Faith & Family: Satisfying the Growing Global Audience Demand for Uplifting Content
Faith & family-friendly films and series have seen an explosion of success in recent years. They are drawing huge audiences in the U.S. and around the world, propelling inspirational content into the mainstream. To meet the rising demand, many entertainment companies are taking a leap of faith, launching dedicated divisions and expanding their distribution of value-centric content. Producers and creatives behind recent hits discuss the power of the genre, and what types of stories resonate with audiences and have the greatest chance of big profit potential.
Steven Gaydos, SVP Global Content/Executive Editor, Variety
Cindy Bond, Founder & CEO, Mission Pictures International, LLC
Kevin Downes, Co-Founder/Managing Partner/Producer, Kingdom Story Company
Paul Lauer, CEO, One Door Studios / Motive Entertainment
Kevin DownesCo-Founder / Managing Partner / Producer, Kingdom Story Company
Kevin Downes’ career of producing, directing, acting, and writing spans more than 30 years. As an actor, some of Downes’ fan-favorite roles include Officer Shane Fuller in COURAGEOUS, the video game lover Kevin in MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, a series regular role on the TV sitcom HITTING THE BREAKS, and supporting roles in I CAN ONLY IMAGINE and AMERICAN UNDERDOG.
Early in his career, Downes produced critically acclaimed LIKE DANDELION DUST from best-selling author Karen Kingsbury, which starred Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino and won more than a dozen audience awards for Best Picture at prestigious film festivals around the world.
In 2010, Jon and Andrew began exclusively developing dramatic feature films. In August 2018, they partnered with Kevin Downs and Tony Young to launch Kingdom Story Company, in an exclusive partnership with Lionsgate, which creates life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers.
Their features have all opened in the top-ten box office and they have received the coveted A+ CinemaScore® three times. Early hits include OCTOBER BABY, MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, WOODLAWN, and the surprise hit I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, which became the #1 independent film of 2018, earning more than $86 million at the box office. Others include I STILL BELIEVE, a biopic about CCM megastar Jeremy Camp which was released by Lionsgate in 2020, followed by the 2021 release of THE JESUS MUSIC, sharing the untold story of how Jesus Music transformed into the multi-billion-dollar industry of Christian Contemporary Music. AMERICAN UNDERDOG followed in 2021, which told the story of NFL MVP and Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner. JOHNNY CASH: THE REDEMPTION OF AN AMERICAN ICON, is a documentary that details the true story of a music legend’s spiritual quest and releases Dec 2022. Their last film, JESUS REVOLUTION, is based on The Jesus Movement that swept the country in the 1970s and led to what TIME Magazine dubbed a JESUS REVOLUTION, hit theaters in Feb 2023. Their latest film, ORDINARY ANGELS, hits theaters Feb 2024, followed by UNSUNG HERO in theaters April 26, 2024.
Cindy BondCo-Founder & CEO, Mission International Pictures, LLC
Cindy Bond is a global leader and pioneer in the production, distribution and sales of faith-friendly films. With over 200 films to her credit, Cindy’s most recent productions include one of the highest grossing music biopics of all time, I Can Only Imagine starring Dennis Quaid, the #1 independent film of 2018, Emmy Award Winner Miracle on 42nd Street, The King’s Daughter starring Pierce Brosnan and William Hurt, Hallmark Channel’s Enchanted Christmas, The Tax Collector starring Shia LaBeouf and Redeeming Love starring Abigail Cowen, Famke Janssen and Nina Dobrev released by Universal Pictures.
Cindy began her producing career with Norann Entertainment’s production of The Joyriders Starring Martin Landau, Kris Kristofferson and Elisabeth Moss. She then partnered with Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller to form the U.S theatrical distribution and production company, Providence Entertainment, which distributed the #1 limited theatrical release, The Omega Code. Cindy moved on to form Promenade Pictures, a theatrical distribution and production company with Frank Yablans, former Paramount Pictures President/MGM Co-Chairman.
Cindy is Co-Founder & CEO of the international film sales and production company, Mission Pictures International. In 2019 she also teamed up with Doug McKay, former Vice President of Phoenix Pictures, to launch LA film and TV firm, Faster Horse Pictures.
Paul LauerPresident & CEO, One Door Studios / Motive Entertainment
Paul Lauer is CEO of One Door Studios (www.OneDoorStudios.com), a film and TV development and production company, as well as founder and CEO of Hollywood agency Motive Entertainment (www.MotiveEntertainment.biz). Lauer has worked on over 50 films, including Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ ($1 billion worldwide), Chronicles of Narnia, Polar Express, Rocky Balboa, Heaven is for Real, The Shack, and Just Mercy, as well as top-rated TV programs like Mark Burnett/Roma Downey’s Bible miniseries (the #1 program on TV); and three best-selling books, including “Michael Vey” (#1 NY Times Bestseller). Lauer is an expert at creating and marketing inspirational and purpose-driven content. His work has been called “a textbook study in both high-profile and below-the-radar marketing” by Ad Age, which named Lauer a Top 50 Marketer of the year. Lauer is also Chief Strategy Officer of MyStreme, an upcoming streaming platform. Prior to working in Hollywood, Lauer was the publisher/editor of the award-winning YOU! Magazine (worldwide in six languages), the syndicated insert Youth Beat (1,000,000 circulation). He also produced the World Youth Day Music Festival (100,000 attendees in Denver, CO), and held C-level positions with tech companies like webBASIS. Lauer has guest hosted radio and TV shows, and appeared on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, and in over 50 publications/websites, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall St. Journal.