Christian Film makes History by winning FOUR AWARDS!

I long for the day, if it should ever come, when a Christian movie is done with such quality and skill that it could one day be nominated for an Oscar.  Do I think it will ever happen? I really don’t.  However, this year was a historic year in Christian Film Making.  For the first time in the 35 year history of the Razzie Awards, a Christian film has won.  And not just one award, but four! I know, I wrote about this before, but lets just say that I was not expecting four awards… and if either of the two Christian films nominated, I was not expecting this movie to be the one who won!  The big winner at the 35th Razzie Awards was Kirk Cameron and his film Saving Christmas!

The Awards won are as follows:
Worst Picture

Worst Actor – Kirk Cameron

Worst Screenplay

Worst Screen Combo – Kirk Cameron and his ego

I already laid out in a previous post that you can view HERE why this is a good thing but let me summarize.  This is not religious persecution, Christian movies have never even been nominated in the past, and if you wanted to mock Christians, the much lower hanging fruit is “God’s Not Dead.” I am not saying it deserved it, I am just saying it has name recognition, poor quality and a more overtly Christian message. The reason it was nominated was because finally, Christian films are being held to the standard of secular films.  It is a win for Christian movies!… well.. partly… See, in order to actually make this a win the Christian Movie Industry needs to take note! It needs to realize that they can no longer slide by with substandard films.  My hope is that this will lead to pressure to be mindful of quality while making a film.

Do I think it is fair that Cameron’s film was the winner? NO! I have not seen the film but it seems like a random pick to me. I felt Left Behind Should have won.  Do I also think the award for Worst Screen Combo is fair? NO! Actually, it was the only one of these nominations that actually made me feel they went too far.  I am a fan of Kirk Cameron, I am not one of those people who rolls my eyes because he is in a movie, the guy has talent and don’t even try to tell me he doesn’t! Some people roll their eyes because the movies he is choosing are very in your face Christian.  Do I feel there is anything wrong with that? No. Let the man make the type of movies he wants to make.  Hollywood if full of people who make movies with a message in it that they want to push.  Cameron has a message he wants to push.  A message that I personally like and agree with.  I am rooting for him to succeed in his efforts.  Do I think he has a big ego? I don’t know him personally but I have not seen anything that would make me say that especially over Nicholas Cage and his ego or Megan Fox and her ego.  By putting him in this category like this without doing the same to some of these others really does frustrate me but, oh well. It happened, time to move on.

What would I say to Kirk Cameron right now? If I was sitting next to him when he discovered he won four Razzies I would remind him that he is being watched.  That is a good thing.  However, the reason I think he was chosen over some of the other movies like God’s Not Dead is because he is Kirk Cameron! He has been doing this a long time and maybe some people are feeling that someone with his experience and name recognition should be capable of something better and to that I would agree.  Cameron has the resources and the talent to do fantastic things.  He really could be helping to elevate the perception of Christian films.  I would say:

“Kirk, can I call you Kirk? You had a bright career ahead of you.  You fell out of the spot light for a little bit but you came back into it.  You have fans and you deserve to have fans! Now is the time to elevate your name and in doing so elevate the name of the one you represent! Hire good writers for projects and don’t settle for anything less than great!  Find projects that are high quality! Guard your career because you have set yourself up as an actor who represents the name of Jesus.  When you find substandard projects and put your name to it you are also putting his name to it.  Now, I have not seen Saving Christmas, it was not playing anywhere near me so maybe this movie totally doesn’t deserve the flack it is getting but I do believe this advice is still relevant.”

Winning these awards is because the standard has been raised.  I am happy for this because this is the same reason I started this blog.  I want to help raise that standard! I want Christians to demand movies that are worthy of the name of Christ not just settle for movies that tug on your emotions.  Sometimes I feel this is all the Church has come to expect of God.  They believe God showed up at a church services because they became emotional, therefore if a movie makes me emotional than it is worthy of the name of Christ.  The problem is that having an emotional connection to a film does not speak to the quality.  We can have movies that are emotional… and good.  This is what I want!  This is what I want Christian movies goers to want! The capability is there! We just need someone to stand up and raise the bar for themselves! Mr. Cameron is in position to do that and I hope he does.  He can be the hero I am looking for within the Christian film industry.

So, congratulations on winning the Razzie! Congratulations that the film industry WANTS to take you more seriously! Congratulations for having the spotlight! Congratulations for being in the position to push Christian film making to the next step! I pray God blesses you and that through you we can be blessed by the content you will put out from here on out!

