Friday, April 13, 2012

Does this film go beyond just making a movie?

Thanks to the latest development in digital video, it seems that everybody has become a filmmaker. That’s especially true in the world of Christian filmmaking. I’m sure you know the story of Sherwood Baptist Church. They have written the book on how to make low-budget Christian films.

What if you were approached to donate or invest in a Christian movie? What would you look for? How would you know if it was a good investment with tangible results? If you’re a filmmaker ask yourself if there is more to this than just making a movie? In other words, is there a bigger picture beyond the Christian movie?

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before you invest in a movie or decide to produce one:

1. Does this movie have the ability to point people to Christ? Of course, that’s the main reason most Christians get involved in filmmaking in the first place. But it’s more than just making a Christian movie. To be more effective requires us to expand our horizon. A redemptive, transformation, or cautionary tale can be more Christian in terms of its nature than most Christian movies are in terms of their content. You want something that’s effective and has an impact. Forget about just reaching a Christian audience. Can you go beyond that and actually attract a mainstream audience to your movie?

2. Does this movie provide opportunities to reach out to nonChristian media professionals? Most often Christians only want to work with Christians. What an opportunity we miss. Filmmaking is a collaborative process that presents opportunities to build trust, relationships, and friendships; therefore, our movie crews should have both Christians and nonChristians working together. Looking for outreach opportunities? Well you just found one. I can’t think of a better way to have an impact on the industry.
3. Does this movie have opportunities to train and mentor the next generation of Christians pursuing a career in media and film. Are we disciplining future media missionaries? My experience has taught me that most Christian filmmakers are pre-occupied with the process of making the movie. They don’t see this as a golden opportunity to help the next generations of Christians who want to be filmmakers. I realize working with interns and students who don’t have experience is a time-consuming process,. But I believe the whole point of making the movie in the first place is to provide opportunities for future media missionaries. That’s big-picture thinking.

But making the time and effort to train people requires first a determination to do it. You need a plan on how things get done. You need a buy-in from department heads such as the director of photography, production manger, production designer, etc. You also need a budget because it will take more time to work with inexperienced interns. You also will need to think about designating an education coordinator who’s responsibility is to oversee interns and students. They need to create a discipleship model as well as providing training before the production process starts.

The final ingredient is access. The best education you will ever receive is on-the-job training. That means the key people on your production must make themselves available and be willing to teach as they are in the process of making a movie? Unfortunately, none of this is easy. Few people do it because it is just easier to make the movie.

Final thoughts

One movie is just one movie. Today most films have a very short shelf life. You get your 15 minutes of fame, and you’re off the stage. What is going to last and stand the test of time is the impact that we have on the lives of the people who worked on the film. Let me put it this way. Future filmmakers can go on and have a career spanning 40 years. Think about the number of projects and films they will work on throughout their career. How many people will they come into contact with who are nonbelievers? How many opportunities will they have to share Christ? Yes, making your film is important. But there is a bigger picture to think about. So the next time you are approached to give or invest in a movie, maybe, you should ask the questions: Does this film go beyond just making a movie?

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