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May 4, 2010

Nightmare on Media Street!

Biola Media Conference attendees get a dose of reality re: filmmaking and the economy


At the 15th annual Biola Media Conference over the weekend in Studio City, Calif., Hollywood veterans told attendees how difficult it is to make movies in a brutal recession, much less even think about launching a production studio.

The closing session featured a candid conversation between Ralph Winter, Terry Botwick and co-host Phil Cooke, titled “Nightmare on Media Street: The Ugly Truth About Launching a Production Company in 2010.” Botwick, executive producer, former SVP of programming for CBS and Pres. and COO of Big Idea Productions, and Winter, producer of the X-Men Trilogy, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, the Fantastic Four movies, and Wolverine, discussed one of their recent ventures, a production company, which subsequently hasn’t done well despite their resumes. The candid talk was a dose of reality for students and attendees as they learned how the economy has hit the film industry and the challenges those in the industry are currently facing.

Nearly 600 attendees — hopeful students, film industry moguls and media — attended the conference. Disney veterans Dick Cook and Mark Zoradi were among the featured guests. Zoradi, former president of Disney Motion Pictures Group, was presented with the 2010 Briner Impact Award, given semi-annually to recognize those who have made significant contributions in the world of media. Cook, former chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, discussed with co-host Phil Cooke (see picture at top right) his beginnings at Disney as a steam train operator to his success with the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He emphasized the idea that “content is king” — films must be driven by content that relates to the viewer and, simply put, is good.

Workshops throughout the day entertained and informed guests on topics such as the significance of social media, secrets of box office success, introduced the latest technology in the media industry, and even discussed the horror genre. Speakers included media moguls such as Stan Williams, script consultant on six of Will Smith’s latest films, Perry Lanaro, VP of Finance for Paramount Pictures, and Brian Godawa, screenwriter for To End All Wars, Cruel Logic and author of Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment.

Also, Walden Media president Micheal Flaherty talked about the founding of Walden and then showed footage from the upcoming Narnia film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.