Cinema as Outreach – Nick Pollard

Cinema as Outreach – Nick Pollard


>>Thank you. A great example of media presence
in the world of TV. I’ve been asked to give you an example from my own ministry that my
wife Carol and I founded, media presence in the movie industry. We founded a ministry
called Damaris which responds in many ways to Quentin Tarantino’s famous statement
‘that cinema is the new church.’
There is some truth in that. Certainly films do
raise spiritual and moral questions. In many parts of the world while attendance at church
is declining, cinema attendance is growing. And if films raise spiritual and moral questions
in their minds, then how can we help them as they leave the cinema? That’s what my
wife and I sought to do by setting up Damaris. We take the name from the last verse of chapter
17 of the book of Acts. Paul had been preaching at Athens using illustrations from the local
poets and philosophers of his day. I’m convinced that if Paul was here today he’d be using
the latest film, music and TV to illustrate his presentation of the Gospel truth and at
the end of the verse we see that a lady called Damaris came to faith. That’s why we call
this ministry Damaris. It’s about helping people come to faith in Christ through understanding
God’s unchanging Gospel in relation to the latest films, music and TV. It’s actually
just standard missiology.
Missionaries have always asked what are the stories that are
told around the fire in this culture? How do they shape people’s beliefs and values
and are there ways in which we can use the stories to communicate the Gospel? We apply
the same approach to the global media culture, where the stories are told not around a fire
but are told on a cinema screen. We sometimes call Damaris missionary training for Christians
who stay at home.
We believe that today’s global media culture puts all of us in a multi-cultural,
multimedia mission situation. So we in Damaris work with the major film distributors to create
official resources to accompany the release of new films. And we’re quite clear to everyone
that these are outreach resources. Now why does a secular film distributor commission
us to create outreach resources for Christians to use to reach their non-Christian friends?
Let me answer with an example.
I remember sitting with the Director of Marketing and
Director of Publicity of a major film distributor that was getting ready to release this film,
”Last Chance Harvey,” with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, and I remember saying
to them, I reckon you’re pitching this film for women age 40-plus. They said yes. I said
did you know that 20% of your market are Christians going to churches? And I said, did you know
that a further 20% are friends, neighbors, colleagues of those? So if you commission
us to create outreach resources where these Christians can invite their non-Christian
friends to see the film and then talk about the issues and think about what that tells
us about spiritual/moral issues, then we can potentially reach 40% of your market and that’s
what happened.
Here is an example. We’ll show you a film of a group of Christians from
an Anglican church in Britain. We provide publicity that enables them to invite their
friends to see the film. We gear it all to the opening weekend, which is crucial for
the film companies. We provide menus and recipes for themed food and drink. We provide competitions
and trivia quizzes so that they can think back over the film in a lighthearted way.

But all of this sets the scene for the important focus. And we call these particular events
Film and Focus and the focus is on talking about the spiritual and moral issues raised
by the film. So we provide downloadable free, relevant clips from the film. They can watch
some clips to look back at it. Interviews with the stars. Dustin Hoffman in this place
talking about the issues raised in the film and then a full leader’s guide so they can
put on the event and lead discussion about the issues. In this case in this particular
film it was issues about regret. About forgiveness, about repentance.
Film and Focus is just
one of the number of resources that Damaris creates around films. As much as possible,
we like to get the film stars themselves to say things and to build packages around them.
Here is an example from the popular actor who many of you will know from “The Office”
but also multiple films. He was a star in the surprise box office hit “Nativity”
last year. This is what he said. [interview]>>That clip was downloaded and used by churches
all over the country. That was the kickoff to many sermons and talks when that film was
out in the cinema. Here is another example from a product which I write and present called
“Pollard on Film.”
Let’s play a clip from this and I’ll tell you a bit about
this film, which is exciting here in Africa.

[Video shown]

>>Let me tell you that “Africa
United” was released in the UK this coming Friday and we’ve created a whole bunch of
resources to go with it. This is a joint UK, South Africa, Rwanda production distributed
by Warner Brothers, and the company behind “Slum Dog Millionaire,” and we have a
DVD with that and other resources, and we want to give you free so that you can make
the most of that film when it comes out in your country. There is a form you can fill
in here and hand it in. The problem is, it’s on its way still from Warner Brothers in Britain
and hasn’t arrived yet. We can’t give it to you yet, but I will tell you later how
to make sure we get these to you. {italicized portion not included on video segment}

>>
Okay. Let’s look at the second part of this “Pollard On Film.” Because you’ll see
I pose a question and then follow it up.
[Video shown]

>>We’re creating these for Pathay but we work with all the major film studios and
I’m clear to them with complete integrity that we’re about outreach resources providing
appropriate contextualized mission around the release of these major feature films.

But finally I want to share with you a burning vision which is in my heart which is for a
film about Jesus. I’ve come across some Christian missionaries who have come up with
the idea and have written a Christian, a musical about Jesus and I think there is a huge potential
there for bringing this out as a mainstream film in all the cinemas. When I go back from
here I’m going to meet with all the major studios to pitch the film to them and see
if we can get it made by Paramount, Fox, whoever it will be to make this. I’m going to play
you a little clip from it. Can I just say you’re not going to see – you’ll see
a bit of stills and some music, okay? The final film will be full live action, okay?
It is not an animation, it is full live action. This is just a sample to give you an idea
of the music.

[Video shown]

>>I have a vision of Christians across the country going
to their local cinema, watching that, coming out singing the songs of Jesus, putting them
on in their schools, putting that musical on in their schools and their community groups

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