- Jesus calls the church to make an
impact on the world (Matthew 5:13-16). When we fail to fulfill
this responsibility, the exact opposite happens; the world begins
having more and more impact on the church. This is what has happened
in the relationship between Hollywood and the church. In the
early years of the film industry, Christian men and women actively
sought to influence the content and the quality of the films
being made. Then, in the late 1950's and early 1960's, much of
the church in America began to withdraw from society. Many Christians
abdicated their responsibility to be salt and light in the world.
As a result, Hollywood became darker and darker and many movies
made today have few, if any, redeeming qualities.
Two extreme reactions to
this deterioration in the film industry are seen in the church
today. Some Christians have strong convictions against movies
in general, and because of this have completely abandoned the
media. While not necessarily wrong in itself, (it is quite understandable
as a matter of fact), this can easily lead to a condemnation
of everything involved with filmmaking, thus throwing out the
good with the bad. We as Christians need to oppose sin and corruption,
but we need to love and pray for the people involved. When we
witness for the Lord and someone shows an interest in making
a real change in their life through a commitment to Jesus, we
don't slap them down just because their response is not perfect
or fully mature. Instead, we encourage them and help bring instruction
from God's word with love and humility. We should do no less
for those in the film and television industry as we pray for
them and share Christ with them. ("
knowing that the
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" Romans 2:4)
("Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine."
II Timothy 4:2)
At the opposite extreme,
some Christians are indiscriminately embracing many films that
are blatantly immoral and anti-Christ. Some even excuse the lewd
and blasphemous content by saying, "it's only entertainment",
or "I can handle it". It's difficult to bring positive
change to the filmmaking industry when Christians spend their
time and money supporting movies that promote immoral and blasphemous
behavior. There's no excuse for Christians supporting such movies!
These Christians need to wake up and realize that this rationalization
is compromising our witness to non-Christians and bringing discredit
to the name of Jesus. Scripture clearly instructs us not to be
conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), and Ephesians 5:11 tells
us to have no part in the deeds of darkness but rather to expose
Christians should not abandon
the film and video industry, nor should they indiscriminately
embrace every movie that comes out. There are at least two ways
that the church can have a positive influence on society and
on the filmmaking industry. First, Christians can seek to directly
influence the producers, directors, actors, etc. when the door
is open to do this. Second, they can work toward providing an
alternative to the productions coming out of Hollywood through
independent Christian filmmaking.
The church can attempt
to directly influence Hollywood when the opportunity is available.
This was the situation when DreamWorks decided to produce The
Prince of Egypt, the feature-length animated film on the life
of Moses. The studio consulted with evangelical Christian, Jewish,
and Muslim leaders, in an attempt to make the project faithful
to the Bible and respectful of the religious beliefs of these
groups. The result was a film that was morally upright and artistically
well done. Concessions were made to Muslims, so the film was
not doctrinally pure from a Christian point of view, but overall
this Biblically-based story was handled in a tasteful and reverent
manner. While not really a box-office hit - "America's immoral
majority was just not that interested in going to a movie about
God's lawgiver" - it had a decent showing, earning $85 million
in the theater release. (quote from "Wandering In The Desert",
by Gene Edward Veith, an article about The Prince of Egypt appearing
in the February 6, 1999 issue of World Magazine)
We at Top Secret Productions
sense God's calling upon us to impact society in a positive way
by providing an alternative to the standard fare coming out of
Hollywood. While we pray for those who attempt to directly influence
Hollywood, we believe that providing an alternative is the most
effective way to positively influence society. By producing films
that are technically and artistically excellent, with uplifting
stories and believable characters, we believe we can be an influence
for good in the filmmaking industry and in society as a whole.
We say that we want to
reach the world for Christ, but Hollywood has already reached
the world. The problem is they've reached the world with the
messages of New Age Relativism, Darwinism, Socialism, Marxism,
Buddhism, Shamanism, Occultism, Paganism and Atheism.
People in the popular media
say that we're living in the Star Wars generation. So many people
have seen the films that it has formed a common link between
people and cultures around the world. George Lucas, the producer
of the Star Wars movies, in a recent New Yorker interview said,
"There's always a lesson to be learned.
we get them from church, the family, art and in the modern world
we get them from the media - from movies." Jason Ruspini,
the webmaster of the unofficial "Star Wars Home Page"
said, "It was natural that my generation would latch onto
these stories. They were much more attractive and appropriate
than the ancient myths of Judeo-Christian theology. How could
these draconian and antiquated stories possibly compete with
the majesty and scope of the Star Wars universe?" Obviously,
as Christians we do not agree with these conclusions, but the
influence of the Star Wars movies cannot be denied.
However, what the media
doesn't tell us is that there's another film that has been seen
by more people and translated into more languages than all of
the Star Wars movies combined. That film is "The Jesus Film".
PrayerNet Newsletter, put out by U.S. Prayer Track and Eddie
and Alice Smith reported the following information about this
- "The Jesus Film"
is twenty years old. It features no major stars. It's not even
the best movie about Jesus Christ from an artistic viewpoint.
- Yet, at least 1.5 billion
people in more than 220 countries have seen "The Jesus Film"
in theaters, on television, on video and many times by watching
the film projected onto portable screens, sheets or walls.
- "Jesus" has
been dubbed into more than 450 languages, making it the most
widely translated production in film history. Hundreds more are
in the works.
- More than 800 mission
agencies now partner with "The Jesus film" project
to evangelize the lost. More than 2,000 film teams devote themselves
exclusively to screening "Jesus" for people around
the world - often in the face of violent opposition.
- More than 73 million people
have publicly declared their decision to follow Christ after
seeing the film.
