Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

YouTube Preview Image

Is The Lost Medallion box office gold? The answer will come this weekend. And on Monday writer-producer-director Bill Muir may well decide if his pro-faith and family adventure tale is to result in two already-written film sequels.

Muir, a successful author and publisher, founded MeThinx Entertainment in 2008 with his business partner, entrepreneur and philanthropist John Duke. The company’s goal is to is to produce family-oriented films that positively influence the entire culture.  This is the company’s first movie so there’s a lot riding on its success.

I recently with the multi-hyphenate Muir about his new movie and what he hopes it will accomplish.

JWK: Everything I read about you suggests that you have a great concern about this generation of kids. What is it that has so concerned and how did that go into the creation of this film?

BILL MUIR: The trends are that (kids are) becoming more and more external, that they measure their worth by their friends, the parties they go to, their trophies, what their grades are or what brand is on their T-shirt. I became concerned that they weren’t finding their worth internally — that there wasn’t a sense of inside-out discovery of their worth. It was kind of outside in. (The Lost Medallion) really came out of wanting to write a movie that would say to kids “Listen, you’re valuable because God created you and He placed that tremendous value in your heart.” If you start there with that value then everything else (in life) becomes easier.

JWK:  Who is this movie aimed at?

BM: This movie is designed for kids six to fourteen. That’s our targeted audience. It’s a little scary for kids under six.

JWK:  What did you do before you started MeThinx Entertainment?

BM: I worked for Youth for Christ. I was there 30 years. I was their senior vice president. All the ministries reported to me — Campus Life, Campus Life JV, City Life, Teen (Parents)…All of our ministries and training reported to me and my job was to keep them on the cutting edge. I did that and loved every day of it. During that time I was a pastor at several churches. I’ve spent a lot of my life speaking around the world and across so country. So, really film came out of my speaking because I had it in my mind to take some of my (verbal) illustrations and turn them into films…So, I kind of came into (the film business) through the doorway of a speaker as opposed to a filmmaker.

JWK:  Do you find storytelling is a more effective way to get across a positive message then, strictly, teaching or preaching?

BM: Yeah, I really do. In fact, I told stories back in the seventies. I did the camps, all that stuff, as a speaker to youth, and found that an illustration was much more powerful than a bunch of statements. And I’m finding as a speaker to adults now, when I go to churches or conferences, (that) it’s the narrative story — the parable, the metaphor, the illustration — that really captures people. They love to hear a…story and it’s the narrative that touches their heart. And so, I’m kind of following Jesus’ model more and more of the parabolic capturing the deeper truth so that people discover it.

JWK:  And what do you hope kids and adults take out of this particular film?

BM: Three things. I want kids in the marketplace to hear the word “God” and of his love for them. This movie doesn’t contain the Gospel. We didn’t want it to feel like it had to be placed into it. We wanted it so that secular families and kids would go to it and, rather than not hearing about God or coming to the conclusion that there were “cosmic accidents,” we wanted to affirm God in the marketplace.  We have discovered that if you say things that are God-affirming, the marketplace doesn’t get really upset by that...It’s our dream, our hope, that parents and grandparents will take their kids home after the movie and on the way home have a relational, incarnational discussion about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how that’s the perfect picture of God’s love. As an evangelist for 30 years, I’ve always found that dialogue and interaction with a person is a much more effective way to communicate that Gospel — that you can use the right words and you can look in their eyes and see if they’re understanding it or not. I’ve always seen the power of the Gospel in more of a Socratic open-ended…let-me-ask-you-questions let-me-help-you-think-this-though (way). We really designed the film to do that.

Number Two, parents, grandparents and youth workers…could use this God-affirming statement and move the conversation toward Jesus on the Cross.

And Number Three (is to create) a faith film not only for parents or couples but for the whole family.

JWK:  How did Alex Kendrick (of Sherwood Pictures) become in the project. In the past, he sticks pretty much to doing his own films.

BM: Yes, he does (but) he has a passion to see more faith films, besides just his, come out. So, he assists different people when he sees a project that he thinks is really valuable. And he saw an early edit of The Lost Medallion…He loved it…I sat down with Alex and said “Alex, boy, I want to make this story even stronger. I want it to be more powerful.” Alex, in his graciousness, came (aboard). We sat down and talked. We wrote a wrap-around for this movie. I asked him to play the lead in that and he (accepted). So, he becomes the storyteller of The Lost Medallion.

JWK:  Does he narrate throughout the film?

BM: Yeah. And so he becomes a part of the movie.

