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Innovative Film Series Gets Christian Distributor

A major Christian communications company has picked up a new line of short films for distribution.

Zondervan, a leader in Bible publishing and Christian resources, began distributing NOOMA, a series of 10 short films about Christian perspectives, in April.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
The 10 films feature Rob Bell, teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Grandville, Mich. Bell employs his dynamic communication style in the films, which mix Bell speaking with slick visuals illustrating his points.
 
NOOMA’s films are: “Rain,” “Flame,” “Trees,” “Sunday,” “Noise,” “Kickball,” “Luggage,” “Dust,” “Bullhorn” and “Lump.” They each deal with a specific theme like comfort, love, belief and
forgiveness, and are based on Bell’s teachings at Mars Hill.
 
“Our goal is for NOOMA to change the world,” said Bell in an e-mail to EthicsDaily.com.
 
NOOMA was created by a nonprofit film company called Flannel, founded by Rob Bell and Tom Rinks in 2001. The group sold more than 100,000 units online before partnering with Zondervan for wider distribution.
 
E-commerce has been a good way to sell the films, Santino Stoner, the films’ director, told EthicsDaily.com on the phone from Grand Rapids. “But I still go shopping,” he added. Part of NOOMA’s goal is getting Jesus’ message out and making it accessible, so the distribution channels offered by Zondervan were attractive.
 
Zondervan puts NOOMA into the retail world of Christian bookstores, with more general markets to be tapped in the future, Stoner said.
 
“It’s just another great way for people to be able to get to it,” said Stoner. The films retail for $12.99 each and remain available for $10 each at www.nooma.com. The NOOMA Web site will unveil a makeover this summer that will include more functionality and features, as well as the complete first film, “Rain,” available for online viewing.
 
“Rain” actually began shooting Sept. 11, 2001.
 
The shoot for each film takes only a few days, but much more work is required.
 
“There’s a whole team at Flannel that work together on these films,” said Bell. “Once I bring the script in, we begin the endless process of discussing, debating, and refining the script while others spend months in pre-production doing the concept and the storyboards and all of that.”
 
“I actually stick to the teaching,” said Bell. “I am surrounded by some awesome people who make their own contributions.”
 
Stoner said NOOMAs are shot on film—as opposed to video—in an effort to keep the production values as high as possible.
 
“The point isn’t the production value,” said Stoner. “The point is getting out of the way of the message.”
 
NOOMA is a phonetic spelling for the Greek word pneuma, meaning spirit.
 
“Each NOOMA touches on issues that we care about, that we want to talk about and it comes in a way that fits our world,” according to promotional material.
 
Each short film lasts between 10-14 minutes and is accompanied, due to Zondervan’s repackaging, by a booklet containing relevant Scripture verses, dialogue from the film, and questions for thought.
 
Production continues on more NOOMA installments, with the 11th and 12th films featuring Bell having just been shot. A second NOOMA series, with a new speaker, is slated to premiere next year.
 
Stoner said one of the goals is to develop an extensive library of some of the most dynamic Christian speakers dealing with themes in a fresh way.
 
When it comes to experiencing cinema, people “go in with open minds and open hearts to discover a story,” Stoner said.
 
The films are subtitled in seven languages: English, French, German, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese and Spanish.
 
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
 
The NOOMA Web site is here.