Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

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

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Space Warriors to the rescue! The film, the second original installment of the new weekly Walden Family Theater  franchise debuts this Friday (May 31) at 8:00 PM ET on Hallmark Channel. Space Warriors tells the story of six highly-skilled teenagers hand-picked to be part of a summer space camp competition at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The kids find themselves in a race against time when an urgent crisis aboard the International Space Station (some 200 miles above the Earth) leads them to utilize all their problem-solving skills to come up with a plan to save the lives of the American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts aboard. The all-star cast includes Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Lucas, Danny Glover  and Thomas Horn (who garnered positive attention as the son of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).

ARC Entertainment partnered with Walden Media and Hallmark Channel to produce the film for Walden Family Theater which is made possible through the sponsorship of  P&G and Walmart (which will exclusively sell the DVD at its stores). Those tuning into the Hallmark premiere will be given the opportunity for a  real-life family space camp vacation. Details here.

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a fascinating teleconference between Hallmark Channel CEO Bill Abbott, Walden Media President Micheal Flaherty and ARC Entertainment Trevor Drinkwater. The trio spoke about the film and their mutual commitment to fostering television entertainment that families can enjoy together. The event was conducted Lesley Burbridge of the Rogers & Cowan public relations firm.   Here are some of the highlights:

Moderator: We would just love Micheal to take a chance to talk to everyone on the call about how Walden Family Theater is such a great step forward for Walden Media and presenting this on Hallmark Channel and with ARC and all the other partners that he’s working with. Micheal would you just take a moment here and just share for us your vision, your heart, and your involvement in these films and why they’re so important?

Micheal Flaherty: Yeah, thanks so much Lesley and thanks again to everyone who’s joining us, just a quick history for Walden Family Theater goes back to Walden which we started in the late 90’s and the idea came from my work actually teaching, on nights and on weekends. And what I found was that television and film gets kids a lot more excited about learning sometimes than textbooks. So when we started the company, the idea was to try to make as many films as possible out of great kids’ literature, so: Narnia, Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlotte’s Web, Bridge To Terabithia. But we also always had a great interest in math and science and so the first film that we ever did was actually a 3-D documentary with Jim Cameron called Aliens Of The Deep, and that was an early IMAX movie that we did and we were able to work with schools across the country to really promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and also show them a great movie. As you guys know theatrical films are very capital intensive and take a lot to get off the ground so in order to continue to carry out our mission, we wanted to see if we could make more films at a lower budget range. That was out of our skill-set at the time, we went to the Hallmark Channel who was my favorite channel and Phil Anschutz who was the chairman of our company also a big fan of Hallmark and the movies that they do and we felt like they were the brand that matched up with us the best in terms of what our mission were and Trevor Drinkwater who’s the head of ARC Entertainment had a great history in terms of being very smart, and very entrepreneurial and having great taste in content. So we all got together along with Walmart and Proctor and Gamble to create a destination and what we want to do is let parents know that every Friday night there is a great film that is going to be on the Hallmark Channel that they can enjoy together as a family entertainment-wise but also they can dig a little deeper if they like the material into to all kinds of different things from science and math in to English and literacy and all kinds of other great activities. We have two other films that are coming out shortly after this. One, Watsons Go To Birmingham, which is a Newbery Honor Book that we just wrapped, and then soon, Dear Dumb Diary, a book from Scholastic that sold over 9 million copies. That one will be out in September as well so thanks to Hallmark and ARC, we have the opportunity to take a lot of these great books, the kids love and enjoy in school, make films out of them, and make that Friday night a destination for families.