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‘Unveiled’ or ‘Touched By and Angel 2.0?’

Roma Downey and Husband, Mark Burnett, have been very active recently when it comes to faith based content.  They were the producers of The Bible miniseries which will be continued soon by A.D. Beyond the Bible, they are producing another miniseries called The Dovekeepers based on the novel by the same name that also has a faith aspect to it.  They are producing a movie called Little Boy which is a story about the power of faith and they are also producing the remake to Ben-Hur which is based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. However, this is not all they are up to.  The end of January Roma Downey and Mark Burnett announced another series they will be producing for NBC (NBC is where you will be able to watch A.D. even though its predecessor was on The History Channel.) This new series that is set to air during the 2015-2016 season (which usually begin in September) is called “Unveiled” it is about guardian angels that attempt to restore faith and save people in the midst of crisis. Sound familiar? Well, it should! Roma Downey because a house hold name during her time staring in the successful TV show “Touched by an Angel.” I am sure that this show came up in the discussions to create this new show about angels.

For those of you who where fans of “Touched by an Angel” this might be something you would like to try out.  Being that it is at the beginning stages of development I do not have much information on the project other than it is set to star Stephan James, an actor who just recently starred in Oscar Nominated Selma.  James is set to play a rookie Guardian Angel who is just learning about human suffering.  It should be interesting to see this project unfold as it is coming close to the normal premier time.  Will this show be anything like Touched by an Angel? Will it please the faith based community? Will the faith based community give it a shot? Time will tell!

Redeeming Love: The Movie… What happened to it?

With all the hype surrounding a certain sexually charged movie aimed at bringing in a large female audience I figured now would be a good time to write a little bit about a project that seeks to appeal to the female audience but do so by appealing to a different longing.

A few years ago my wife was told about a novel called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, she ate it up.  If you would ask her today what her favorite novel of all time was she would answer Redeeming Love.  I personally have not read this book because it did not interest me enough to invest so much of my time to read it (I love to read but I am slow) she did get me to read the Mark of the Lion series by the same author and I loved those books.  After my wife read this book and she handed it off to a few others and I saw how much this novel was loved I began to wonder, will this ever become a movie?  After all, this was a novel that has sold over a million copies and is still a mainstay on book store shelves today.  Go ahead, check Barns and Nobles book shelf, it’s still there.  When I looked into it I found out that the novel had been optioned for a movie adaptation by a studio that I did not know nor had they ever done a film before.  They were looking to Redeeming Love to be their first film.

This scared me.  I have seen plenty of Christian films get made only to let me down with its quality.  I could not find any information at the time about what plans they had for the movie.  A few months ago I went to see if there was any update and realized that the information about the movie had been taken down. Very sad.  The would be producer of the film shared a blog about what had happened. I intend to summarize what she wrote about her plans for the project but before I do, I would like you to think for a moment, my wife mentioned on Saturday, after leaving the mall that houses our closest movie theater and seeing a line for the movie like we have yet to see for any other movie.  Imagine if this movie was still on track.  Imagine if it was made and made well.  Imagine if they chose Valentine’s Day Weekend of 2015 to release the film.  What would have happened? Redeeming Love vs. 50 Shades of Grey.  I will tell you what would happen.  Redeeming Love would have been crushed! However, a movie is not simply successful if it wins the opening weekend.  Would any of the ladies lining up for 50 Shades have chosen to see Redeeming Love after finding out their showing of 50 Shades was sold out? Would it have helped the numbers for Redeeming Love? It would have been interesting.

WHAT HAPPENED

So what did happen to the movie and is there still plans for this novel? First let me tell you what happened to the film.  You can read the would be producer Christy Lee Taylor’s actual post HERE but some of the information she shared has changed my mind about her and the project.  I went from being concerned about quality to being disappointed that the property was not still in her hands.

The first thing you want to hear from someone who has purchased the rights to a film are that they did so because they were big fans of the novel.  Her love for the novel is what lead to her securing the rights. She tells the story of how she was able to get the rights in length in her post but what I was impressed with was her passion for the story.

