Category: Family Movies & Television

‘The Shack': FTP’s Father David Guffey Talks About the Controversial New Movie

The-Shack-Sam-Worthington-Octavia-SpencerComing out this weekend, “The Shack,” based on best-selling book by William Paul Young, explores what happens when a grieving father (Sam Worthington) has an encounter with all three Persons of the Trinity, played by different actors — including “Hidden Figures” star Octavia Spencer as God the Father, or “Papa.”

Personifying the Trinity, and other aspects of the book’s theology, have caused some concerns.

Secular outlet The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:

With its sparkly spin on the New Testament, the film will be too New Agey for those who hew closely to doctrine (some conservative Christians have criticized the novel as a work of misguided heresy). But beyond theological debates, the feature is a leaden, belabored affair. However universal the perennial questions and struggles that The Shack illuminates, under Stuart Hazeldine’s plodding direction, its faith-based brand of self-help feels like being trapped in someone else’s spiritual retreat — in real time.

And this, from Catholic deacon and movie critic Steven Greydanus:

Like many popular sensations, from Titanic to Twilight, from Dan Brown to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, The Shack is easy to rip apart if one has a mind to. It’s too didactic for drama, too literal for allegory, too artless for poetry, and too fuzzy for theology. The writing is folksy and florid; when Mack falls in his driveway, he doesn’t just get a bump on his head: The lump emerges “like a humpbacked whale breaching the wild waves of his thinning hair.”

Although an enthusiastic cover blurb from Eugene Peterson compares The Shack to Pilgrim’s Progress, generically and thematically it’s somewhat closer to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Lewis’ brilliant book, however, focuses on familiar foibles of human nature; Young attempts a portrait of sorts of the divine nature.

The Shack is essentially an imaginative exploration of theodicy, of the problem of evil, experienced not in the abstract, but as an existential crisis of faith. More broadly, it could be called a response to disappointment with God and disillusionment with religion.

David GuffeyAlso concerned, CatholicMom.com founder Lisa Hendey turned to our own Head of Production, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., to get his take. Here’s some of what he had to say:

The film is not a religious teaching on the doctrine of Trinity, any more than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a study of physical appearance of God. Each of these use artistic license to point to great truths of faith. Film is an art form and as art, evokes the imagination to discover mystery of life and the workings of God’s grace within it. I would not use this film to talk about Trinity, but instead as an opening to discuss the many ways that God is close to us and the ways that God actively tries to be part of our lives in the best of times and especially in the hardest of times.

I would encourage you to see this film with someone you can talk about it with afterwards. You will want to. It would be a great family movie night film the weekend of March 3, 2017.

After watching the film, invite family members to talk about the times in their life when they feel closest to God. Is it in nature or in a church or at a family gathering? How do we recognize the hand of God at work I the people around us and the events of our lives? Second, and perhaps more difficult, I would encourage a conversation on how the Phillips family coped with loss and grief.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Image: Courtesy Lionsgate

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.

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for the Month of March

Shark-Tank-castIt’s the First Friday of March, and we’re starting a new feature, spotlighting family-friendly viewing each month. Enjoy!

“Shark Tank”: There are always several episodes available to view on ABC.com and on Hulu, but watching “Shark Tank” live on Friday nights can be a nice way to start the weekend.

Though the reality show is its eighth season, and is already a multiple Emmy-award winner, the new episodes continue to be as fresh and exciting as the ideas that each entrepreneur brings into the “tank,” in search of funding from the panel of “sharks.”

Every episode presents a real opportunity to witness the American dream come true for hardworking and creative people, and gives viewers an insight into what it takes to win over investors.

This week, a mom from San Diego and two brothers get their shot. There’s also a profile on “shark” Robert Herjavec who shares his story about immigrating as a child from Eastern Europe to North America, escaping Communism and how this experience influenced his very impressive business success.

“Lark Rise To Candleford”: If you’re looking for a television series to binge-watch without having to worry about “explaining” questionable scenes and storyline choices to your kids, this BBC show—set in the English countryside and chronicling the small town life of its characters—ran for four complete seasons and every episode is available to watch on Amazon Prime. It is clean but also charming, heartwarming but also clever… as you might expect a British show to be.

“peg + cat”: This an animated kids series is in its second season on PBS right now, but if you have a preschool or kindergarten-aged child and you haven’t yet given it a shot, it’s worth checking out with them. There are several episodes available on Amazon Prime and YouTube—some for free and others for a small fee.

