Today I have a guest blogger. Rita Betti is a screenwriter and president of HALO Ministries International. Rita also writes a blog, Rita’s Ravings, and has a website. I’ll let her tell you what she’s doing to advance the Kingdom of God in film.
Hi . . . I’m Rita Betti President of HALO Ministries International and Executive Producer and Development CEO of FishGate Productions, the non-profit branch of HALO Ministries’ film company.
First, a little background. My late husband, Dr. Joseph Betti and I co-founded HALO (His Arms of Love) Ministries International way back in 1996. My dream was to reach the masses with the gospel message through arts such as dance, drama, music and so on. My husband’s dream was to train pastors and missionaries in a non-denominational school of ministry and theology and plant churches all over the world. For the next ten years we concentrated on the college and church planting but with minimal success. When we expanded the ministry to Arizona in 2001, my husband’s health began to decline. No longer able to pastor and teach, I assumed his duties and put my dream on the shelf. I did my best but a pastor I am not . . . and I think it was a merciful act of God when the church and school finally shut its door.
In the summer of 2005 God called me to writing again. I had a desire but had no burning message or story that clamored to get out. Every time I prayed I heard “screenplays.” I laughed and told him I was too old to start a career in screenwriting. It was when He reminded me of Sarah that I quit laughing.
The fall of 2005 I attended my first Act One Screenwriting Weekend in Hollywood. I came away scared, awed and convinced that if God didn’t do this big thing in me, it wouldn’t get done. When my husband died in December of 2007, I wanted to move back to Washington but God had other ideas. He pointed me to Los Angeles, the Act One Saturday Writing Program and a whole new career. I was 59 years old.
Ever feel like a snowflake in a rainstorm? Well, that’s how I felt. All the students except for one other guy were my children’s age. But I learned that in God’s family, age is irrelevant. I learned a lot from my young classmates and when it was over, God picked two of them, Jim Frye and Valerie Henderson along with my sister, Deborah Kay and Glen Preece, (a brilliant composer and song writer my sister knew from work) to start FishGate Productions. After our first meeting just one year ago, we all knew God had a plan . . . but never dreamed it would be this big nor move along this fast.
Meanwhile, I had begun talking with a business man in India I met on Christian Writers.com, about a television station in India. I brought the concept to the FishGate board and we all agreed we needed to pursue it. As the months rolled along and the television idea began to take form, I became further convinced that we were in over our heads and there was no way it could be accomplished without His complete orchestration. I could only pray, “Open the doors and I will walk through.” And open doors He did. It would take too long to explain it all here but God has miraculously brought people from all fields of expertise in both television & film and the ministry on board. Now for a bit about the projects.
The Fish Gate, one of the twelve gates in the Jerusalem wall, represents God’s call to transform the market place. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20. Our calling and purpose is to reveal to the world through Media Arts that it is not what man does that condemns him but what he is and therefore in need of reconciliation to God through Christ and to develop both artists and content for distribution in the world market place always demonstrating God’s standard of integrity, excellence, and the beauty of craftsmanship.
When God gave us that name, at first I didn’t understand what it had to do with film production. And then I looked it up and understood. This Gate represents “God’s call to transform the market place.” We took that as God’s call to transform the film marketplace and put integrity back into media. This gate also depicts the responsibility of spiritual leaders for the market place. I felt like God was telling me that Christian filmmakers have a responsibility to use our art, talents, gifts and calling to reveal immorality and restore truth into the arts.
To date, FishGate has produced one short film (Common Thread, directed by Malcolm Carter) which is currently making the film festival route and has a second short film (Adam’s Eve, directed by Andre Holzendorf) production, with a third project to be produced for the 168 Film Project early next spring. We are also working on developing a slate of six films for future investment and distribution opportunities.
FishGate Productions is cutting edge in film production and believes it is time for Christian filmmakers to step up to the plate with finely crafted films that will outshine anything Hollywood has produced in the past five years. Because we believe so strongly that Christian Film’s time has come, we plan to approach Christian investors and churches for funding and support for our projects.
THE INDIA TELEVISION PROJECT
The project’s is a three-fold plan to be accomplished in stages is as follows:
- Media Arts Training Institution—A media arts school, blind to color, class and gender, that will train students in broadcasting, film production and post production, graphic arts and animation from a Christian philosophy
- Media Arts Business Center—A for profit company whose profits will go toward support of the television station and provide employment for our students
- Television Broadcasting Station—a full scale facility that will offer Christian, Family and Educational Programming on two channels.
Since India still is in bondage to the old caste system (even in the Church) and their culture is dominated by polytheism and demon worship, we feel a strong calling to raise up talent from among Indian people to create, write and produce programming for that will speak to their generations. Christians in India tend to isolate themselves from anything secular and there is a huge need for Christian involvement in this growing influence. We want to help Indian Christians influence secular media and bring about change by infiltration and witness on a “grass roots” level. As it has begun to work here in Hollywood, so it can in India, but they will need our help. The original vision of education, ministry and the arts given to my husband and myself over thirteen years ago has come together in ways I could have never imagined. We serve a glorious God indeed.
We are only in the formation stage of the project but God has revealed HALO Ministries and FishGate Productions will have a global impact. With all of the recent developments in “New” media, we have the potential to reach people in countries that have been closed to us and to people who have never heard of Christianity except in a negative light. God wants to reach everyone before He returns with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I believe He has called HALO and FishGate to be a part of that task. I ask for your prayers in the coming days as we work through the details of both the film and television projects that are laid before us.
Our website is currently under construction but we are forming an e-mail list for updates. If you want to know more about what we are doing, please email me and I will be happy to add your e-mail to our list. Also check out Act One .