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November 2, 2010

Why Are Christian Movies So Bad?

One writer at 'Relevant' addresses, and tries to answer, the question

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In a reasonable rant over at Relevant magazine, Scott Nehring asks the question, "Why Are Christian Movies So Bad?"

The brief essay, excerpted from his book, You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens is long on stating the problem in terms we've heard before: Christian movies are "intellectually vacant," "disconnected from reality," and are known for "substandard production values, stilted dialogue and childish plots." He blames it not only on the filmmakers themselves, who are guilty of mediocre art (at best), but also the Christian audience, which he says should be more discerning and more demanding -- of excellence, that is.

His concluding paragraphs, entitled, "So what can we do?", include a few platitudes that sound great -- "we need great films," "we must demand quality" -- but are short on practical suggestions and application. Nehring likely offers more detail in his book (which I haven't read), so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt; I'll assume he gets more specific in those pages.

He's right that Christians "must demand quality," but what's that look like? Does it mean that we shouldn't pay $10 to see a lame Christian film in the theater, or $18 to buy the DVD? And that we should spend our money on excellent films instead? Perhaps, but box office statistics alone don't really tell us much about excellence, or whether films are worth our while (no matter how some folks might interpret those numbers).

To me, the main thing goes back to something that producer Ralph Winter (the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies) told me a couple of years ago: There's simply no substitute for a great education at a first-rate film school, years of hard labor in the trenches with the best in the business (and yes, that likely means working side-by-side with pagans in Hollywood), and paying one's dues with lots of sweat, heartache, trial-and-error, failure, and dogged, unwavering persistence. There's simply no substitute for it.

True, God might clearly be leading you to make a movie, even a "Christian" movie. But without such a background, it's unreasonable to think you can make a great one. It's hard work, arguably the hardest of all the arts to master. And it takes time. Prayer and God's leading are great, but alone, they're no substitute for mastering the craft. That takes years.

Comments

And the people said? Great article i agree full heartedly
wow settle for less than excellance i think our heart for morals, and doing the right thing blinds us i think C.s.Lewis said some about having excellant art i think.

This assessment reminds me of Mark Noll's book "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind". The 'scandal' of course is there is not much of an Evangelical mind. The same can apply to so many Christian films out there. There is very little mind behind them.

Take a look at "Liar, Liar" and "Bruce Almighty"... two movies that are not "Christian" in name but, IIRC, the director (Shadyac?) is... and the message those two movies puts out there is amazing. A movies isn't "Christian" simply because it was made entirely by Christians, a message can be portrayed without having to come from a 100% Christian studio.

My opinion on why "Christian" films are bad? Because they are really disguised sermons. If I want a sermon, I'll go to church (for free). And people know this, so good film makers avoid both making them (so you get good-intentions amateurs making them badly) and the public avoids seeing them (so they don't make money even if they are good). I've also not seen a single Christian film that makes me say "that's pretty close to reality", or "that was interesting", or "that made me think", or "good story there!" or "I enjoyed seeing that".

@John - Exactly. The same thing for much of Christian fiction. That's why I lean towards authors like Ted Dekker, Stephen Lawhead, and others that are Christian in their themes but don't right fluffy sermons. One thing my wife complains about is how in Christian novels there are long segments where the characters constantly quote scripture and, not just one or two verses, but whole passages and then expound on them for several pages. If I want a book on theology, I'd read a book on theology. Fiction is primarily about escaping, entering a different world with different people, but in a way that is realistic where we can identify with those people.

Film is the same. That's why Bruce Almighty so much to so many... a man with some real problems gets an unreal opportunity and, in the process, learns a lot about faith, about God, about God's mission ("Be the miracle") and about human nature.

Lord of the Rings was kinda a hit.

Maybe instead of looking down our nose on Christians who are making "Christian" movies, laughing them off as irrelevant and naive, we should affirm and encourage them for their efforts.

Who's going to go into "Christian" film-making if they're destined for ridicule?

Here's a question that'll test your heart: What's your opinion of Sherwood Baptist Church's films? Are you encouraged that they improve with each new low-budget film, and are you praying for their work? Or do you write them off as inevitably laughable?