What makes this film so
special? It was a film that was made and distributed by men and
women who heard the call of God to produce this picture and were
obedient. They trusted God and strove to dedicate their best
effort in the making of this film. That's the key! Hear the call!
Obey in faith! Give God your very best work! Then trust Him to
touch peoples lives!
From time to time, other
Christian films have also made a dramatic impact in the world.
(e.g. "The Cross and the Switchblade", "A Time
to Run", "The Hiding Place" and others). In recent
years, there has even been a surge of new Christian films from
Christian filmmakers that may be the start of another dramatic
increase in people won to Christ. In general though, some of
our Christian films seem to be at a serious disadvantage when
it comes to capturing peoples attention. The message of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ is the most important message in the world and
is the only message that can truly set people free and bring
them eternal life. However, this message is often presented in
a way that makes people question its real value.
Some Christian films are
nothing more than quickly produced, preachy, soap operas that
attempt to win people by the shear weight of words. Others seem
to have as their main goal to scare the devil out of their audiences
with the threat of God's judgment. Of course, presenting the
word of God is vital to any Christian film and healthy dose of
the fear of God is definitely needed in our society today. However,
many Christian families are reluctant to ask friends and neighbors
to view Christian films or videos with them because they're too
embarrassed. Not by the message of the Gospel, but by the low
technical quality of the film presenting it.
Christian films have been
effective in winning people to Christ. Nevertheless, how much
more effective would they have been if we had taken the time
to do it right? We need Christian investors who love God and
are willing to use what God has blessed them with to bless others.
We need Christian producers who have a vision and a call from
God to reach people for Christ. We need Christian directors who
see life through heaven's eyes and can capture it on film. We
need Christian artists whose work reflects the glory of God's
creation. We need Christian actors and actresses who can create
believable characters on the screen. We need Christian composers
who lift our souls with their music. We need Christian writers
who can refine a story, fill out the characters, fix the dialogue,
work on the conflicts, and build to an exciting and inspiring
ending. We need Christian technicians of every description. What
would Christian filmmaking be like today if we had not ignored
the high quality, technical aspects found in Hollywood films
and trained ourselves to be as good or better at movie making
than Hollywood is?
If God has truly called
us to make films for Christ, then it seems only right that we
should strive to make the best films that we can. Our God is
the God of creation. He has placed in His people a desire to
be creative as well. Christian films should show the highest
level of excellence both technically and artistically. After
all, we've got the edge! If we are obedient and faithful to God's
calling, He will bless the works of our hands. The very thought
of that should be enough to make us stand up and shout, "when
do we start?"
The world is not only looking
to movies for entertainment. Many are also looking to them for
enlightenment, encouragement, excitement, comfort, justification
and redemption. They feel that if they can escape the real world
for a couple of hours, things will be different when they return.
Movies tell them that this is the way life works. However, this
is something that no movie (not even a Christian movie) can do
for them. Only Jesus Christ can bring the reality of these things
to people and deliver them from the real cause of all of their
problems - sin.
Christian films and films
based on Christian principals can never replace the anointed
preaching of the Gospel by those sent into the harvest by Christ.
However, Christian films are excellent tools for preparing the
soil of a person's life for the good seed of the Gospel. People
can repent and turn to Christ while watching a Christian film,
and many do. However, many times it still takes a preacher or
a Christian friend to bring people to that life changing decision
to follow Jesus.
Many people remember Christ's
parable of the sower being about the good seed of the Gospel.
When the seed fell on good soil it grew and produced much fruit.
But this parable has much more to say about the soil than it
does about the seed. Often Christians forget that before the
good seed of the Gospel can be effectively sown into people's
lives, the soil must be prepared. Christian films and films based
on Christian values and principles are great for tilling the
soil as well as for planting the seed of the Gospel. They can
help people see their problems more clearly and recognize the
need for real change in their lives. When people see Christian
principles played out on the screen and see believable characters
responding to the word of God, their hearts may be a little more
receptive the next time someone shares the Gospel with them.
There are good Christian
filmmakers around the world who have answered God's call on their
lives. Some are non-profit organizations and some are not. There
is no "best" way to organize a Christian filmmaking
company. What matters is for each company or ministry to follow
what God is saying in their hearts. I believe that God wants
Top Secret Productions, Inc. to be a for profit organization
that competes head-to-head in the marketplace with Hollywood
for the heart and soul of America.
It may seem foolish for
God to have called me to start Top Secret Productions. I have
no formal training in filmmaking. I don't have any real contacts
in the film industry. I'm not rich enough to just go out and
hire well-known people who will let me ride their reputation
to success. The vision for Top Secret Productions is truly amazing,
but, to be honest, sometimes the whole idea scares me! Maybe
these are the very reasons God put the vision and the desire
in my heart. He knew that if I didn't completely depend on Him
for the wisdom, resources and real faith, the whole endeavor
would fail. It is abundantly clear to me that without Christ
I can do nothing!
In April of 1997 I left
the world of computer programming and consulting. Since then
I have dedicated all of my time and effort into learning everything
I can about the aesthetic and technical aspects of filmmaking.
One could study a lifetime and never learn everything there is
to know but God has been faithful and provided the opportunities
to gain in wisdom, knowledge and experience. I have had the privilege
of working with many talented people. I've seen how the Holy
Spirit can move hearts and lives through the proper use of quality
film and video productions.
God has placed many different
people in His Church - the Body of Christ. We are not all called
to work in Christian filmmaking. However, some have been given
talents and resources that God wants to use to further His Kingdom
in this way. Hollywood has reached the world with their message,
but it's not too late! Like our nation's founding fathers, who
sacrificed everything for what they believed in, we as Christians
in the film industry need to pledge to God our lives, our fortunes
and our sacred honor in order to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ
to America and the world.
"Also I heard the
voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go
for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." Isaiah 6:8