Moderator: That’s great. Thank you, Micheal. So, I wanted just to remind everyone too that for nearly 30 weeks out of 2013 families can know that they can have great family movies and great entertainment and programming by tuning in to Walden Family Theater. Presented by Walmart and P&G on Hallmark Channel and a lot of the, the slate of films, the new projects, like a couple of them that Micheal has talked about we’ll, we’ll be presenting to you and letting you know about early and ahead so that you can, you know, start covering it and start writing about it and getting the materials and the trailers and the things that you need to be able to, you know, be ahead of this programming and start talking about it and helping families really learn what they can plan for so they can put it on their calendars. And so apart from what Micheal is explaining and what he’s sharing, we just want to take a minute here to also hear from from Trevor Drinkwater and as I had mentioned earlier Trevor is the executive producer for Space Warriors and the CEO of ARC Entertainment. Trevor can share a lot about the production, the heart and a lot of the work behind the movie, and also just about, you know the process of how he’s involved in many, many levels. We would like to have just Trevor share with us a bit now about his involvement and, you know his heart behind this. If Trevor you would share with us, that would be great.

Trevor Drinkwater: Yeah absolutely. So, I’ll give a little background on ARC and then we’ll talk specifically about Space Warriors. ARC is a fairly new company. We started about three years ago. However, the executives at the company have been in the entertainment distribution business for some time. We created ARC out of awareness, or at least, you know, our view that, that on the distribution side there was really not aggressive or effective distribution for good family, faith-based and animation content in the marketplace and so we created ARC Entertainment to be an alternative to the major studios, to help work with independent producers and distributors of content in those genres and bring them to the retailers that are asking for them, like a Walmart for example or Hallmark Channel even the exhibitors like AMC or Regal Theaters. We got involved in this program because we’re so proud to be involved with a company like Walden Media, and Hallmark, and, you know, our primary focus as I said earlier is on distributing great family content. We believe that there’s a huge market for that out there and we believe that, that our clients, the Walmart’s of the world are eager to support great family content because they know that their brands are better supported and in looked at in a brighter light if they associate those brands with content that mom can be proud of, that the whole family can enjoy. We look at producing these films under the premise of co-viewing films that can be viewed by the entire family. We try to make mom the hero in the situation.  Allow her to find a film that she can put her, her kids in front of and dad and watch it as a family and everybody can enjoy and she was the one that found this great film. The example we like to use are films like Blind Side or Soul Surfer which I think are perfect examples of great family content that is fantastic for everybody. And we’re, we’re highly sensitive to the fact that moms are very stressed today with entertainment products because they’re not sure what’s in these products. Whether that’s a video game and the violence that they may not be aware of in that, music lyrics, or in film there could be a scene or two that may, may force her to have a conversation with her family that she does not want to have. So we’re producing these films to avoid the, you know “grab the remote” moment as we kind of kid-around about and making sure that the messages in these films are, are, are great messages and can support what most moms have told us they want to support in way the values that they want to communicate to their kids and as Micheal said, entertainment products particularly film have such an influence on that and we believe that if we can, we can collaborate with companies like Walden, Hallmark, and great advertisers like Walmart and Proctor and Gamble then we have an opportunity to the kind of change the way that content is delivered in front of the consumer. And I think we’ve aligned ourselves with partners that really support that vision.

