In 2011, a pastor, a director, and a publicist walked into a…
…wait, that’s not how it happened.
In 2011, three people who shared conservative values and an interest in influencing the culture via entertainment came together over dinner at the home of James and Grace Seitz in Naples. The thought of holding a film festival arose to gauge local interest in the topic. Small donations began filtering in and, not long thereafter, a like-minded supporter stepped up with a three-year financial gift to SON.
The festival took place February 24-25, 2012, with special guests Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media (CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA), Steve Feldman (SESAME STREET, POLITICALLY CORRECT WITH BILL MAHER), Howie Klausner (SPACE COWBOYS, THE GRACE CARD) and Michael Joiner (THE GRACE CARD, ABOUND). The festival revealed a large and sincere interest among the Southwest Florida population.
SON held more screenings and events, bringing to town such producers, writers, and stars as Fred Thompson, Kevin Sorbo, Brian Bird, Brent McCorkle, Chad Gundersen, Davis Bunn, and Eva Marie Everson. One supporter suggested SON build a movie studio of its own. The leadership began exploring feasibility while managing the organic growth of the organization. In 2015 alone, SON educated over 2500 writers, helped bring over a dozen films to market, and secured book contracts for writers at traditional publishing houses while awarding several conference scholarships to promising writers.
In a short three years, SON became a nonprofit engaged at multiple levels with networking conservative media professionals, bringing their products to the public’s attention, educating writers, and amassing supporters for the cause. Membership spread across 32 states even as SON explored whether to increase its Southwest Florida footprint by building a large multimedia production studio. SON’s motivation and mission had found resonance with an underserved population. Explosive growth occurred. But, as with many start-ups, the time for focus was fast approaching…
In Spring 2016, the Board of Trustees came together for an extended period of review and planning. Was the organization meeting the goal of bending culture with entertainment? Their work resulted in a unanimous vote to focus SON solely on creating media and building a studio. Further, the “media” created would be only books, movies, and TV shows.
Today, SON operates with that laser focus. Feature films, made-for-TV films, television series, children’s books, biographies, and novels are in the pipeline. No story is limited to one medium so that each one reaches the maximum cultural impact. Policies are in place that upend the profit-motivated structure of the entertainment industry and instead responsibly utilize storytelling as the powerful tool it is to transmit values and enrich society.