The show introduces basic math to little ones in a way they can understand. It is surprising how capable young children are of picking up introductory math concepts (like counting, recognizing patterns, sorting, proportions, drawing diagrams) if presented in a way they’re entertained by—and if you have daughters, you may especially appreciate that the protagonist is a little girl.

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Research continually shows that girls are less confident and more anxious about math than boys are, even at a very young age. The show provides a female role model who demonstrates skills—especially creative and persistent problem solving—that are vital to understanding math and eventually science as well. The other plus to “peg + cat” is that if you watch this show alongside your child, you will also get ideas on how to incorporate math concepts into simple games and exercises at home.

“Savoring Our Faith”: Although many are aware of the existence of EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, the expansiveness of their programming seems to be a better kept secret. Did you have any clue that EWTN has its own cooking show?!

The host, Fr. Leo Patalinghug, is quite likeable, a skilled chef and adept at weaving lessons from the Bible into lessons for the kitchen. You can find the list of episodes and airdates here—from the U.S. and Canada all the way to Africa and the Pacific Rim—or just check it out on YouTube.

You can also watch EWTN live online.

“Heartland” – Another not-so-well known programming outlet for families? Light TV. Light TV is a digital broadcast network that was launched by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey at the end of last year. When over-the-air stations — your local network affiliates and independent channels — went digital, the expanded bandwith capacity meant there were digital “subchannels” available. Some show programming related to the main channel; others are given over to independent networks, like Light TV.

They can be accessed with a digital antenna or on selected cable systems. Click here for an earlier blog post about the network and how to find it.

The series and movies that air on Light TV are chosen specifically because of their family-friendly nature, so while the content is not brand new, it may be new to you and you can be sure it’s pretty safe to watch with your kids.

“Heartland” was one of the first shows to air on Light TV and definitely represents the vibe that Light TV is aiming to accomplish. A Canadian series, which is in its tenth season and continues to film original episodes, follows a family with a love for horses and a common goal to keep their ranch running after they suffer a serious tragedy. The show is also available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Just one parenting note: I would skip over the opening scenes as they contain some content regarding the aforementioned tragedy that could be scary for little kids.

See you next month!

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy ABC

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.

‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground': Martha Williamson on Faith, Love and a Touch of the Blues

Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-1On Feb. 2, “Touched by an Angel” creator Martha Williamson sat down for a talk at Bel-Air Presbyterian in Los Angeles, as part of its faith-based Beacon Hollywood ministry.

Williamson is currently known for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a series of movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which premieres a new installment, “Higher Ground,” on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9 p.m. ET.

Signed-Sealed-Delivered-Higher-Ground

The series focuses on the “POstables,” a team based in the Denver, Colorado, office of the U.S. Postal Service, which attempts to deliver mail lost in transit and left undelivered. It’s up to the POstables to make sure the “dead letters” are, as Williamson says, “delivered late, but right on time.”

Here’s what’s happening in “Higher Ground,” from the official Website:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans handyman and blues singer-songwriter Gabe Recolte was left homeless before he had the chance to express his love for club owner Hattie. Oliver and his team retrieve Gabe’s love letter years later and face challenges in solving the mystery. Stars Keb ‘Mo, Eric Mabius, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson.

While the stories of the POstables continue through each movie, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” also lets Williamson tell a story about new characters in each Martha-Williamson-Signed-Sealed-Delivered-2installment — as she did with “Touched by an Angel” — with faith themes threaded through.

We’ll deal with “Touched” in another post, but here are some selections from what Williams had to say about her new project.

On the tentative romance between head POstable Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius) and postal detective Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth):

I wanted to explore a man who’s a Christian, whose life was messed up. So, he’s married, and his wife has left him and taken off to Paris. He’s finally worked through that, and what it meant to be a man of honor and not take up with this other woman, even though he hadn’t even seen his wife for almost three years. But he wanted to do the right thing until he was released to do something else, and he was really was struggling.

He’s basically in love but hasn’t said it yet to Shane.

She is a 21st-Century technology woman, and he is a 20th-Century, basically a Luddite, who doesn’t even own a cellphone. The two of them should not be together whatsoever, but that’s not how God works, and so they’ve been going back and forth.

She’s not a believer and he is, so to pitch that to Hallmark without them thinking it it’s going to be a Christian show, was a real tap dance. But I said, “Just trust me, and as we develop these characters you’re going to want to see what happens, and you’re going to want to see his level of faith.”

On how Hallmark responded:

Michelle Vicary, the senior executive vice president [at Hallmark], said, “I’m not afraid of God,” which I thought was a very powerful thing to hear at a network.