So on to Space Warriors, you know, Space Warriors we believe is a perfect example of that. The director of the film, Sean McNamara directed Soul Surfer, the cast in this film is all very supportive of this initiative around family films and I think bring creditability to that. We make sure that the cast that we put in these films are all have espoused the same values that we do when we’re making these films. And this film as Micheal said I think really is all about encouraging kids to be inquisitive and to focus on how they can help us advance in the area of science and technology and space exploration and we do it in a very fun way. The basic premise of the film from the beginning was off of kind of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premise where these kids were chosen to go to space camp and were able to compete and then they found themselves in a situation where there was a situation going on that was bigger than themselves and they all rallied together through a lot of challenges that were in front of them and solved a problem, which creates great drama, and I think great viewing for this film. So Space Warriors we’re extremely proud of but we are also very proud of this initiative and the other films that we’ll be producing that will premiere on the network and, you know, we believe that it’s critically important for the consumer to—hopefully if they support this initiative—to support it by watching it on Hallmark, telling their friends about it, and buying the DVD, because at the end of the day Hollywood is all about economics. And if we can prove that this is a good commercial venture for the partners there will be more of this type of content out there in front of the consumer that we can all be proud of and hopefully can change the tide from Hollywood producing content that is not family-friendly, to a world where advertisers and consumers can be proud of the films that they’re watching or, or being involved in, so that’s why we got involved and why we’re so excited to be specifically involved in this initiative and really excited about Space Warriors. The last thing I’ll say about “Space Warriors” is if you have seen it, I hope that you will agree that this is not a low quality, low budget film. I know Micheal talked a little bit about lower budget films for this initiative but I think if you look at this, and Sean after he was done with it, was, you know, felt like this had the same kind of production value as Soul Surfer. We had a great partner in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center that allowed us to use their facility, so you’ll see rockets and the space shuttle and, you know, all of the things that happened in the movie you can actually do down there at space camp and it makes this film look really, really big. And thankfully we have a great talent like Grayson who’s on the phone here who are willing to do these films and, and allow us to produce these films in a way that make them feel like they’re huge, big studio, films, that are airing on Hallmark. I think you know the quality of this is of such that you would, you know, I think we would all enjoy seeing on the big screen and nationally but this is a great opportunity I think for all of us to improve the quality of the films that are on TV both in the content and also the production quality and I think Space Warriors is a great example of that.

Moderator:  We are so very grateful and pleased at Bill Abbott; the CEO of Crown Media Family Networks which is Hallmark Channel has joined us for the call. We would love Bill to just share his passion for this as well as some of the other upcoming titles if that’s possible of the Walden Family Theater series…We would like to open it up just for Bill Abbott to join us here and share about his role with Hallmark Channel and Walden Family Theater.

Bill Abbott: Sure, thank you very much. You know we are extremely excited about this partnership and our channels have an awful lot on our plate with producing over 50 movies a year, being proficient in holiday programming having four original primetime scripted series in development as well as a robust daytime lifestyle, the number of hours every day which are unique to cable and be aggressive in that (inaudible). However, having said that I think there’s nothing more except, nothing that we’re doing that we’re more excited about than this partnership and to be able to work with Walden Media and, and everything that they bring to the table in terms of the quality, brand, reputation, creativity. Mike and Trevor have been just great partners and certainly their resumes speak for themselves in terms of, you know how much great quality family content that they have really developed over the years. When we heard the possibility of working together and being in business together we were immediately, it was an immediate yes. Because of again, you know, their reputation for what they do. So, at the outset we were very excited. When we drilled down further and heard about some of these projects from Watsons to Dear Dumb Diary to Space Warriors, which is our next film, we were even more excited because of, again, the commitment they have to quality family programming is quite frankly very rare, and very hard to find. And for a brand like Hallmark to be in business with organizations and companies that have that same sensibility and that same goal to produce programming that’s appropriate for all members of the family, there just is not a lot of it out there and certainly not a lot of it out there that can produce at the level that, that Walden and ARC can. So, from that level we were very excited and then if you look at the projects are coming our way, it really will help us take Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel to the next level in family entertainment. These are high-profile projects where the response from our viewers is extremely positive. You look at the response on social media and the reaction we get and that which these projects get there and it is impressive indeed.

And as we look moving forward we think we are going to have great success and, and a great future together and that we’re just beginning to discover the many synergies that exist philosophically between our companies and strategically, you know, how we can work together, partner together to create something that is very rare, something that is, we believe very much needed with the current entertainment landscape and something that is highly desirable and is really being demanded by our viewers and by others who, who are looking for this again, types of quality content. So we’re very, very, proud of this partnership and we feel again, of all the priorities we have which are significant that this is at the highest level of which on our list.

 Moderator:  So whatever part of this we haven’t discussed already, can you just review for us: why this partnership is important for Walmart and P&G, and how it’s just different from anything being done by other companies or on TV?

