3/24/2008

QUACKS LIKE A DUCK! CONCLUSION?


A reader is skeptical about some of the particular issues I have with the veracity of the 'Expelled' production team. For example, my critic notes that I've inferred that Premise Media produces evangelical-friendly fare, and writes:

You've yet to establish that Premise Media is "evangelical"...

Fair enough. Here's what I've got, so far. All the names listed can be found on the Premise Media site under 'Principal Bios'. Anybody else with more info, please do pass it along....




Co-founder A. Logan Craft
is identified as a minister and TV producer on the American board of the Canadian Center for Cultural Renewal. These facts are curiously absent from the Premise Media web site. Craft spills the beans to a Southern Baptist site, but plainly thinks the filmmaker's religious identity irrelevant:

"Understand that although all the producers are Christians and we have, let’s say, complementary views about most moral issues, I can’t say we came to this project with any uniform view or underlying agenda."

Yet, in the same interview, Craft remarks that Ben Stein was chosen in part because one of his colleagues "had a real insight, we believe, into the necessity to have a person, first of all, who wasn’t overtly Christian or overtly religious."


Screenwriter Kevin Miller
is an evangelical Christian who describes his background as "four years of Bible college, one year of seminary, and nearly ten years of researching and writing Christian books under my belt" prior to entering the film industry. These facts also not on the Premise site, but I dug them up in this blog of his.

Producer Mark Mathis is interviewed here by YEC Carl Weiland. Mathis is coy on the age-of-the-Earth but otherwise delivers the sort of boilerplate statement that I associate with evangelicals and Biblical literalism. I can sympathize with his points, I just don't share his perceptions. You can decide for yourself. By the way, both Mathis and Craft are New Mexicans who were on the record as pro-ID a few years back. No agenda? Ahem!

Marketing Director Paul Lauer worked on grass-roots marketing for previous films targeting evangelicals, among them The Passion of the Christ and The Chronicles of Narnia. His web site talks about tapping into the 'Faith and Family Market'.

To get an idea of his schtick, check out this Slate article on his promotion of "The Polar Express." Very slick. Does that make him an evangelical? Maybe not. Does it make him an expert in the advertising industry on marketing to evangelicals. Oh, yes. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then....well, you can see where I'm going with this. My skeptic adds:

...and you presume the money is coming from them.

Or being funneled through them, as some suggest, through investors. However, interestingly enough, the CEO is a software engineer who retired at age 32 with $120 million worth of Microsoft stock back in 1998, a fella named Walt Ruloff. Lord knows what he's worth now. If he's not a billionaire, he's close. This is a guy who doesn't need investors to make a film! On the other hand, he doesn't need either investors or a film to share HIS evangelical roots.

19 comments:

BWE said...

Nice

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

I'm not sure if you mean me or the good folks at Premiere Media!...:)

At any rate, thanks for stopping by!

Michael X said...

That's some clean detective work Scott! I knew about a few of these guys, but seeing them all in one place presents more good evidence to state that this has ideological/religious roots, as opposed to those of academic freedom. While this many not surprise many, having the hard cold facts is never to be waved off.

Brachychiton said...

Good one, Scott.

I'd imagine that Paul Lauer is cringing at the foot-blasting idiocy of the rest of the gang as the PR plan is flushed down the U-bend. (Sorry, mixed my metaphors, but you get my drift.)

Did you read Premise Media's press release (which seemed to be promoting both the the film and Motive Entertainment)? It's rather outdated because it indicates a Feb release but it's the most recent one on the site.

“The incredible thing about Expelled is that we don’t resort to manipulating our interviews for the purpose of achieving the ‘shock effect,’ something that has become common in documentary film these days,” said Walt Ruloff, co-founder of Premise Media and co-Executive Producer. “People will be stunned to actually find out what elitist scientists proclaim, which is that a large majority of Americans are simpletons who believe in a fairy tale. Premise Media took on this difficult mission because we believe the greatest asset of humanity is our freedom to explore and discover truth.”

The extensive grass roots campaign for Expelled, spearheaded by Motive Entertainment president, Paul Lauer, will include nationwide screenings and endorsements with key leaders, promotional materials, a promotional resource DVD, publicity, radio promotions and Internet. In addition, a pre-launch campaign will include unprecedented partnerships and a widespread campaign together with educators, youth, scientists, families, faith-based leaders and the media nationwide.


There goes the new irony meter.

Sili said...

Obvious to see why you got your OM.

Jud said...

One of Walter Ruloff's projects is "to communicate the love and call of Jesus Christ in a sensitive and challenging manner to the business and professional people of Vancouver, by means of a ministry based where they work." See http://www.canadianchristianity.com/cgi-bin/bc.cgi?bc/bccn/0499/city

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by, everyone!

MichaelX, brachychiton, sili, thanks for the kinds words.

Jud, that's some great info. I'll add it to this post!

Andrew Cooper said...

I think we can safely say the Premise Media does indeed have a premise and you do not need to look very far to see it...

(but the evidence helps)

has said...

