Faith-Based Film Community Meets to Discuss Expansion at Annual Purpose Summit

Los Angeles, CA

During Variety’s fourth annual Purpose: Family and Faith-Based Summit Thursday, family-friendly entertainers gathered to discuss the state of the industry, as well as strategies to make faith-based stories more enticing to mainstream audiences.

As entertainment content booms, the close-knit faith-based film community is looking to expand as well.

At the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, a slew of actors, directors and producers, including Producers DeVon Franklin, Holly Carter, Stephen Hill and Mark Ordesky, all opened up about sustaining faith in Hollywood, and more importantly, how to share that faith with wider audiences, reports Variety.

Franklin urged faith-focused producers to think bigger in regards to the crossover potential of projects, and shared concerns too much emphasis on a film being “faith-based” can limit its potential audience.

“If we keep thinking of this as a small thing for a small group of people,” we’re going to keep getting the same results,” he said.

Meanwhile, Selma actor David Oyelowo urged filmmakers to view matters of faith as “a subject that can be woven into the fabric of a story in virtually any genre,” per Variety, and said movies that take on spiritual subjects need to come from writers.

“If it’s a sermon on film, it will work only for a small audience,” Oyelowo said.

The actor also opened up about becoming a Christian at the age of 16, and said he felt called upon by God to play Martin Luther King Jr. in 2014’s Selma.

Executive producer Holly Carter emphasized people of faith don’t have to be depicted as saints on screen.

“Believers have the same issues as everybody else. We go through divorces, we have issues on the job,” she said.

BET programming head Stephen Hill said his network has worked to integrate gospel music into its general music programming, and doesn’t treat the genre as niche.

“Next to videos some of you would cringe at we play (gospel) artists on ‘106 and Park,’ ” he said.

Lord of the Rings trilogy producer Mark Odesky, Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment president and chief marketing officer Mary Daily also addressed faith in the industry.

For their full comments, as well as more about the Purpose summit, click here.