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Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Conference Opens in Beverly Hills

All-day event will take place in Four Seasons hotel on June 21

With family fare repping a growing sector of showbiz, creators of family- and faith-based entertainment gather June 21 in BevHills for the second annual Purpose: Family Entertainment and Faith Based Summit, organized by Variety in association with Rogers & Cowan.

Event will attract execs from studios, networks and digital media as well as producers, screenwriters and actors. Topics will be how to share content across new platforms and ways of raising awareness of what many say is an untapped market.

“We believe there’s an underserved audience in this country. Filmmakers rarely deal with faith even though Christians represent one of the largest segments of America,” says Mark Burnett, who, with his wife, Roma Downey, produced “The Bible,” the record-breaking miniseries on History. Both are speakers.

Other participants include Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the Mormon writing duo that has penned toons, including “Despicable Me” and “Despicable Me 2.”

“It’s nice to see that there’s a place for us to support others who are committed to making movies for families,” says Paul. “I think we ended up in animation because it’s the last bastion of smart, well-made entertainment for everyone.”

Another panelist, Rich Peluso, VP of Sony Pictures’ Affirm unit, says the summit can change the industry’s perception of family and faith entertainment by “facilitating the spreading of information and ideas that help more and better content reach the marketplace.”

Peluso adds, “Like most media, the family and faith-based filmed entertainment space is fragmented, not monolithic. Any time a group of leaders, influencers or an organization provides a platform for those engaged or interested in the business, there’s an opportunity to share ideas and create networks and relationships that can propel the content and its distribution farther and wider.”

“As filmmakers we’re always trying to identify which markets are growing,” says DeVon Franklin, senior production veep at Columbia Pictures and another speaker at the summit.

“There’s so much synergy to be taken advantage of between family and faith-based entertainment. I don’t look at it as a conference to change perception,” Franklin adds, referring to the negative views of faith-based programming held by some. “The goal goes beyond perception. It’s a conference (meant) to educate about the market and the opportunities it provides — and hopefully it will affect change in building momentum for both (the family and the faith) markets.”

As for changing perceptions, nothing speaks louder than success, notes Peluso. “The real change in the industry’s perception happens after that content hits successfully and catches many in the industry by surprise. So many people scratch their heads and wonder where projects like ‘The Bible,’ ‘American Bible Challenge’ and ‘Soul Surfer’ came from. That’s when perception really changes — success by success.”

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