>> You've yet to establish that Premise Media is "evangelical"...
>
> Fair enough. Here's what I've got, so far.

Evolutionists aren't disputing the existence of micro-evangelism, you know, but this still doesn't prove macro-evangelism is real. Nobody's ever seen Mark Mathis give birth to a dog... oh wait.

has said...

Nice work, btw.

Margaret said...

"...both Mathis and Craft are New Mexicans..."

Ouch. (ducks head in embarassment)

But I shouldn't be surprised since the major government lab here has had talks by Michael Behe and other IDiots.

MTran said...

Scott Hatfield, thanks for putting in the effort to get us the info.

Margaret, Yikes! Behe in a National Lab? That is truly scary...

Stan said...

Judgement has come down quick and hard on this group because of two things. First, they disallowed PZ to attend the viewing. Second, they are accused of misrepresenting themselves at the interviews. Accusations of stupidity and mismanaging PR are just quibblings.

Disallowing PZ access to the viewing has no bearing on the content of the film.

Misrepresenting themselves to the interviewees, does have a bearing on the content of the film.

So the real charges are:
1) They are closet Christians.
2) They didn't tell the interviewees the real purpose of the film.
3) they manipulated the interviews by editing.

Number 1 is not a crime.
Number 2 is unethical if it is true.
Number 3 is unethical if it is true.

Since the purported victims of this crime are elated and declaring an "unearned victory" (See Dawkins' blog), they obviously have something to gain by their accusations, have gained it and are swapping high fives.

Since I have no independent, unbiased, non-profit data source from which to glean untarnished facts, I choose not to believe anything about these heated accusations until such data is available.

Buying into heated rhetoric originating from parties who profit from it is a dangerous lapse of judgement. In fact a rush to judgement belies, once again, a worldview that is in place instead of rationality.

Anonymous said...

lol @ Stan...

And the irony continues to gush forth as further proof one need not wear a cross around her neck to be holier than thou.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Disallowing PZ access to the viewing has no bearing on the content of the film.

No, but it makes them look petty, and insecure, and ineffectual.

So the real charges are:

1) They are closet Christians.

Not a crime, but dishonest in this context because it has a real bearing on the second point, which is that...

2) They didn't tell the interviewees the real purpose of the film.

Unethical, but legally defensible largely because Dawkins et al got paid. As much as I respect these guys for their scientific acument, I have to question their smarts. They really were naive to take the filmmakers at face value. They should have insisted that as part of the payment that they receive a copy of the full raw footage.

3) they manipulated the interviews by editing

I haven't made that charge, nor do I know anyone who so far has made that charge, but I'm sure it's something that concerns some of the participants. And that could be legally actionable, if you could prove it. Again, a copy of the raw footage would've been helpful.

Anyway, I'm not buying into heated rhetoric. I went and checked these guys out for myself, and found that they were hiding some of their lights in the bushel. Well, no more.

Margaret said...

Margaret, Yikes! Behe in a National Lab? That is truly scary...

Very scary. NMSR (New Mexicans for Science and Reason) gave one of their 2006 awards to Sandia:

The "National Lab for Hire" Award goes to Sandia National Labs, for letting a parade of young-earth creationists promote their pseudoscience and hawk their books in the Steven Schiff Auditorium (Feb., March, Sept.).

For more info see www.nmsr.org. I don't think that NMSR mentions that, as well as bringing nutcases in to speak at Sandia, these "Christians in the Workplace" have a number of pages on the internal website (you cannot get to that, and I will not copy anything behind the firewall for you).

abb3w said...

Google turns up a "Lydia Flemming" on Myspace with a blog entry about moving to Indiana that mentions "an old journal I started in Capetown at Bible School, and finished in Hawaii during film school". This may or may not be the same "Lydia Flemming" as has the production assistant coordinator credit.

Steve for truth said...

Scott. I commend your detective work on the Premise principals. Nothing very earth-shaking, but informative. It seems that all the advance literature and promotion have made it fairly clear that the producers have a point to the film. Why else make it? We can accept or reject their point after ACTUALLY SEEING the film, but to speculate and pass rumors back and forth is disingenuous. One point about the whole "ethical" treatment of the interviewees- there is NO editing in the film in the sense of changing what anyone says by splicing bits from various interviews. That is unethical and the type of schlock we have seen from some well known documentary film makers. Do ethical documentary film-makers pick statements from interviewees that support the thesis of the film, whether as protagonist or antagonist, from the hundreds of hours of footage? Of course they do. That's called film-making and being creative about how you get your "point" across. Second point - NO film-maker would ever give their footage to anyone. Nor should they. That is the sum of your intellectual property that you pay millions to produce so you can end up with two hours of film. When people agree to interviews, sign releases, get paid for their time and cash their checks, they have no grounds for moaning that they don't like how they are being portrayed - particularly when they haven't even seen the finished product! We would all benefit from a spirit of self-criticism and just a modicum of humility, which seems in short supply when these type topics are being debated. Blessings to you and your readers.

vfdvgf said...

we provide a power leveling and free wow gold wow power leveling