LOS ANGELES – A panel of media and filmmaking experts asked pastors and the Christian community to engage more with those in the movie business, including in the early stages of the creative process, to help facilitate quality films coming to theaters.
The call for pastors to become participants rather than combatants in the Hollywood entertainment industry came during the 168 Film Festival this past weekend. Pastors were invited to the event and during the session to discuss Christians in media, after the experts had made their case, Pastor Grady Williams of Powerhouse Christian Fellowship in Irvine was in full agreement.
"The spirit of God can use all kinds of movies," Williams said. "If we [as pastors] can amplify that which is good then we can see it. We cannot ever supersede the work of the Spirit. I just rejoice today that there is so much salt and light in Hollywood and in the entertainment industry."
The event's founder and executive director John David Ware, who moderated the panel, said this year's festival took on additional importance as "the press declared 2014 as 'The Year of Christian Film' following a host of box-office hits that grossed record numbers while dealing with faith-based themes ("God's Not Dead," "Heaven Is For Real," "Son of God," "Noah").
Because "Jesus' parables prove that story can change culture, and because of the volume of faith films," pastors are invited to attend and contribute to this dialogue regarding the current state of faith-based media and opportunities afforded by this current climate, says Ware.
"We in the media are in the culture-changing business. If we had ten amazing scripts to sell, I believe we could sell them all in the current climate," he said.
Producer Mark Joseph, whose work includes participating in the making of "The Passion of the Christ" and "Chronicles of Narnia," said during the panel that pastors can be essential in helping a faith-based movie become a success.
"One of the key ingredients of The Passion was that relationship between the pastors and the filmmaker that really hasn't been replicated as I've seen it," Joseph said. "I'll give you an example, The Chronicles of Narnia, we could not show the entire film to religious leaders until about two weeks before release. That's a disaster. What pastor do you know of will recommend a movie that they've [only] seen 10 minutes of?"
He elaborated, "For those of you that are pastors, you've had a lot of pitches over the last 10 years, [like] that Rocky is actually an allegory of Christ, and all kinds of crazy things, but you can see through those, and you can find which ones are of value, but note that the artist can go so far, but when they [filmmakers and pastors] work together incredible things can happen," Joseph said.
Ware asked pastors to consider being part of the filmmaking process that includes the conceptual idea phase.
He said, "That's what I'm proposing, can we actually have this partnership and is that something you guys would value?" Many in audience of several hundred, including many that were pastors, in the theater applauded in agreement.