Christian filmmakers may not have a multimillion-dollar budget, but one producer said confidently, “What we don’t have in money we make up in ambition.”
Writer and producer Joseph Nasser has been working on a movie based on the popular book In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, which has sold over 40 million copies.
The movie version takes on a modern twist of the 1897 bestselling novel by Charles Sheldon. It tells the story of a town in California that is struggling to overcome its financial problems as well as spiritual battles. Given that the pastor of the town lost his pregnant wife and young son to a terrible car accident, he no longer holds a strong faith – subsequently extending his hopelessness to his congregants.
Fortunately, an unknown person, played by professed believer John Schneider, brings them together and reminds them of the most essential part of life – Christ.
Nasser told The Christian Post about how he the upcoming film resonated with him and how others can relate to it as well.
"I relate to the singer [played by Adam Gregory],” he said.
“He sacrificed a major contract and a major career in Hollywood to continue to sing Christians songs and spread the Gospel. In my career I've been offered unholy, ungodly, an unChristian films and turned them down. That's why I think his character resonated with me, because there are serious sacrifices we as Christians make,” he highlighted. “I think one way or another Christians go through that because we sacrifice in a particular field for our faith."
Actress Joni Bovill, who played the character of Diana in the film, expressed mutual feelings.
She recalled how she had to give up a paycheck for her faith. She told The Christian Post, “I turned down a film because the content of the film was distasteful. They wanted to take my top off and I refused. The producers said 'there are a lot of actors willing to do this role; we like you but you need to do this.' I said ' you are right, I guess you'll be going with one of them.'"
She added," I abandoned something that went too far from my core values, even though it would've been a paycheck."
Nasser and Bovill find that Christian values are truly needed in secular Hollywood especially when they cannot fathom life in the industry without God.
Nasser stated that for him, "it's a much better feeling than working in a secular movie setting. I hope to do it more often."
Bovill, meanwhile, pointed out that finding a good project in Hollywood in itself is exhausting, particularly if the actor is an unknown.
“We go on tons of auditions, get tons of no's and we go on a lot more auditions than bookings. That alone strengthens my faith because I feel like I'm in God's will, and I know He will take care of [me], although sometimes in this business it feels like He has deserted you. I don’t see how nonbelievers survive because it's so hard without that faith and trust in Jesus," she said.
While taking on secular jobs they recognized that more Christian projects are needed, even if the budget often pigeonholes a Christian film for poor quality.
"Hollywood needs so [many] more good projects with Christian values that if I can be a tiny little part of that … I feel like I'm here to be a light in the dark world of secular media as we know it," said Bovill.
Nasser remarked, "Unfortunately, we don't have millions of dollars to make movies. Christian movies have to work with what they have which is a lot less. Maybe quality wise some Christian’s movies might not be up to bar with a rich film, but what we don’t have in money we make up in ambition. "
“What Would Jesus Do?” will be released on DVD to secular stores this month. Nasser Entertainment is also getting ready to start filming the second installment of its WWJD series titled "The Woodcarver."