Your opinion on Christian movies.

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Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby firestorm » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:37 pm

Hey everyone, I made a poll for finding out what people's views are on Christian Entertainment. Originally the poll was going to be for my homework for my Grant Proposals class in college, where we are learning how to fund our movies including finding out market and our audience, what our plan will be for seeking funding and our plan for distribution. However the teacher told me that I didn't have to overdo it with the poll in order to get research on these things, so now I'm just curious.

Here is the link: https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/mycardboardheart

What do you guys think on Christian movies now? How do you think they can Improve? What do you think you need to see of more in Christian movies?

The project (short film) I'm writing right now for that class a short Christian RomCom called "Behind Every Good Man". It's about a Bride-to-be, Evelyn, who must stop her Mother-in-Law, Pamela, from living her dream wedding through Evelyn's.

So if any of you guys want to fill it out that would be great and maybe we can discuss it on here I would like to see what you guys think and maybe get some advice and ideas on how to make christian movies so that people can come to know the Lord and love the Lord amazingly well and make movies amazing and memorable for the kingdom of God!
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby WorldsTraveler » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:53 pm

I can’t access the poll since I don’t have a FB, but I can comment here.

I’m probably the last person to be commenting because I don’t like Christian movies in general. They annoy me on so many levels! LOL But here are my biggest pet peeves:

Treating God like a vending machine: I remember after watching Facing the Giants, I told my mom, “If Christianity really worked like that, people would be tripping over each other to get to the altar.” Basically, I don’t like it when movies portray God as some sort of cosmic blessing machine. Like you put in coins of prayer and worship and suddenly all your dreams come true! LOL We all know it doesn’t work like that, so I think it’s unfair to portray it like that. (Obviously, opinions on that movie will vary; that was just my take.)

Hollywoodizing Bible stories: My dad came back from the theater and gave my mother and I a plot summery of Noah. We were laughing so hard our sides hurt. Enough said. XD Seriously though, the Bible stories are dramatic enough. I don’t think they need to be spiced up or added onto – that’s just confusing! If you want to change them that much, then just take the inspiration and make an entirely new story!

Incorrect knowledge (or use of) of psychology: This is a big one for me since I love studying the way the human mind works. I notice a lot of Christian movies throw characters into roles without really understanding the psychology behind those roles. I mean, secular movies do this all the time too, but it’s especially frustrating in Christian movies. A common one I see goes something like this: “We need an antagonist who’s going to get saved later. So we’ll make this really bitter woman and then she’ll turn into a sweet person after she accepts Jesus at the end of the movie!” But it’s not that simple! Why is she bitter? What is she afraid of? How are those fears alleviated when she finds a supportive Christian community? What part of the scripture does God reveal to her to make her realize she’s safe and loved in His eyes? What is the ‘deep down’ transformation in her heart and mind? Details, people, I want details! Think it through!

Stories are so much more beautiful and touching when there’s solid emotional resonance… when I know why the character is feeling and acting the way they are, and maybe I can relate to it. Don’t shortchange me of that experience. One-dimensional characters have their place in fables and fairytales, but for a realistic story, I want that sense of wholeness and truth.

Oh, and I’ve got another (related) one! I have a total crush on scenes in a story where the protagonist is able to forgive and/or love the antagonist. Because it’s really, really hard to pull off. When I see it done well, I just sit back like “whoa” and then I analyze the stuffing out of the plot to see how it worked. While I’ve seen many Christian movies attempt this scenario, I can’t think of a single one that actually succeeded in making me believe it. It tends to come across as too sudden and unrealistic. The Holy Spirit enables us to do some amazing things, including imparting us with holy love for people who are unlovable by the world’s standards. But it’s not an instant easy-button. It’s a struggle, and a submission to God’s will, and a constant, hard process! I want to see more acknowledgement of that.

… Was that too long? I didn’t rant too much, did I? ^_^; I could talk about this all day. I’ll stop here though. Hope it gives you ideas or something. :)
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby mechana2015 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:00 pm

Don't worry about the ranting WT. You hit a lot of the problems right on the nose.

As for me, I'll start with a link to a recent article about one of the newest movies.
http://www.vox.com/2015/2/15/8038283/ch ... fty-shades

The criticisms there are solid. I also recommend reading Addicted to Mediocrity, which was written in 1981, and yet the first half of the book is still depressingly relevant.

I'll add more of my own thoughts later, but this will be a good starter into my views.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Peanut » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:44 pm

If you don't mind firestorm I'm going to post my thoughts here as well since I don't really like to share my facebook info anymore. I'm actually a bit more divided when it comes to film and Christian Media then other areas because, honestly, I think there's been some really good Christian movies. The Mission is the biggest one that comes to mind to me and if you have never seen it, seriously hunt down a copy. The Mission to me is the blue print for how any piece of Christian media should be. Its a high quality film that wrestles with a very real theme (the Liberation Theology movement was underway at the time this movie was released) and I don't think its not outrageously insulting to people who disagree with its message. While I think generating the scale of The Mission would be very hard for say an Independent Christian film studio to replicate, I do think they could take its formula and make a solid or very good Christian film.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:21 pm

Counterpoint: Noah was cool and good because it didn't try to be a dry retelling of the bible story.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Kaori » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:31 pm

WorldsTraveler wrote:I have a total crush on scenes in a story where the protagonist is able to forgive and/or love the antagonist. Because it’s really, really hard to pull off. When I see it done well, I just sit back like “whoa” and then I analyze the stuffing out of the plot to see how it worked. While I’ve seen many Christian movies attempt this scenario, I can’t think of a single one that actually succeeded in making me believe it. It tends to come across as too sudden and unrealistic.