Trevor Drinkwater: Yeah, I think the key piece, or the key premise here is that most advertisers will show up to the advertising upfronts, which is happening right now. And they will, you know, be presented by all the networks out there, all the products that they’re able to advertise on. And they have no influence on that. When in reality, the advertising dollars that they’re paying are paying for the production of this, of the films that are airing. So, in this scenario we’re allowing these advertisers to come in earlier and actually have influence on the shows that they will then put their brand on, and the research we’ve done shows that there’s a significant increase in the effectiveness of their advertising. If they’re advertising on shows that are aligned with their brands. You know, in essence, context matters. We also know that they will get a nice positive benefit from being on films that moms approve. And so what we believe is an important differentiator for this program than others is that we’re giving the advertisers the opportunity to get involved early-on.  And to help us influence the movies that are going to air. We’re also, you know, very cautious, or very active with all the partners in making sure that we’re developing films that have.  We believe value across all the different ways people can consume movies now. Whether that’s watching it on TV, or watching it by buying a DVD, or through digital media right now. So bringing the partners in or all the people that have influence on, on the success or failure of the projects early-on, we think is a smart business model. And one that enables all of us to do a better job of producing content that we, that we feel the consumers will embrace.

Moderator: That’s great. Thank you. Well said. And Micheal, if we could just direct this question to you: how is the vision of making these movies relevant to current cultural issues that families are dealing with today?

Micheal Flaherty: I think that everyone is just so absolutely scattered for time. And there are so many choices. I think, you  know, when I was growing up, I loved Wonderful World Of Disney, and now I love Monday Night Football. So, I like the idea of creating a destination that families know that they can always go to, and it will always be a reliable experience for them. I also like to bridge the two worlds. You know, too often people try to make this false choice between education, and entertainment. And the biggest challenge for us has always been advertising these movies, theatrically. You know the average marketing budget is $40 million dollars. Thanks to this partnership we can create theatrical-quality movies and get them out to people in a new way. And we just like keeping our ears to what pastors, and parents, and teachers and librarians are saying. They’re the best focus group we’ve ever had. Any time we take a recommendation from them, our films always do well. And any time we rely on our own judgment, it always ends in blood and tears. So this gives us an opportunity when a new book comes out that people are really enjoying or a script comes into the office. You know, we can very quickly get those out so families can enjoy them as opposed to the traditional track things take theatrically, which is, you know, several years.

Moderator: Great, thank you. And Bill, we, I know you touched on a little bit on this earlier as well but just, as you entered into this partnership and this just, collaboration with all of these great companies, is there something specific that you could just share about your collaboration with Walmart, P&G, and Walden, that Hallmark sees as a connect to the mission and vision of your channel as whole?

Bill Abbott: Well, you know, certainly, we were one of the few two networks that are 24/7 family all the time. Where there are not content issues at any point throughout our schedule throughout any day, 365 days a year. That’s something we take very seriously. That’s something that’s very important to our brand, and ultimately not only protecting them, but developing it further is a key priority moving forward. You know I think that those same sensibilities exist on the Walden side, and on the ARC side, and, and I know they do, and so you know we’re in a position where we’re taking the content that we produce to a new level. And throughout the period here where we’ve been looking at projects and determining what we’re going to do. You know that’s very clear. That the missions of, of our companies are completely in-line, and then when you have partners like Walmart and P&G who are actually backing what they say in the press with commitments and also partaking in the partnership, you know, that’s something that is very special. And so throughout the process of, of creatively looking at the projects we’re able to choose, you know, we’ve seen that. So I wouldn’t necessarily point to any one defining moment. Because I think that Micheal and Trevor would agree that, that really from the beginning because our goals were so clear and so well-aligned that you know, there’s been really very little, there’s been no angst, and no real conversations about priorities being in a different place. And, and you know, we are promoting this very heavily, you know, and certainly on our own air, it really looks great to be able to use the Walden brand, in a little bit of a different way and hopefully it creates the profile of everything they’re doing. And then at the same time, you know, it enhances what we’re doing to have the creditability of, you know a company who has invested so much in family content and produced such great content for many, many years. Having that as a showcase on our channels is something, again, you know that we’re very, very proud of, that is very, very important to us.