JWK:  The movie is about kids learning that God loves them. Children are important to you in your personal life, as well. I understand you’re a foster parent.

BM: Yeah. We started about 30 years ago bringing kids into our home and that’s kind of when I discovered how broken kids were and how empty they were and they saw themselves as “accidents,” and blamed themselves for things. My wife mostly has this incredible ministry of, when kids are with her, loving on them and (communicating) God’s love to them.

And, being a part of that, we were eventually given a child who had been born without a brain…He was on oxygen. He was blind. He was deaf. We were told that he would live about a week. So, they set us up with a hospital and created this one-week kind of hospice environment because as he grew he just didn’t have enough brain to hold him together. Well, he ended up living for eight months at our home. The doctors, foster care (workers) and the county just saw this story that was be a one-week story become an eight-month story. They could only attribute it to my wife’s care and nurturing and love. And, so at the end of eight months, Emory passed away but, as a result of that, the whole county kind of looked at us as a place to place children…that had issues.

We took in a little girl who had some physical issues. We had her for a year. They came to us and said “Would you adopt her?” We did and now she’s 19. So, she’s my daughter Allie, the same name of the girl in the orphanage (in The Lost Medallion). So, that element — the foster home, the orphanage, Jane’s looking out for the orphaned and the distressed, having seen kids struggle with their identity (and) realize that God, being the Creator, brought deep assurance, probably was a large part of that part of the backdrop.

JWK:  You intend this film to be a trilogy.

BM: Yeah, we hope there are (sequels) to this — The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone and then we’ve created two more screenplays. If this one works, we’ll do the next two. If it doesn’t work then it’s over with one. We have a novel (of) The Lost Medallion coming out in June. So, that’s kind of fun. I’ve actually written three other children’s stories, different (from) The Lost Medallion. One’s called The Hidden Treasure which is about a girl hero which takes place in the 1940’s. Then I’ve done one called The Quest for the Golden Chest that takes place in 1790 and then I did one called Between Two Worlds which takes place in 1960.  So, I have this interest and passion now to write children’s novels and screenplays. If this movie works, we’ll do more movies and, if it doesn’t, I’ll become a novelist not a filmmaker.

JWK:  Will all of your films for MeThinx Entertainment be based on your own stories or are you developing other properties as well?

BM: At this point, because I have like eight screenplays, four for adults and four for kids, I’m really just concentrating on screenplays that I’ve written.

JWK: And also publishing your own books.

BM: Yes.

JWK: And how about television? Any plans?

BM: No…Eventually feature films hit television but I don’t have any plans at this point to (produce) any television for television.

JWK: A few years ago a film called The Golden Compass came out. It was a kids-oriented family adventure which some felt actually had an atheistic underpinning to it. I don’t believe it did very well but your film strikes me — at least on the surface — as being a faith-based response to that.

BM: It wasn’t based on that and I didn’t see The Golden Compass until after I did The Lost Medallion. What is fun is that I think this film brings a personal God who created us and wants to have a relationship with us into the marketplace and I’m excited about that.

JWK: And you seem very interested in a presenting God as a kind God who cares about us.

BM: Yes. It’s a very personal story of a personal God who’s involved. I mean Allie, in the story, says to the mentor character “My mom told me every day of my life that I was a mistake.  And the mentor looks at her and says “You may have been an accident to your mom but you are no accident to God. He made you full of meaning and purpose.”

JWK: There’s a positive theme of sacrifice and redemption that brings to mind the Narnia films.

BM: Yes.

JWK: Where do you see MeThinx Entertainment being in five years?

BM: Boy, that’s a great question! My dream is that we would be producing one feature film a year. My dream is that we can help other filmmakers get their films into the marketplace based on what we’re learning…As you know, it all is going to come to the success of this movie…If we end up empty, we’ll be gone and I’ll be writing novels.

JWK: I hope that’s not the case. I hope that on Monday morning those theater owners are looking at good box offers numbers and will keep you around for a while.

BM: From your lips to God’s ears.

Note: In support of the upcoming theatrical release of The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone, MeThinx Entertainment has partnered with the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), an organization that aims to help grow Christian communities committed to adoption, foster care and global orphan care in the local church.  The Lost Medallion, BTW, has received The Dove Foundation’s Seal of Approval.

And for information on a fan contest in which Methinx Entertainment is giving away a FREE trip to Los Angeles to meet  Billy Unger, star of The Lost Medallion, as well as  Disney XD’s Lab Rats, as well as get to spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood  go to The Lost Medallion Facebook Page. For more information about the film, go its website.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus