Filmic Flounderings & Faith

2004 wasn’t a great year for film by anybody’s standards not that there weren’t exceptions. “The Incredibles” and “The Passion of the Christ” were 2004 releases, but take out the sequels (Shrek 2, Spiderman et al.) and you’re left with a whole bunch of films that either told bad stories not worth telling, or told potentially good stories badly. Box Office revenues held steady because of increased ticket prices, but attendance actually continues to linger below those of recent years,

Given the rankings of this year’s films at Rotten Tomato, this year is not off to a great start. Of the top ten box office films only one got above 70% (The Aviator at 90%), Lemony Snicket got a 69%, but eight of the ten films got 50% or below.

For people of faith who also love film this is a call to expand our role beyond that of (1) critics of film (discerning what is appropriate and good), (2) communicators of gospel through discussion of films themes related to the gospel (as the Apostle Paul did at Mars Hill) it is time we become the (3) creators of film. There is an opportunity for those of us who know a good story when we hear it. C.S.Lewis and Tolkien believed the biblical story is the “one true myth,” and the success of their work indicates how that story can be retold effectively.

If it is true that we need to move beyond critiquing the appropriateness of movies, communicating gospel by using movies as a springboard into conversation and that we need to CREATE movies– then in addition to telling a good story, we need to learn the craft and business of filmmaking.

There are signs of hope. Phillip Anschutz’s Walden films is producing movies (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe comes out November 2005) and his Oaktree Capital Management Company is buying theatres
which provides some all-important distribution channels. ACT One
is equipping aspiring writers, and the LA Film Studies
program is educating Christian college students from Council of Christian Colleges member schools. Craig Detweiler graduated from USC Film School and Fuller Seminary and is heading up a film program at Biola University. Other Christian Colleges are developing similar programs.

Creating, critiquing and communicating, each is important and we need to be proficient in each, but our great opportunity is the creation of superb, compelling work, and such work originates in people with deep spiritual resources combined with exceptional talent, hard work, experience and the willingness to earn the right to be heard in an industry that needs help, but often fears and rejects people of faith.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 12, 2005 by | No Comments »

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