FAITH IN HOLLYWOOD
Todd Komarnicki: Keeping the Faith in Hollywood
- The entertainment industry based in Hollywood, despite what you may have heard, still contains many committed Christians working on some of the biggest movies and TV projects.
Todd Komarnicki, one of the main producers behind the popular success of Elf and the upcoming, PG-rated Eddie Murphy vehicle, Meet Dave (July 11), is one such Christian.
Todd describes himself as being “spectacularly saved by Jesus Christ.”
Despite his career success in Hollywood, and in the novels he writes on the side, Todd says, “Everything else is just a shadow compared to knowing Christ.”
Komarnicki delivered these expressions of his Christian faith at an interview session in a huge soundstage revamped this spring for the 2008 Biola Media Conference at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, formerly Republic Studios where many B westerns were made by Republic Pictures.
He said his greatest challenge as a Christian was staying rooted in the Word of God but that he is “hugely blessed” because his wife, Jane, “is only and always about prayer.”
Working in the entertainment business is hard, he noted.
“People you like will lie to you,” he warned. “The lying becomes toxic.”
“I live by grace and go where the Spirit leads me,” he added. “Nothing can separate you from the love of God. That takes all the fear out of everything.”
Although he explores darker themes in his book thrillers (Famine and War), which have a spiritual subtext, Todd says that his goal is to promote virtue rather than vice in his work, which he wants to reach all audiences, not just Christians.
He is worried, however, about the impact that the Internet and the new digital media will have on storytelling and morality.
“The Internet is the bathroom wall of the universe,” he said. “If we don’t have standards, everything will collapse.”
Web sites like YouTube and MySpace, and some of the other new digital media being created on the Internet, could lead to the death of storytelling, he fears.
“It’s going to change the way you watch entertainment,” he predicted. “Story will die. There’s going to be a reckoning for the death of storytelling.
“Pitching is useless,” he advised the writers in the audience. “For writers, the only thing to do is write. Keep writing and keep growing. Perseverance is a huge part of this business. 95 percent of my life is [hearing] no.”
He recommended that all screenwriters should have more than one script ready, preferably six or seven. He also advised them to get to know other writers to share material with one another.
He also noted, “Your reputation will be built on the material you present.”
Todd’s interest in writing began when his sister, a lit major at Wheaton College outside Chicago, recommended he take a poetry class.
“I’ve never really had a strategy for my career,” he noted. “It really has unfolded for me.”
He said being a producer is an “amorphous” job that’s hard to define.
“Nobody is checking the paper on Friday to see who produced Elf,” he added. “The business works on a star model and sometimes on a director model.”
Todd encouraged Christians to have a proper balance between work, family and spiritual life.
“We are the people of the Resurrection,” he declared. “Remember that and. . . God will make our lives incredibly joyous no matter what storms may come.”
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NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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