You need to watch I Confess by Alfred Hitchcock. It has a scene like that, and it's done phenomenally well. Also, the antagonist is someone with whom the hero has a long previous history (he's his pastor, and we get some background on how the pastor helped the antagonist in the past), so it's not sudden at all but rather a steadfast perseverance in love even when the parishioner turns against him.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Peanut » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:25 pm

Nate wrote:Counterpoint: Noah was cool and good because it didn't try to be a dry retelling of the bible story.


Also there's not much to the story of Noah so they sort of had to improvise with extra-biblical sources. I would have done the same thing if I was in their shoes.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby firestorm » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:41 pm

Kaori wrote:
WorldsTraveler wrote:I have a total crush on scenes in a story where the protagonist is able to forgive and/or love the antagonist. Because it’s really, really hard to pull off. When I see it done well, I just sit back like “whoa” and then I analyze the stuffing out of the plot to see how it worked. While I’ve seen many Christian movies attempt this scenario, I can’t think of a single one that actually succeeded in making me believe it. It tends to come across as too sudden and unrealistic.

You need to watch I Confess by Alfred Hitchcock. It has a scene like that, and it's done phenomenally well. Also, the antagonist is someone with whom the hero has a long previous history (he's his pastor, and we get some background on how the pastor helped the antagonist in the past), so it's not sudden at all but rather a steadfast perseverance in love even when the parishioner turns against him.

I've never heard of it. What about the film as a whole was it good?


Kaori wrote:If you don't mind firestorm I'm going to post my thoughts here as well since I don't really like to share my facebook info anymore. I'm actually a bit more divided when it comes to film and Christian Media then other areas because, honestly, I think there's been some really good Christian movies. The Mission is the biggest one that comes to mind to me and if you have never seen it, seriously hunt down a copy. The Mission to me is the blue print for how any piece of Christian media should be. Its a high quality film that wrestles with a very real theme (the Liberation Theology movement was underway at the time this movie was released) and I don't think its not outrageously insulting to people who disagree with its message. While I think generating the scale of The Mission would be very hard for say an Independent Christian film studio to replicate, I do think they could take its formula and make a solid or very good Christian film.


I don't mind it's cool! That actually looked good! I wonder if it's on Netflix or Amazon.

Have anyone seen the rom com "ChristianMingle"? anyone have an idea on whether it's good?

If you guys can please share the poll wherever you think people would respond to it or fill out. I'm thinking of putting it on Christianforums and finding other sites.

Now how many of you would watch a Christian Romcom if it was worth watching?
How many of you are would be inclined to watch a Christian short film if it was good?
Any examples of such that you have seen that you guys would recommend?
I'm wondering if I share with you guys the summary of the film, would any of you help me build a fan base to help momentum for when I put it online? I am aiming to put it in the festival circuit first after I am done filming it. Afterward I am gonna put it online.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby mechana2015 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:33 am

The term Christian RomCom makes me immediately uninterested in the film, since I have the lowest regards for christian romance and christian comedy films and combining the together sounds absolutely aweful in context of the films that have been one or the other preceding it. Christian comedies tend to be painfully forced from what I've seen, since Christianity as a whole seems to be terrified to laugh at itself. Christian romances are just plain contrived God as a vending machine for spouses stories most of the time, or holy person fixes not holy person and they get married stories.

A rom com named after one of the most annoying advertisers on the planet is a definite no-go, and it would take serious convincing to get me to lay eyes on that film.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:57 am

Southern Baptists praise God like this, but Pentacostals praise God like this.

[audience laughter]
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby WorldsTraveler » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:21 am

Kaori wrote:You need to watch I Confess by Alfred Hitchcock. It has a scene like that, and it's done phenomenally well. Also, the antagonist is someone with whom the hero has a long previous history (he's his pastor, and we get some background on how the pastor helped the antagonist in the past), so it's not sudden at all but rather a steadfast perseverance in love even when the parishioner turns against him.


Ooh, this looks interesting. Thanks for the recommendation!

Nate wrote:Counterpoint: Noah was cool and good because it didn't try to be a dry retelling of the bible story


I agree. Noah was not a dry retelling. It was, in fact, quite wet. Positively drenched in intrigue! *flees*

firestorm wrote:Now how many of you would watch a Christian Romcom if it was worth watching?
How many of you are would be inclined to watch a Christian short film if it was good?
Any examples of such that you have seen that you guys would recommend?
I'm wondering if I share with you guys the summary of the film, would any of you help me build a fan base to help momentum for when I put it online? I am aiming to put it in the festival circuit first after I am done filming it. Afterward I am gonna put it online.


I’m generally not a RomCom fan, but my family is. So I’d probably watch it with them.

