What's the Big Idea with Jonah?
- Thursday, October 24, 2002
Vischer says Big Idea “staffed up” as production on Jonah kicked into high gear. The company had approximately 100 people working on nothing but that movie. The original plan was to keep those staffers in place during the gap between production on Jonah and the next movie, but the lagging retail market left the company with little options.
“We realized about a month ago that it was just going to be impossible to hold that whole team together across that six-month gap, and it was really depressing,” Vischer shares. “There was no way to keep an entire feature animation crew permanently, so we had to change our model a little bit and focus down to a core team of around 70 or so.”
Employees in other parts of the company were also affected by the staff cuts, Vischer confirmed. “There were other areas of the company in which we realized we were going to need to be a little bit smaller going forward. We had to do this as a result of wanting to be around long enough to accomplish our mission.”
A Mission to Accomplish
That Big Idea “mission,” according to Vischer, is to “return a biblical world view into pop culture and the mainstream America discussion of values.” It’s a mission the company hopes to accomplish through a continued presence in the animated home video market, but also with an increasing presence in the Hollywood-driven feature film industry.
“Ultimately, the goal for us with Jonah is for there to be another one, and then another after that,” says Vischer. “We don’t want to just make a movie and then sit around for the rest of our lives congratulating ourselves for making a movie. We’re actually building a film business that can continually produce and release movies with biblical values and a biblical world view. We feel like we’re serving parents who are trying to pass on biblical values to their kids, and if we can use our grassroots communication techniques—the Internet, Christian radio, Christian bookstores and churches—then we think we can make successful films. The role of the Christian audience here is huge. You can’t underestimate it. Without the following of our core fans and their enthusiasm, we couldn’t even attempt to make major motion pictures.”
While Big Idea is already in pre-production for its next feature film, The Bob and Larry Movie, that movie’s future may in fact be dictated by the success of Jonah. Vischer would like to put together a film fund that would ensure the company’s ability to produce several movies over a five- or six-year period. But investors, he says, want to look at your track record.
“It’s going to be a matter of what kind of ceiling we can show with our fan base, or an audience who’s really looking for these values,” Vischer stresses. “Because the higher we can set that bar, the more we can justify doing with our next films, and the more other people can say, ‘Hey, we want to make films like that, too.’ And Hollywood can’t ignore it. That’s pretty exciting.”
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