Lord of the Rings Producer
Advises Hollywood How to Reach Christians
LORD OF THE RINGS producer Mark Ordesky had a few words for Hollywood about how to reach the coveted faith-based demographic. At Variety’s Purpose Summit, in a panel hosted by Matthew Faraci meant to help Hollywood studio execs, marketers, and other high level folks in the industry make movies that Christians will love and feel passionate about, Ordesky said that “it’s difficult to reverse engineer authenticity,” as the answer to why Hollywood has had a disconnect with the faith-based audience.
In other words, Hollywood will make a religious/Bible-themed movie, but they won’t make it an authentic Bible-based film; yet they try to court Christians anyways and spin the movie as best they can in the marketing phase. The film team itself — the director, producers, writers, etc. — didn’t care to make a movie that was authentic to the beliefs of Christians, but the studio still tries to pitch it to the faith-based demographic and make it appear to be something that was authentic to what the faith-based crowd cares about.
They try to reverse engineer authenticity, as Ordesky said.
Ordesky used his and Peter Jackson’s attention to detail with the Lord of the Rings films — i.e. the way they were really careful to be true to Tolkien’s books — as an example of what he means by authenticity:
…when we were making the films, it was very important that even though you could not film every scene from the 1,100 pages of the Lord of the Rings, that the spirit and the integrity of the books came through in the 11 hours of movies that we were making. So Peter Jackson had the book, I had the book, Ian McKellan had the book, so that if there was ever a question of doubt about, “Well, is this landing or vibrating on the right frequency?” one didn’t have to wonder about it. And I definitely see a big, big parallel to what we’re talking about [in regards to faith-based films] because that was our source material and we wanted to do it right…
Faraci also asked another Hollywood power player this pertinent question: Why hasn’t Hollywood been able to capture the magic of the Passion of the Christ?
Empower Pictures John Shepard had this response: “…it [the Passion] was groundbreaking, it was the first, they did something new…they were driven by their convictions…they didn’t want to pander to the audience but on the other hand they were not going to compromise to try and soften the message, it was about being authentic…and where we [Hollywood] miss the mark is that…we’re earnest, but we’re not authentic…”
There were plenty of other fascinating remarks and other insightful panelists in the 30 minutes discussion. Check it out for yourself in the video at top. And a major hat tip to Matthew Faraci of Faith Driven Entertainment and FaithDrivenConsumer.com for reporting on the event and letting us all know about it.
It gives me hope that Hollywood will start making more and more films that are genuine and authentic in their presentation of Biblical (or faith-themed) stories. It gives me hope that Hollywood will see that the faith-based audience is passionate about their beliefs, about Biblical accuracy, and about powerful stories that stay true to the core values of their faith; and if Hollywood wants to succeed with that market, they will have to respect those things and include Christians in the creative process from the beginning.
What does it all add up to?
There are likely going to many more Bible-based or faith-themed movies coming down the pipeline from major studios, and these films will get better in the way that they respect and represent the Word of God.
Here’s his quote about it in a recent email blast:
We can summarize Variety’s Purpose Summit in one word—authenticity.
That was the idea du jour in a day packed with substantive panels, high-powered speakers, and major studio execs. In a spotlight conversation called Winning the Pastor and the Pew: How to Get the Must-Win Faith Driven Consumer™ Audience to Endorse and Support Your Project, LORD OF THE RINGS producer Mark Ordesky had the winningest, most tweetable quote of the day.
To see his quote, and the amazing conversation surrounding it, we invite you to take a minute to watch the video [which you can just click on above at the top of this post] featuring Faith Driven Consumer™ founder Chris Stone, Court Five Entertainment’s Mark Ordesky, MPower Pictures President John Shepherd, and TD Jakes Film and Entertainment Exec Derrick Williams.
This conversation will actually change your perspective. We know this because that’s the specific feedback people gave us at the Purpose Summit—on purpose.