They’ve been very supportive and I think the challenge for this that they are human. They are walking in faith, and they are at different points at faith. And they actually are responsible for maintaining other people’s faith. It’s a tremendous act of faith.

How fan response planted a seed for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”:

I found some letters that had been written to me that I never read. Fan letters. I was reminded of how people’s lives had been changed. …

I’ll never forget this one little boy in an airport once he said, “My mommy and my sister and me, we watch [‘Touched by an Angel’] all the time. My daddy watches it too, but he watches it in the den because he cries.”

And I thought that was just adorable because it said so much, that this poor man, you know, was wanting to feel things but he didn’t want to appear weak, apparently. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to have somebody like Oliver, a guy who’s really weak in so many ways but strong in his faith and that’s what keeps him going, and he’s a kind person?”

There’s this amazing web of fans for this crazy little show. They just deconstruct every single line. They see the Biblical references in it, even though it’s not there. … What they love is there’s this really sexy guy who struggles. He has fallen and gotten himself back up. He made bad decisions but he can still be a man of faith, and he’s a gentleman. He opens the door not because you’re a woman, he opens the door because you’re a human.

Martha-Higher-Ground

On the mature love story in “Higher Ground”:

Keb ‘Mo is one of the most remarkable blues artists in the country. Back, a few months ago performed in the White House for President and Mrs. Obamam and he performed with James Taylor and Eric Clapton. I mean, he’s an incredible musician and he’s an old friend.

One more thing you should always do is never be afraid to reach out to somebody you admire and tell them that you admire them and say thank you. Which is exactly what I did with Keb ‘Mo, and we ended up begin friends, and now he’s on our show. Hallmark is not known for its diversity, and so it took three years to get this romantic couple on the screen, and I’m very happy about that.

And also, we know this, they ain’t young. They’re older folks. Who can fall in love too.

On the romances you’ll see — including Oliver and Shane — and the future:

I didn’t know if “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was going to be picked up for three more movies, so I wrote this with the intention that, if this is the last show that we ever see in this series of movies, we will resolve some things.

The two couples that you see will come together in ways that the audience has been waiting for for a long time. I’m very happy about that, but most importantly, we finally see Shane realize, step up and become something of a believer, I would say.

She acknowledges that God has been working in her life. That’s huge. So, all the little tiny pieces were pulled together, and happily, we were picked up for three more movies for 2017, so I’m going to be busy for a while.

Here’s a sneak peek at “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground” …

Images: Courtesy Hallmark Channel

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.

 

 

‘The Crown': Bishop Barron Weighs in on the Netflix Royal Drama (Plus JFK Casting!)

The-Crown-FFBDon’t know about you, but with wild weather all over the country, if there ever was a weekend meant for relaxing indoors, this might be it. For Catholic families, it might be worth putting “The Crown” on the menu (along with some tea and scones, if you like).

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:

The sumptuous drama premiered in its entirety on Netflix back in November, but Los Angeles’ own Bishop Robert Barron had his say about it just last week.

He emphasizes how “The Crown” demonstrates the willingness of the young Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) — as a God-anointed monarch, rather than an elected leader — to subsume her own wishes to the demands of her position. Consistently, she puts duty to crown and God over self, remaining bound more to traditional values than the vicissitudes of society.

Here’s his commentary:

Bishop Barron’s thoughts echo some of what was said about “The Crown” in a recent commentary at the Catholic magazine Crisis. Here’s an excerpt:

The monarchy may not be politically powerful anymore, but the crown is still heavy, both literally and figuratively. Nearly every historical drama makes something of the struggle between tradition and changing times, but most cheer for progress, with the result being a triumphalist vindication of modern-day mores. The Crown can’t easily follow that path because of, well, the crown. If society’s primary goal is to throw off the benighted ways of our forbears, kings and queens will be the first thing to go. In discerning a meaningful role for the monarch, one must also find a meaningful role for tradition, and this is a major theme of the show. The young Queen Elizabeth must negotiate a blitz of conflicting demands that are placed on her, most of which are rooted in one way or another in the soil of tradition. As queen, she knows that she has particular obligations to tradition, so she is uniquely entrusted with sifting through the relevant questions.

“The Crown” is not perfectly historically accurate, but it’s not bad. It’s visually stunning (and apparently had a hefty price tag), but unlike many historical dramas, it doesn’t rely on titillation and scandal. This is true to life. Whereas Queen Elizabeth II’s sister and children have had their personal peccadilloes plastered all over tabloids in the U.K. and around the world, the queen herself has remained a model of rectitude and self-possession.

