Hundreds of Christian filmmakers and "culture changers" will be meeting together in San Antonio in the fall as a way to improve their craft and provide a positive alternative to Hollywood films.
Scheduled for Oct. 22-24, The Third Annual Christian Filmmakers Academy will offer a place for faith-filled directors to receive the tools to create movies for God, something that should have been the focus all along, according to Academy coordinators.
"Hollywood elites have defined the terms of engagement in the film industry for far too long," explained Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum Ministries, the ministry that sponsors the Academy, in a statement. "We reject their standards, but rather than curse the darkness, we are here to light a candle – to create an alternative industry that gives hope through films that champion the standards found in the Word of God."
A big problem that the meeting hopes to clear is the problem with even Christian moviemakers today. The organizers explain that they have been too influenced by Hollywood's standards as they grew up with that industry, and that they need to shift the way they do things.
"In the past, Christian filmmakers who have grown up with Hollywood have been prone to create culturally poisonous and financially wasteful films," added Phillips. "While desiring to be different from Hollywood, they've tended to unwittingly default to the destructive Tinseltown trends in structuring their projects."
Those involved with the Christian gathering hope that they can return America to the roots of filmmaking. When the film industry first began, a large majority of pieces had a strong religious foundation. A prominent example is the Academy Award-winning The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.
"In the late 1920s, the Hays Code committed Hollywood filmmakers to the responsibility of producing films that would be 'directly responsible for spiritual or moral progress, for higher types of social life, and for much correct moral thinking,'" described Geoff Botkin, a faculty member of the Academy, in a statement. "In departing from this responsibility, the modern cinema industry has departed from both culturally uplifting and intellectually stimulating content.
"Habitual movie-goers have been compromised mentally as well as morally," he added. "Almost by default, the current Hollywood industry reinforces this feeblemindedness with each studio project. Sadly, many Christian filmmakers who aspire to make superior films have sought to do so on this bankrupt foundation."
At the Christian Filmmakers Academy, participants will be able to take more than 16 hours of formal classroom instruction from industry professionals as well as meet them in person to talk about growing in technique. It also offers an important opportunity for networking among Christian professionals in the movie industry.
"[A] new generation of Christian filmmakers has come to the fore," stated the Vision Forum's Phillips. "The Christian Filmmakers Academy exists to help these aspiring culture changers find success outside of Hollywood as part of a rising replacement industry built on biblical presuppositions of aesthetics, morality and cultural influence."
There will be a variety of classroom topics including Christian philosophy in film, production logistics, editing, lighting techniques, producing varying kinds of projects, critique of students' works, and choosing projects, among much more.
Following the Academy, Vision Forums will also be sponsoring the Fourth Annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, Oct. 25-27. The top submission will walk away with the $10,000 Jubilee Award.
Organizers are optimistic about the impact that the Academy will have. They hope that it can infuse some positive values into the decaying mainstream scene.
"The motion picture is one of the most influential cultural tools for shaping the thoughts and behavior of modern nations," concluded Phillips. "Movies can be used for good or ill. Any serious effort to recover coherent foundations of civil society must include an effort to replace the disintegrative cinema traditions of today's corrupt industry, and this is where we've set our sights."
On the web: Info about the Film Academy and Film Festival at IndependentChristianFilms.com.