[ ABOVE: Photography by Will Crooks ]
Erik Weir and Bill Reeves are partners in the faith-based film business.
They met four years ago over dinner in Spartanburg with film director Alex Kendrick and producer Stephen Kendrick.
That spawned a mutual interest between Reeves and Weir.
After their families met and they played golf together, the two men signed an agreement in June 2013 to become business partners.
Reeves is the founder of the Nashville, Tenn.-based WTA Group, which helps develop, brand and market products with a Christian view.
Weir is founder of Greenville-based WCM Global Wealth, an investment adviser firm.
Since 1988, Reeves has worked in Christian retail roles, then with Word Entertainment/Warner in distribution support for recording artists such as Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.
In 2009, he launched The WTA Group to develop his business, and he has led marketing campaigns for such films as “90 Minutes in Heaven,” “The Ultimate Life” and “God’s Not Dead.”
The agency also steered the release of films such as “Heaven Is for Real” and “War Room.”
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Finding deals, finding money
Reeves’ company is a service provider to filmmakers, handling marketing, distribution and consumer-product licensing.
“Erik and I have often joked, in its simplest form, that my job is to find the deals. And Erik’s job is to find the money,” Reeves said.
“Ninety percent of our business is faith-based film because it’s the most underserved audience in the film business.”
The core of their work is spiritual, not political, Reeves said.
“We tend to avoid the political issue because we think the faith that we’re trying to convey is relevant to all people, whether they’re Democrat or Republican,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we want to share the hope of Christ with the world.”
Weir said the two jointly decide which movies to invest in or help finance marketing efforts.
“What we’re trying to do is – me from the finance side and the structure side and Bill from identifying artists and the opportunity side – help to increase the level of play in the faith-based arena and provide financing and returns for those who participate,” Weir said.
“War Room,” a 2015 film directed by Alex Kendrick and co-written and produced by Stephen Kendrick, is a faith-based drama about the power prayer can have on marriages, parenting and other life events.
The film has grossed more than $67 million, according to IMDb.com.
Reeves and Weir came to the faith-based business in different ways.
Reeves, who lived in Graniteville as a child, saw his parents divorce.
At age 15, he attended a youth camp at North Greenville University.
At a devotion one morning, looking out at the mountains, he felt a call from God to minister, Reeves said.
“I didn’t know at the time it would be through entertainment,” he said.
Weir, who grew up in a Christian home, was in an automobile accident as a young boy and began stuttering.
It took him two days to be able to say his name in school.
“Working through that, and persevering through that, through speech therapy and all the different things, and being teased as a child, it made me fairly goal-oriented and driven to be known for something other than a kid that stuttered,” he said.
He worked hard and became successful, but it taxed his marriage and family. About age 40, he hit a wall.
“By God’s mercy, he allowed me to see that,” Weir said.
He realigned his priorities and his faith became the hub of his activity, he said.