Our nation was founded by people with big dreams and strong work ethic, and I applaud those who still have the gumption to brave the odds and go on “Shark Tank” to pitch their ideas.
Okay, so not all of us get to be on TV to beg funding for our ambitions. Most opportunists have to start small, pay their dues in garages and laundry room/home office spaces in hopes that eventually they’ll make enough to cover business tax.
It was my privilege to meet just such an idealist this week.
He’s a local entrepreneur who’s challenging big, greasy media domination with a small film production company committed to creating cleaner, quality family media products. Yep, right here in our community a courageous visionary left a lucrative corporate position and went indie to found Gradual Elevate Media. This father of six was concerned about the lack of uplifting media products that could be enjoyed by the whole family. I mean, I love Walt Disney too, but we can’t let him and Sam Walton take over the whole world.
When I spoke with my new friend I was inspired by his mission and moxy and requested a copy of his company’s first feature film Nowhere Safe. It’s a drama that appropriately addresses the modern scourge of cyber bullying.
I made popcorn.
I watched it.
I liked it.
There was not a single part where I would have to fast forward or cover innocent eyes or ears to protect my family.
How rare is that these days, right?
This film even got my Richard Peck stamp of approval, which is huge. I might have mentioned before how Mr. Peck is my favorite author. Ever. He’s my writer hero for many reasons, which I’ll gush about another time, but this film qualified for the official RP stamp because it kept two of the cardinal rules for children’s storytelling which Mr. Peck taught me at a writers workshop.
First, he feels those who write for kids have a responsibility to include principled lessons in them BUT, he warns, they must be disguised. We all know too well how kids detest lecturing, so the moral of story has to emerge subtly. Second, the protagonist of the story has to solve his own problems. He can and should have the support of others, but resolution has to come from him. This empowers kids to take responsibility for themselves. This film intelligently complies with both rules.
While the subject of cyber bullying is heavy, the movie is not. While it is a drama, there’s enough light humor to balance the seriousness. It does expose the dangers and effects of the subject, but it presents them in a reasonable way. The protagonist struggles, has support, and ultimately creates solutions.
Tah dah! Excellent family entertainment.
I might also note that my friend’s pioneering story is coincidentally similar to Richard Peck’s in that he left a prestigious teaching position to write books for middle grade and young adult readers during an era when those genres were seriously bereft in quality literature.
I’m such a sucker for a Renaissance man.