The president of Walden Media — the company behind the popular Narnia movies — also happens to be a practicing Catholic. Michael Flaherty was interviewed recently, and talked about his experience in Hollywood:
Is it difficult to live your Catholic faith in Hollywood?
No. Hollywood is surprising a very seeker-friendly place. People are very interested, and they want to hear more about it, particularly because you have a group of people who have accomplished their childhood dream. They get to tell stories for a living! They’re compensated at ridiculous levels for that, so they look around and they say, “I’ve accomplished my lifelong dream. I have more money than I ever expected to have. How come I feel the same way I did my freshman year in high school? I thought these things would bring me happiness.” Because you’re dealing with people who have all those things they thought would bring them happiness and they still find that they’re coming up short, they’re very interested in finding out how to fill that God-shaped hole.
What really bugs me as a Catholic is to watch a movie and as soon as they show a crucifix or a statue of Mary or the saints, you know that person is going to be the killer.
(Laughs.) It’s like my brother Chip says, “If a priest comes into town, he’s there for one of two reasons— he’s there to ban dancing or murder somebody.” He’s never there to build a new school or build a new hospital or do any of the things that people of faith have been doing all across the country, in the name of our Lord for the last 2000 years.
So how can Catholics get an image upgrade in Hollywood?
Well, we have such amazing stories, and I think that’s the way to go. Dorothy Day was such an amazing person! There was a great movie made about her by Paulist Pictures. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an unbelievable story. Fatima is an unbelievable story. Medjugore is a great story. The list goes on and on in terms of all the heroes that we have had. And then there was another great film, and I think that the Church was even involved somehow in financing it, The Spitfire Grill. I remember seeing that movie with my parents when I was younger. That was a fantastic film about the power of radical forgiveness and transformation. I think the key is that Catholics are some of the best storytellers on the planet. We just need more of them involved making films.
What are the challenges of being a Hollywood homeschooler? [Note: Although Mr. Flaherty does a lot of work in Hollywood, he and his family reside in Massachusetts.]
Time. My wife says it’s not homeschooling, it’s van-schooling. [My children] take an art class at The Museum of Fine Arts, a science class at the New England Aquarium. They take a robotics class at Tusk. They have great instruction and they have really cool classes, but my poor wife is always in the car taking them from one place to another. It’s fun stitching all those things together, but putting a lot of miles on the minivan is the biggest challenge.