Saturday, July 26, 2014

Editorial: Helping the industry?

Christian film producers need to create higher-quality movies with biblical truth

In a society where movie stars are regarded as idols and people wait in line for hours on end for movie premieres, Christian films and production companies need to step up their game and start not only creating movies that present biblical truth, but also producing quality films.

Many Christian films are not taken seriously. According to an article in Relevant written by Scott Nehring, audiences no longer expect anything of quality when it comes to Christian films. The films have “become synonymous with substandard production values, stilted dialogue and childish plots,” according to Nehring. Part of the reason for this could be attributed to the fact that the companies that produce these films are independent companies and do not have the big bucks that come with names such as Universal or
Warner Bros.

But should a lack of money really affect the quality of the script or the message being portrayed? Movies such as “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof” are produced by churches and, while they present a clear message of the gospel, they do not warrant the same amount of respect as a film such as “The Passion of the Christ,” because they lack appropriate funding, effective scripts and come across as cheesy.

Nehring pointed out that, while culture was changing during the 1960s, Christians hid away and did not grow with the social changes.

“Our reaction was to build a cultural wall around ourselves complete with self-prescribed content filters and an isolationist attitude,” Nehring wrote. “This cocoon was a comfy, safe place for Christians, but the cocoon became a time capsule. We spent decades discussing what we hoped the world was like rather than dealing with how things are. Our isolation also bred well-intentioned but poorly trained artists. Instead of playing with the big boys, Christian filmmakers remained in the minor leagues.”

True, there are some good films out there that have a bigger budget to hire professionals and have appeared in the “big leagues.” Films such as “To Save a Life,” “The Nativity Story” and “The Passion of the Christ” prove that it is indeed possible to produce Christian films that are taken seriously.

One issue with Christian films is the content restrictions. It seems as if Christian writers and directors are afraid to produce movies that have violence, language or sexual content because, after all, these things are sinful. However, these are real-life issues. These are issues that Christians struggle with.

Movies such as “To Save a Life” do a better job of portraying accurately what people struggle with. The movie does not need to contain unnecessary sexual scenes or an abundance of four-letter words, but having scenes where the consequences of these sins are shown can lead to beneficial results, such as the audience having a better understanding of the forgiveness of sins.

Some would argue that it does not matter how the message is getting out there – the important thing is that people are hearing the gospel, whether it is from a major motion picture or from a small, independent film company.

But to this argument, I would say that it is detrimental to have films that paint a picture of Christians as unprofessional and unable to be taken seriously in the industry.

I also believe that presenting the gospel in a glamorized fashion poses potential danger. People watch a Hollywood version of the Bible and see it as only an entertaining story.

“The Bible” series on The History Channel is one example of this. According to an article on Stand Up for the Truth, there were Christian viewers that were not exactly thrilled with some liberties that the writers took with various Bible stories that added an entertainment factor.

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