.:Targets (part 2)

January 23, 2009 at 4:32 am (Uncategorized)

After a brief history (or at least my perceptions) of the Christian film industry… I think it’s time to deliver what could be seen more of my take on film, my goals, and my understandings of my current path.

To me, film is an art.  It’s the picture, the framing, the lighting, the story, the character, the score… everything.  It is a very collaborative artform that can have many end uses.  Some feel that creating for an audience means you sell out to get more posteriers in padded chairs… some feel that making films for the sake of art is pretentious.

You can’t make everyone happy.  Easiest way to become critic-proof is to die… and then that wears off after time…

So while I’ve come to accept that I am in a field where my success or failure will be more or less determined by others’ opinions of my abilities and work, that my ambition in telling stories is to ask the questions that delve me deeper into understanding of myself and how things work.  I’ve decided not to bring my art to a point where I’m telling people how to live or what to do… but more ask myself how I’m supposed to be living, and what I should be doing with my life.

When I write, I ask questions.  For Greyscale, some of the main questions asked are:

  • What would happen if I forgave people more often?
  • What would happen if people forgave me more often?
  • What does forgiveness even really look like?
  • How does a person’s life change whether or not they are forgiven?
  • Can a person understand forgiveness unless someone has forgiven them?

Questions like that are (to me) deep at the root of daily existence.  In the end, I posit forgiveness in the choices of the main character, and show how the rest of the cast are little more than different hues on a grayscale because of different circumstances… what they were born into, choices they’ve made, and if forgiveness was something granted to them or given by them… and whether or not they’ve accepted the idea of either.

I’m sure a lot of this forethought will be lost entirely on 99% of my audience… but I’m not going to try to hammer in my musings.  If anything, I feel that asking questions is a far more honest platform to create art from, and I can only hope that someone will watch the end credits thinking about forgiveness and love in their lives.

The funny thing is… I don’t expect much in the way of support from the Christian film industry.  I’m not making anything resembling something that is from their blueprints.  I’m showing things that aren’t pleasant… death, lies, deceit, murder… damaged goods.  But, light can’t be discerned without the dark… hills without valleys… etc.  Some won’t agree with my content, and won’t look past the fact that someone was just shot… or that the main character enters the movie bloodied and battered (on multiple levels, but I don’t expect anyone to read that much into a film anyway…)

.:Nomenclature
I’ve had many, many people ask me if this is a Christian film.  I tend to ask them what a Christian film is (an appropriately loaded question).  There’s no altar call, there’s no overtly religious character that steers the protagonist in the right direction… it’s just a tale of a lot of hurting, broken people that find themselves tangled in either embracing or trying to escape either their past, present, or future (how’s that for broad?).  The movie is being made for the most part by Christians.  We pray before we say “action” the first time of the day (a bird defecated in my hair on the first day I forgot… I thought that was humorous).  If that isn’t enough for some people, then so be it.

I will admit that it is difficult to take that Greyscale most likely will not be widely accepted (I’m supposing) by the crowd at ChristianFilmmakers.org because of some of the violence and other elements in it.  If any of you are reading, I hope you take solace in the thought that nothing I’ve included I felt was gratuitous.  Bad isn’t rewarded, good isn’t forgotten.  The story is intended for anybody that is mature enough to handle it.  I’m guessing it’ll come in at PG-13.  I wouldn’t want children to see the violence, personally.

.:Defense
I’m not looking forward to having to defend my choices, but I know that if I continue on this path, I’ll have to do so continually.  I suppose there just comes a point where one gets used to it and continues to ask the questions and tell the stories that one feels led to tell.

-Ryan

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2 Comments

  1. rose said,

    Hi- I’ve been reading about your film on variety, etc, and want to make sure you know about IFP’s independent Filmmaker Labs, a workshop for first-time directors. we’d love to consider your film for the project, but i cant’ find your contact info online, so hopefully you’ll check your blog comments. send me an email & lets talk. sorry that this isn’t the most professional mode of communication! thanks -rose

  2. Luke Holzmann said,

    Ryan,

    I think you’re onto something here. I’ve enjoyed these two posts. However, the wide range of what is “acceptable” in Christian films–and, more applicable to your post, what is “gratuitous”–varies greatly from group to group. I shot a film for a “Christian Film Festival” and was berated because I had my actress jogging in shorts and a tank-top. It was deemed far too “gratuitous” and I was labeled an evil man bent on poisoning the minds of good Christian folk everywhere.

    I didn’t really expect that, but, in hindsight, I should have [smile].

    May you continue to pursue creating the art God has enable you to create, and may it impact many people for good… even if it “only” entertains them and plants a few ideas about forgiveness and love.

    Keep up the great work!

    ~Luke

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