Ted, why does it have to be either/or? Why can't we rightly complain that many Christian movies (and music and books) are weak in creativity and content and at the same time affirm those that are good?

When we have Christian book stores that won't carry love songs that are clearly meant for a married market because they might be misunderstood, or include warning messages on books, there is no question that art within the Christian market has some real issues being made, even it if is good. The problem that Mark brings up is very real. Without time and margin to grow in your craft we will never have authors, musicians or film makers that truly shine beyond the Christian world.

It is why many musicians are looking down on the "Christian market".

I'm a Christian working in Hollywood who is trying to get a few faith-inspired screenplays read by agents/producers. A couple of these scripts are finalists in respectable screenplay contests but as soon as a reader sniffs any faith-based element, it goes in the hopper.

Adam -- of course it can be both-and. Too often, though, there is no encouragement for those who feel the Lord's calling to make "Christian" films. Only ridicule.

Stan -- thank you for your efforts. It's got to be a challenge working in that environment. Keep up the good work, though.

I do need to affirm Mark's encouragement that Christian artists seek education and apprenticeships. I agree that that will help them develop and hone their storytelling skills.

Thanks, Ted!

As per the point of the blog, I have my degree and co-produced a low budget film for the SyFy network, as well as earning a daytime Emmy for writing/producing. But in big budget, mainstream Hollywood, everything is compromise and a Christian should not compromise their faith. To me, that's the real issue, not how much training one gets, although that is surely important. The artistic visions are there, the gatekeepers won't let them in without secular meddling.
I'm waiting on God.

Ted, why is one's opinion of the Sherwood films "a test of your heart"? Are you saying that if a person doesn't like the Sherwood films, he/she has a heart problem? Wow. That's a leap. FWIW, I think they've gotten better at filmmaking with each successive one. But not necessarily at storytelling -- Flywheel is still the best story they've done, and hardly anyone has seen it. And finally, there's plenty wrong with my heart, but my opinion of Sherwood's films has nuttin' to do with it.

I've seen several Christian movies and I have liked them all. Hollywood has a mega-million dollar budget, so they have all the glitz and glamor people look for. Believe me, I have seen PLENTY of horrible movies that came out of Hollywood. With the Christian movies, it's great not to have to worry about what is going to come up in the next scene. I appreciate the wholesome messages. Who cares if some of the actors won't get this year's academy award? I love the story lines.

I think one of the reasons that Christian movies often seem "intellectually vacant," disconnected and childish is because the writers/producers/directors are trying so hard not to offend any particular denomination's beliefs. The scripts are watered down and cleansed so that a Baptist won't be offended if the message is too Presbyterian, a Methodist won't object if it is too fundamentalist, a convervative can't object that it is too liberal, and a liberal can't object that it is too conservative, and so on. However, this is not limited to movies. This is often the case in Christian music, writing, etc. Additionally, many Christians believe that any movie that is presented as a Christian movie must be "clean" enough to be seen by the entire family, including children. However, some issues that Christian films should be addressing are adult centered issues and by their very nature are not appropriate for all ages. I'm not talking about extreme violence or sexual images, either. Just the day-to-day real life issues of adults navigating through life in modern times.

Let me venture a word here for Christian films that are not explicitly so. My wife and I rented Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself". In this film Mr. Perry has his now famous Medea character interact with a young family that is on the verge of disintegration. Through a series of both tragic and hilarious events, some members of the family are redeemed, others come to bad ends, while Medea tries to intervene constructively. Members of the church play an active part in all these lives, some parts helpful, others not so.
But Perry uses a good script, excellent acting (himself playing more than one part) and hilarious characters like Medea to at the same time get a message across. I felt like I was seeing a Billy Graham film for the 21st century.

Should there even be such a thing called "Christian film"? What does that mean anyway? What often happens is Christians make a film for a Christian audience and they hope "the world" sees it and gets saved. It's more "tell" than "show." Would we not be better off encouraging Christians to make good art, good film? Good art will "show" rather than "tell." As one comment above put it, if I want a sermon I'll go to the preacher. The church used to lead the western world in art of all kinds, why couldn't that be the case again? It might be if we quit trying to make "Christian" art.