Moderator: Sure, that’s great. Thank you. You know what, Bill maybe you could answer this one. We just got a question that came in that says, “How are the original movies under the Walden Family Theater chosen? Are they completed films that are chosen or are they produced and shot in conjunction with the initiative?”

Bill Abbott: Well, you know, actually I think Micheal and Trevor are probably better qualified to answer that. I mean, certainly our sense, abilities, and our goals are, again you know, so well aligned and as we’ve looked at projects, you know, we have so many that we want to produce it’s almost too many. It’s, again, you know because there is so little focus in Hollywood and in general in the entertainment community around family fare, and the appetite is so high, it really leaves us in a great competitive position that we have great projects to produce. That there’s very little competition to do it, and—and so you know, as we look at, at our choices they’re really, really significant and exciting—and, and so you know, from a creative point of view we really lean-on Walden and ARC because they’re the experts in that area, and we’re in the experts as the network in terms of how we schedule, how we promote, how we position, how we brand it, so that we can drive awareness to the highest possible level. You know the reality is, that in cable, given that the environment is so crowded, that these projects really take time, and, and I think that even back in, in the 60’s and 70’s, and Micheal refers to it, and it’s so true, that the Wonderful World Of Disney, you know, it, it takes time to build that type of franchise. Even the Hallmark Hall Of Fame which, for 65 years has stood for quality and has a tremendous legacy of high ratings and star-studded appeal and, and a great quality was not an overnight success. These initiatives take time to develop and to brand, and to really drive awareness. So we are in a position where we’re doing that and I think that Micheal and Trevor are, and Walden and ARC, you know they have the creativity that exists within those companies there’s something that we, you know really rely on, and allow them to drive a lot of the decision making.

Trevor Drinkwater: Yeah, I just guess I’ll add to that a little bit in saying, that Bill’s absolutely correct. I mean thankfully the partners in this, in particular Walden Media, have access to a tremendous amount of great quality content.  So, you know the projects that we were able to look at to narrow down to the six, you know, it was kind of a, you know, we had, we had some really, really great options to look at but our filters as I mentioned earlier are films that really can be, you know, where we can make mom the hero for getting, for having her recommend that the family sit down and watch these films. So they need to be films that have really strong female leads in them, have strong parental leads and messaging in them, and, and candidly built-in messages, built-in awareness, and marketing hooks. So “Space Warriors” obviously the angle with, what’s happening with, the space project, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center being involved, “Return To Nim’s Island” which was the, the first film that we did, was based off of a, a well known property, “Nim’s Island” that was a big theatrical film, and had, had a great message in it. And then as Micheal mentioned earlier, Dear Dumb Diary and Watsons Go to Birmingham are proven to be, you know adored by its audience through the book sales. So, you know, that’s, that becomes a big part of how we choose these films and we want these films to live in multiple environments. To be seen on Hallmark, and then later bought on DVD or viewed on, in a digitally through the retailers that sell products digitally. And hopefully these films will be viewed for years and years to come, and that’s really how we’re doing it. Most of the studios are setup in a way that it’s difficult to collaborate across the channels whether that’s home entertainment or TV, or theatrical. In this scenario, we’re able to look across all those channels and make sure that we’re releasing content that has, you know, has the ability to be seen by the widest audience. Micheal, I don’t know if you want to add to that at all?

Micheal Flaherty: No, I mean, I just want to amplify it. There, and the other thing of course is the talent that’s involved.

Trevor Drinkwater: Right.

 Micheal Flaherty: You know when I loved the Space Warriors script and you know, Ron Bass is a great screenwriter, Sean McNamara is a great director, and then to see (young) actors like Grayson (Russell) and Thomas Horn, and Savanna (Jayde), you know, again that’s a theatrical-level quality, you know, for the movies we have coming up we have Anika Noni Rose, the Disney legend, Dreamgirls star, Tony-Award winner. We have Skai Jackson, who’s the star of, you know, one of Disney’s big hit shows. We’re working with people like the Zuckers, whose feature films have made literally billions of dollars. And so for us it’s just been really exciting to get A-list scripts and A-list talent together to make these films and as Bill was saying before, there’s a real espirit decor on this because I think people know they’re doing something more than making one movie. I think that they like being part of this larger umbrella of films that’s going to be something for families to do every Friday night.

