New Documentary Chronicles Christian Rock

A new feature length documentary is in the works that tells the story of Christian Rock through those who shaped the genre.

“Bleed Into One,” produced and directed by Tim Hudson, and named from a lyric off of U2’s Joshua Tree album, has been in the works for five years. “This film has been truly a labor of love,” said Hudson on the project’s website. “We have put everything we have in this film.”

And he really means that. He said that while he was working on the film his electricity got cut off or he had no water. There were “times I would think why am I doing this,” he told The Christian Post.

But Hudson spoke of a calling from God, and a love for music. He got introduced to the beginnings of the Christian music scene through his job at a venue called The Warehouse in Bartlesville, Okla. It was one of three Christian music venues in the country in the early 90s.

“It was a horrible little hole in the wall,” he said. But “we had some legendary awesome shows. Underoath, MxPx played there before they were big time.”

Hudson went on to become the manager of The Warehouse and a promoter for different acts. He told CP that he remembers watching a documentary about Metallica one day and thinking, “Somebody ought to do this for Christian rock. And then I thought, I could do this.”

So he started calling up the bands that he had met through his job at The Warehouse and asking them if they wanted to be a part of this project. Most of the bands agreed to do interviews with him. Hudson then found people to help film and edit for the project, and they have been working on it ever since.

 It’s been billed as a documentary in the vein of “Dogtown and Z-Boys” – a look into a subculture that created what is today’s contemporary Christian music. U2, Jars of Clay and P.O.D. are among some of the bands featured. With over 50 more interviews and performances showcased on the film.

The goal of the film is to give a balanced view of the history and people of the Christian Rock movement. The narrative is primarily told through interviews, archival footage, music videos and live performances.

In the early 1990s there was an emergence of a new breed of bands like P.O.D., D.C. Talk, and Switchfoot, who became not only important in spiritual circles but to mainstream music as well.

Some in the documentary say Christian music began in the 60s with bands like Larry Norman and Rez Band. But Kevin Max of D.C. Talk said it came much earlier. “We all know rock and roll comes from gospel music.”

Regardless, as Christian music grew and changed, it also started to become more mainstream and garnered criticism from both secular and sacred circles.

“Bleed Into One” chronicles some of the struggles bands went through in order to gain acceptance in both mainstream and Christian circles. Many in the secular music world did not understand their faith, and oftentimes those of faith did not understand their music.

Tooth & Nail Records was one of the first indie labels to sign Christian bands. The record label’s first release was from Wish for Eden, followed by Juliana Theory, MxPx and many others.

Their website said the label “became a force in Christian music circles and niche underground subculture alike, with bands whose broad appeal could not be pigeonholed to a particular crowd but instead created music powerful enough to make crossover inevitable.”

But they weren’t immune to criticism. Label founder Brandon Ebel was interviewed for the documentary and recalls how the beginnings of the label were hard, especially since they were getting criticism from both sides of the aisle. Christians and non-Christians alike were unhappy with the new approach to Christian music.

He tells the story of pulling out two letters from a pile sent to the office. One was a very anti-Christian letter about how much the person hated the label. And the second was from a pastor who said he had burned their CD’s and told everyone in his youth group not to buy the albums.

Hudson said now people laugh about the reaction from many on the Christian side to the music. But he hopes the movie “will show that the Church was wrong about this, and hurt a lot of people.” It’s a “call to really look at what’s important. God cares about people.”

The film also doesn’t hesitate to include criticism from pundits and pop culture as well. It includes a variety of references on the subject including “South Park,” “The Simpsons,” “Rolling Stone,” “Saved,” “Alternative Press,” “King of the Hill,” and comments from comedians and other detractors.

Hudson has started a Kickstart campaign, which he jokingly calls a “Kickfinisher” to raise $60,000 for the documentary. Thirty thousand dollars of the campaign will be used to pay the required licensing fees to secure an unmatched soundtrack for the film, featuring a vast array of artists covering the entire scope of the genre. The second $30,000 will be used for the final stages of the post-production, final editing and animation.

To date they have 30 backers, $2,165 pledged, and less than 30 days left in the campaign. The documentary is looking at a release date sometime in the summer of 2012 at Cornerstone Festival.

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