Her vision was to create a film that transcended the “Christian film” name, not by removing the religious portions of the novel but rather by making the movie quality.  She was looking for a 30 million dollar budget. To put that into perspective, that is the budget of The Passion of the Christ.  She shares that she had found many people to partner with her if she was willing to make the movie for less than 5 Million.  This would have placed it in the same sphere as Mom’s Night Out.  She refused several offers like that because she felt that the story deserved bigger than $5 Million.  I think she was absolutely correct and I admire her for standing her ground.  Later, through a series of events she was able to secure Ralph Winter to come on board.  Does anyone know that name? well, he was the producer on the first 3 X-Men movies and he recently was an executive producer on The Giver. If I was looking to get something done like this I would turn to Winter.

On her blog she shares two photos, one of her with Jim Caviezel and the other with Hugh Jackman and makes the comment that they would have been great for the part of Michael Hosea. I am certain Jim Caviezel would have done the film and with the contact of Ralph Winter it would not be a stretch to see Jackman in the part either.

Do you see, everything I would be advising Christy that I would like to see in an adaptation of a bestselling Christian Novel she is doing.  She is on the right track to make a Christian Film that has the quality of a secular film with the ability to be profitable.

After several years the budget was lowered slightly, to about $15 Million, this should not necessarily be seen as her compromising rather the art form have become cheaper.  Several movie have been made with good quality for 15 million.

Unfortunately she was not able to secure the funds to get the film into production so the rights reverted back  and she is out of the picture.  This is truly a sad story in Christian film making.  Her project had the potential to be a game changer.  It had the potential of showing that Christian Films with good quality based on Christian fiction could be profitable.

NOW WHAT?

Well, the rights have now been picked up by a company called Cantinas Production-Development Co.  So someone is still working on a Redeeming Love film, but they will need to start from scratch and I have no idea who is pushing the project along.  Will they have the same love for the project that Christy had? Hard to believe they could.  We will need to wait and see.

Looking for a Valentines Movie with less ‘Grey’? (Trailer Included)

Every once in a while… ok… maybe it happens often… A Christian Movie will make it to theaters before I even realize it is coming.  If I would have known about this one I would have written about it soon.  Valentines Weekend is upon us and many couples like to go see movies that tie in with the theme of Love.  For some of these couples you might think the only option is “Fifty Shades of Grey”… well, for you readers who are looking for a movie that doesn’t include over 20 minutes of graphic sex or who like their films with less sadism there is an option! Well… if it is playing in a theater near you.

A Christian Romance by the name of Old Fashioned has the guts to open up against the “Grey” film! This brings a smile to my face but what makes me smile even more is that the advertising campaign takes that fact head on.  One of the trailers actually pokes fun at the fact that it is NOT 50 Shades of Grey and as I watched that first trailer I can tell you… I wanted to see it! I am not a fan of romances and most of the time I find them boring, however this trailer makes me want to see the movie just to reward an awesome trailer!

Now, I understand that trailer doesn’t show much of the story.  Well, Below you will find a more serious trailer about the themes and story of the film.  If this movie interests you, go see it! For some of my Michigan friends I have already done some of the work for you.  It is playing in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grand Blanc, Lansing and Midland. For you New Yorkers you can chose between New York City and Albany.  I know, Sad showing New York! For my PA friends you also only have two to chose from but no place I recognize as having close friends near by.  Go ahead! No matter where you are check HERE to see if it is playing near you!

Keep in mind, I have not seen this movie and I do not know about it’s quality, nor will I have a chance to review it anytime soon but if you happen to see it before me.  Let me know what you thought of it!

Common! That “50 Shades” trailer deserves some buzz!

PHOTOS OF THE ROMAN ARMY FROM THE SET OF BEN-HUR

The Following photos are not from any one source but rather images that various people took and then uploaded to places like Twitter and such.  These are from the filming that took place last week.  It doesn’t really show us anything more about the story.  However, the reason I wanted to post it was because I wanted to show that the scope for this film is large.  When viewing these photos I urge you to keep in mind that what you see will most certainly look different on screen as they will probably add more Roman soldiers to the back of the line or they might only show angles that give a large feel to what is there.  it is a very normal technique to use.  These photos are amazing.  I also think that the filming location is perfect.  It is meant to be Jerusalem during the time of Jesus and with these photos you can see the location really well.

For my previous posts of photos from the set of Ben-Hur Click HERE for the post of pictures of Ben-Hur on set and click HERE for the post of pictures of Jesus on set.

Ben Hur Army 1

Ben Hur Army 2

Ben Hur Army 3

Ben Hur Army 4

Ben Hur Army 5

MORE PHOTOS ON THE SET OF BEN-HUR… INCLUDING A LOOK AT JESUS!

