Sparking the Big Questions

One of the film's producers talks about the spirituality of Narnia and why TiVo is good news for educational filmmaking.

BY: Interview by Michael Kress

 

Continued from page 1

C.S. Lewis's estate and organization are very protective of who can do these sorts of things. How did you sell them on it?



We just told them the whole purpose behind our company is to make faithful adaptations. And then right after we said that very proudly and nobly, they asked us what films we had released, and we answered, "Zero." [Laughs] "But we intend to make faithful adaptations!" At the time, we were making "Holes," and the author, Louis Sachar, was also the author of the screenplay, and he was on the set every day. So we told them this was the formula we wanted to continue on with for all of our films, to make sure we had complete fidelity to our source material. And since C.S. Lewis is no longer with us, we said the next best thing would be to work hand-in-hand with the people who know the property the best, Douglas Gresham [Lewis's stepson] and the people at the C.S. Lewis Company.

I noticed in the film clips that, more so than the book, the beginning of the movie plays up the war from which the kids are being sent away. Was that an intentional choice, to relate it to some of the fears we face today?

Louis makes such as short mention of it in the book, because that's all you needed to back in those days, because it was so fresh in everyone's mind. Sadly, I think it's forgotten by many people--the heroism and the courage people went through in the U.K. Something like 10 percent of people who died in the blitz were kids. We thought it was really important to establish that here are these kids who are caught in this war that they have no control over. And they head into a situation where they do have control.

We have a great website,

Walden.com

, where you can see educators' discussions, which are pretty awesome. There's one there from a librarian in Louisiana, who said she's been using "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" to help kids adjust to life after Katrina, and drawing the parallels between Katrina and the blitz of London--this incredible devastation that upset lives. In the film, we have a big poster that we got from the Imperial War Museum in London that says, "Housing evacuees is a national service." And that was the headline we read for several weeks after Katrina.

That's why the company exists--to use the film to create a spark and get people interested in asking the big questions

There's been a lot written about the film's marketing approach, which is different for faith communities and the secular media. How did that come about?

For all of our films--going back to Holes and Winn-Dixie--we've had grassroots outreach to a number of communities: schools, libraries, churches, parent organizations, after-school groups. For Narnia, it's the same approach, except, like the film, everything's magnified.

Disney has had a lot of outreach, with a lot of their movies, to the faith community. I saw Bill Paxton, the director of "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the golf movie that came out in October, on "Hour of Power" [a televangelist broadcast] talking about his film. So it's a new day, I think, for all these films, in the day and age of TiVo.

What do you mean by that?

About 90 percent of any film's advertising budget is spent on television commercials, and so that's the main way they expect to get through to people. TiVo and the digital video recorders are gaining rapid adoption, and estimates there are up to three-quarters of the people who have TiVo don't watch a single television commercial. So it's not that much of a leap to realize that 90 percent of your strategy is now out the window. So how are you going to get your message out to people? It's grassroots.

Walden's future: Social reformation, Harrison Ford, and more Narnia
Read more >>


_Related Features
  • Douglas Gresham on Creating 'Narnia'
  • Teaching Narnia in Schools
  • More Narnia features
  • Continued on page 3: »

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