DAVID A.R. WHITE is a storyteller by nature. While he tells many stories through his acting, producing and filmmaking, a greater story encompasses them all: the calling of God on each of our lives. David was raised in a small Mennonite farming town outside of Dodge City, Kansas. At the age of 19, he moved to Los Angeles to begin what would quickly become a successful career as an actor, writer, director, and producer. He has produced over 40 films and starred in over 25 feature films. David’s career hit new heights in 2014 with the release of his film God’s Not Dead and then the follow-up God’s Not Dead 2, two years later, in which David both starred-in and produced. God’s Not Dead became one of the most successful independent faith-based films of all time. David’s newly released book “Between Heaven & Hollywood”, published by Zondervan, shares his hilarious journey of obstacles and successes from a Kansas Mennonite Community (his first film he ever saw was "Grease") to becoming the most visible actor/producer of faith films in Hollywood.
How did you get into the industry?
I was 19, when I moved out from Kansas to LA. I didn’t know anyone, but had this desire that I couldn’t shake off, to go into the entertainment industry. Even though I was raised as a Mennonite, and only saw one movie in the theatre out of the first 18 years of my life, it was still a passion that I couldn’t get rid of.
Any emerging industry trends?
I think one of the biggest trends in our industry is the advancement of OTT platforms. We’re seeing all these different platforms starting up as people want direct access to media and entertainment. The OTT platforms provide that. Ours is pureflix.com
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Pureflix.com is our greatest opportunity and challenge right now. We launched it in June of 2015, and have seen an amazing growth pattern with it. However, it is also the biggest hurdle to keep up with as it takes more and more content to fill in people’s appetites towards it. So, we have started doing original programming. We’ve produced 4 different series this year. The platform now has over 5,000 titles in it.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
When we founded Pure Flix, originally, our goal has always been to create and provide content that uplifts and inspires the human spirit, especially from a spiritual perspective, which is rare in our industry. We’ve seen more and more studies become involved in this over the last several years, but because of the volume of content we produce and distribute, we’ve managed to be the leader in this.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We’re going continue to release at a minimum of four feature films to the theaters every year. Also, we’ve been connecting more and more to different partnerships to continue to push out our base all over the world, while also working more and more with the majors as well.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
We’ve found our marketing strategies mostly involve getting the church to connect with what we’re putting out. If they do that, then they will back the release of a film. So, the question is, how do we reach them? As faith films have become more prominent, it has also bogged down the leaders, and made them less responsive. So a lot of their support for our films is that our content is trusted with them. They know we won’t put something down the pipeline and ask them to be involved unless it fits their needs. We reach them through social media, to pre-screenings, and to our past connections with the leaders, as they’re the gate keepers. Ultimately our key initiates revolve around a lot of these relationships.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Finding the right kind of content, has always been the most difficult. When we release material that doesn’t quite fit into our genre, it’s hard to get the churches on board for the marketing, and hence the profitability goes down.
I’d say when these times happen, they’re difficult.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
It’s been rewarding that we get so many messages and emails that our products/movies encourage, uplift and hopefully strengthen their relationships with God/Family/Friends in the process. And for that, we’re incredibly grateful.
How do you motivate others?
The thing that is great about the people who work with us, is most share a common vision of what we do. I know in a business one doesn’t get this too often, but for us and a lot of our employees, most work here not because it’s a high paying job, or provides an extreme stability to their lives, but because they believe in the messages that we as a company want to put out there.
Career advice to those in your industry?
I just wrote a book about chasing your God-given dream. To me the old adage still holds so true to me - follow your passion not your pension.
My first day in Hollywood, I met Leslie Nielson from the Airplane/Naked Gun movies (in a bank). I asked him what the secret of success was (I was 19) - he told me, “Perseverance kid, never give up”. “You’ll have your ups and downs, just don’t quit.” I think that is so true in all areas of life. There’s a lot of hardships that come and go, but as long as you keep moving forward, chase your dream and you’ll be amazed to see what will happen. It happened for me, and it can happen for you!