

Second, we are so busy as people, that it’s rare we all get to experience something together. It’s about as rare as getting a live-action movie that a whole family can see as one.

I would take the opportunity provided by The Stray for families to spend some time together and see this in a theater, especially since it is a film that should spark some good discussion afterward.

Click here to learn more about The Stray and how your faith community, business or civic group could have a private screening on Oct. 5.

Image: Courtesy Struck Films LLC

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Amen! FTP’s ‘Down From the Mountaintop’ Wins Two 2017 Telly Awards

Since 1979, the Telly Awards have honored outstanding productions, whether they’re on broadcast TV, cable or, now, digital and streaming platforms. Family Theater Productions is honored to have taken home two Telly Awards for 2017, for our short film, “Down From the Mountaintop.”

More than 500 industry professionals judged from over 13,000 entries from all 50 U.S. states and other countries.

“Down from the Mountaintop” received two Bronze Awards, one for Religious/Spiritual TV Show, and the other for Charitable Non-Profit TV Show.

Based on scripture, “Down from the Mountaintop” tells the story of Adam, shy teen who hears God’s call but is disappointed when others don’t share his enthusiasm for his newfound spirituality. The faith film relates to The Transfiguration, when the Disciples witnessed Christ’s transformation into radiant glory and wanted to bask in that glow forever.

“Down from the Mountaintop” stars Alex Miller as Adam, and Paulina Cerrilla as Cristina, a recurring role in Family Theater Productions movies for the young actress. She also sings lead vocals in the Christian rock song “You’re the Author of My Life,” which is featured in the new film.

Available on DVD (click here), “Down from the Mountaintop” is produced in English, dubbed in Spanish, and subtitled in French and Portuguese on one DVD, and includes a multi-lingual study guide.

Asked for comment, writer/director Father David Guffey, C.S.C. — also Family Theater’s head of production, said:

I am so grateful for the Telly Award for the short film I wrote and directed, “Down from the Mountaintop.”

Over my years as a Holy Cross priest I have witnessed so many people return home after a powerful retreat experience only to find that their family and friends do not understand. This is the story we tell in the film. What do you do the Monday after a spiritual high?

It was a great pleasure to work with Alex Miller, a brilliant young actor who plays Adam the main character, along with the incredible Paulina Cerrilla, who acts and also sings an original song.

My colleague Tony Sands [at right below] produced the film and Jeff Clark, our director of photography, captured some beautiful shots.

With this film, Family Theater proved ourselves as a team and helped us launch our new digital series, “Catholic Central,” and set in motion the development of feature films.

At Family Theater, we believe in story as entertainment but also as a way to look deeper into life.  To look deeper into life is eventually to find God.

Miller and Cerilla joined us at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California, earlier this year, and were a big hit with the parents and young people who’ve enjoyed the film.

As soon as news hit Twitter, FTP’s former head, Father Willy Raymond — promoted to president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, our parent organization — sent congratulations.

 

As Father Guffey mentioned, we have a Web series, “Catholic Central,” coming out this fall. Go to CatholicCentral.com to see a trailer and sign up for updates; click here to learn more about this fun, fast-paced series about the Faith.

Image: Courtesy Family Theater Productions/Kate O’Hare

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

 

Bishop Robert Barron Takes on ‘David the King’ in New Video

On Sept. 5, Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate releases “David the King,” a new study program including video talks by the Los Angeles Archdiocese auxiliary bishop and extensive Bible-study materials.

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s a taste of the first lesson:

Click here for a sample of the Lesson 1 study guide.

In addition to the videos, the study program is structured for seven 90-minute sessions on the Davidic themes of Kingship in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in Christ in the New.

From the Website:

Each section of the study guide provides a detailed commentary on the DVD and “Questions for Understanding” based on the presentation, Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Each section also includes “Questions for Reflection” that help you connect the material to your own life and experience.

Each session includes DVD viewing and small group discussion of Study Guide questions. Participants read the commentary in the study guide and prepare the questions before the small group discussion. This preparation can be accomplished either before or after they view the DVD, as the Commentary in each lesson is very detailed.

There is also free training available for study-group leaders.

The entire “David the King” program is available for pre-order, and those who take advantage will receive it in advance of the Sept. 5 launch date.