Moderator: That’s great, and you know Micheal right along those lines just before you said that, we got a question that says “How did you attract the A-list cast?”

Micheal Flaherty: You know, it’s really the scripts I think. And people really like the stories. Something like Watsons Go to Birmingham, we’ve been trying to do something with that now for 10 years. And the way we were able to get it to work was through, you know, Hallmark, ARC, Walmart, Proctor and Gamble. You know, it actually took a village to get some of these off the ground. So there have been a lot of great talent, Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee’s wife wrote that script and produced it for us. And she’s been out there for a while. So once, now that this mechanism is in place, with Walden Family Theater, it’s great because it’s a lot less work for us. A lot of talent is coming directly to us. Both actors, writers, directors, you know all over the place. Now that they know that there is this opportunity to make these projects, we’re attracting, you know, some of the great talent because they know finally that there’s a distribution network in place for these projects that they love.

Trevor Drinkwater: Yeah, and I’d add to that, and you know, we were able to, to attract a lot of great quality talent here because, you know candidly, these actors want to be in family films. They want to be in good quality family films that they know they can be proud to show their kids. And that’s not always the case. Many of these actors are offered movies that are going to be rated, you know, “R”, or even hard-PG-13. And you know, we’re producing films they can, you know, have their grandma watch, and have their kids watch and be very proud of their performances in this, and so that is, I think a big advantage for us in our ability to attract great quality talent.

Moderator: That’s great.

Bill Abbott: I also think there’s a sense, a mission there. You know I think one of the better actresses out there right now is Bailee Madison and Bailee’s you know was in a great film for the Hallmark Channel, Smart Cookies. Then she went on to do a great theatrical movie for us, “Parental Guidance” which just came out at Christmas. And then after that she just did Teach Christmas for us, so what’s great for us, and you know, we have Grayson (Russell in Space Warriors)…It’s really exciting for us to find these actors, these young actors that are at the absolute top of their game, you know, who are still taking time to do these films for us as they’re fielding offers on the theatrical side as well.

Moderator: Great. Good, and you know Trevor or Micheal could you just share, people are want to know just maybe a specific key element, I know we gave an overview of the film, we kind of gave a quick little brief synopsis here, but when we talk about family entertainment we talk about wanting to make a difference in these movies and provide something for families, just for Space Warriors in general, what would you just say, out of all we’ve all talked about this whole time, the overall theme or a tool that could teach a valuable lesson that would be a good reason for families and just even if it’s not a full family but just for anyone to tune-in and watch this specific movie?

Trevor Drinkwater: Well there’s one scene in the film that I in particular think is very, very, strong and is the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish here and it’s when Thomas Horn, his character “Jimmy” finally gets caught for deceiving his parents to, to go to Space Camp and there’s a very powerful scene where, where his mom, played by Mira, sits down with him and walks him through why, you know, it’s not ok, even if the intent, you know, you thought it in your heart that it was the right thing to do, it’s not ok, and there are consequences to your actions. And just by saying I’m sorry, doesn’t always solve the problem. And I think it’s a very powerful, point of the movie, but also as a really great opportunity for parents to be able to sit with their kids and talk through that whole aspect and that was one, one thing that we were very specific on when we were looking at the script and you know the first, the first version of the script came through and the deception happened and “Jimmy” gets himself to camp, but there was really no resolution on that, there was no consequence for his actions because the script moved quickly into solving the problem on the International Space Station, and we took a lot of time to really kind of build that into the script and I think if you see, you know on all of the films that we’re doing. You know we’re going to make sure that there are good parental lessons in here. And I think in a way that the kids will also enjoy and understand and give parents a way to deal with those issues as they come up in a way that will be very productive. So that’s one that stands out to me.

