In August 2021, Woodstock was home to the Christian Worldview Film Festival (CWVFF). The conference usually is held in Tennessee or Texas in March. After a venue loss months earlier, Judd Brannon, director, producer, editor and 2021 CWVFF speaker, pitched the idea to bring the conference to First Baptist Church Woodstock (FBCW). After all, the church has a heart to invest in emerging and veteran Christian artists. It even has its own Vision Drama Ministry, which puts on plays and musicals.
Having served as the video producer at FBCW for 12 years, Brannon knew the church had the space, a supportive staff and the heart to open its doors for CWVFF’s mission, telling stories that matter. “There is no conference that better equips young filmmakers to share biblical principles in the stories they tell,” Brannon said.
More than 600 people flocked to the campus last year, spending the first three days in the guild portion, where filmmakers had a chance to take classes on topics such as acting, screenwriting, producing, editing, animation and composing, taught by FBCW’s music minister, Cliff Duren, a Dove Award winning composer.
The second half of the week, the film festival portion kicked off with a special preview screening of the upcoming documentary of “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants” producers, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, called “Show Me the Father.” (I don’t think there was a dry eye in the chapel after the ending credits rolled!)
I believe that most attendees would say it was an unforgettable week in Woodstock. The conference was filled with the humblest of Hollywood hearts, with a desire to invest in the next generation of filmmakers. (For details on the next conference, keep a lookout on https://christianworldviewfilmfestival.com.) Many of us went to learn more about the craft, but we left with something so much greater — an understanding of the creator who inspires us to create, and knowing that the work we do can impact the world.
It was refreshing to find that many filmmakers at the conference, who want to tell positive and uplifting stories, are choosing to have a place here in Georgia. Some live bi-coastal to Los Angeles; others have completely relocated to the Atlanta area. Many of those talented filmmakers spoke at the conference, including Shari Rigby, Erin Bethea, Drew Waters and Ashley Bratcher. They not only act in movies and television shows, but write, produce or direct as well, building stories from the ground up.
We’re so used to seeing a Hollywood that pats itself on the back and sings its own praises. What we saw throughout this whole event was the exact opposite: humility, servants’ hearts and a desire to invest in others. I’m thankful to have been a part of something with people who hope to change the world in positive ways.
As more local talent connects with one another at events like this, my desire is to see more movies made right here in Woodstock. Soon, I hope we all hear that familiar chime, “Quiet on the set.”
– Cheryl McKay Price writes faith-based movies and novels. She and her husband have called Woodstock home since 2015. She just opened a new faith-based film and TV production company, Stone Impact Media.