I like short films. They’re a good entry point. I’d say under 30 minutes is quite manageable for one sitting. Fifteen minutes or less is especially good.

I haven’t seen any Christian short films lately, but then, I haven’t been looking for them. I do enjoy some of VeggieTales though.

I’m not the target market for this film, nor do I personally know people who are. However, it occurred to me that there has been interest in wholesome Christian romance and comedy recently. (Example: All the promotion for Moms’ Night Out last year.) I’d say find that crowd and market to them. A group of Christian women (whether in a forum, online social group, or local group) would be a good starting place.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:31 pm

The problem with "Christian romance" and "Christian comedy" is that it tries too hard to be the former rather than the latter.

Good comedy doesn't try to be anything except funny. By forcing your jokes to somehow be related to Christianity you're already hamstringing them. That doesn't mean it's impossible to write Christian humor, obviously it can be done, but if you're setting out to purposely write it then you're going to often sacrifice the humor in favor of the Christianity and then you've narrowed the potential audience to people other Christians.

Which I guess isn't always a bad thing but it is something to keep in mind. If all you want to do is give other Christians a laugh then sure but if you're interested in getting it to appeal to non-Christians then you've sabotaged yourself because non-Chrsitians by and large aren't going to find "Christian humor" to be funny. Because it's more interested in being Christian than being humor.

EDIT: And mech already touched on the problem with Christian romance being that it 99% of the time portrays God as a vending machine who gives you the perfect soulmate for putting in purity coins. There's really no way around it, and it's just going to reinforce the thought process of "God will give me the perfect person as a reward for me not having a girlfriend/dating these other people who weren't right for me."

Let me tell you, as a person who didn't enter my first relationship until I was 24 I was VERY much into the "This is why God made me be alone for my life, because now I've met the perfect woman and this is my destiny," it nearly destroyed me when the relationship ended. Reinforcing that kind of belief through "Christian romance" actually really upsets me and I am 100% opposed to Christian romance films on that alone.

If you think you can make a Christian romance without putting forth the idea that 1) God will reward you for faithfulness and 2) God will give you the perfect partner if you just believe then hey go for it. But if you're going to present either of these ideas without the plan of showing how they're incorrect later in the film, I'd say Christian romance is something that should never be done. Ever.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby WorldsTraveler » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:26 pm

Forgive me if I sound disrespectful, for I do like seeing everyone’s opinions, but isn’t this starting to sound a bit… overcomplicated? I mean, maybe it’s just me, but the basic concept looks so simple.

Romance is romance. It’s a state of mind and heart that comes from interacting with another human being who displays affection towards you. Humor is humor. It is a curious ability in which we find certain things ‘amusing’ and that (hopefully) provokes laughter.

So we write a story with those two ingredients… and then we make the main characters Christians. How is that difficult? Christians are human beings. Like any human being, they have a philosophy and set of values by which they live their life. Those values just happen to be related to what the Bible teaches as opposed to another philosophy of life.

A story doesn’t have to be “These are two ‘Christians’ serving as role models and deliberately displaying Biblical values in life.” It could be, “These are two Christians who happen to be in love, planning a wedding, and dealing with all the funny coincidences and issues that pop up during weddings.” There doesn’t have to be anything blatantly ‘religious’ about it. It might just mean that, when the wedding cake decides to topple over, the exasperated characters hope to God for an otherwise smooth wedding instead of just yelling at the caterer. That’s just an example, but you see?

I think this has potential. I’ve read good Christian-inspired stories. I believe they can exist without being pretentious, legalistic, or Pollyannaish. And I want to see more. That's all.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby firestorm » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:27 pm

Nate wrote:The problem with "Christian romance" and "Christian comedy" is that it tries too hard to be the former rather than the latter.

Good comedy doesn't try to be anything except funny. By forcing your jokes to somehow be related to Christianity you're already hamstringing them. That doesn't mean it's impossible to write Christian humor, obviously it can be done, but if you're setting out to purposely write it then you're going to often sacrifice the humor in favor of the Christianity and then you've narrowed the potential audience to people other Christians.

Which I guess isn't always a bad thing but it is something to keep in mind. If all you want to do is give other Christians a laugh then sure but if you're interested in getting it to appeal to non-Christians then you've sabotaged yourself because non-Chrsitians by and large aren't going to find "Christian humor" to be funny. Because it's more interested in being Christian than being humor.


Point taken. Most of the humor I have written in it is more focused on the situation rather than jokes related to christianity. Basically it's situations that the Mother-in-law puts the bride through unknowingly. Originally I didn't want people to associate my movie with this, but they've kind of thought of it like Monster-In-Law. However the mother in law isn't doing it on purpose in this one.

Nate wrote:EDIT: And mech already touched on the problem with Christian romance being that it 99% of the time portrays God as a vending machine who gives you the perfect soulmate for putting in purity coins. There's really no way around it, and it's just going to reinforce the thought process of "God will give me the perfect person as a reward for me not having a girlfriend/dating these other people who weren't right for me."

