.:Targets (part 1)

January 22, 2009 at 1:23 am (Uncategorized)

There’s a certain established forum that I frequent regarding faith and filmmaking (ok, I’m a moderator).  A lot of it devolves into complaining about the state of popular storytelling, and all the particulars that lead to the disliking of the elements therewithin.  There are good conversations to be sure, but there’s also a lot of in-fighting when right meets left (read: just right of center, usually).

The San Antonio International Christian Film Festival recently concluded.  Among many of their goals is one of creating an alternative ‘replacement’ industry for Hollywood.  I’ve asked many probing questions to the denizens of the forum as to what exactly the goals of this industry are, and how they plan to go about accomplishing them.  I’m not sure too many people have those answers yet… but some musing on the idea of a Christian film industry to replace Hollywood brought some thoughts up…

As I see it, here are the possible endgames:

  1. A movie industry that runs parallel to mainstream emerges (such as the CCM industry) that caters specifically to safe and family oriented material.  “Christian Entertainment,” if you will.  They will still continue to craft evangelistic films, but they will be primarily preaching to the choir since this replacement industry will be supported by its core group (which still doesn’t even agree on content… more on that in a bit).
  2. More films are created with rising production values, start getting more Christian butts into theaters to support the films (such as Fireproof), and they carve out some of the nicer weekend release dates that mainstream fare might wish for.

As I understand it, most Christian films (quality qualms aside) tend to reach out for evangelistic purposes by putting what boils down to a sermon in their film (something usually seen for entertainment’s sake).  Audiences are fairly savvy to marketing and online research, so those that have little to no interest in sitting through a church service on Sunday will have little to no interest in sitting through one of these films.

.:Origins
I believe a large part of the frustration with Christian cinema is that some camps find a film either too preachy, or the Christianity too latent.  This is not to say that there is a middle road that a film can have, but that different groups in Christendom have differing opinions on what a Christian flick should be.  If it doesn’t fall into their camp, then it isn’t a worthwhile endeavor.

A lot of Christians receive their stories and their storytelling style understanding from the many Sundays listening to sermons… sermons that have bullet points and tend to repeat those points so that the person communicating is not unclear in their message, and that the people leaving the Church have an understanding and a remembrance of what was just taught.

Now translate that to film… not much subtlety.  Not much in the way of trusting the audience to understand what is happening… sound familiar for Christian flicks?  I think there is a trend, and it is an unfortunate one.

That’s enough of a minor rant for now… more to come in Part 2.

-Ryan

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