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

The power of positive storytelling. I spent a good part of last week in El Paso — from Tuesday to Thursday — and by “good” I mean very good, as in time well spent.

I was there for a media event sponsored by the makers of the upcoming film Unlimited who, full disclosure, covered my costs.

As for the movie, being prepped for a 2013 release, it’s a suspense thriller with twin positive themes running through it. The first is that faith and science are complimentary to one another, not contradictory.  The second, to paraphrase its tag line, is that anyone seeking to change the world for the better is wise to change his or her own heart for the better first.

The plot in a nutshell follows the ordeal of Simon Orwell (Daniel Ross Owens), an electrical engineering student who, after being kicked out of MIT, teams up with a former professor to create a device capable of creating unlimited energy.  When the professor is murdered by nefarious forces, young Orwell is forced to take refuge in a Mexican orphanage which is, surprisingly, run by Harold Finch (Fred Thompson), the former NASA scientist who was instrumental in developing the so-called “Barbecue Roll” made famous by Tom Hanks in the true-life film Apollo 13.

Harold Finch is, in fact, a real person.  I met the very impressive entrepreneur and motivational speaker during the media tour and, though Thompson’s character is only loosely based on the real Finch (who never actually ran a Mexican orphanage), his actual philosophy of applying the lessons of faith to actual worldly challenges provides the core that endows the movie with its heart while also propelling its story forward.

It’s a philosophy (and action plan) he wrote about in his small book The Three Keys That Open the Door to Great Success: 20 Principles of Success That You Can Use Right Away. I’m in the midst of reading it and plan on applying its principles to my own dreams of , hopefully, doing God’s work on Earth with what I have been blessedly given. I understand a larger version of the book is planned to coincide with the film’s release.

Also featured in the cast is Robert Amaya whose screen presence has recently drawn attention in Courageous and October Baby, two other films with strong faith sensibilities.

The screenplay for Unlimited was written by Joe Scott and bestselling author Davis Bunn (who is also penning a novelization). The director is Nathan Frankowski (Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed). The film is being executive produced by Finch (his first foray into the movie business) and produced by Chad Gundersen whose credits include such noteworthy films as The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and Like Dandelion Dust, as well as the recently completed Ace Wonder: Message from a Deadman.

I was on hand for a day of shooting and viewed some rough cuts of some scenes shot earlier. I liked what I saw. What impressed me most about the people involved (and the work I saw) is the clear commitment to excellent storytelling and striking the right balance between idealistic inspiration and pure entertainment, which like faith and science are complimentary, not mutually exclusive.

I plan on following this film as it moves along the development and distribution process and will in coming weeks be posting interviews with those involved.

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

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