Part of ongoing series: The Future of Faith in Film and Television
A small voice crying in the wilderness, making the argument that creating a Christian film industry is absolutely the last thing that we Christians should be trying to do.
by Nate Fleming | Thimblerig’s Ark
That’s the phrase that kept coming to mind as I started to write a blog post where I, as a Christian, was going to argue against the building of a Christian film industry.
After all, Christians have been trying – on some level – to create a Christian film industry since movies began, and some would argue even earlier. There were the Billy Graham films of the 1950’s, the apocalyptic Thief in the Night movies of the 1970’s, and a smattering of attempts by different Christian filmmakers during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but these movies barely registered on the radar of people outside of the church. As far as Hollywood was concerned, Christian movies were provincial affairs, unworthy of notice.
Then in 2004, Mel Gibson shocked everyone to attention with his blood-soaked account of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus – The Passion of the Christ, a film that cost 30 million to make and earned over 600 million.
Hollywood finally stood up and took notice.
It was as if Gibson, by successfully tapping into the largely untapped market of the “faith based audience”, had singlehandedly uncovered the fabled lost golden city of El Dorado, and the L.A. conquistadors immediately set about strategizing how to best invade and conquer this shining city on a hill.
The Armani-suited conquistadors didn’t waste time, but began attaching themselves to little-known Christian filmmakers who seemed to appeal to the Christian masses, eventually inking deals with the Kendrick brothers (Facing the Giants, Fireproof), Pureflix Entertainment (God’s Not Dead), Cloud Ten Pictures (Left Behind), and many others – helping provide the finances and distribution channels that would permit these filmmakers and film companies to continue making and marketing their products for the Christian audience.
And in the past couple of years we’ve seen several well-known individuals from outside the filmmaking industry also try to tap into the Χριστιανός zeitgeist – Rick Santorum, Glenn Beck, Willie Robertson, to name a few – all doing their part to try and build up a Christian (or politically conservative) filmmaking industry in their own image, or at least one that lines up with their own personal theological interpretation of the faith or political ideology.
And now, here we have this little blog, a small voice crying in the wilderness, making the argument that creating a Christian film industry is absolutely the last thing that we Christians should be trying to do.
Here are my three arguments why a Christian Film Industry is a really, really, bad idea…