I have seen some Christian movies that were quite bad. I have seen several that were quite good as well. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Sherwood films, as well as "The Secrets of Johnathan Sperry," among others. I've seen good and bad secular films as well. What the Christian audience really needs to do is support both Christian and Hollywood films that support Christian values, and NOT support the films that undermine and outright attack those values. That is the only way to send the message to Hollywood of what we really want to see.

Christian movies are often so bad because the theology in so many churches is so bad. There is such a lack of Biblical depth in so much preaching, a refusal to delve into the narrative of Scripture or to embrace hard questions and look for God's answers.

Consider "Facing the Giants": the "gospel" presented here is that Jesus will make your team win, give you a new pickup truck, and enable you to have a baby. How does this even remotely resemble the gospel of Jesus Christ?! How can this even be called "Christian"?

Is not that the church just needs to "try harder," though we ought to stop thinking we can produce mediocre work and then upgrade it by slapping the name of Jesus on it. We have to start by getting the fundamentals right.

The two more explicitly Christian films that I would highly recommend are "Amazing Grace" and "To end All Wars".
Good point about Bruce Almighty for a more subtle take on submission and surrender to God - I agree!

What is the goal of any true Child of GOD? To bring Glory and Praise to Our Father in Heaven. If, in making a film with Christian themes and values, that the people involved in the process in any way, perform to the best of their GOD-given ability and place the values of Our LORD above that of the world, then GOD is GLorified!

It doesn't matter what the world thinks 2 Tim 3:1-3. We do not seek the praise of men, but of GOD 1 Cor 4:5. We as Christians tend to forget that GOD uses everything we do. Remember the word of Paul?

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 NKJV

Also, we are not of this world, but pilgrims who await a Saviour from Heaven. We tend to loose sight of the point, to get the messages of salvation to the lost. How we do that, GOD will use:

So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:7-8 NKJV

Two recent films that my family and I enjoyed were "Letters to God" and "To Save a Life." I felt that they were much more realistic in portraying that in this world, God doesn't wrap everything up in a neat package, but He is faithful to His own and will see them through the rocky road of this life. To have the mother of the little boy with cancer lash out at her mom when she tries to remind her of biblical truth is a more realistic portrayal of emotions when people who are in crisis are trying to make sense of their situation and to trust God...even if they don't like what is happening to them or to a family member. We don't have to tie everything in a neat package, but we do need to see that our Christian faith is relevant for our lives today because it is true and is demonstrated even in the times of honest questioning.

I've started working on screenplays that I unabashedly admit, may change the world. I want to take the message of God's reconciliation to a world starved for true love.
I don't have to preach it or cite Scripture to prove it. I will show it in a good story. I use the Bible for the basis of my stories, but a non-Christian would have a hard time recognizing that foundation.
The Bible is full of good stories; that's how God communicated with us. My solution to bad movies... tell good stories.

Frank Schaeffer suggests that it is impossible for evangelicals to produce great art because we (I am one)always put the agenda or the message ahead of telling the story. So our art is always constrained. Does this ring true in any sense with anybody? Schaeffer pushes this to the point of contrasting Lewis with Tolkien.

Good essay bringing light to a good point. Many good comments, some not so. Ted, you are probably the kind of person who wants to give all the little kiddies a trophy for participation, regardless of whether it is deserved, rather than honoring excellence with a crown of glory (Godly principle). Christian films have traditionally been poorly made, preachy, or written "to the choir". There are exceptions. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. used to make some excellent films. "For Pete's Sake" sticks in my mind from the 60s. But please consider a few things:
1) Just because we offer something to GOd, doesn't mean it pleases Him. Cain's offering of perfectly good fruit was rejected. In Malachi 1, God rejects the priests' sacrifices because they are inferior. He actually issues a curse for inferior offerings. Beware shabby film makers. Paul continues the theme in Philippians 4: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

2) Not everyone is called to be a film maker. 1 Corinthians 12 would probably include film makers if they were around then.

