Two filmmaking organizations supporting Christians interested in impacting culture through their work in movies announced Tuesday that an award of up to $1 million will be given toward producing a feature-length film to the winner of this year's 168 Film Project contest.
"Between 168 Film and EchoLight, we are going to make a great film," 168 Film founder and director John David Ware told The Christian Post before the official announcement by EchoLight Studios on Tuesday.
"This is a great leap for the producers of the short films in our contest," said Ware. "They move up to making feature-length films, and this is a great encouragement for them to continue to excel."
Fast-growing EchoLight Studios made a multi-million dollar commitment earlier this year to support the next generation of Christian filmmakers.
The action by EchoLight follows similar commitments – $250,000 at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and a multi-million dollar production and distribution deal over five years with the Liberty University Cinematic Arts program.
Ware explained that the award is not just about the money, but a partnership with 168 Film and EchoLight will enable the filmmakers to get professional support as well.
Founded in 2003, 168 Film is described as an incubator for writers and filmmakers to explore Scripture and to practice their craft. The 168 Film Project challenge to filmmakers worldwide is to draw a random Scripture and in just 168 hours (seven days) shoot and edit a 10-minute film. In the Write of Passage competition, writers craft a 12-page script in 168 hours. All work is based on a Theme, a Verse and a Week.
What started as a ministry to local Southern California producers has expanded to a worldwide movement. Many different countries compete in this international contest, some winning top honors, the organization states on its website.
"For ten years we've been leaning towards and striving to get into the feature film business and start making feature films and we are finally there," Ware said. "It's really exciting to see people that we have launched and nurtured and be given an opportunity to be on the screen and get noticed. Now they are taking the ball and running with it and taking their place among great art in the world."
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," that was produced for the 168 Film Project, also won multiple awards at the 168 Film Festival in 2011, including Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Actor.
Earlier this year, EchoLight created an exclusive, multi-million dollar partnership with Liberty University's Cinematic Arts program over five years to produce and distribute at least five movies combining Liberty students, staff and state-of-the-art equipment with EchoLight's veteran producers and other "above-the-line" personnel.
"It's an honor to partner with the 168 Film Project, especially because of our mutual goal to illuminate the word of God through film," said Christopher Morrow, chief global strategist at EchoLight Studios.
"These awards build on EchoLight's commitment to not only distribute quality faith and family films but to encourage excellence among the coming generation of filmmakers," said EchoLight President Bobby Downes.
Dallas-based EchoLight is a full-service film production and distribution studio. In addition to the awards supporting new creators, EchoLight distributes the works of established filmmakers in the faith and family genre and produces original works ("The Redemption of Henry Myers," starring "Fireproof's" Erin Bethea, releases next year).
Filmmakers wanting to enter the 168 Film Project for the 2013 competition can register online at 168film.com. Registration closes May 11.