Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 05/25/22 Solar power. After two-and-half years of production time, the sci-fi audio drama Solar has soared to the top of the charts, reaching #2 in fiction on Apple Podcasts and #1 in Science Fiction. Described as “a journey to the heart of the solar […]
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
An interview with Mpower founder & CEO Steve McEveety:
JWK: What does the letter M in Mpower Pictures stand for?
STEVE MCEVEETY: (laughs) It does not mean McEveety. Empower, with an E, was not actually available (as a name).
JWK: Your latest film Snowmen has won a lot of film festival awards. Why do you think it’s received so much positive reaction?
STEVE MCEVEETY: I think it’s got a lot of heart. People are thirsty for spiritual things…This movie really kind of moves you spiritually. It’s really hard to be specific as to why it does that but it does and I think that’s why people are responding so well to it.
JWK: You’ve said that you think Snowmen will be the kind of movie people will come up to you five years from now and say it’s their favorite movie. Do you see the film as this generation’s Stand By Me or E.T.?
STEVE MCEVEETY: We had a screening with all kids and no parents and all the kids came running out and started hugging their parents. And their parents are going “Why are they hugging me?” But, you know, it was a great thing because you just feel a lot of love in the film. It’s really unique in a movie to have that feeling of love.
JWK: It’s interesting. The movie comes on the heels of a Girl Scout study that suggests that watching mean acts depicted on reality television can cause kids to be meaner to each other. Kids really do respond to what they see.
STEVE MCEVEETY: They sure do. It’s a responsibility in the media business (to offer positive examples for kids).
JWK: Even adults could use those positive examples.
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah.
JWK: Your films are very diverse in tone. You’ve produced comedies like An American Carol and very serious films like The Stoning of Soraya M. That’s a very wide range. The importance of faith seems to run through many of them.
STEVE MCEVEETY: Well, I also did Braveheart, We Were Soldiersand The Passion of the Christ. There’s a bit of faith in a lot of my films. One Eight Seven had it’s God moments…Part of it’s just happenstance but most of it’s because there’s a spiritual side that I’m responsible to — in kinda just infuses itself in what I do.
JWK: The Hollywood Reporter has just published an article on how more faith-themed movies and even TV shows are in the pipeline because of the recent success of such films at the box office. What are your thoughts on that?
STEVE MCEVEETY: It’s about time. I think that it will improve business in Hollywood.
JWK: Does Mpower Pictures have any plans to move into television?
STEVE MCEVEETY: I’d love to get into television. We’re a young company and we’ve never done television. So, we’re breaking into that but slowly. It’s a tough nut to crack. I don’t have enough time to really focus on television but we will get in there eventually.
JWK: I know that Walmart is rushing to make Snowmen available on DVD in time for Christmas.
STEVE MCEVEETY: Walmart has just been sensational with this. They saw the film at the Tribeca Film Festival and just loved it. They came after us to make some kind of deal on the DVD…which is fabulous. We have a multiple picture deal there for more family films.
JWK: These will be theatrical films?
STEVE MCEVEETY: Theatrical films. The DVDs will be pushed out through Walmart.
JWK: Do you know the date Snowmen will be available on DVD?
STEVE MCEVEETY: November 29th, I think.
JWK: That quickly?
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah. It’s the Christmas present of the year!
JWK: So will it continue in theaters this weekend?
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah, it’ll be there for a little bit but we want it out on DVD because we really believe it is the best Christmas present out there this year.
JWK: Walmart and P&G have been doing a series of family films for television that have aired mostly on NBC. Could that be one avenue — working with them on their films — for you guys at Mpower to get into television?
STEVE MCEVEETY: We have had discussions about (doing more with them). So, you just never know. We could end up doing that as well.
JWK: Snowmen involves a cast of largely child actors. I understand you were a child actor yourself.
STEVE MCEVEETY: Hey, look, I started my (acting) career at seven and I retired at twelve. It was a forced retirement.
JWK: That must give you a certain affinity for the kids who worked on Snowmen.
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah, I can feel for them and relate a little bit to what they go through. It’s a great thing. It’s not a negative at all. It’s a blast!
JWK: So, you enjoyed being a child actor?
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah, you know, it was really an experience. I did bit parts here and there. I would work like one or two days a month for five of six years.
JWK: You were on Gunsmoke.
STEVE MCEVEETY: I was. I was (also) on one of the original Star Treks.
JWK: With William Shatner?
STEVE MCEVEETY: Yeah, I pounded him on the back. I clubbed him on the back.
JWK: Which episode was that?
STEVE MCEVEETY: It was the one about a planet…where nobody lived to be older than 17 years old.
JWK: Are you married with a family of your own now?
STEVE MCEVEETY: I’ve been married for 32 years! I have four children and that’s my main occupation. I make movies for fun.
JWK: So, you enjoy the movie business.
STEVE MCEVEETY: I do. It’s been a blessing for my whole family. We’ve had some great adventures. It’s been a learning experience. It’s been a faith ride.
JWK: Have you felt challenged when making films that express your faith in a town that, some would say, can seem hostile to faith?
STEVE MCEVEETY: I think it’s challenging to market movies that have faith elements. There’s a lot of negative response you get from that side of the industry. In terms of the filmmakers themselves, I don’t really notice any negative response at all. I think we’re storytellers. If it’s a good story, people respond in the industry.
JWK: The Passion of the Christ must have been some experience for you.
STEVE MCEVEETY: That was. All you gotta do is Google that one to see the challenges we went through .
JWK: How did you feel about allegations that the film was anti-Semitic?
STEVE MCEVEETY: It never dawned on me at all that anyone would be offended by the film we were making because it’s our faith, you know, and it had nothing to do with being anti-Semitic at all…I have a lot more sympathy for that position now that I understand that the Passion story is a bigger concern than I was aware of. But it was certainly not designed to be anti-Semitic.
JWK: You were an executive at Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. Do you still maintain your friendship with him?
STEVE MCEVEETY: I’ll always have my friendship with him, yeah.
JWK: Do you have any thoughts on his situation right now?
STEVE MCEVEETY: There’s no reason to even discuss that. That’s not what this interview’s about.
JWK: So, what’s next for Mpower Pictures?
STEVE MCEVEETY: (laughs) More movies!
JWK: I see you’ve just optioned a C.S. Lewis story.
STEVE MCEVEETY: The Great Divorce…We’re waiting on a second draft of the script. I expect it’s going to be brilliant. The first draft was really good. So, then we gotta figure out how to put it all together. I’m really excited about it.
JWK: Why’d you choose this particular project?
STEVE MCEVEETY: The book just blew me away. It’s just so simple. The thing that holds us all back is the sin that we just keep on doing and don’t even realize it. It’s just so true. It’s so honest, the way humankind is. And the way he tells the story is so great.
JWK: Have you always been a C.S. Lewis fan?
STEVE MCEVEETY: No, I’m not. This particular book just really grabbed me.
JWK: How long has Mpower Pictures been around?
STEVE MCEVEETY: About four years.
JWK: Where to you see the company being in ten years?
STEVE MCEVEETY: If I just keep making movies that move people we’ll be successful. And, so far, we’ve done that quite well.
STEVE MCEVEETY: I’d like to just tell everyone to go see the movie. It looks great on the big screen.
A gallery of memorable Steve McEveety movies:
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11