3) The Christian's purpose is to reach OUT, not in. Christians have become so entrenched in self-edification that they've forgotten the Great Commandment. Church and fellowship are for the edification of The Body.

4) In Luke 16, Jesus praises the steward who conducts business with "mammon". Hollywood is about profit. A quality film will sell. You want studio backing? Mingle there. Jesus went to the people to the extent He was called a glutton and a winebibber.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

I find it interesting that an article from the magazine Relevant was quoted as talking about how a lot of Christian films are bad. I've read Relevant magazine. I would say that magazine fits more into the category of "bad" and more into the category of downright heretical at times. Better to be a little corny and faithful to the word than a "relevant" apostate.

Has anyone here heard of filmmakers from other faith groups who are constantly pressured to make a "Jewish" film, an "Islamic" film or a "Wiccan" film? Strangely, it appears that only the Christian evangelical community has this dilemma. While the best filmmakers focus on pushing the creative boundaries through inventive storytelling, Christian efforts at some point seem to get mired in parental ratings, the salvation sales pitch and theological correctness. Christian films may be flawless gospel-wise but do they really interest and engage your average moviegoer? The resounding answer is "no" (if it wasn't, why would we be having this discussion? Why do Christian films have an established reputation for being "preachy" instead of fostering artistic excellence?).

This whole topic reminds me of U2's early years when three of its members were contemplating how to remain true to their Christian faith and still pursue their love of rock n' roll. Despite the pressures to conform into "either/or", U2 chose to entwine BOTH influences into a UNIQUE brand of music. Judging by their record sales and loyal fan base (among Christian and non-Christians alike), I don't think anyone is regretting that decision!

Zelda:
Your post encapsulates EXACTLY why Christian films are often limited in their reach to audiences outside of churches. For too long, the focus was only on one part of the equation ("praise and glorify God"; proclaim the gospel) but with no regard given toward the opinions and viewing habits of the worldly/unsaved/"lost". As you clearly stated: "it doesn't matter what the world thinks". That kind of arrogance and exclusivity will not garner any positive reaction. I think the problem is that some Christians see films strictly as an evangelizing tool and not as an art form that's worth exploring in its own right. "One way" communication, I'd call it.

Nobody here is advocating that we surrender our Christian values. I believe the question raised is in regards to HOW we communicate those values. Is it the best quality? Does the Christian message always have to be explicit in order to be effective (e.g. lots of Scripture quoting)? Is a film only deemed "Christian" when the bulk of the cast and crew are, in fact, Christian?

What is a Christian film? I've never seen or heard of any such thing. The Christian message is not entertainment. It is a message to save some people from their sins, and to condemn the rest, as God has foreordained, all to His glory. God gave us the Bible, and His Word is sufficient.

The visualizations add nothing, and actually detract from the message, especially when they embellish, and interpret falsely, and commit idolatry by showing images of Jesus, when in fact those images are not Jesus. It is not possible to make a film that depicts the Lord Jesus Christ without the filmmakers committing idolatry, unless the depiction of Him is restricted to the spoken word alone.

Also, if any film presents a freewill gospel salvation, it is not Christian, because the follower of Christ knows(or will soon know) that salvation is all of grace, not by works nor decisions of man, but of God alone.

Lots of good thoughts to which I will add these half baked ones:

1. It may be that a "perfect Christian lifestyle" (whatever that is) does not involve film. Radical idea, but it shouldn't be outright dismissed. We may be trying to redeem something that is somewhat irredeemable. Not all forms of communication are equal, and I think I can dismiss film without dismissing the written word or music in the same way the OT Law dismisses man made images without dismissing the prophetic voice. The media is part of the message and there are reasons to be concerned about the way film slips past many of our mental safeguards and deceives us even when we are sure we aren't being influenced. Just saying it should be part of the discussion.

2. The Christian music industry might be a model for the Christian film industry. Christian music has its issues but seems to have largely turned a corner in the last 10 years or so. The industries and markets may be too different to make a useful comparison but we may be in the infancy of solid Christian film making and we will have to let the industry mature.

