Walden Media president visits Asbury College
Micheal Flaherty believes Asbury College helps fill the need for professional, spirit-filled storytellers in his industry, and that the new Center for Communication Arts is important to that mission. As co-founder and president of Walden Media – the company that produced movies such as Prince Caspian, Nim’s Island, Charlotte’s Web, and many other films based on classic literature – he should know. Watch a video interview with Mr. Flaherty.
Flaherty’s first experience with Asbury was in early ‘07 when six students and two faculty helped produce an educational DVD for the Walden Media/Bristol Bay production of Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce. He visited again in April this year to serve as a judge for the Highbridge Film Festival and articulate his faith as a chapel speaker. His visits have left quite an impression.
“The first thing that I noticed about Asbury College students is that they are contributing at an extremely high level. The greatest compliment I can give Asbury College is that I notice no difference between what the Asbury College students produced on Amazing Grace and what a top-of-the-line production company would produce for us.”
Flaherty was also struck by the sense of purpose Asbury College students hold during his first visit. “They are here to learn, here to support each other and glorify God.
He recognizes the impact our students can have on the industry and the world through their gifts, talents and strong spiritual foundation. “The world is in desperate need of storytellers. There is a considerable amount of despair and discouragement (and) I think that nothing can be more redeeming for culture than to give it hope through great stories. Our focus should also be on the poor spirit and one way to feed the poor spirit is to talk about the good, true and beautiful.”
Aside from Asbury College students’ excellence and professionalism, Flaherty sees something more. “The difference here is that these kids bring such commitment and passion. That extra 50% that they are putting into their work makes a difference and you really see it on the screen.”
Flaherty believes the new Center for Communication Arts is necessary to keep Asbury College students technically competitive in the industry, and to continue fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. “It is important for people to understand how to tell stories and to have a solid mooring in good literature and in the Word. Translating that requires knowledge and professionalism along with knowing how to use the tools everybody uses. A liberal arts education is great, but if we really want people to go out and work in this medium, it’s a simple fact that they must understand the tools of the trade.”
Flaherty continued, “As believers we are always taught to be prepared for when opportunities present themselves. We always have to capitalize on those moments because they’re not infinite – we might only have one or two. If an opportunity arises for someone to do something significant or substantial in the industry, I can’t think of anything more depressing than if their missing that opportunity because they didn’t understand a technical aspect of the job.”