As head of the Anglican Communion, she also hasn’t been shy about speaking on faith. Here’s her most recent Christmas greeting. The beginning is more secular, but at about the 4:20 mark, she begins talking about Christ. The queen even echoes Saint Therese of Lisieux, in talking about “doing small things with great love.”

As far as family viewing goes, “The Crown” isn’t without flaws. There are a couple of scenes of the backside of Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”) who plays Prince Philip, and some brief female nudity during scenes in Africa. There’s blasphemy and profanity scattered here and there (the series is rated MA for two stronger uses of profanity).

But overall, with some caution — and a recommendation for parents to watch WITH their kids —  “The Crown” is suitable for mature middle-school students and high-school students.

As a Catholic American of Irish and French extraction, I have no particular love for the British monarchy. But, in a self-indulgent world obsessed with tossing aside tradition in search of the next hot trend, Queen Elizabeth II stands as an example of someone who’s devoted her entire life to a duty she neither sought nor actively chose.

And she’s done it well.

By the way, there will be a second season of “The Crown,” which begins in the 1960s with a storyline involving war in Egypt and the downfall of the queen’s third prime minister. “Dexter” star Micahel C. Hall has been cast as Catholic U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Jodi Balfour as his wife, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

Image: Courtesy Netflix

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.

 

Movieguide’s Faith and Values Awards Gala: An Awards Show You Can Get Behind

movieguide-faith-values-award-reelz-benhur-hacksaw-ridge-risen-andrew-garfield-joseph-fiennesOn Feb. 10, Christian media group Movieguide offers the 25th Annual Faith and Values Awards Gala, an awards show that might be upbeat and positive — and about showbiz instead of politics.

What a concept, eh?

Terry Crews is host, overseeing a slate of nominations that includes Epiphany Awards for a TV show and a movie that “greatly increased man’s love or understanding for God,” according to the press release.

terry-crews-4

The movie nominees are (in alphabetical order):

  • “Ben-Hur (2016)”
  • “God’s Not Dead 2″
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “Hail, Caesar!”
  • “Miracles From Heaven”
  • “Risen”
  • “Silence”
  • “The Young Messiah”

And the TV nominees:

  • “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”: Season 3, Episodes 20-22, “Emancipation,” “Absolution,” “Ascension” (ABC)
  • “The Bridge Part 2″ (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries)
  • “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” (NBC)
  • “Operation Christmas” (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries)
  • “The Passion: New Orleans” (Fox)
  • “Pocahontas: Dove of Peace” (CBN)
  • “A Time to Dance” (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries)

Also, the Grace Awards honor an actor from one movie and one TV program for offering, as the release says, the “most inspiring performances in movies and television demonstrating God’s grace and love toward us as human beings.”

For movies:

  • Roderigo Santoro (“Ben-Hur (2016)”)
  • David A.R. White (“God’s Not Dead 2″)
  • Melissa Joan Hart (“God’s Not Dead 2″)
  • Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”)
  • Josh Brolin (“Hail, Caesar!”)
  • Robert Pike Daniel (“Hail, Caesar!”)
  • Jennifer Garner (“Miracles From Heaven”)
  • Kylie Rogers (“Miracles From Heaven”)
  • Cliff Curtis (“Risen”)
  • Joseph Fiennes (“Risen”)
  • Adam Greaves-Neal (“The Young Messiah”)

And TV:

  • Natalia Cordova-Buckley (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”)
  • Faith Ford (“The Bridge Part 2″)
  • Ted McGinley (“The Bridge Part 2″)
  • Alyvia Alyn Lind (“Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love”)
  • Gerald McRaney (“Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love”)
  • Dolly Parton (“Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love”)
  • Tyler Perry (“The Passion: New Orleans”)
  • Devielle Johnson (“A Time to Dance”)

Here’s a look at what else is on the agenda:

For 32 years, Movieguide and Companion Christian Film and Television Commission have been “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media.”

The honors will be telecast on Easter Sunday, April 16, on the REELZ cable channel.

Images: Courtesy Paramount/MGM; Lionsgate; Sony/Affirm; Wikimedia Commons

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.

‘Faith in Media': Patrick Coffin and IHRadio’s Joseph Nesta Salute Father Patrick Peyton on His Birthday

faith-media-patrick-coffin-patrick-peyton-joseph-nestaFather Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., was born Jan. 9, 1909 in Attymass, a village in County Mayo, Ireland. He passed away in Los Angeles in 1992, but not before founding Family Theater Productions, dedicated to using modern media to help strengthen families, especially through prayer.

