|FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Melany Ethridge - 214.912.8934 cell
Whitney Kelley - 972.267.1111 office
JOE CAMP TO PEN: 'GOD ONLY KNOWS!'
Movie Producer's Pain Turns Into Lessons in Trust
Dallas, Texas - Joe Camp, passionate speaker, author, filmmaker, and creator of the canine superstar Benji, is accustomed to success. His first Benji movie was ranked by Variety as the # 3 picture of the year. Against all odds, because the movie and the distribution were both handled independently with no help whatsoever from Hollywood studios or distributors.
Camp speaks of his successes around the country, motivating and inspiring others to reach beyond their own expectations. Dare to Dream, one of his most popular presentations, is built around turning a "floppy-eared notion of an idea into the world-wide phenomenon of Benji." A promotional line on his website states that "Joe talks about personal success in terms that he thoroughly understands because he's been there and done that."
So it came as quite a blow, when after sixteen years, Camp mounted a new Benji movie that fell short of his past successes. A film that Camp believed fervently would send a message to Hollywood that audiences still wanted good family entertainment that isn't loaded with bodily excretion humor and sexual innuendo; family entertainment that not only entertains but possesses positive values. But the box office came up short.
"I was in such a depression," Camp said. "God was intimately involved in the making and financing of the film. He paved the way. Slammed doors, and opened new ones, all for the better. Always for the better! There was mission in His madness. Everything pointed to good numbers for the film, toward sending the message to Hollywood that parents still cared. We had been working for seven years! Where was God on opening day? What happened to the message? I was devastated."
The film gathered more critical raves than all the other Benji movies put together plus exit polls reporting that 97% of all age groups recommended it. But, despite promotion and exposure that would be the envy of any movie marketing effort, Joe Camp's new film Benji Off the Leash was smothered at the box office by the likes of The Exorcst 2 and Without A Paddle . It was overlooked by the same audience that was crying for more family-friendly fare.
Or was it?
"My faith was being tested," Camp said, "and I was coming up in the red. This was personal. It was more than just work and effort. We had turned down money from Hollywood studios just to keep it safe for all members of the family. To keep out the innuendo, the four-letter words, and the violence. We were certain that's what parents wanted.
"I started writing," Camp said. "Call it diversion. Call it therapy. Spill it out into a computer, capture the pain in print. Maybe it will add perspective. Maybe seeing it, reading it, will enlighten."
The result will be Camp's fifth book, God Only Knows! , an experience he promises will be an emotional and spiritual journey that will carry the hope of changing lives. Camp says that he had never worked harder to finance and produce not only the best movie he could, but to make a statement that one can put food on the table and, at the same time, make a positive difference in people's lives. But the answers he was apparently receiving seemed to say: nobody cares.
God Only Knows! will explore in a personal and emotional way what it really means to give yourself to God. It will answer Camp's questions about where God and the audience was on opening day, and what happened when the DVD was released. And the book will dig into the tough choices parents and kids need to be making in today's media driven world.
Camp, one of the most successful independent filmmakers of all time, has become one of the nation's most respected and most inspirational voices for responsibility in the media. He has written three novels from his own screenplays (including the Harper-Collins published novel of the 2004 film Benji Off the Leash), and the inspirational book Benji and Me written to inspire those who might stop short of their potential. The book chronicles the difficulties experienced in trying to get the original Benji movie off the ground and instills the faith that anyone can still make a difference in this world, not only for themselves, but for others as well.
In recent months, the writer/director and his floppy-eared star traveled the nation in advance of the new film, promoting the movie while passionately making a case for Hollywood to "clean up" their family films, and extolling the values of adopting pets from shelters. These two amazing compatriots accumulated appearances on Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, Hannity and Colmes, Janet Parshall, Michael Medved, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, American Family Radio, Salem Radio, Living the Life and the 700 Club, Agape Press, Crosswalk.com, Associated Press, ABC Radio, Associated Press Radio, Ladies Home Journal, The Star, CNN several times, Fox News,
CNN Radio, Delilah , Allen Kable, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, Primetime Thursday, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Westwood One, plus local stations and newspapers in virtually every major market across the country.
Evidencing the universal affection for the canine superstar, when Camp struck out across the country in the Fall of 2001 to find the new Benji in an animal shelter, media flocked to follow him around. The American Humane Association had reported that the original Benji's rescue from a shelter caused more than one million adoptions. Camp wanted to recreate that model. Local and network television, radio and newspapers covered the search and the ultimate selection of a new Benji generating more than one billion media exposures for the efforts of shelters and rescue groups all across the nation.
Camp has written, produced and directed seven theatrical motion pictures (including all of the Benji movies) cumulatively grossing well over the equivalent of $600 million in today's dollars. Benji Off the Leash was released theatrically on August 20, 2004. DVD release date: December 28, 2004.