Bob Beltz has a lot to say. As the Associate Producer of the upcoming movie Amazing Grace as well as the editor of Real Christianity, Beltz talks to us about the life of William Wilberforce and the issue of slavery in the modern world today and what we can do about it. As a part of Walden Media, he also gives the latest scoop on the Narnia series, including which movies have been greenlit, the problem with Edmund and the timeline of releases.
Matt: Can you tell us what drew you to this Amazing Grace project in the first place?
Bob: Sure, there are a couple of things. Way back six years ago now when Phil Anschutz decided to get into the film industry, he invited me to come and be a part of that adventure, William Wilberforce had actually been a hero of mine for many years when I was in pastoral ministry. He’s such a great model of someone whose faith had led to a vital social action out of that. Almost from the beginning, Phil had said, “I want to make a movie on the life of William Wilberforce.”
It was a project that was a hard sell even though he was the financing behind it, simply because those who were advisors for him in Hollywood within the production company just said, “You know you shouldn’t make this movie. It’s a period piece and nobody knows who this guy is. You’re gonna lose a lot of money.” But he was very persistent and just said, “I don’t care. This is an important story. I want to tell it. I want to make the film.” That really began this process that finally is reaching fulfillment on February 23rd.
Now where did you serve specifically in regards to the film?
Technically, I’m the Associate Producer.
And what does that mean?
Well, in this particular case, it means that I was involved on the team that helped conceive the project and develop it. I helped oversee script development and actually helped oversee production and final cuts. So basically I had a seat at the table in all of those decisions. That’s the reason I have been given the Associate Producer credit.
Now I recently read a statistic that said there are more people in slavery today than in any other point in history. Is this true?
Well, it depends on the numbers you use, who you are talking to and how you define it. I’ve heard everything from the State Department’s number of 800,000 to 27 million. The latter figure is probably more accurate if you include the bonded labor going on around the world. Personally since I’ve been involved with my wife with the Dalits in India, who are the untouchables in India, they have been in slavery for 3,000 years and there are 300 million of them. So it’s a huge issue in the world today.
That’s one of the reasons why, along with the film, we also launched the Amazing Change campaign to network organizations that have been working in this area and raise awareness and call for some action on modern day trafficking.
Here’s a peak at the stuff about Narnia:
Can you let us in on what’s happening with Prince Caspian. Is the script completely finished? And is it sticking closely to the book?
It’s pretty close. Andrew Adamson is gonna direct again. Most of the same crew is working on this one. Mark Johnson will produce again. A lot of the cast and crew will be the same. Now, I don’t think that will the case for all seven. I don’t think Andrew Adamson wants to spend the rest of his life on this one series.
But the script … let me put it this way: All of the elements from the book are present. It’s not as easy of a book to adapt as The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe was simply because it has a little bit of a different structure and Andrew wanted to rearrange some of the elements for dramatic effect. But everything that is in the book will be in the film.
And you’ve already greenlit the next one?
Yes. The next book after that will be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and we’re going to try and film the next two in a way that it won’t have to be two and a half years between them. We’ll be able to bring them out sequentially a year apart.
Is Adamson attached to that project?
I think whoever actually directs the project will be under Andrew as sort of an overseer on the thing.