Friday, August 13, 2010

What Do They Know That We Don’t Know Part 1

Media and entertainment is America’s number one export. I think it’s safe to say that Hollywood knows a thing or two about how to make movies and television shows. What do they know that Christians don’t know about making movies? Over the last few years, we have seen an explosion in Christian films. But has the quality increased? Many would agree that there is something lacking in the overall artistic and technical aspects. Is it the writing? The cinematography or the acting?

Perhaps if we had more money, our product would look better. Undoubtedly, the production value would increase. We’d have the time to get more shots. We’d have access to better cameras and equipment, and we could pay for better actors. Maybe, we could bring a writer or two on board to rewrite our scripts.

But I think money is only part of the answer. If we had all of the resources at our disposal, I have a feeling there would still be something lacking, something not quite right. There are many intangibles at work. First of all, are we telling the right stories? Do we really understand the filmmaking process and what films are capable of? Are we so focused on giving all of the answers, that we’re not asking the right questions? What if we focused our attention away from Christian films and concentrated more on redemptive or transformational stories?

Hollywood knows how to tell a good story. And they have been doing it for years. Here are ten secrets they have realized about telling good stories that are capable of impacting the human heart.

Here are 10 guidelines that mainstream filmmakers understand about making redemptive films.

1. Your movie must have entertainment value. People watch films to be entertained. Some Christians have made entertainment a dirty word. When people watch films and television, they are relaxed and more receptive to the message contained within the story. Often, they will reexamine their lives or be challenged to be a better person.

2. Filmmaking is an art form. The art must come first. For most Christians, the message is first. Audiences will not accept this and will see it as a form of propaganda. We must recognize that the divine can be found in art. We understood this for centuries. But, somewhere along the way, we have forgotten this. Film is not a good forum for a 5-point sermon. If we make great art, it has the capacity to move the human heart.

3. Films need to have an emotional impact. Emotions move people; therefore, our characters need to be believable as well as our dialogue. Nobody will accept the redemptive process if you are not successful in taking them through the emotional journey involved in the process of change.

4. Films work better with metaphors and symbolism because you keep the audience engaged in the story. This is a concept that most Christian filmmakers have failed to understand. Metaphors and symbolism help to forge connections between dissimilar objects and themes. We need to realize our audience has the intelligence to figure it out on their own. Stop telegraphing every story element or plot point. Remember, Jesus said in his parables the Kingdom of God is like….

5. Films are a great forum to ask questions. Christians love to ask questions, but unfortunately, we also love to give all the answers. We really don’t want our audience to have to think for themselves. This doesn’t work for film. Jesus used parables as his principle storytelling technique. He often asked questions, but he seldom gave they answers. It was his audience’s responsibility to find the answers.

Coming Monday Part 2

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