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Santorum to head studio aimed at brining faith-based filmmaking to Hollywood

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The former US presidential hopeful will be CEO of a faith-based movie company that plans to recruit talent from Hollywood

Rick Santorum, the evangelical former US presidential hopeful who lost out to Mitt Romney in last year’s Republican primaries, is to head a new studio which aims to bring faith-based film-making to Hollywood.

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Texas-based EchoLight studios hopes to have a $20m fund in place within weeks to make Christian-oriented “family-friendly” movies. Its first film will be a western titled The Redemption of Henry Myers. The story will focus on a bank robber who is left for dead by his accomplices and nursed back to health by a widow and her young children. EchoLight is also planning a modern-day, non-musical retelling of the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colours.

Santorum, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination on a conservative platform opposing gay marriage and legal abortions, said he hoped attract Hollywood film-makers to the new studio. The ex-US senator, who will be CEO of EchoLight, hinted that current faith-based films were not nearly religious enough in content.

“Here’s what I think of Hollywood,” Santorum told the Hollywood Reporter. “We’re looking for talented people who want to make quality films, even though we won’t be spending tens of millions of dollars on each of them. We want good writers, actors, and producers who want to make honest, uplifting content.”

He added: “There’s a lot of good family movies produced in Hollywood, but in almost every one of them there’s a scene where, as a dad with younger kids, I say: ‘Why did they put that gratuitous sex, or language, or violence in there?’ To me, it diminishes the film, so we won’t be doing that.

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“Even in faith-based films, Hollywood tends to water down the truth,” added Santorum, reflecting on 2011 drama Soul Surfer, which told the true-life story of a young girl who continued her dream of becoming a professional surfer despite losing her left arm in a shark attack.

“[That] was a good film, but it didn’t accurately portray faith in that young lady’s life and how she overcame what she had to overcome,” Santorum said. “I don’t want to preach to anybody, I just want to portray faith as it really is, and we’re going to be telling a lot of true-life stories, and we’re going to make them comfortable even for people who are not of faith, because they are honest. That’s the challenge for us, and it’s what Hollywood tends to shy away from.”

EchoLight is also planning a film based on the true story of Eric “Hoovey” Elliott, a high-school basketball player whose brain tumour forced him to learn afresh how to walk, talk and perform other basic functions. It will be directed by Soul Surfer’s Sean McNamara.

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© Guardian News and Media 2013

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