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Media Expert and Teacher Urges Christians to Write More Movie Scripts and Novels
By Dan Wooding
April 6, 2001
RIDGECREST, N.C. - April 5, 2001 (ANS) -- Dr. Ted Baehr, a world renowned Christian expert on the mass media, urged Christians today to write and sell movie scripts and novels.
"Christians need to be out in the marketplace with their movie scripts and novels," said Dr. Baehr, founder of the Christian Film and Television Commission and MOVIEGUIDE(R), a family magazine, radio program and TV show which reviews all movies from a biblical perspective. He made the comment during an interview at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, April 1-5, where he was teaching a course in scriptwriting.
An award-winning producer and director, Dr. Baehr said, "It is extremely important for Christians to break into the mainstream media. We get our example from Jesus and his ministry. Over 60 percent of the time that Jesus said the word preaching, he used the Greek word "kerysso," which means proclaiming or heralding the Gospel in the marketplace. We use other types of preaching in our churches, but I don't think Christian writers do enough to answer his charge to go into the marketplace and preach. We need to equip more Christians to write stories and scripts that capture the public's imagination."
Dr. Baehr has taught scriptwriting ever since he was the director of the TV Center of City University in New York in the late 1970s. In 1986, he also wrote an acclaimed scriptwriting book, GETTING THE WORD OUT, for Harper & Row, a major secular publisher.
"I was amazed when I was here last year at Ridgecrest and the judge for the writer's contest said he loved judging the book manuscripts, but hated judging scripts because they were usually so poorly written. However, he read one script that was truly excellent and so presented the grand award to the writer of that script. When the writer's name was called, a young girl came up to the platform. The judge expected someone older and asked her how she had learned. She pointed to me in the audience and said, 'by e-mailing Ted Baehr.'
"I think it is important that we teach really practical things like how to write a premise, how to do the structure of characters and also the details of how to do it right. There are many different styles of teaching scriptwriting, but the basics are often neglected because we get caught up in different people's styles. People need to know the simple rudimentary elements of scriptwriting: the premise, the characters, the themes, and the plot."
When asked what he thought the impact would be if Christians learned the craft of scriptwriting and eventually get some of their movies made, he replied, "I have to admit that more and more Christians are getting their movies made but, to be honest, I think they need to make better movies. They are making good movies but they need to make better movies. That includes the four Christian movies released in the last two months, CARMAN: THE CHAMPION, LEFT BEHIND, Billy Graham's ROAD TO REDEMPTION, and THE AMATI GIRLS."
As an example of what he's talking about, Dr. Baehr singled out Randall Wallace, the writer of BRAVEHEART, who went to seminary and then decided to become a scriptwriter.
"There are good opportunities in the industry," Dr. Baehr declared. "Every year we see a person winning an Academy Award who had never written a script before. Most of those people are not Christian, but some of them are, and we need to give people more opportunities to write these scripts. And, it's not just scripts, but also novels, to get people motivated and equipped."
Dr. Baehr recounted a conversation he had with Ken Wales, the veteran filmmaker and Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed and award-winning CBS television series CHRISTY, who was also a speaker at the Ridgecrest conference.
"Ken once asked me, 'Why don't you make movies?' I said, 'Ken, it would be better if we could train 300 people to do the work rather than just to have just one of us fulfill our own private goals.' I believe we must have the multiplication effect. We have to equip people so they can go into the marketplace to proclaim Good News, rather than bad news."
Dr. Baehr said that he is continuing to teaching the art of scriptwriting as well as media-wisdom throughout the world.
Other speakers at the conference included: T. Davis Bunn, who has co-authored several books with Janette Oke, and since THE PRESENCE was released in 1990, Davis has 15 national bestsellers; Cecil Murphey, who has had 73 books published; Holly Miller, the co-author of 13 books, (including four novels), and is the Contributing Editor to CLARITY, the Guideposts magazine for women; Janet Thoma, the Editorial Vice President with Thomas Nelson Publishers and who has her own imprint with Nelson, Janet Thoma books; Deidre Knight, who has built a solid client list, selling some ninety books (more than forty in the past year) in a broad range of categories; Susan Wales, who has authored and published with friends, several books and also worked with her husband Ken on the production team of CHRISTY; Rebecca Germany, who is Fiction Editor of Barbour Publishing and Managing Editor of Heartsong Presents; Leonard G. Goss, who is Senior Acquisitions and Development Editor for Broadman & Holman Publishers; Polly House, who is a Corporate Communication Specialist of LifeWay Christians Researches and a writer for LifeWay Sunday School and National Collegiate Ministry areas; Hollywood literary agent, Terry Porter, and, Matt Tullos who has been interpreting the truth of the Gospel to youth and adults through drama and seminar presentations.