Film producer shares experiences with Sacred Hearts School students
LAHAINA – With 50 colorful years as a film producer and as a close associate to famed evangelist Billy Graham behind him, Napili resident Bill Brown recently spoke to seventh- and eighth-graders at Sacred Hearts School.
The students had finished reading the popular book “The Hiding Place.” The book became a successful and award-winning film produced by Brown.
Written by Corrie ten Boom, the story details the work she and her Christian family did to save the lives of scores of Jews in Holland during World War II.
This work landed most of her family in concentration camps, where several of them died, including her father.
With her sister, Betsy, Corrie herself spent many months of torture in Germany’s Ravensbrook Concentration Camp.
Betsy died there, but Corrie, through a clerical error, was mistakenly discharged. This gave her the opportunity to travel the world to “tell of God’s love for mankind and His faithfulness to those who love Him.”
Brown, who spent many weeks with the author making the movie in Holland, showed large pictures to the students and told stories regarding the making of the film.
He told how the planned budget for the $2 million film became too expensive for the Billy Graham organization to produce, so it was cancelled.
Determined to see it made, Brown, knowing that over two million people had read the book, sent out news releases and letters asking readers to join a “Hiding Place Family” and donate $3 or $4 a month for one year while it was being produced.
More than 44,000 people responded, and the film was funded before it was ever released.
Following Brown’s stories, the students asked questions – many of them deep and meaningful.
“This was a group of sharp young people,” said Brown, “who obviously had studied the story well and were aware of the book’s purpose of sharing God’s message of love to others. What a delightful experience it was for me.”
Prior to moving to Maui ten years ago, Brown traveled the world setting up and directing many of the earlier Billy Graham Crusades, including New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1957 and London’s Wembly Stadium in 1966.
“I was kept so busy that by the time the oldest of my two sons was 14 years of age, he had had 21 different homes,” Brown said.
Brown, who has been married for over 59 years to Joan Winmill, a former English actress converted in the 1954 Graham London Crusade, retired 14 years ago but now is working again with Billy Graham, who turned 95 on Nov. 7.
Brown said, “At 86, each day I spend four hours on the phone, thanking, counseling and encouraging as many as 60 people who have shared in Billy Graham’s work and ministry,” he concluded.