When to Say No to Christian Movies
Sometimes we all have to say no to doing things. Many people have a hard time doing this and I’m one of the worst. But in a busy world, if you don’t say no, you’ll never have time for what’s most important. But this isn’t just about saying no for the sake of time. Whether it’s about watching or making Christian movies sometimes we need to say no. As a general rule, it makes sense that for any question, sometimes the answer is no. But whenever applied to anything specific, this idea of saying no can become very controversial. When I first encountered this idea myself I fought it, but now I have come full circle. Let me tell you why and when I think we should say no.
I have been working on a documentary for about the last year and a half. It’s a documentary about Christian filmmakers and about Hollywood. I have watched a lot of other documentaries in that time. I have watched several about Hollywood, including Central Casting, The Hollywood Complex, and Strictly Background. All excellent and enlightening films. They are all sad tales, however, about dreams that don’t come true and how hard it is to make it in show business. I have also watched hundreds if not thousands of TV shows and films, fictional and non-fiction that tell the stories of persistence and hard work paying off, and I still believe in those ideas too. But there must be a balance and so that is what we all must consider.
So this is not to discourage anyone but to encourage everyone to look at what they are doing and count the cost. For the Christian however, we must also and I would say foremost, really pray and consider what God calls each of us to do. If you feel called then you should obey that calling. We must also keep in mind that being called doesn’t always end up in being successful in the ways we envision.
Disappointment is a part of life and facing it can be difficult, but also be a tool for growth. So if you face disappointment and you take stock of what happened, and what lessons you have learned, and you know better how to move forward, that can be powerful and good. But sometimes if you face disappointment due to unrealistic expectations it can be very crushing. So the first thing we all must do is look at our dreams, whether it is to act or make films or do anything that has difficult odds, and accept that even if we try our best, things not only might not work out but that they probably won’t. Then you must also be willing to see when it is time to move on.
Quality is another important thing to consider. I have seen quite a few Christian movies and I have definitely seen some good ones and enjoyed them. Christian movies should be made and not just one person’s idea of what Christian films are either but I wide variety of films. I have also seen some really uninteresting and boring Christian films. This is in itself not that shocking or a big deal. Hollywood also makes a lot of bad films. But whether Hollywood, independent or Christian, a filmmaker has to evaluate his work and the cost and either learn from it and make better films or move on to something else. Walking away can be hard, especially when we don’t know what’s next. So maybe a backup plan isn’t a bad idea, not a plan to fail or necessarily a plan to do something sensible and boring, just a plan that includes other options.
Following any dream takes time and when you put time into that dream, you are not only often putting real money into it you are also spending opportunities, opportunities to spend time with other people and go to other places and learn other things. Consider this cost also.
I don’t watch nearly as many Christian movies as you might think nor nearly as many as I would like to. I wish there were many more Christian films that would keep my interest. I don’t want to invest 90 minutes in a movie that feels slow and uninteresting, and a lot of Christian movies can feel this way. I know I am a bit of a hypocrite. I know the passion, hope, love, sweat, and tears that goes into making practically any movie. However, if I find a movie difficult to sit through than how much harder is it for people making distribution decisions, or even general audiences to watch these movies? This is why we must always strive to make good art, good art isn’t always successful but it is much more gratifying and much more likely to be successful.
I look back at the last nearly twenty years at pursuing this calling and this is what I see:
I made a radio drama for nine years that reached thousands of people.
I’m working on my third film where the previous two have thus far been very limited in their exposure, at least compared to what I had hoped.
My movies have been sold on DVD, had some distribution, been watched in churches and played on various TV networks.
I have not come close to seeing my labor make a financial profit.
I am doing my best with my current project but regardless of how well I do, I don’t know how much of an impact it will have.
I do have a lot of positive takeaways, however. I did learn a lot about filmmaking. I met a lot of really great people. I took some really fun trips and got to see interesting things and places. I met my wife doing this and my four kids have been a part of the journey with me. I don’t know what my future holds and I don’t know what your future holds either but I believe we should all use our limited resources with care but also set out to make the most with them. I do wish everyone reading this much success and I hope your dreams do come true.