Micheal Flaherty: Yeah, and just to add to that Lesley, we, you know, we’ve worked enough, a lot of movies and talked about a lot of these and what I’ve found is always the great common theme, in films, and in children’s literature, you know, for me it comes from scripture, Hebrews 11, faith is confidence in what we hope for and insurance about what we don’t see and all of our films that have worked, “Lucy” believes in Narnia, everyone says she’s crazy. “Charlotte” says that she’s talking, excuse me; “Fern” says she’s talking to animals, you know, and everyone says she’s crazy. Same thing here is we have a group of kids and dreamers who think they’re able to accomplish something and everyone tells them that they can’t do it, and everyone tells them that they’re crazy for doing it. And so from our perspective, you know the reason why we’re called “Walden”, you know the great line in there; everyone’s got to march to the beat of their different drummer. All of our films try to show kids, you know, it’s ok, you are capable of doing so much more than you even imagine as long as you have that kind of confidence and all of those films and this one is a fantastic example of that as well, is not to listen to that and, you know, know that you were created for a purpose and to follow that.

Moderator: Great, yeah, thank you. Anything Trevor, Micheal, anybody who was on the set, who was involved in the making of this movie, is there some story or key element or something that some of the people that worked in the press here that are on this call would find interesting or something they might not know about one of the elements, something that happened, or just something unique that you could share with us before we wrap up here?

Trevor Drinkwater: Well, you know I think, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center deserves a lot of credit for how big this film feels and you know, it is, it is an amazing facility and Grayson echoed that I think a little bit earlier and you know all the the things that happened in this film you can actually do as a camper at, in Huntsville Alabama. And Dr. Deborah Barnhart who, who runs the facility down there is an amazing individual and you know the their, their sponsorship of this film really gave us the ability to make it look big, and large and I guess the other thing I would say is that I was so very proud of how Sean McNamara ran the operation down there and was able to develop such a great atmosphere for the actors to really enjoy and it was, you know everybody was just having a lot of fun and was very excited about making this film, and making films is a very stressful thing to do and they pulled it off in a way that we were all very proud of.

Moderator: Great. You know what, we just got an interesting question from someone who clearly has seen the film; she says “What about the poetry? It went fast but that was a great scene. I’d like to see more of this. Will we see more of it too? It worked well.”

Trevor Drinkwater: Yea, thanks for noticing that actually. Yea that was also very specific in putting, in putting that in there and, and to show that these kids do have a soul and do have, you know, do have heart and do have faith and you know, that’s something that we try to integrate in, in the films and candidly, you know why ARC is so proud to be involved in this with Walden Media because I think Micheal’s just been brilliant at managing these subtle messages in the films that are, that are so important for our kids to, to understand and to really embrace as they grow and develop. Micheal, I don’t know if you want to say anything further on that one?

Micheal Flaherty: No, I mean I think the question probably refers to the poem High Flight, which, you know a lot of people know because President Reagan read that beautiful speech where he quoted from that, and yea we always try to find out, you know our mission statement is to demonstrate the rewards of knowledge and virtue. And what’s great about this film is it shows everyone else thinks these kids are geeks but we go on to show that that’s actually something that’s cool and has real world application. The fact that this boy knows poetry, that he’s not the greatest in math and science, that’s how he’s able to make his way into Space Camp and one of my favorite exchanges in the film comes from a student in China and you know we’ve done document, we did a documentary Waiting for Superman, we did a film Won’t Back Down, we always are interested in what’s happening in terms of how competitive American schools are and there’s a character that comes from China and he said, “You know, in our country we worship people like, you know, scientists and engineers and you guys worship Kobe Bryant”. And that’s another great exchange and what I love about this film is it’s a celebration of being smart and it goes to show, and I think that Grayson’s character personifies this, you can be cool and have other interests like NASCAR and everything else and still be very smart.

Moderator: Oh, that’s great. Yeah that is one of the strongest parts about these films that are tied to these kind of educational yet entertaining topics as well.

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

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