Let me tell you, as a person who didn't enter my first relationship until I was 24 I was VERY much into the "This is why God made me be alone for my life, because now I've met the perfect woman and this is my destiny," it nearly destroyed me when the relationship ended. Reinforcing that kind of belief through "Christian romance" actually really upsets me and I am 100% opposed to Christian romance films on that alone.

If you think you can make a Christian romance without putting forth the idea that 1) God will reward you for faithfulness and 2) God will give you the perfect partner if you just believe then hey go for it. But if you're going to present either of these ideas without the plan of showing how they're incorrect later in the film, I'd say Christian romance is something that should never be done. Ever.


I'm more looking to explore the theme of what does a Godly woman look like today. What does a woman of God looks like, what does it take to support a husband and family and lead them in their relationship with Christ. Things like that. Reason why I say romcom is because of the premise. Basically the Bride-to-be, with some persuasion from the husband, allows the mother-in-law to help her with the wedding planning but the mother-in-law, who never got to have the wedding of her dreams, starts to be overbearing in helping (basically living her dream wedding through the brides) and screws things up in several occasions. Eventually the Bride confronts her about it, and along the way the bride learns what it means to be a Godly woman.

I'm still working on it. I only just finished my 1st draft of it. As I work on it I'll make it better, but that's more or less what I want it to be.

On another note, have you guys seen "To End All Wars"? I think it's good. And apparently it won awards at a couple of festivals.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:24 am

WorldsTraveler wrote:A story doesn’t have to be “These are two ‘Christians’ serving as role models and deliberately displaying Biblical values in life.” It could be, “These are two Christians who happen to be in love, planning a wedding, and dealing with all the funny coincidences and issues that pop up during weddings.” There doesn’t have to be anything blatantly ‘religious’ about it. It might just mean that, when the wedding cake decides to topple over, the exasperated characters hope to God for an otherwise smooth wedding instead of just yelling at the caterer. That’s just an example, but you see?

Well see that's the thing. If they're not going to be expressing that they're Christians or displaying Biblical values then how is it a Christian romantic comedy? Let me give an example, the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main character's father is Christian, Greek Orthodox specifically. Is My Big Fat Greek Wedding a Christian romantic comedy? I mean hey, there's a main character that's Christian! Except most people would say no, just because there is a Christian character in it doesn't mean it is a Christian movie. "Christian movie" means something specific, that the movie in some way represents Christianity or at the very least plays lip service to God. Just having a normal movie, with characters that are Christian, does not a Christian movie make.

And to me that isn't a bad thing. Like I'm not saying "No, Christian movies NEED to be more openly Christian and talk about God more" because that's literally the opposite of what I want, but you have to realize if you're going to market something as a Christian film, that the people that review Christian media actually do care about that kind of stuff. Most people here don't like Focus on the Family and Livewire (and for good reason, they suck) but that's the kind of people you're trying to appeal to if you're calling something Christian entertainment, and if all you've got is "It's a normal movie with no objectionable content" these places are going to say "Pssh this movie just trying to cash in on the name of Christ while presenting nothing substantial in it or even proclaiming Christ at all." And okay, sure, maybe you're not trying to appeal to these people...but then who are you trying to appeal to? Because anything marked "Christian entertainment" is generally not going to appeal to the mainstream. So now you've alienated most of the mainstream, and also the people who consume Christian entertainment...so who's really left?

So now you have this romantic comedy with characters who need to express that they're Christian, and what kind of things are they going to say? "I sure am glad that God led me to you. I pray every day that this relationship will work out. God, this relationship has hit hard times, am I really following your will in dating him/her?" These are the kinds of things actual, real Christians would say in relationships...but because this is hey, a movie, guess what? Having a happy ending where they get married and everyone is happy is pushing the message "God is a genie who will grant your wish of a perfect spouse and marriage!" And that is a bad message to send.

firestorm wrote:Basically the Bride-to-be, with some persuasion from the husband, allows the mother-in-law to help her with the wedding planning but the mother-in-law, who never got to have the wedding of her dreams, starts to be overbearing in helping (basically living her dream wedding through the brides) and screws things up in several occasions


Hey, speaking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding... :V

But yeah even if this doesn't fall victim to the "destined by God to be together" bit (and I'm not convinced it doesn't) it still falls into one of the other issues I mentioned: it's more concerned with being Christian than being a romantic comedy. Which, and I want to stress this because I know it sounds like I'm being down on it, is not necessarily a bad thing! There is definitely a market for this and if that is what you want to do there are many people who will enjoy it! But you do have to realize that it is going to limit your audience because the average American viewer is not going to want to watch a girl study the Bible to learn what she believes is a godly woman even if there's wacky hijinx. And I don't mean that you will have scenes of her literally sitting at a Bible reading it of course, but in order to present the view of what a godly woman is, you're going to have to reference verses you believe describe that, and that's where it's going to start sounding like a sermon instead of like a movie.

I'm not trying to discourage you! But I'm letting you know how these kinds of things are going to be viewed outside of the Christian community, and why Christian entertainment is very difficult to do. Make it too focused on Christianity, and it's going to be seen as preachy and overbearing by the mainstream. Make it not focused enough on Christianity, and it's going to be panned by the Christian community.