FTP recently sat down with several Catholic media professionals to talk about a variety of topics relating to “Faith in Media,” and one of those was the impact of Father Peyton (click here to learn more about him). These videos will also be available on our Facebook page, but below find our conversations with two of them.

Joseph Nesta is a Catholic revert and the senior community relations officer for Catholic radio network Immaculate Heart Radio.

Patrick Coffin is a cradle Catholic, an author, speaker and radio host — for many years, he was the host of “Catholic Answers Live” — and now has embarked on a solo venture at PatrickCoffin.net, featuring news and a podcast.

We’re also celebrating the 75th anniversary of another ministry of Father Peyton, Family Rosary. Here’s the announcement of what’s in store for that organization and the sainthood campaign for Father Peyton:

‘ROSARY PRIEST’ REMEMBERED DURING

FAMILY ROSARY’S 75th ANNIVERSARY YEAR

Servant of God Patrick Peyton began a mission

to build family unity through daily prayer of the Rosary

EASTON, Mass. – It all started when one father prayed one Rosary in one home. Today, that singular act has touched the lives of nearly 50 million people around the world – and it continues to spread!

Sainthood candidate Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., began Family Rosary 75 years ago with the goal of building family unity through daily prayer of the Rosary. He was inspired by his own father, who more than a century ago started praying the Rosary with his family in their poor but spiritually rich home.

Father Peyton devoted his life to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and praying her Rosary. He became gravely ill as a seminarian and the doctors had no hope of recovery. So he did as his father, John, had taught him back home in Ireland.

“Father Peyton was a seminarian, studying for the priesthood, when he was stricken with tuberculosis,” said Father Wilfred Raymond, CSC, President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. “He prayed his Rosary to the Blessed Mother and made a miraculous recovery. From that moment, he knew he was to be the one to carry out her apostolate, her ministry to bring families together for Rosary prayer, just as his family had done.”

That became the foundational experience for Father Peyton (1909-92), also known as the “Rosary Priest,” who went on to lead millions in prayer at events around the world. Father Peyton’s mission, Family Rosary (founded in 1942), continues today through programs, products, events and digital outreach to families around the world.  Recently Family Rosary’s Facebook page surpassed one million followers.  Thousands are reached daily through prayer posts, videos and spiritual messages.  The ministry’s newest outreach, the Daily Family Reflection, provides a daily homily, four-minutes in length, live from The Father Peyton Center in Easton, Massachusetts, USA, available through Facebook and also on their blog, http://blog.FamilyRosary.org.  The ministry also helps families pray through their Daily Family Prayer app and their Family Rosary app.

In addition, Family Rosary has partnered with Growing with the Saints, in the development of a Catholic vacation bible school kit that teaches children how to pray the Rosary and includes take-home elements (in English and Spanish) for the family to pray together each day.  “Tracking Mary: Mysteries & Messages,” the latest vacation bible school program by Growing with the Saints is available at www.GrowingWithTheSaints.com.

“We reach out to young parents where they are – online!” said Father Raymond.  “Helping our young families pray together to strengthen the faith of their family is the focus of everything we do.”

This year, 2017, also marks the 25th anniversary of Father Peyton’s death.  Family Rosary is honoring Father Peyton’s memory through many events and activities throughout the year.  In addition to their ongoing programs, Family Rosary will be announcing shortly the details for a very special prayer event on October 7, 2017.

The essence of Father Peyton’s ministry, which spanned half a century, is relevant and vibrant to families today.   Father Peyton touched the lives of countless individuals with his kindness, sincerity and devotion to Mary. Over the years, he advocated for families by preaching two powerful and memorable sayings: “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together” and “A World at Prayer is a World at Peace.”

The Vatican is considering Father Peyton for sainthood. His life, work, writings and actions are being examined for miracles and other evidence for the canonization of the Rosary Priest. He has been proclaimed a Servant of God in this process with the next steps being bestowal of the term Venerable for his life of heroic virtue, to be followed, God willing, by Beatification and Sainthood.

In the spirit of its founder, Servant of God Patrick Peyton, Family Rosary continues to inspire, promote and foster the prayer life and spiritual well-being of families throughout the world with programs, products and extensive digital outreach. In addition to the United States, Father Peyton’s ministry to family spirituality and prayer has offices in sixteen countries on five continents, truly encircling the globe with constant prayer with and for families of all nations.

For more information, call 800-299-7729 or visit www.FatherPeyton.org,  www.FamilyRosary.org and www.facebook.com/FamilyRosary

Family Rosary is a ministry ofHoly Cross Family Ministries, which is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross.  www.holycrossusa.org

Images: Courtesy Family Theater Productions

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.