I was recently called to share some thoughts on Christian film and its impact on culture. While you can hear the summary at the Moody Radio archives (my quotes are at the 20 minute mark), I wanted to share two insights on spirituality in today's films.
First, the message counts. In other words, there must be a significant issue at stake, regardless of whether the film is Christian or otherwise. And if a film is presented as a Christian film, the audience deserves to see something distinctly Christian in its message.
Fireproof presented a clear struggle of a guy attempting to succeed in his marriage without Jesus and how he ended up much better with the power of Christ in his life. House (the R-rated film based on the novel by Peretti/Dekker) failed to offer a clear Christian message and frustrated many Christian fans while not offering enough firepower to dominate at the mainstream level.
Second, quality counts. Bella succeeded as a pro-life film among a broad audience in large part due to its astounding quality. It lacked sci-fi special effects, but was a finely-crafted drama that deeply touched the emotions. When Christian filmmakers produce films with a striking message at the same quality as Hollywood, the true potential of Christian message can leave a deep impact.
Case in point: Sony + Grassroots films from Albany, GA = box office success. It takes the quality production (and marketing!) of Hollywood combined with the grassroots efforts of Christians to truly create a successful Christian film in mainstream culture. Mel Gibson, Sony, The Ultimate Gift, Expelled, Disney's Narnia films, and Veggie Tales have each figured out this formula.
One final note: There are lots of good Christian filmmakers out there without a Hollywood budget making films that help people without making millions of dollars. For example, I appeared in a cameo role in The Imposter, a film starring Kevin Max (of DC Talk) that may not be in next weekend's Top 10, but has helped touch some lives.
My friend Matt Mitchell produced Pray, Pray 2, and has more on the way, creating solid faith-based films to encourage teenagers. And if you've never watched a Rich Christiano film, you're missing out.
If you haven't rented or purchased a quality Christian-film recently, buy one to watch this Christmas break (I highly recommend my friends at ChristianCinema.com. Your purchase is your vote for future Christian films that will influence today's (and tomorrow's) culture.
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