Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum announced he is the new CEO of EchoLight Studios during a press conference at the International Christian Retail Show in St. Louis, MO, today. Along with the announcement he revealed an aggressive strategy to produce and distribute high-quality films that reflect Christian world views, and a commitment to Christian stores as a key distribution partner.
EchoLight President Bobbie Downes announced a partnership with Liberty University to develop a filmmaker mentoring program and a state of the art studio at the Christian university. Santorum said a $20 million investor fund has been developed to support Christian arts, and a $1 million filmmaker prize winner will be announced this summer to stimulate excellent filmmaking.
CBA sales data shows that DVDs sold through Christian stores increased 27% from 2010 to 2012. Santorum said Christian stores are trusted partners to distribute quality content not only to Christians but to the general public, which desires this kind of content.
Santorum said films will include stories with overt Christian themes, and some won’t be overt. He said films shouldn’t be preachy, but authentic, and true stories will be a primary source for storytelling.
Steven Curtis Chapman will grace the stage along with Laura Story and Matthew West, kicking off the first day of the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), to be held June 23-26 at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.
Chapman is ramping up for a new Reunion Records album to release in October.
“It’s an album of hope,” said Chapman, who with his wife, Mary Beth, lost their 5-year-old daughter, Maria, in an accident in May 2008.
It’s an album about being through hard things, and never forgetting those hard things, but knowing now what it looks like on the other side—the depth of relationship with Jesus it brings, the trust and comfort in Christ you find, and the hope for all that’s ahead because of God’s faithfulness.
Christian stores well-positioned in digital age, says research from ICRS show attendance UP…continued
Publishers enjoyed the energy on the Show floor generated by numerous author signings. Lorraine Caulton, senior marketing manager at InterVarsity Press said, “It was exciting seeing people in line for book signings even before the author arrived!
Russ Schwartz from Thomas Nelson said that Nelson had more than 150 meetings in its conference area with people across all Christian-retail sales channels, plus impromptu meetings in the hall. Nelson hosted a retailer reception as part of its ICRS events that Russ said was helpful to connect with partners and for relationship building. “It’s been great,” he enthused. “We met with our valuable partners to find new ways to grow our business together and continue to do business.”
The inaugural Resonate Film Festival featured 14 films that were screened or announced, plus included a special appearance by Hollywood reality show producer Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey of Touched by an Angel fame. The couple introduced a 10-hour History Channel series, The Bible, which will depict Bible stories in latest media production technologies (the DVD series will be available to Christian stores). The Bible, after all, is the oldest best seller to date. Isn’t that remarkable that every time I read it, it is fresh, relevant, and seems brand NEW? After one evening of digging into this best seller, I left hungry for more. Here’s to living by the bread of life, day by day.
Winners of the Resonate Film Festival Awards, presented Wednesday morning during a special press conference are Home Run, directed by David Boyd and produced by Carol Matthews and Tom Newman in both the Best Feature and the Best Inspirational categories; and Blessing, Curse, or Coincidence (Hatikvah Film Trust), directed and produced by Hugh Kitson, in the Best Documentary category. Congratulations!
The Retail Academy, presented by Bob Negen of Whiz Bang! Training and sponsored by Ingram/Spring Arbor, continued to be popular as retailers proactively work to adapt to new realities of retail technology and marketing.
Another open-to-the-public event, the Champions of the Faith Awards Banquet and Benefit Concert honored individuals and companies who follow the principles of Jesus Christ in their personal and professional lives. Honorees include Orlando Magic basketball team founder Pat Williams (sports), EMI Christian Music Group (Music); Campus Crusade (Charity); Lysa TerKeust, Proverbs 31 Ministries (Author); Ed Kobel, president of the DeBartolo Group (Business); publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. (Christian Product Supplier); For All Bible Center (Christian Store Retailer).
Authors from the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Christian Authors Network, for example, provided training and demonstrations to enhance Christian stores as community gathering places around the common message and art of Christianity.
Independent retailers and chains alike enjoyed a successful ICRS 2012. Mardel VP De Ann Anderson said, “It’s been great. The week has been filled with appointments, and we’re looking forward to good things.”
“It’s been good,” agreed Lester Spoelstra from Selah Books in Redland, CA. “Getting new ideas, seeing new products. Being at ICRS helps me see these so I can compete….”