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

The Hollywood Parables.  EchoLight Studios is following through with its multi-million dollar commitment, announced earlier this year, to support the next generation of Christian filmmakers. The fast-growing film production and distribution company plans to spend up to $1 million to produce and distribute a new work from the Best Film winner in this year’s 168 Film Project. The announcement comes on the heels of company offering $250K in support of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) and a multi-million dollar production and distribution deal over five years with the Liberty University Cinematic Arts program.

The 168 Film Project is an annual event (started in Hollywood in 2003) in which filmmakers, writers, actors and crew create a short movie on an assigned biblical theme in just one week. This year, registered contestants will meet on May 13, 2013 to draw stones with Bible verses on them. Participants outside the Southern California area “draw” online. What follows is 10 days of pre-production work and one week of shooting and editing (168 hours) to submit a finished film on the theme for the year influenced by the contestant’s individual Bible verse. Registration is open now at and closes May 11.

“This is a great leap for the producers of the short films in our contest,” said 168 Founder and Director John David Ware. “They move up to making feature-length films, and this is a great encouragement for them to continue to excel.”

EchoLight awarded $250,000 on Feb. 9 to fund, co-produce and distribute a new work by the winner in the 2013 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival Short Film category. Brandon Adams’ film Useless took the award. (Useless also won multiple awards at last year’s 168 Film Project, including Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Acting). View Useless here.

The Christ Factor. From The Hollywood Reporter: Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News anchor and author, has signed to write Killing Jesus: A History, as a follow-up to his best-selling books Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot and Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever. The book will be published Sept. 24 by Henry Holt and Co. Martin Dugard, O’Reilly’s co-author on the Kennedy and Lincoln books, also will serve as co-author on this project.
Comment: This one could even outsell those very popular Lincoln and Kennedy books — but chances of it catching The New Testament remain highly doubtful.

And the answer is… Congratulations to Jeff Foxworthy. His GSN game show The American Bible Challenge has just won the prestigious Epiphany Prize from the Templeton Foundation. It was  presented at the Movieguide Awards in LA  on Friday. The show is executive produced by Odyssey Networks. The hit show’s second season premieres on Thursday, March 21. For the complete list of this year’s Movieguide Awards winners click here.

Channels of faith. Speaking of Odyssey Networks, the company’s Call on Faith mobile video service is offering two brand-new channels, one from Salvation Army and one from The Mormons. The download is free for a limited time.

Programming Note: Abel’s Field, the heartfelt story of a unique friendship that develops between a parentless teen (Samuel Davis) struggling to raise his younger sisters and a wise but enigmatic high school grounds keeper Kevin Sorbo), debuts this Sunday (7:00, 9:00 and 11:00 PM ET) on GMC TV. Very good film. Recommended.  You can read my review hereAbel’s Field is directed by Gordie Haakstad, written by Aron Flasher and produced by Tore Knos.

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

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