3. In order to stay true to a Christian vision, even if it is artistically formed, writers/directors will probably have to find shelter in specifically Christian production companies.... and I believe that would be fair. The vision is as important as the art, and writers/directors have to be able to protect the vision from people who do not value a God-centric view. Otherwise the only Christian visions that will ever make it to the big screen are the really really subtle ones (which wouldn't be all bad).

4. Examples of movies that I wish Christians would have made... Children of Men... The Matrix... Seven... anything Pixar... 17 Again(yes, the Zach Efron movie which contains a plea against teen sex right in the middle that is perfectly executed, among other redeeming themes)... anything else?

Why do people automatically think ALL Christian movies are bad? Why do people think Kirk Cameron is a bad actor? Did he become a bad actor once he decided to become a Christian and act in movies? BTW, I have never seen the "Left Behind" movies (nor do I plan to..I will just read Revelation again instead), but I don't think he was bad in "Fireproof".

Michael,

In response to your "anything Pixar"; Pete Docter, director and co-writer of "Monsters, Inc." and "Up" is, in fact, a Christian. So...there you go.

Pauline S. - When a film is made well, it is MUCH MORE than entertainment. It is, in fact, art, and must be treated as such. Film is, at its core, a story telling device and, as such, can be used to convey any number of scripturally sound stories without trying to please the lowest common denominator. Please don't put God in a box. Trust me; He won't stay in there. Jesus commanded us to go INTO the world and preach, not to close ourselves off in shark cages and cower in fear.

It will get better, eventually. All we need are a few good indpendent films that depict grace, redemption, and the ACTUAL human experience from a Christian perspective, and people will start to get the right idea.

Michael,

As Corey said Pixar's Peter Doctor is a Christian. So is Andrew Stanton, director of WALL-E. It's not a stretch to say that Christians are making some of the best movies out there, since Pixar is one of the few consistent studios.

For the "Evangelical Movie Industry" as I've seen Christians call it, I just wish they'd put their characters in front of their evangelistic-driven plot. Just tell a story sometime, and don't have it be about becoming a better father/husband/End Times Warrior/family/whatever. Personally, I'd rather see a thousand movies like "Millions," "Up" and "The Secret of Kells" than a movie where the ending and the journey are inevitable from the first few minutes.

What would the producer of Fantastic Four know about quality film making?
Zingah!

There seems to be an unspoken assumption, constantly creeping back, that for Christians to engage in culture we need to create an industry for it. Music, television, movies, breath mints, etc: The argument that Hollywood won't produce scripts with Christian themes, even overt ones, doesn't hold water when we consider movies such as Amistead, To End All Wars, Book of Eli, Man on Fire, Tyler Perry movies, et al. All of these are outstanding films that wouldn't have been made were they not outstanding. The point isn't whether or not we fully agree with the conclusions that these movies make.

The difficulty many so-called Christian movies run into, in addition to the "preaching", are the perfectly gift-wrapped lives the characters are left with at the end of the movie. The realistic complexity of living in a fallen world is largely absent. Facing the Giants has already been taken, so consider instead "What If", a new movie starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules!) about a mildly dissatisfied corporate executive who gets a chance to redo a decision when he chose the corporate world over pastoral ministry (where's Martin Luther when you need him?). SPOILER WARNING Instead of learning to live with his original decision the movie ends with him getting a chance to live out a different decision. Far more practical and helpful would have been a movie (and this is representative of far too many "Christian" movies that end with a neatly wrapped bow) that forced him to deal with the complexity of his decision.

@Meh: Hah!

@Ted: Criticism does not equal ridicule, especially when the criticism is deserved and helpful. Sherwood is going in the right direction but still has a ways to go.

Just in case the post wasn't clear before:

@ michael, who said:
"The visualizations add nothing, and actually detract from the message, especially when they embellish, and interpret falsely, and commit idolatry by showing images of Jesus, when in fact those images are not Jesus. It is not possible to make a film that depicts the Lord Jesus Christ without the filmmakers committing idolatry, unless the depiction of Him is restricted to the spoken word alone.
Also, if any film presents a freewill gospel salvation, it is not Christian, because the follower of Christ knows(or will soon know) that salvation is all of grace, not by works nor decisions of man, but of God alone."
on November 8, 2010 2:16 PM


Jesus himself did not speak scripture only because as he said to his disciples, the people wouldn't understand. Instead he spoke in parables - verbal visualizations, if you will. Jesus knew how to tell a story that the people could relate to.

