Mormon films looking for ways to appeal to a Christian audience

David Austin's two-day visit to Utah was packed with meetings, presentations and discussions about finding and producing Mormon-made films that might appeal to the general Christian inspiration market. A blizzard hit on the first day, Dec. 8, messing up the tight schedule. But Austin didn't mind.

"I'm from Michigan, so it feels like home," Austin said of the weather.

Austin is vice president of sales and marketing at Bridgestone Multimedia Group and was here at the invitation of filmmakers including Lyman Dayton and BYU's Dennis Packard. Bridgestone distributes family-friendly Christian movies and music to Christian bookstores and churches. For 20 years, Bridgestone has been distributing some of Dayton's classic films from the 1970's including "Where the Red Fern Grows" (1974) and "Against a Crooked Sky" (1975).

It is the latter film that provided the impetus to bring Austin to Utah. Dayton is working with BYU to remake "Against a Crooked Sky" and wanted Austin's advice on shaping it for a broader market. Austin is glad to give advice -- and to look for other possible films to distribute.

It can be tricky, however, to present a Mormon-made film to some groups.

"We are looking for films that don't have any direct denominational connections, that won't exclude or cause any group within the Christian community to be adverse to them," Austin said. "The better job we can do to make them have ecumenical appeal, the better chance they have for commercial success and a regional larger audience."

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