Dear Christian Movie Industry,
I wish there was a shorter name for you like there is for the secular movie industry but there isn’t so I will need to stick with this address. As a fan of movies I have been rooting and cheering for you for quite some time now. I remember spending near $40 of my Christmas money to purchase a movie I didn’t really even care for just because I wanted the Christian movie industry to grow and I knew it wouldn’t happen if people didn’t buy the movies that were out there already. I have defended you in many arguments. I have a pretty large collection of low budget films on DVD (and a few on Blu-ray) because I support your efforts. I have been doing so for over 10 years and I will continue to do so. I believe in you! I can see the benefit in what you do and I use it whenever I can. In my church, I like to promote your movies through Church Movie Nights and I have had great success with these events. I am picky though in what I show. Out of all the films I have, only a handful would I deem worthy to show to a large audience. I see progress in your section of this industry, I really do. However, I am tired. I have worked so hard on my part to promote your work and even though I have seen progress, the progress is not as much as it should be.
You see, I saw the remake of Left Behind. It is said that the budget for this movie was $16 million. With that budget, these days you can produce a very decent movie. Yet somehow it came off worse than the one back in 2001. I understand, a lot of money probably needed to go to Nicholas Cage but I still feel like the product should have been better for that type of money. God’s Not Dead was said to have a budget of $2 Million dollars and I know that by the standards of film making that is not a whole lot but it is enough to make a decent film. I know a lot of people enjoyed it. Part of me did as well. But if you compare it visually and compare the acting to other films in the same price range it still seems inferior.
Now, I am a Pastor, not a film maker, and I know you could say “I won’t tell you how to do your job and you don’t tell me how to do mine.” And you would be right but could I share with you some things I would like to see as a fan? Some things that I feel would help me see the progress I want to see? This is my opinion,
- FIND TALENT
This is a big one that I am not going to spend too much time on because I am going to talk more about it in point two but I have seen movies with the same budget as many of these films have far superior acting. I have seen movies with similar budgets with far superior writing. The same goes for directing. Seek out new people. I need to believe that God has given talent to people who would also believe in these projects. Find them.
- BE WILLING TO LET PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU DO THINGS
It seems like there is a trend in Christian film making, the same people who do the producing and the writing also do the directing and the acting. These are a lot of hats to wear. I would like to suggest that you don’t pick too many jobs. I know it can make things cheaper to make but it can also make it cheaper to watch as well. Pick one Job and do it to the best of your ability. Be willing to allow people better then you improve on things. If a movie is a passion project for you, I do understand but what will make your passion project the best it can possibly be? Maybe if someone else polished up your script? Or someone with a better eye directed it? I understand it might be hard to let other people play in your sandbox but you must be willing to work with a team in order to produce quality.
- SPEND REAL MONEY
Some of these Christian films are starting to make real cash at the box office. God’s Not Dead made $60 Million, take some out for the movie theater and promotion you still made out very well, your next film should reflect that. The budget should get higher, the quality should rise. You can now begin to play in the big leagues because many movies per year make $60 Million and are considered successes. You start to raise the quality and you might have a shot at making even more then that! I understand you have been doing better in this area, but things could still be improved.
- LETS TRY SOME TRUE STORIES
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a story, a testimony and thought “This would make a great movie.” What would be great about a true story is that you can let the story tell the message instead of a monologue by the main character. Stories about real people can be done very well and you don’t need to think “how can we make this message clear” you can let the life speak for itself. I think of movies like 42, or Unbroken and I think that in the hands of a Christian these stories could have been told in such a way that the life could have spoken louder. Not preached, but more prominent. It really is a fine line. Some lives to look into, Reggie White, Dietrich Bonheoffer, any of the thousands of Christians who escaped persecution in other countries… really, just go to a Christian Book Store and stroll through the Biography section. Try to look past the “Popular Christian Athlete of today” books.. not that there is anything wrong with them but try to find a story that lasts. Let’s even have a remake of The Cross and The Switchblade! But let’s do it right!
- MAKE MOVIES WORTHY OF CHRISTIANITY
I think Christianity is not only true, but when lived out correctly is the best religion and philosophy out there. As the best I feel it should settle for nothing short of the best. Take pride in your work. If a certain take didn’t look right or feel right, don’t use it. Reshoot it, it shouldn’t cost that much more since most of the independent studios are shooting with digital anyway. It will take more time but everything worthwhile does. Take advantage of the fact that you can now review each take on the spot. Don’t take for granted that you will make money with subpar films. You might, but sometimes respect is worth more than money. You are an ambassador of Christ, as a Pastor I know that our church service represents Christ to unchurched people. I want it to be quality, I want it to be loving, I want it to be a positive experience, yes, it won’t be for everyone but if I do things the best I can at least if someone doesn’t have a good experience it isn’t from lack of trying.
I will always give you the benefit of the doubt. I will always give you a chance. I will always look forward to what comes next with optimism. All I ask is that you continue to improve, learn, don’t settle. Reward my years of support by giving me quality! Grace and peace to you from our Heavenly Father.
(If you agree with these points I ask that you share it. Maybe it will impact someone with the ability to make a difference.)