Spread the Word:

“A Gift of Heaven”

Realizing a City of Light

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life'" (John 8:12). “For it is God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The motion picture is today's greatest storytelling medium. It is a "new canvas" painted with rays of light. The Academy Award winning cinematographer John Alton A.S.C. once said, "Delight in capturing bits of light at rest on things of beauty.” Our dream is to create a City of Light from the light of Christ where new stories will shine forth in the darkness with His love, beauty and truth.

“A Gift of Heart”

Communicating Christ's Way

"In all his teaching to the crowds, Jesus spoke in parables. In fact, he never spoke to them without a parable" (Matthew 13:34).

Jesus Himself spoke in parables because "seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Matthew 13:13). Today’s greatest storytelling medium is the “new canvas” of the motion picture. It is the “new cathedral for the masses.” City of Light Studios is a new faith-based Catholic motion picture studio. It is dedicated to developing independent films of spiritual, technical and artistic excellence that share the joy of the Gospel for a general audience through powerful cinematic storytelling. Some movies will be outwardly religious and biblical and others more implicit and moral; original parables for a new generation. It is a lay mission obedient to the magisterium and founded as an instrument of the "New Evangelization”.


Communicating the Church's Way

City of Light Studios traces its roots to April 22, 1999. On that day Richard and Stephen Payne, founders of Arcadia Films and now the principal executives and directors of City of Light Studios, had a private audience with St. John Paul II in his papal apartments in Vatican City. They presented the Holy Father with a book and film that they had produced on St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the Marian patron of his priesthood and papacy. He presented the Paynes with personal copies of his “Letter to Artists”, the release of which coincided with their audience. St. John Paul II blessed their mission in the new media, undertaken to Jesus through Mary, the Star of the “New Evangelization.” In his letter, the Holy Father called forth: “Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy. May you be guided and inspired by the mystery of the Risen Christ, whom the Church in these days contemplates with joy. May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always.”


City of Light Studios: A Fellowship

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

City of Light Studios is a project of City of Light, a 501(c)3 Registered Non-Profit that seeks to evangelize with the Gospel of Christ through the use of modern media. In the spirit of the medieval craft guilds, City of Light Studios is a Catholic fellowship of filmmakers dedicated to developing cinematic masterworks. City of Light Studios is also an “artists retreat”, where gifted professionals from around the world, committed to the vision of City of Light and to its spirit of excellence, come and receive support to develop their own projects; to write screenplays, draft budgets and business plans and form the new corporate structures out of which each independent motion picture can receive investment and be produced. Where daily mass, confession and Eucharistic adoration is offered in an atmosphere of contemplative silence, prayer and interpersonal dialogue. So, in a sense, City of Light Studios is a filmmakers' cenacle or monastery, a foundation for the creative development of cinematic art and storytelling.


City of Light: A Movie Studio

"Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me a truth and I will believe. Tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever." - Ancient Proverb

Once a project is green-lighted for pre-production, the new production company will center its operations at existing state-of-the-art studios. This is content and cost effective, with so many facilities underutilized and practically empty here in Connecticut (CFC in Stamford / Sonalysts in Waterford, etc.), around the US, Canada and throughout the world. City of Light Studios has established working relationships with some of the best international crews and production service companies in the world, such as Cinecittà Studios in Rome and Pioneer in Budapest; both of which offer competitive tax incentives for productions in country.


City of Light Studios: A Distributor

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:18-19)

Motion picture distribution is presently in a state of rapid transition. With the change of traditional studio/exhibitor relationships, the development of faith-based grassroots marketing and the rise of Smart TV's, there are more options to distribute a movie today than ever before. City of Light Studios is forging powerful direct partnerships with niche marketing specialists, small distributors and specialized exhibitors to theatrically release their pictures. City of Light Studios is also developing "The Stories Network", an Internet-based, content delivery system with an interactive/interpersonal dimension to extend the life of films directly into the home. Thus, the possibility of answering Christ's call to "make disciples of all nations", despite these dark times, has never been greater.


City of Light Studios: Works of Mercy

"I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matthew 25: 31-46)

City of Light Studios is applying the principles of Catholic Social Teachings (CST) to all its work. The filmmaker will retain ownership of their picture and return its investments. An independent outside accounting firm will monitor all funds. As a stakeholder, City of Light Studios will receive a percentage of each film's gross profits. It will apply what it receives to the development of future films and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, the aged and protect the weakest among us. So, great cinematic art becomes the means to change the world, not just in word but in deed.

Help Support this Mission

E-mail us to make your tax-deductible gift today and help transform our world one movie at a time distributed effectively to homes and theaters worldwide.

Frank Capra, Golden Age Director, "It's A Wonderful Life"

“It's a Wonderful Life sums up my philosophy of filmmaking… to exalt the worth of man - plead his causes, protest any degradation of his dignity, spirit... the theme of the film itself... there is a radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see, and to see we only have to look. I beseech you to look… What wisdom needed, to catch up with our runaway technology, was time. And time might be bought not with violence, but with compassion, that divine lubrication that soothes our abrasive human hates. Compassion might just possibly slow down the ticking till we could defuse the world with reason... My advice to young film-makers is this: don't follow trends, start them!”

Mel Gibson, Director, "The Passion of the Christ" & "Braveheart"

"This happens with actors and directors… they come to Los Angeles, and they believe it to be this kind of Mecca of filmmaking, and I think it used to be, but I don’t think it is anymore. You got a better chance of making a world-breaking phenomenal story… if you are local and you understand it, than you will have traveling to the West Coast of America. Nothing much is happening there now. I think it’s wherever the inspiration is… it’s a homegrown thing."


Krzysztof Zanussi, Film Director

"We need to go much, much further to discover a new form of religiosity adequate for a time of globalization and an era of high technology, when we are exposed to all religions at the same time... Film has a tremendous capacity to express what mystics were expressing in their writings... So I think cinema is capable of... transmitting the feeling of mystery through the senses... Basic to writing for cinema is to have a clear view of life, which applies to this particular story. But what is the problem? Scenes collide. We must have a consistent point of view as to what is good and what is evil... otherwise we confuse people. And this is the problem."

Help Support this Mission

E-mail us to make your tax-deductible gift today and help transform our world one movie at a time distributed effectively to homes and theaters worldwide.

Project Updates

Happy Birthday Richard Payne!

Today is my dad’s 77th birthday!  He has been such an incredible inspiration to my life and work.  His own life and work have been such a gift to the Church and to the world.  Born in Ottawa, Canada in 1938, after studies in Science, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Education, he was a school supervisor, a […]

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City of Light Studios – A New Direction

Dear friends, this is Stephen Payne, the co-founder of City of Light Studios. I wanted to take a moment to update you on the status and future of CoL. We have not given up on you or this vision. We are moving forward with CoLS as a production company for all of our future theatrical […]

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