We’ve had one basic goal since we started making low-budget films 10 years ago… to make our money back.
Inspired by the fellows at REwindVideo.com and Microcinema Scene (now called Common Film) we embarked into the world of microcinema filmmaking, eventually shooting a digital feature suspense drama called The Box. It was pretty good. Solid script, solid acting. Sure, it had the scars from its ultra low-budget, but it wasn’t half bad. I had invested a couple of grand into the project and was hoping to make my money back.
Then I went to Best Buy.
As I walked into the electronics giant I found a bin of DVDs for sale. I scanned the contents looking for some film nugget when I came across The Pelican Brief, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, directed by Alan J. Pakula. All great talents in an above-average flick based on a bestselling novel… and I didn’t buy it.
As I walked away from the bin I realized if I was not willing to spend $5.00 on an entertaining Hollywood film with talented stars, then who was going to buy my solid little film for $20 with no budget and no stars?
I realized that trying to be plankton in the Hollywood cinematic ocean was not the right approach. I could never compete with Hollywood. Sure, maybe I could get lucky like Tarantino or Rodriguez or Soderbergh, but I’d probably have a better chance of getting hit by a meteor on the way to cashing in a winning lottery ticket. No, I had to re-evaluate my approach.
At this time in my life I was also re-exploring the faith of my childhood. I’ve always been a “happy Catholic.” I’ve never allowed human failings in the Church to impede with my relationship with the Almighty. But, I had also never really understood this immensely deep faith. I grew up with it, but never made it my own. So, I started reading and researching and understanding and believing more and more.
About this same time The Passion of the Christ was released. Beyond its spiritual impact, the monetary success was far beyond anyone’s expectations. Hollywood, notorious for jumping on the financial bandwagon with weaker copies of successful genres, did something I never expected.
They did nothing.
To my surprise there were no big-budget Hollywood-produced Christian epics being churned out. Sure, they could come out with multiple historical dramas before Passion (Gladiator, Troy and King Arthur) and far too many animated penguin comedies afterward, but they didn’t produced one Christian film to take advantage of this previously unknown economic force… the film fan who happens to be Christian.
Hollywood’s silence could only come from two sources… either they were unwilling to make Christian films, which is financial lunacy considering Passion‘s mega-payday, or they simply were incapable of making Christian films.
Either way, I saw an opening. A niche waiting to be scratched. And I saw a way to combine my newly reinvigorated faith with my lifelong love of filmmaking.
Sure, the Christian niche film market is a much smaller pond, but there are substantially fewer fish striving for dominance. I started watching every Christian film I could get my hands on. I started researching budgets and returns and quality and approach. Over the years I’ve found some very interesting results from my research and it made me realize there is a great opportunity in the Christian niche landscape.
So, in 2008 we officially created Sonlight Pictures, LLC. We have a five year plan to produced shorts, build name-brand recognition and trust, and eventually leap into the feature film arena. The Christian film market is screaming for quality entertainment with a Christian slant. We hope to be the leader in providing such entertainment.
Oh, and in the process, we hope to make our money back.