Also, creating a visual representation of Jesus is not idolatry. Idolatry involves worship. read a dictionary.

Be careful not to skip over words when you finally do read scripture. Ephesians 2:8 says that salvation is by grace (God's part) through faith (our part). Every man does have the free will to choose or to reject the gift of God.
John 12:48 - He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

It is not just Christians who make bad movies. Plenty of bad movies are out there made by non-Christians -- with banal plots, weak characterization and cliched writing. What is difficult is to try make a redeeming film that doesn't turn off the non-believers. Chariots of Fire was explicitly Christian, won awards and was a big blockbuster. Bruce Almighty got people to think about God answering their prayers in a new way. I also liked Amazing Grace, and Fireproof was actually funny in parts. Tyler Perry's movies come closest to showing Christians interacting in the "real world" but I know some Christians would think they are not "clean" enough

I have often asked the same question of Christian Music. It is amazing how bad it is. You can turn the station and before you can even make out the words you can tell it is a Christian music station. I don't know why such poor off-key unmelodic music should be standard fare for Christians!

Not only are Christian movies sermons but they are BAD, awfully writen sermons, often moralising and providing all the "right" answers. They are "disconnected from reality" in the sense that everything always turns out okay in the end.
There is a place for subltety and rich story telling which leaves us with questions (as well as some answers).

"Christian" great noun, horrible adjective. That's from Rob Bell. But he's probably heretic like Relevant Magazine, huh?

I think it's funny that anything "left" of the "christian" norm, anything that may be anti-war, any talk that might be "inclusionary" instead of "exclusionary", is quickly passed of as being "heretic".

Why are "christian" movies so bad?? One answer... Kirk Cameron.

You could take a ton of hollywood, "non-christian" movies, and probably extract similarities to Jesus' parables...if you really tried. Life's not black and white, and it's definitely not pretty.

There are Christians who are great actors....NOT Christian actors. They perform at the top of their skill level.. and isn't that pleasing to God? That they excel at using the gift God has given them?? Denzel Washington, Kristin Chenowith, Martin Sheen, Tony Hale, Jim Caveziel, Zachary Levi, etc.

Real life can be pretty vulgar and ulgy. I have found some films to be very "Christian" like Magnolia, for example, that also happen to be very vulgar. The Gospel is about taking what is dead and bringing it back to life through Christ, from wherever a person might be. In other words, its about reconcilliation. Other movies that might go on the Christian themes but Vulgar list may include "Schinlder's List, Little Miss Sunshine, Lars and the Real Girl, Green Mile,The Visitation, and The Passion."
At the same time I have sat through some poorly done movies,i.e., "Three", from Dekker's book, but I still enjoy the story. (I thought House was good.)Even Fireproof, the story was much better than the actual production. But I can still appreciate the movie for the story.
Its funny that we are so concerned about consuming a "great" product! I can't tell you how many times I have been disappointed by both secular and Christian movies! Is there any movie that will truly satisfy? No...

Americans are so provincial. There are scores of strong films that reveal the nature of Christ. Most are foreign. Three of the greatest 20th C. directors whose films commonly explore Christian themes are a Dane, a Swede, and a Russian: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman, and Andrei Tarkovsky respectively. Watch "Ordet", "Seventh Seal", and "Andrei Rublev" for proof that God has blessed filmmakers of excellence.

I simply want to say that I prefer rather a low-budget film that leads to the truth in Christ and encourages me spiritually, than a perfectly made movie that feeds ungodliness.
I say this as one soul being saved out of the dirt 5 years ago by the grace of Jesus Christ. Blessings to you!

You're right. Hard work, high-quality training, and determined pursuit of excellence will get us much closer to where Christian filmmakers should be. Also pursuit of high caliber storytelling--an avenue which Scott spends a great deal of time on in his book. His understanding of story will benefit anyone even marginally interested.