Usually good entertainment does not set out at the start with the explicit goal of "I am going to send this message." That doesn't mean good entertainment never sends a message, but what it means is good entertainment is concerned with being entertainment first and sending a message second. Look at Lord of the Rings. There are obviously many Christian parallels and references in it, because Tolkien was a Catholic. But Tolkien did not sit there and go "Hmm I am going to write a story where a wizard does what Jesus did and sends the message of how Jesus died for us." He sat there and went "I'm going to write an adventure about two guys trying to destroy a great evil and all their perils along the way. Oh cool, maybe I can have a character who represents what Jesus did."

And as I said before, I feel Christian entertainment usually fails by not doing that, but instead going "I want to write a movie where an atheist is shown to not have the hope and joy a Christian has. I wonder if I can do that by having a story where..." It's not about the story, or the characters, or what makes entertainment entertaining. It's very often about "How can I disguise a sermon as something else?"
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby WorldsTraveler » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:42 pm

Interesting points… sounds like the real issue is, “What are the expectations of this genre by the audience.” Christian media in particular has specific guidelines for what they want to see and accept.

Speaking as a marketer, I’d say, “This is great! Look, the audience just told us exactly what they want. Let’s give it to them!” But as an artist, I’m thinking, “This is too restricting – I don’t feel like I have creative freedom.” Do I fit my work into a pre-existing box? Or do I risk coloring outside the lines and try to find an audience?

I want to have fun playing around with this in my head a bit, so I’ll keep this reply short.

Anyway, if anyone here wants to read more about the expectations of Christian media and artistry, I highly recommend the book Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner. It does a much better job of exploring the concept than I could possibly do justice to.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Yuki-Anne » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:10 pm

Here's the problem with Christian media: it's scared. It's message-driven. It's just plain bad.

Christian movies often don't try to take any risks or do anything unexpected because they're afraid of offending church-goers. They also get on a soap-box and have to have some kind of moral or message. There's nothing I hate more than having a movie spoon-feed the gospel to me. There's always that cheesy conversion scene where Kirk Cameron cries in a bathroom while CCM plays. It makes my spine crawl.

I think the best kind of "Christian" art is GOOD art that happens to be made by Christians. You don't have to have a message. Just make a story with relateable characters in an interesting situation and let it speak for itself.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby mechana2015 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:34 pm

firestorm wrote:Basically the Bride-to-be, with some persuasion from the husband, allows the mother-in-law to help her with the wedding planning but the mother-in-law, who never got to have the wedding of her dreams, starts to be overbearing in helping (basically living her dream wedding through the brides) and screws things up in several occasions. Eventually the Bride confronts her about it, and along the way the bride learns what it means to be a Godly woman.


firestorm wrote:Basically it's situations that the Mother-in-law puts the bride through unknowingly. Originally I didn't want people to associate my movie with this, but they've kind of thought of it like Monster-In-Law. However the mother in law isn't doing it on purpose in this one.


You have a problem here where the mother in law could become remarkably unlikeable very quickly. She'll either be perceived as remarkably self centered or incredibly dense/insensitive. There's also a bit of an issue if she's subconsciously trying to live her dream wedding with showing that its not intentional sabotage, since if she's really causing problems it'll be hard to believe its not outright sabotage without her being perceived in the two previously mentioned lights.

WorldsTraveler wrote:Romance is romance. It’s a state of mind and heart that comes from interacting with another human being who displays affection towards you. Humor is humor. It is a curious ability in which we find certain things ‘amusing’ and that (hopefully) provokes laughter.

So we write a story with those two ingredients… and then we make the main characters Christians. How is that difficult? Christians are human beings. Like any human being, they have a philosophy and set of values by which they live their life. Those values just happen to be related to what the Bible teaches as opposed to another philosophy of life.



It's not difficult (and Nate covered this somewhat with his response) but... there are films like this but they aren't considered capital C "Christian" films. I think the issue is what you mention in your most recent post. The label is too narrow minded to contain films that don't contain things like in depth prayer scenes, preaching, proselytizing or conversions. There's a sort of enforced list of content that is expected in these sorts of films, which automatically stereotypes the characters and pigeonholes the contents of the story down to specific content. Characters say things no real person would say in reality because the genre demands it. This can happen in other genres, but thats the issue with (Capital C) Christian Films, they're not a film with a general sort of tone, they're a Genre, which means that if you try to merge them with other genres you end up with competing trappings and tropes of multiple genres, where the Christian film REQUIRES its narrow set of tropes to be considered by the 'intended' audience.

WorldsTraveler wrote:A story doesn’t have to be “These are two ‘Christians’ serving as role models and deliberately displaying Biblical values in life.” It could be, “These are two Christians who happen to be in love, planning a wedding, and dealing with all the funny coincidences and issues that pop up during weddings.” There doesn’t have to be anything blatantly ‘religious’ about it. It might just mean that, when the wedding cake decides to topple over, the exasperated characters hope to God for an otherwise smooth wedding instead of just yelling at the caterer. That’s just an example, but you see?


