The Independent Christian Film Movement; a movement that has been a great boon for Christian culture-shapers, while at the same time striking at the very root of Hollywood's Satanic dominance. Have movies been a great influence for evil in the past? YES!!! So don't you think it's about time we as Christocentric filmmakers change that? Have you noticed that for every good thing God gives us, the devil tries to warp it and use it for his own evil purposes? He's done the same thing with the media! Visual media is, in my opinion, the most powerful means of communicating messages to others, and is therefore a great privilege as well as a fearful weapon to use. With added power, comes added responsibility, and that is the main reason I am thrilled to see young (and old) filmmakers banding together to make films that powerfully portray Biblical truths in a God-honoring way. In this post, I'd like to comment on some of my favorite films, mentioning how their producers have been able to fight against the worldly tide during a time when audiences are crying for "movies of passion".
First of all, I'd like to mention Fireproof, the film I mentioned "in passing" in my last post. The main point of this film is honoring your marriage: "Never leave your partner behind, especially in a fire!" Following a hardworking fireman who runs into burning buildings to save people he doesn't even know, while at the same time letting his marriage burn to the ground; this film powerfully portrays the struggle people go through in denying their own wants for the good of their family. The reason I'm mentioning it specifically though, is this: I forgot to state in my last post that another MAJOR thing that added to making "Anne of Avonlea" become one of my least favorite movies was the lack of reserve shown between actors Megan Follows (Anne Shirley) and Jonathon Crombie (Gilbert Blythe). At the end of the film, they both kiss; the only reason being that they get engaged, at least that's what I'd guess... For me, in real life, I would NEVER do that with a girl until after my marriage; even though I were engaged. But even though I'd never do it in real life, it gets even harder when you get into the acting scene. So many times, actors are called to lower their standards (not to mention the fact that most don't have any...) to fit the needs of the director. But the reason I'm mentioning that part of the last film is to contrast it with "Fireproof". During the course of the film, Kirk Cameron (from the Left Behind Series) played the fireman while some other lady played his wife (well that's crazy, I just forgot who she was/is...). Near the end of the film, when they finally get their marriage back together, it shows them hugging and kissing each other after the wife confessed her unfaithfulness etc. etc. I was very impressed to learn that for that shot, Sherwood Pictures - the directors of Fireproof - flew Kirk's wife all the way to Albany Georgia to play a double in that specific scene. I highly applaud them for respecting their actor's marriage, while at the same time producing a film about marital faithfulness. You would NEVER see that happen in a Hollywood film.
But moving on, I'd like to mention Take 7 Films as another classic example of what you can do as Independent Christian Film-makers. Making it into a family project, the three oldest girls are able to film their parents with the four youngest kids as a family on their films. Their main films, including "Dad the Hero in the Wild Wild West", are all based on how their Dad is a real-life hero to them. Why? Because he'll stand up for his family no matter what. The part I find neat is that they weave real life into their films. That way the honor they show their Dad in the films is how they live; which pulls me back to the comment I made in my last post: Most Hollywood actors are just fakes acting for the director. With the ICFs, it's a totally different story. You can hear the sincerity in the actor's voices, because they honestly believe what they are saying. With Take 7 Films, their movies are like home videos that take you right into their personal life.
Which brings me to another AMAZING Independent Christian Film-maker: Huemoore Productions! I have watched their productions blossom from a 15 minute film that they made for there Grandparents about what happens when their parents leave home (complete with water balloons), to a full scale feature film that won the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival Best Of award, worth $101,000! In each of their films, no matter how large or small, they have the whole family in it acting with their real-life names and characteristics. Again, watching their films is like watching wonderfully exciting home videos! When you have a couple 19 (or maybe they were 20...) year olds producing a film that strongly denounces the civil injustices often shown towards the weaker members of our communities, it creates quite an uproar! The power of the media is amazing, but to see so many young film-makers dedicated to spreading the truth of the Gospel is phenomenal!
Before I end this discussion on the Independent Christian Film-making movement, I'd like to close by mentioning one last film that has to be one of my favorites now: Pendragon! Set back in time to Briton in the year 411A.D., this film portrays one man's struggle between his duty to God and fellow men, and others who would have him give up his vision of freedom for the advancement of their own selfish desires. After watching this film, I was encouraged to stand up for what I believe; to "fight the good fight of faith" as Paul would say - with all my strength. No, thankfully we don't have any Saxon barbarians trying to steal our land or kill our families, but we do have enemies of even greater danger. Everywhere we look, Satan has set up traps to destroy the family. Even before God instituted the Sabbath, he instituted marriage. It is His plan that Christian families work together advancing the cause of Christ against indomitable (humanly speaking) odds. Satan knows the power one family, working together with the spirit of Christ, can have in destroying his kingdom and is therefore all the more impassioned to destroy this holy institution. For me, Pendragon helped me realize what was important in life: family, duty to God, and a vision of better things to come. It is for these things that I'm willing to fight, even if it requires "the last full measure of devotion".
And again, as you probably already guessed, Pendragon was made by Burns Family Studios; mainly two brothers' families getting together to make a film. All the main characters were either siblings or cousins, making it another family film, although this one was set back in time a few years! I was absolutely amazed at the quality portrayed in Pendragon, both in the period costumes as well as all the sets and design. It must have taken a LOT of work, but in my opinion it was well worth it!
There are so many others I could mention, but for lack of time and attention (of my readers of course; honest, my intentions are NOT to bore you, even though my posts sometimes look a little intimidating...), I'd better close now. I hope you were inspired hearing about different families who have dared to stand against Hollywood's dominance and produce God-honoring, family friendly films that inspire others to follow the Bible and not let their standards drop to meet the world's. It is my prayer that each one of you do the same in your personal lives, as we each strive to become more like our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Your fellow soldier for Christ,