The massive success of The Blind Side has shocked Hollywood and opened studios to a market they're still trying to figure out--the heartland. Stories about Christians or Republicans are rare in the mainstream movie world, but seeing as how over half the country attends church regularly, it would stand to reason that more films portraying people like this would be made. To their credit, studios are working to appeal more to this market, which is difficult because many of these pepole aren't traditional moviegoers.
Hopefully, that will open some opportunities to filmmakers like me, who understand that market and how to appeal to it, and who have stories to tell from that world. I've said before that it's imperative to tirelessly prepare for the moments when the industry shifts and starts looking for something that you have to offer. Even when I'm not making a movie, I'm working overtime to make myself a better filmmaker, because I want to be ready when studios say, "We need more stories from the heartland," or "We need filmmakers who can relate to the faith-based audience."
In my book-reading and movie-watching, I've been concentrating on filmmakers like Frank Capra. I just read his book of interviews, and I'm about to read his autobiography. The next movie I watch will be Ben-Hur, and after that Capra's "You Can't Take It With You." These are films that were hugely successful with heartland audiences, so I want to understand what made them tick and learn from their success and artfulness. When you see a trend devleoping in Hollywood, look for films in the past that were successful the last time that same trend developed.
I happen to know that my favorite book of all time is being developed as a feature film at a studio. It's a story set in exactly the kind of church I grew up in and covers themes and characters that I know inside and out. I'm going to be a candidate to direct it, so I'm already preparing my pitch for the interview I'll have when they're looking for directors. I hope to convince them that no one knows this kind of film better than I do, so I'm going to make sure that's actually true.
Of course, first things first--I have to finish "What If..." and make sure it's great.