And, of course, the first set of “Catholicism: The Pivotal Players” is available, with more episodes in production.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Bishop Barron, and I’m eager to see what his long-term effect will be on the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Here’s something he said to me on the topic, shortly after arriving in L.A. in 2015:

Now that I’m here in this great entertainment capital, which includes the whole world, it’s an important question. One thing I’ve tried to do in my evangelical work is to reach out to TV and to movies and to popular culture, and try to find what the Church Fathers called seeds of worth, the signs and echoes of the Faith that you see in pop culture, and to point those out, so as to lead more positively.

It’s easy enough to say that there are all sorts of negativity within media culture — and there is — but my preferred method is to find the points of contact and to emphasize those.

In a more direct way, you can think of [the training and mentorship program]Act One here in Hollywood, trying to bring Christians into screenwriting. That’s a good thing.

My thing, from an evangelical standpoint, is to look out into popular culture, to find the points of contact and thereby draw people closer.

So that’s been my strategy, kind of an affirmative orthodoxy, if you will. It’s a hopeful way to engage popular culture.

Click here for more on how the bishop found himself in Southern California.

Apparently it was a surprise:

“I was in my room on a lazy Sunday afternoon,” he said. “I had finished Mass, and I was back in my room, watching golf. This phone call comes from the apostolic nuncio, [Archbishop Carlo Maria] Viagano.

“I knew exactly what it meant — that’s the only reason he calls people. I knew it what it meant but I was really surprised by Los Angeles. That was nowhere even vaguely on my radar screen, because the whole bishop thing wasn’t on my radar.

“If someone becomes an auxiliary bishop, first, it’s almost always in your hometown. If someone had mentioned Chicago, that would make more immediate sense. So, I never dreamed of being a bishop in Los Angeles.”

Let’s all keep Bishop Barron and his work in our prayers!

Image: Courtesy Word on Fire

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Family Theater Priest: I Blessed the Set of ‘Annabelle Creation’

(Father David Guffey is Head of Production for Family Theater Productions, based in Hollywood.)

Several months ago, I picked up the phone in my office and heard a friend ask, “Father David, could you bless a set of a movie?”

He went on to explain that they were shooting a horror film on the Warner Brothers lot, and some of the cast were a little freaked out by the story. So, I trekked over to Warner Brothers in Burbank and found my way to the sound stage. I did not see the script, but the set itself was eerie. With stole and holy water in hand, and a small group of cast and crew present, I blessed the set, adapting prayers from the official Book of Blessings. The movie they were making is Anabelle Creation, and it opens nationally this weekend.

The film is the latest release in the Conjuring Series, from James Wann. The films feature stories of demonic possession and the people who fight it. Anabelle Creation is a prequel to the Anabelle film released in 2014. The film opening this weekend tells the story of the dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) who created Anabelle. He and his wife (Miranda Otto) suffered the loss of their young daughter, a beloved only child. In their grief, they become vulnerable to a seductive and sinister bargain.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed in this latest installment.

It is an R-rated (for frightening content) horror film. While most people will never experience the intensity of evil portrayed in the story, the methods the devil uses are all too familiar in everyday life. The devil is opportunistic, looking for any opening to insert himself into a person’s life. The devil is a deceiver who seduces people into thinking that something destructive is life-giving, and that life-giving things are destructive. Finally, the devil is a divider of peoples. You will find all these dynamics in Anabelle Creation.

Evil does influence life. What people of faith know is that God and the forces of love are more powerful than anything the devil can dish up. This truth was more completely realized in the original Conjuring films, which were based on the real life work of Catholic paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Anabelle Creation shows the patterns of evil with little of the hope in the forces of good. This makes for a great scary movie, but an incomplete one for people who believe and have confidence that ultimately, God wins. People of faith can resist evil and in fact do every day.

It was with this hope that I blessed the set of the film. Stephanie Sigman, one of the actresses present at the rite thanked me and said she felt more secure knowing the set had been blessed. Every little blessing helps defeat evil. You can see her this weekend playing Sister Charlotte in Annabelle Creation.

Father Guffey also participated in an Aug. 9 panel on the film, sponsored by New Line Cinema and Fuller Seminary’s Reel Spirituality, which preceded a screening at the ArcLight Theater in Pasadena, California. The panel topic was “In Defense of Evil,” and featured the film’s director, David F. Sandberg; Dr. Craig Detweiler, author and director of the Center for Entertainment Media & Culture at Pepperdine University; the moderator was Dr. Kutter Callaway, assistant professor of theology and culture, at Fuller Theological Seminary, an Evangelical institution in Pasadena.

(NOTE: According to Variety, Annabelle: Creation is on its way to a 36M+ opening weekend.)

Image: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.