Let’s be honest for a moment. Christian movies over the past two decades have been historically bad, plain and simple. Most of them have failed at the most basic of requirements (audio, lighting, believability) while others have been simply uncinematic (too preachy).
This has left Christian film consumers understandably gun shy.
Fortunately, things are improving. The Passion of the Christ kicked things off by showing there was indeed a market for Christian films. Hollywood’s response to that film has shown they are either unwilling or unable to fill that void.
Talented filmmakers are now trying to fill that void. Sonlight Pictures hope to be included in that mix.
A recent bump in the road to Christian film happiness is due to the fact that the traditional, proven distribution models have become suddenly fluid and unpredictable. This is not only effecting Christian filmmakers, but Hollywood as well. The end result is that it has left investors skittish, forcing filmmakers to use lesser resources which, in turn, can lead their projects down the same path that caused the failures of so many Christian films before them.
But, what can we do?
Well, three things…
1) Christian filmmakers: We need to support each other. What do I mean by this? We need to buy each others product. It should be part of every Christian filmmakers budget to buy Christian films. Call it marketing, call it research, call it whatever you want, but we need to buy each others stuff.
As a Christian filmmaker, if I am not willing to go out on a limb and risk $20 on a Christian film, then how can I expect the average public to make that leap?
Live your faith and support other filmmakers.
2) Christian film fans: Open yourself up more to investing some of your disposable income in Christian films. The quality of the stories, the production value and the cinematic message are all improving with each film. It doesn’t mean you have to buy every Christian film you see. It simply means that you put buying a Christian film ahead of some of the other ways you might spend that disposable income, whether that be eating out, buying a video game or buying a secular movie. We’re talking $20. For a family of four, that’s a lot cheaper than eating out.
If you do that only once a month, you’ll end up having 12 Christian films in your video library by the end of a year. And you’ll have supported 12 Christian filmmakers that have put their faith in the Lord. Put your faith in the Lord as well and support your fellow Christians.
3) The more financially fortunate Christian film fans should look for ways to invest or subsidize Christian filmmakers. Cinema is the most powerful medium in the world. Used well it can reach more people across the globe than any other technology or storytelling device.
With the fluidity of the distribution models Christian filmmakers will need assistance in gathering the necessary money to hire enough high-quality professionals required to make a cinematic experience at the level that today’s consumers demand.
Yes, we can make films on the cheap, but how much better could they be with professional actors or seasoned cinematographers or experienced production designers? How much better would Fireproof had been with a completely professional cast? Experience and talent take money. That’ s just the way it is…
So, what do these three suggestions mean? Well, all three of these come down to one thing… living your faith. That doesn’t mean you support bad filmmakers or have to buy everything that comes out without discretion. It means that Christian filmmakers need your support and as fellow Christians we should all look for ways to put Christian artists and business owners at the top of our priorities.
If we’re not going to actively support each other than how can we expect non-believers to do the same?
And, who knows, that leap of faith may bring into your life a film that will change you forever. That’s certainly worth the risk.
Here are some Christian films that I’ve seen that I would recommend:
Flywheel – the first film from Sherwood Pictures certainly suffers from low-budget scars, but is the best script they’ve written so far. A wonderful story.
Saving God – from Cloud Ten Pictures, starring Ving Rhames as a ex-convict turned pastor who fights an uphill battle to save a small, inner-city church and the people who attend it.
Facing the Giants – Sherwood Pictures second film does a very nice job of taking the idea of putting God first in your life above everything and showing how that bleeds through every facet of your life.
The Moment After – for rapture fans, this film is better than Left Behind or The Omega Code or any other apocalyptic Chrisitan film, because it boils down the rapture concept into a smaller story about two FBI agents assigned to find out what happened to the people who disappeared.
Hidden Secrets – a funny ensemble comedy about a group of friends who gather for a funeral. Old relationships are rekindled and faith challenges explored as they spend a memorable weekend facing spiritual challenges that have faced them all.
And here are some upcoming movies that look promising…
The Imposter – a Christian musician falls to addiction and his life spirals out of control. Only through faith can he overcome these challenges.
Bringing Up Bobby – A comedy about Bobby who is challenged by his brother on where he stands with God.
Purgatory, USA – Our own web series with the included award-winning Club God. The series has been called “filled with comedy” by the Dove Foundation.
A Widow’s Might – a group of filmmakers work together to help a woman save her land.
Standing Firm – a faithful son helps his father overcome the loss of his spouse and his loss of faith.
Those are just a few that are coming out. Take a chance and support a Christian filmmaker.