Filming has already begun on the remake of Ben-Hur and with every high profile movie you have people who are just looking to snap a picture of what is happening on set.  Ben-Hur is certainly one of those high profile movies although it does seem that it is high profile because people seem so eager to hate it.  I am eager! I am eager to see this story brought to life so that I can share it with my son who will most likely not connect to the 1959 version as he would with one made in today.

I shared some of the photos of Ben-Hur himself on set, you can view those pictures by clicking here. However, the pictures that Dailymail.com posted yesterday are extraordinary. Why? Because they are photos of Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus.

As some of you might already be aware, both the 1925 versions and 1959 versions do to great lengths not to show the face of Jesus.  A neat gimmick, but in order to pull of that gimmick the role of Jesus had to be diminished from what it was in the novel. I do not believe it was a covert attempt to diminish Jesus but rather an inadvertent outcome of trying to pull off the gimmick. From these photos it is certain that that gimmick will be left in the past.  It certainly seems that Jesus will have a more predominant role in this remake than he did in the previous movies.  This is keeping more with the Novel and my hope is that it leads to the movie including the Garden scene.

Take a look at Ben-Hur (2016)’s Jesus!

Ben Hur Jesus 1

Ben Hur Jesus 2

Ben Hur Jesus 3

UPCOMING: Christian Adventure movie! Beyond the Mask (Trailer included)

Today’s post was originally suppose to be a review of the movie Pendragon: Sword of His Father.  It was a Christian Fantasy Adventure movie that came out in 2008.  If you read some Christian reviews on-line about this movie you will read such things as “Lord of the Rings quality” and other such non-sense!  I promise you, I never for one minute believed those reviews but I did want to see how they did.  Instead of trying to look at it and measure it up against The Lord of the Rings, a standard it had no hope of living up too.  I wanted to see how they did with the budget they actually had. From what I could find Pendragon had the budget of $50,000 dollars.  Already you can tell not to expect Lord of the Rings level quality which had a budget north of $100,000,000.  There is a pretty large gap between those two numbers.  It was also made by Burns Family Studios.  Basically Burns Family Studios is a home school Christian family that decided that there was not enough Christian movies that where of the genre they liked, Adventure.  I can sympathize, this would be my favorite genre and the genre I would strive for if I had the recourses to make a movie.  Almost all of the technical stuff was done by family members, and most of the acting.   Basically what Pendragon is, is what if you and your family made a movie.  When put into those terms, I can say Pendragon was impressive and much better then most families could put together.

Unfortunately I am not really reviewing Pendragon here, because I did not make it all the way through.  The quality was just too poor.  The acting too armature and the story too slow but the whole reason I was about to review a movie from 2008 was because I wanted to talk about their next film.  Yes, their first film was horrible but many directors and production companies have first movies that are not at the quality they are at now and I can say that within the mess that is Pendragon I saw potential and I saw passion.

Beyond the Mask

(Isn’t the Movie poster stunning!)

BEYOND THE MASK

For me I can look past a poor first movie if they then take that experience and cash that was gathered from the first movie and improve on it.  What would I recommend? Well, get a professional writer to write the script, hire professional actors, get professionals to help with the technical stuff and give us a product that actually lives up to what you originally sought to make with Pendragon.

Well, their next film comes out this year.  To my surprise it is being released to theaters! They have hired Paul McCusker who has written several novels and many Adventures in Odyssey episodes.  This guy has been at it a long time! They went and hired Andrew Cheney as their star (Who hasn’t done much but he is an actor), They hired Adetokumboh M’Cormack who can be seen in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Blood Diamond, Lost, and Heroes.  For their female lead they hired Kara Killmer who you can see as a current regular on Chicago Fire.  And last but certainly not least, they hired John Rhys-Davies! He is a true legend in the industry! He has appeared in such movies as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Last Crusade, and all three Lord of the Rings movies! So really, if Adventure/Fantasy is the genre they are going for, John is a natural go to guy! They have also hired several technical professionals.  All the check points are being hit for me to think that their second film could in fact be a huge leap forward in quality! Not to mention that a Christian Movie about a Masked Hero seems right up my alley. I can tell you, if the improvement is as large as it looks like it is from the trailer (seen below) of Beyond the Mask then The Burns Family Studio is a studio to really watch out for!