My question in this story then would be, where is the conflict that results in humor? It could just be a film of funny pratfalls, essentially a very collected but slightly frazzled couple praying their way through a wedding special episode of Americas Funniest Home videos. This is a type of comedy, but its an old form that rarely makes it into good films nowadays... I'd mention Father of the Bride as very close to your description, but that film has... many, many meltdowns and lots of screaming, not exactly what you describe here.

WorldsTraveler wrote:Anyway, if anyone here wants to read more about the expectations of Christian media and artistry, I highly recommend the book Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner. It does a much better job of exploring the concept than I could possibly do justice to.


Thank you for mentioning this book, its actually my general companion to 'Addicted to Mediocrity' in recommendations in conversations like this.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:29 am

Yuki-Anne wrote:I think the best kind of "Christian" art is GOOD art that happens to be made by Christians. You don't have to have a message. Just make a story with relateable characters in an interesting situation and let it speak for itself.

Great example: Chronicles of Narnia. CS Lewis obviously had very strong Christian symbolism and themes (Aslan is literally Jesus) but it doesn't come off as preachy (well, okay, it became preachy in The Last Battle but given the plot there was no way around that) because Lewis didn't set out to write a Christian novel or send a message. As he put it:

"The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.'"

mechana2015 wrote:It's not difficult (and Nate covered this somewhat with his response) but... there are films like this but they aren't considered capital C "Christian" films. I think the issue is what you mention in your most recent post. The label is too narrow minded to contain films that don't contain things like in depth prayer scenes, preaching, proselytizing or conversions. There's a sort of enforced list of content that is expected in these sorts of films, which automatically stereotypes the characters and pigeonholes the contents of the story down to specific content. Characters say things no real person would say in reality because the genre demands it.


This is mostly because the producers (and consumers) of Christian media say that if it doesn't explicitly mention Christ and Christian doctrine, how is it Christian? Just having characters be loving, forgiving, kind, even non-Christian movies have that too quite often, especially if they're family friendly stuff. Whether we here on this site agree that Christian entertainment must specifically mention Jesus or not, the point is that's what the genre demands.

And really, you need look no further than the Anime forum to see this! People come in constantly asking for Christian anime and the answers are always "Well uh Superbook and Flying House but there's not really any other specifically Christian anime" but then people recommend anime that has themes that can be interpreted as Christian, while acknowledging they're not Christian. They're not Christian anime. Haibane Renmei even inspired a sermon series, a study group, lots of theological debate! But in the end, it's not Christian, because it doesn't meet the requirements of the genre.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Kaori » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:49 pm

mechana2015 wrote:Christian comedies tend to be painfully forced from what I've seen, since Christianity as a whole seems to be terrified to laugh at itself.

Really? I see a whole lot of Christians poking fun at themselves online. Maybe it has something to do with the places I tend to go online, I don't know (I see it a lot from Catholics particularly, Catholics poking fun at themselves and at church culture, like here). But I hear this in person too, for example, there are certain frequently-repeated jokes that people in my Orthodox parish like to say about Orthodox people.

firestorm wrote:I've never heard of it. What about the film as a whole was it good?

I haven't seen any other Hitchcock films, and I'm not even a movie buff, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt (though as a literature major, I do know a few things about a good story).

Overall, I thought it was good and enjoyed it highly. During the first half, it was fascinating to watch the way that events and all the informaiton that was revealed all converged in such a way as to make it look like the priest was guilty. Also, I really admire the main character and the way that despite his obvious inward turmoil (which is portrayed though things like visual symbolism and his outward actions, not through anything he says aloud) he maintains complete integrity and, as I mentioned above, love for his enemy. Satisfyingly engaging and suspenseful, very powerful climax. It also has fantastic use of visual symbolism (e.g. the use of crucifixes in the background) and overall good cinematography (e.g. the opening scene where you see a man in a cassock walking down a dark alley at night).


I read a bunch of reviews and comments about the movie, and it seems like among people who know Hitchcock opinions about this film are either "It's an overlooked masterpiece" or "It's just average." Common criticisms are that the movie has plot holes and that the plot is contrived (and it certainly is contrived in a very Dickens sort of way; it is just not realistic that events would converge together in the way that they do).

Yuki-Anne wrote:I think the best kind of "Christian" art is GOOD art that happens to be made by Christians. You don't have to have a message. Just make a story with relateable characters in an interesting situation and let it speak for itself.


I'm with Yuki-Anne on this one. The only way to make a story that is genuine and not fake is to follow your own inclination and just tell the kind of story that you want to tell. Make art. Be a Christian. If your faith is important to you (as it clearly is, based on the kinds of things you are saying), then there will be Christian content and themes that come out in your work, whether it is explicit or not. If on the other hand you have a message that you want to "get across," then it is probably going to come across as preachy and forced.

Also, if you get all hung up on "If I want to appeal to the Christian market, I have to include x, y, and z, and if I don't include those things but include Christian in-jokes then the movie will neither be marketed as Christian nor appeal to non-Christians" and that sort of thing, then it is just going to be a paralyzing factor that makes it difficult to do anything at all.

Basically, just make the story that you want to make.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Zeke365 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:39 pm

I thought show you a christian movie I put together, a lot times christian movies seem to have these set rules everyone is perfect, family oriented and other things but the moment gets out of that realm of fantasy living people not all become ridiculed of it. If someone could pm me what those rules are I be happy to see them. Plus I do agree that christian characters need more character than say you be funny, you be romantic. We need depth. As for Noah I liked (except when they messed up the ending) it showed a human perspective and what might been like in those days.

