Once upon a time (just after the earth began to cool, it seems), I was trained as an actor. In my last "day job," I acted on a regular basis - 10 years of short on-camera performances, plus some voice-over work. It was a nice break from sitting at the computer. I haven't been to an audition in - oh, say, 18 years.
That is, until tonight. I just returned from auditioning for a small independent film, "Breaking Man."
It's a "Christian film."
Whatever your thoughts are about "Christian films" and the "Christian film industry," consider this:
If we as Christians have any real hope of impacting culture for the cause of Christ - be it through business, art, preaching, or even film - our efforts must be excellent! We must use the gifts we have been given to the best of our ability.
Phil Cooke, CEO of Cooke Pictures and a respected consultant for faith-based, non-profit media, recently spoke of the great need in our society for stories that demonstrate morals and codes of behavior. He further mentioned the poor quality associated with Christian films. "But in spite of that great need, most films, television programs, radio specials, and websites produced by Christians are still poor quality, and have a limited audience. That's because for most Christians, the message is everything, and we've forgotten the power of a great story."
Cooke goes on to say that films "aren't about sending messages, they're about telling great stories." Just like the stories or parables that Jesus told.
I’ve spoken with many filmmakers who will get on a bandwagon to preach how films are ideal to express an emotion, demonstrate a way of life and inspire a change in behavior. Unfortunately, most Christian filmmakers just want to preach an overt message using poor quality production values. They miss the entire artistic beauty of the medium.
Cooke has written elsewhere about the fact that some Christian films will continue to tell Bible stories and preach (sometimes with a very heavy leather-bound hammer) - but as Christians become better filmmakers, more and more of their films will present truth without ever quoting a verse of scripture.
May it be so!
Soli Deo GloriaUPDATE 04/20/10: I heard from the producer of the film last night. I didn't get the lead, but a small speaking role. We begin rehearsals this weekend.
I've also written a follow-up post. You can read it here.