Producer extraordinaire Mark Burnett – creator of Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice, Shark Tank and The Bible was our honored guest at the closing night of the Windrider Forum at the Sundance Film Festival. Mark previewed his up-coming film, Son of God. Son of God is the first film representation of the full life of Christ to come to the big screen in over 50 years (Passion of the Christ focused solely upon the Jesus’ crucifixion). Following the screening Mark graciously answered questions from the crowd of film and seminary students. Throughout the night I had the privilege of having a few nuggets of time with Mark. During the screening I helped produce a half-hour interview segment with him. Then following the screening, we attended a private reception with Mark at the home of one of our Park City friends. At the reception Mark told the both revealing and oftentimes hysterical stories of how he got some of his iconic programs made.
My take-aways from my time with him made me admire him all the more.
He is a man who deeply loves God. Mark is committed to serving His Kingdom and keeps his family a top priority. God has allowed him to build a reality show empire, one that certainly affords Mark the luxury of just enjoying his success and sail off into the sunset. But he is pushing even harder to make sure that he uses the platforms that God has given him for God’s glory. As we re-entered the auditorium at the conclusion of the film, I stood by Mark, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him lift his hands and silently pray for the film’s impact upon the crowd.
He is a man of passion, diligence and perseverance. You would think that once Survivor took the TV world by storm, that every television door would be wide open to him, and that he could get anything made that he wanted. But Hollywood doesn’t work that way. There is little equity from past successes. Everything has to be earned afresh. As Mark rehearsed the hoops he jumped through to get The Apprentice, The Voice and certainly The Bible green-lit and placed on a network television schedule, you see a man who goes after each new project with the same passion and perseverance he must have had when he was striving to get his first production Eco-Challenge on cable television.
I am thankful for my time with Mark and an impactful glimpse into the character and Christian commitment of one of the most successful producers in television history. As I continue, and many of you as well, upon my journey of media making, let me keep my faith in Jesus Christ at the forefront and remain steadfast in the calling God has place upon my life.