This a machinima I made https://vimeo.com/102980579 that might dark for others (NO under 13 should watch due this mature elements)
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Mr. SmartyPants » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:50 pm

The best Christian movie ever is Ghandi. And Romero.

The rest are a big waste of time.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Zeke365 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:57 pm

not all christian movies are bad I will give some good examples Left Behind (2014), God not Dead, Blink of eye, facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous and others if you want to find more visit http://www.christianfilmdatabase.com/ which has a wide selection of christian movies good, bad and some really bad.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby mechana2015 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:28 pm

2014 left behind is universally reviled. 3.1 out of 10 IMDB score, a 2% on rotton tomatoes.

If that doesn't cover it, let's talk money. The film cost 16 million U.S. dollars to make, a remarkably low budget for a disaster movie. It didn't make money in the US. It's entire US box office take was 14 million. It broke even finally, overseas where it earned 5 million dollars, for a grand total of 19 million dollars box office.

For comparison, Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, another movie based on a Christian authored book with string biblical themes earned 23 million dollars... On its first day in theaters. It went on to earn 700 million in box office sales.

The movie on all rubrics is a disaster, and while I realize that you may have your own perspective and opinion... I'm just going to present this counterpoint because I take this topic seriously, and Left Behind 2014 is an example of everything wrong with movies marketed to Christians.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:00 pm

God's Not Dead is literally the worst Christian movie ever made and also a strong contender for worst movie ever made in general.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Zeke365 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:11 pm

Let me ask you guys what the heck are you looking for in a christian movie please explain in detail what you want? You want everything to be perfect not gonna happen not everyone I truly do not understand it seems like the slightest change to anything in movie or based on a book it get ridiculed like crazy.

plus are you listening to secular options or user options on these movies. Just be cause it says it bad means you wont watch it? How many you have actually watch the movies described? and the top question still applies I really want to know.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Davidizer13 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:44 pm

Zeke365 wrote:Let me ask you guys what the heck are you looking for in a christian movie please explain in detail what you want? You want everything to be perfect not gonna happen not everyone I truly do not understand it seems like the slightest change to anything in movie or based on a book it get ridiculed like crazy.


The best explicitly Christian movie I've seen has been To Save a Life. It didn't try to sugarcoat or dumb down the issues for a wider audience, the characters' faiths moved and acted in realistic ways, and in general, there was an air of verisimilitude and intensity that most others lack. There were characters in the church who had their own crises of faith and wrestled with actual doubts and mistakes, lapses in judgments, imperfections and matters with actual consequence. There were things at stake, the things that people outside of Christianity would consider actual issues, like teen suicide, domestic abuse, drugs, etc., versus the typical route of "merely" saving souls. As important as that is to you or me, to someone on the outs with Christianity, it's not a satisfying conflict. Making the things that drive the movie something that outsiders can relate to is essential when you present Christianity as a path to a solution - not an immediate fix, mind you, not as some sort of "Jesus magic," but as the start to something bigger.

Was it melodramatic? Absolutely. Looking back, it took turns in to straight-up after school special territory, but then again, I was a couple years older than its target audience who probably appreciated it more for what it was, than my view about what it was trying to be. But when it comes to what it was attempting, I think it did a good job.

The best Christian movie, explicitly so or not, that I've seen is the 1998 version of Les Miserables. I consider the source material one of the best Christian novels out there, and easily one of the best novels, period. Obviously, being from a major studio, they had star power and budget, quality writers, and many other advantages that the studios putting out Christian movies do not. While by necessity they had to cut out Victor Hugo's extended ruminations on the role of the Christian in the world (and many other things), they modified the plot somewhat, resulting in a powerful allegory. It gets cut down to something more streamlined, focusing almost completely on Jean Valjean, the reformed thief who hides the fact that he's broken parole as he becomes a successful, Godly businessman, and his conflict with Javert, an implacable detective who discovers Valjean's secret and seeks to bring him to justice simply for the fact that the law has been broken and the punishment must be brought about. While not complete one-to-one, it becomes a struggle between the forgiven Christian and grace, and the law that still seeks to prosecute them, brought to the fore in a way that even the book did not.

Zeke365 wrote:plus are you listening to secular options or user options on these movies. Just be cause it says it bad means you wont watch it? How many you have actually watch the movies described? and the top question still applies I really want to know.


I want a Christian movie that stands on its own merits, one that people outside the Christian circle can look at and say, "Wow, that was a good movie!". "Good for a Christian movie" is not good enough; why aren't we simply making good movies, period? It wasn't always like this - considering the coercive religious climate of most of the time, it might not be a fair comparison, but the best artists in Europe were using their talents in the service of God: Hieronymus Bosch, Michelangelo, J. S. Bach, Hildegard of Bingen, and all manner of artists and thinkers. But today, most of what I've seen from the Christian movie industry pales in comparison to the "secular" movie industry in many ways. Budget shouldn't be an issue (see Primer. No, really, go see Primer), but even the ones without that constraint don't seem to do well; for example, the Left Behind movies. I can throw all the money and all the talent I want at a movie, but if the writing isn't any good, the plot doesn't have a basis in what is real, or the dialogue is too busy trying to shoehorn as much message as it can without regard for the other elements of the film, it's not going to be a good movie.