Thank you, Mark, for acknowledging that you hadn't read the book. Scott does offer a significant amount of information.

If any of the commentators are interested, Scott Nehring, author of You Are What You See: Watching Movies Through a Christian Lens, has a free, twice-monthly newsletter - Movies & Culture Report. The latest issue is here (cut-n-paste): http://www.youarewhatyousee.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/2010-December.pdf

If you would like to subscribe, email me at Christine@YouAreWhatYouSee.com.

I think there is something much deeper than a lack of education and hard work. Many Christians come from an environment where they have very limited exposure to great works of art, including great films. How can one create great art if one has only been exposed to mediocrity. Churches don't encourage their members to expand their minds creatively and intellectually. Christians are very limited to the things the church allows them to see, read, hear, and say. This results in a Christian standard that is very low. If "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants" is considered "great", than more films like it will be made. We as Christians should strive to make films like "Magnolia", "Children of Men", or "A Serious Man". But sadly, most Christians will never see these films because the church discourages it.

Another thing that bothers me about Christian films is that the Christian character is often portrayed as a know-it-all and unsympathetic towards the non-Christian or struggling brother or sister in Christ. That attitude really turn me off when I see the model "Christian" almost smirking at the less mature Christian or unbeliever suffering through their problems with doubt, frustration, etc. If Christians in movies coming across as haughty and self-righteous rather than a humble servant extending sacrificial love and hope like Christ makes me loathe such an image as a Christian, then I'm sure it does the same or worse for the unsaved.

Btw, thanks to whoever mentioned the movies "17 again" and "Little Miss Sunshine"- loved those movies for the feeling of hope and redemption they left me with after watching them. Blessings to all. =)

Btw, thanks to whoever mentioned the movies "17 again" and "Little Miss Sunshine"- loved those movies for the feeling of hope and redemption they left with me after watching them. And"Chariots of Fire" and "Amazing Grace" are my favorites along with "Passion" Blessings to all. =)

The foundation for every movie is a brilliant script. I dont care how big or small your budget is if the script is not good the other parts fail. Christian movies fail because people are afraid to deal with real life issues. Christian write in a way that has to please certain people.

People are always talking about sherwood pictures and i have seen all of there movies which have been shown at my church. my main problem is that these movies dont represent Christian life, lets taking facing the giants a failing coach unable to have children the emotions of the character isnt really explored and by the end of the movie we have a disney ending. Sherwood fills a certain niche in film making but to be honest thats most of American Christian film making it really shows bad writing if you cant convey something important without making a sermon of it. I would ask the question are people really hearing from GOD when they are making these movies, lets put another way how comes Christians didnt make the The Passion of Christ. You dont have to go to film school for years and years. thats like saying to be good at music you have to do a music degree it helps but you wont come out as a brilliant film maker, but if we really have the mind of Christ it will show in the films we make.

I agree if Christians were to release good films - it means being around the best, study in school/ uni and so forth. In other words its hard work to get there. I also agree with someones comment - referrring to Mark Noll's book - that there is not much mind in Christian films, hence they are always lame.

One thing that seems to be overlooked is budget. It means you need mult-million Christians (or funds provided from some where). You generally need a good budget. It is not a given rule that films that have good budget = good film. Some expensive films are well... duds - but the better films are usually somewhat expensive, not a rule - there are exceptions but I can't see things change whilst Christians can only produce copy-cat b-grade films (which are disguised sermons)

Has no one who interviews Ralph Winter about Christian movies seen the Christian movies that Mr. Winter has produced? They are truly some of the worst of the crop of recent Christian movies, and don't display any trace of a "There's simply no substitute for a great education at a first-rate film school, years of hard labor in the trenches with the best in the business (and yes, that likely means working side-by-side with pagans in Hollywood), and paying one's dues with lots of sweat, heartache, trial-and-error, failure, and dogged, unwavering persistence." "The Hangman's Curse" & "Thr3e", the 2 films of his I've endured so far, are boring poorly produced messes that don't even have the decency to include a redeeming Christian message.

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