The Ministry of Motion Pictures Podcast
The Ministry of Motion Pictures Podcast
Todd Shaffer
In the 1930's Minister James K. Friedrich said, "The motion picture camera, like the printing press, is a gift from God. We can use it for God's purpose." The Ministry of Motion Pictures seeks to advance the Christian film movement by engaging with Christian filmmakers and examining the landscape of the Christian film genre, to understand what has shaped it in the past, and how it should be shaped in the future.
12 Westerns in 12 Months with Travis Mills
Making one or two movies per year is huge effort. In 2020, the year of COVID, indie filmmaker, Travis Mills, shot 12 westerns in 12 months, and in the following year he released those 12 films in 12 months. Travis is with us today to talk about this amazing feat of independent filmmaking. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Jul 18, 2022
1 hr 8 min
MMP 60: The Youngest Director on Netflix with Rob Smat
He was at one time on of the youngest directors with a feature film on Netflix. Writer and director Rob Smat is with me to talk about his film The Last Whistle and a soon to be released documentary. Rob made his feature film The Last Whistle when he was just 23 years old. It won a number of awards at some film festivals and was picked up by Netflix. The writing and directing in this film demonstrates a maturity of someone much older than 23. Though it’s not intended to be a faith film, faith does play a role in this story. Rob is currently finishing a documentary called Walkout, and it’s making the rounds to festivals this year. This USC grad is just at the beginning of his career, and it will be interesting to watch his career develop over the next decade. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Jul 5, 2022
34 min
MMP 59: Make Me Want to Turn the Page with Richard Walter part 2
Legendary screenwriting professor, Richard Walter, is with us again in part two of my conversation with him. Richard was professor of the UCLA Screenwriting program, which is the most successful screenwriting program in the world. It’s harder to get into this program than it is to get accepted to Harvard Law School, and for good reason. Richard is a consummate storyteller, no matter what the medium, and that’s one of the things I love about him, every conversation is not only instructive, but a good story. And you can tell that he not only knows his stuff, he loves what he does. I often bring a guest on the show to test my assumptions, and pose ideas swimming around in my mind that need a good rattling, and no better a rattler of assumptions in film and screenwriting than Richard. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Jun 20, 2022
38 min
MMP 58: Don't Be Boring | A Conversation with UCLA Screenwriting Professor Richard Walter
My guest today is the legendary screenwriting instructor at the UCLA Screenwriting Program, Richard Walter. I’ve been reading books on screenwriting since my days in film school. I have more than any screenwriter could possibly read. When an aspiring screenwriter asks me what books they should read, the first one I recommend is The Essentials of Screenwriting, written by our guest. Of all the screenwriting books I have read, Richard’s is the most grounded, and that’s just what  you would expect from a professor who was a driving force in the most successful screenwriting program in the last 20 years or more. And I’m not saying that to butter him up, this is why I reached out to him to be a guest on this podcast, which he so graciously agreed to do. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Jun 8, 2022
1 hr 2 min
MMP 57: Faith Film Micro-budget Powerhouse with Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell is with us today to talk about microbudget Christian filmmaking. His company is scheduled to release 20 films this year alone and will launch their own streaming platform. ministryofmotionpictures.org
May 23, 2022
40 min
MMP 56: Story Well Told with Dr. Karen Swallow Prior
Literature  professor, Dr. Karen Swallow Prior joins me to talk about novels,  story, and Christian film. Given that Christian films tend to be very  message driven, I was interested in learning at the feet of Dr. Prior as  she walked her readers through these great novels. How did these  time-tested storytellers communicate moral and spiritual virtues? I believe filmmakers should be readers of good fiction, especially  given that we don’t have a very strong storytelling tradition in fiction  or Christian films. Christians, historically, are a people of  propositions, not stories. Good authors of fiction have a great deal to  teach Christian filmmakers.
May 12, 2022
46 min
MMP 55: Attack of the Tenacious Filmmaker with Nathanael Sims
13 years in the making, and I don’t mean 11 years shopping the script around and 2 years of production. This no-budget film was 13 years in production. Writer and director Nathaniel Sims is with us to talk about his apocalyptic movie The Book of Wendy. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Apr 26, 2022
53 min
MMP 54: A Filmmaker in Nollywood with Obi Emelonye
In this episode, my guest is a well-known Nigerian filmmaker named Obi Emelonye. Two of Obi’s films have been on the top ten list of the most watched Nigerian films of all time. Those films are Mirror Boy and Last Flight to Abuja. Obi has made 11 films and two television series, one which is a Netflix series called Heart and Soul. Obi gives us a history of Nigerian cinema from a working, struggling filmmaker’s perspective, and shares the challenges he has faced in the past, and new challenges he faces today as he continues to make Nigerian films.And in the midst of his active production demands, Obi has recently taken a post as head of the filmmaking module at the University of Huddersfield in England. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Apr 11, 2022
1 hr 3 min
MMP 53: Evangelical Nollywood with Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola
The Nigerian film industry is the second most prolific film industry in the world, and their faith-based films, that they label as evangelical themed films, are not fringe like ours, they’re mainstream. Today, my guest is Nollywood scholar Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola, in the second episode of my multi-part series on the Nigerian film industry phenomenon. ministryofmotionpictures.org
Mar 29, 2022
1 hr
MMP 52: Nollywood as a Filmmaking Model with Jamie Meltzer
What is this country that has this titan film industry? If you haven’t guessed, I’ll give you another clue. It’s a country in Africa. It’s industry goes by the moniker of Nollywood. It’s the country of Nigeria. I am fascinated by the Nigerian film industry. While their films do get knocked for their lack of production value, they have something Hollywood doesn’t have. They make relatable films without Hollywood story models and connect to very large audiences. For those of us who have grown up with Hollywood, if we can overlook the clunky craftsmanship, their films can be very refreshing. This is the first of a series of episodes that will focus on the Nigerian film industry. Now, you might be wondering why I think Christian filmmakers need to know about Nigerian cinema? For starters, we’re filmmakers. I love cinema. I love cinema history, I love film theory, and I love the cinema of other cultures. And when I find a cinematic culture that challenges the assumptions that are so deeply rooted in Hollywood’s creative totalitarian rule, it excites me. And, there is something in Nigerian filmmaking culture that better aligns as a model for us who have chosen to be part of this oddity that we call faith-based filmmaking. The Christian film genre is a fringe genre. And I believe - and I could be totality out to lunch – that if Christian filmmakers spent less time trying to model ourselves after Hollywood, and more time modeling ourselves after Nollywood, we would see a faith film revolution. And right now, we are living in a very unique time in cinema history where this could work. My guest today, shares my fascination with Nollywood. But he is much more invested. He went to Lagos, Nigeria and made a documentary about the Nigerian film industry. The name of the documentary is Welcome to Nollywood. The filmmaker is Jamie Meltzer, who also teaches documentary filmmaking at Stanford University. And I hope this podcast encourages you to watch Welcome to Nollywood. It is a fascinating glimpse into this powerful grassroots industry. You’ll find links to Welcome to Nollywood, and some of Jamies other works, in the show notes of this episode.
Mar 13, 2022
35 min
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