What Christian movies often lack is an efficiency of purpose, pointing and saying, "This is the plot! I am moving in this direction, and everything has to move with it." An ironclad rule of any sort of writing or drama is that everything must serve the plot in some way - setting, characters, conversations, message, you name it - whether your intent is to change people's minds about Christianity or to make a billion at the box office. Fail at that, and you have a boring movie. We focus too much on the message and the real-world implications of the movie, make them head-poundingly unsubtle that they often have little grounding in the real world that we exit the theater and return to. Doing that over and over again acts as a disservice to Christianity's appearance as a whole.

And along with that, what's wrong with finding the divine where it wasn't supposed to be? Not that I'm encouraging works that are outright blasphemous or offensive, but I believe it's possible to find redemptive parts within the "secular," finding value in what was considered to be worthless. After all, isn't that what God has done with us? At the very least, we use these works to discuss elements of the world we live in, seeing as every work out there is expressing the author's perspective on the world. We can point at those and say, "Here's where I think they're right/wrong, and this is what I believe about it."
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Nate » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:07 pm

Zeke365 wrote:Let me ask you guys what the heck are you looking for in a christian movie please explain in detail what you want?

Personally I'm not looking for anything in a Christian movie because I find Christian movies in general to be pretty bad usually. Since the title of the thread is "Your opinion on Christian movies," my opinion is that they aren't good, that they are in fact terrible. A couple of people in this thread are trying to make Christian movies or entertainment and if they can use my criticisms against Christian movies to make their stuff better, hey, awesome! But I'm sharing my opinion in a thread about my opinion; the fact that my opinion is "It sucks" doesn't mean I'm required to come up with something better.

Zeke365 wrote:plus are you listening to secular options or user options on these movies. Just be cause it says it bad means you wont watch it?


I have Christian friends who agree that God's Not Dead is a horrible movie, because it is. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about it except that Kevin Sorbo is still getting work after God of War III. The movie is based on a stupid email chain letter and uses ignorant stereotypes, as well as has a complete misunderstanding of atheism and philosophy. It is terrible. The fact that it would ever be suggested as a good Christian film is completely and utterly laughable.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby mechana2015 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:18 am

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/201 ... ehind.html Well I'd say this is a pretty good review, and from a christian source. And frankly I have to look at reviews for these sorts of things, I don't have the kind of money to just throw at movies that I wouldn't enjoy just because someone told me someone says Jesus name during it in a non profane manner, and since I'm looking for good art, that means I'm looking at reviewers from all areas. It doesn't take a christian reviewer to tell me the film is badly framed sloppily filmed or poorly edited, or that the graphics look like they were done on a commodore 64. Telling me that the creators were Christians wont make me any less critical of a movie if its bad and, honestly sometimes it'll make me more critical. Bad secular films insult their audience. Bad so called christian films insult their audience and The Creator.

As for what I'm looking for in a christian movie has already been explained by Yuki.

Yuki-Anne wrote:Here's the problem with Christian media: it's scared. It's message-driven. It's just plain bad.

Christian movies often don't try to take any risks or do anything unexpected because they're afraid of offending church-goers. They also get on a soap-box and have to have some kind of moral or message. There's nothing I hate more than having a movie spoon-feed the gospel to me. There's always that cheesy conversion scene where Kirk Cameron cries in a bathroom while CCM plays. It makes my spine crawl.

I think the best kind of "Christian" art is GOOD art that happens to be made by Christians. You don't have to have a message. Just make a story with relateable characters in an interesting situation and let it speak for itself.

Bold for emphasis.

An example of what I want in the category of GOOD art? Prince of Egypt. Well told story, great music, fantastic animation. Took liberties where it needed to to make a good movie but nothing too clunky or preachy.

Narnia, a well told story with great animation, cinematography, costumes acting and graphics, and its a straight up easter story. The writing was done well enough to allow for some modifications, but the whole story to hold together and the core to really stand out.

If you're adapting a book? Adapt it. Keep the core conceits of the book and then make sure it works on screen. Dialogue can change, but make sure its written well and doesn't lose the impact and intent of the original dialogue. Scenes may be cut or added, but not to the point where it damages the integrity of the story or adds unnecessary content for the purpose of padding the runtime.

If you're writing an original story, make sure the characters are able to be believed as real people, and that they don't seem to be christians because the story demands it.
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Re: Your opinion on Christian movies.

Postby Zeke365 » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:41 am

this may sound crazy and I m listening to the comments but the fact is were the ones putting down christian movies have you ever heard the phrase dont judge a book by it cover same should be applied to christian movies. If the movies (God not dead, Left behind) above does not convince you in Christians nothing will. That harsh I know but this could be the very reality why dont have good christian films. Like an old saying if you dont like it make something out of it. Thanks all for answers still trying to get a grip why christian movies have had a bad rap.
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