Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Makes a Film "Christian?"

For years we have had a small genre of movies called 'CHRISTIAN FILMS' but very few people seem to agree about what a Christian film really is.  Hollywood has a long history of producing and releasing 'religious-themed' films, (The Ten Commandments, The King of Kings, The Bible, etc...) that portray biblical stories in a glorious Hollywood fashion.  Then, they created stories BASED on biblical truths with their own interpretation for dramatic effects (Ben-Hur, Quo-Vadis, The Robe).

Over the years, more and more 'religious-themed' films have been released and have been the target of angry boycotts by Christians for being blasphemous due their controversial material (The De Vinci Code, Saved, The Last Temptation of Christ).  Then occasionally, there are films that seem to lie in-between, entertaining and inspiring, containing high-moral teachings, but lacking any really gospel message, or masking it behind allegories (Evan Almighty, Chronicles of Narnia, Diary of a Mad Black Woman).

In 1994, a television series came close to being labeled as Christian, CBS's 'Touched By An Angel.'  It had biblical and moral teachings, a message about God's unconditional love for all man, and inspiring tales of people who changed their life after having an encounter with an angel of God, but the show was never allowed to mention the single ingredient for the ultimate Christian experience, Jesus Christ.  Instead, it went the safe route and promoted a generic GOD character that could easily be interpreted as Buddha, Allah or any other God of your choice. 

This seems to follow a new trend in modern films, called 'Faith-Based films', which target the Christian community with it's slight hints at Christianity, but aims to reach a secular crowd by not actually mentioning Jesus or give any clear Gospel presentation (To Save A Life, Soul Surfer, End of the Spear).  They will hint at scripture or salvation through scenes of baptism and church attendance, but never declare any plan of salvation or mention the only name by which we are saved.  Kyle Prohaska of Praise Pictures posted at the OneWayFilms forum, "...a lot of films do not refer to which God they are talking about, and never reference Jesus. That's my biggest beef with a lot of the stuff out there." All of these examples can leave the common film-goer asking themselves, "so what IS a Christian film?" 

Over the last several years, Christian filmmakers have tried to answer that question by making independent films presenting biblical truth while not shying away from a bold presentation of the Gospel (Left Behind, In the Blink of an Eye, Standing Firm)

Christian filmmaker and actor David A.R.White of Pure Flix Entertainment offered his answer to this question, "A Christian film is a film that has a message of redemption and hope found only through Jesus Christ. What is not a Christian Film is every other film."  Sounds like a simple and to-the-point explanation.

Andre' Van Heerden of Cloud Ten Pictures (director, producer, writer) seems to agree, "I'm not a fan of the term 'Christian film'. I think any film should be classified by its genre first, IE: action, comedy, western etc.  Now, if a film happens to have an "environmental" theme, or a "political" theme, or a "Christian" theme, then that can be mentioned in reviews etc. as well, but that should not be confused with its genre.  All that said, I believe that a film with a Christian theme should aim to give people hope and a greater purpose to their lives by leading people to Jesus Christ or at least impart an ideal that is specifically Biblical based." 

There seems to be two classifications of films being released that are aimed at the Christian community.
  1. The 'Christian' film, which will boldly present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in it's story-line.
  2. The 'faith-based' film, which can be entertaining and inspiring, but lacking in any real gospel message.
It is not to say that 'faith-based' films are bad, they can be helpful and useful tools in the hands of a Christian who understands how to use them as 'ice-breakers' with an unsaved friend or audience.  They can launch a series of discussion questions that will direct it's audience to finding answers in the word of God and therefore, leading that person to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

But if that film was viewed alone, without the assistance of a mature believer to direct the unbeliever afterwards, then the message of the film has a greater risk of falling upon deaf ears and serving only to entertain rather than evangelize.

When viewing a film targeted at a Christian audience, it's important to know which category this film is falling into, then, you'll know how to use that film with your friends, family or church. 

Has your life been touched or challenged by a Christian or faith-based film?  Log in to the OneWayFilms forum and share your story with us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Left Behind" Gets a Blockbuster-Size Reboot

Cloud Ten Pictures founder and CEO, Paul LaLonde has announced that they plan to start production for a brand new 'Left Behind' reboot for theatrical release. "This is definitely an exciting time, not just for Cloud Ten, but for the entire Christian filmmaking industry. We're remaking the original LEFT BEHIND movie at the true Hollywood "blockbuster" level that a message like this deserves, with top level cast, writers, and production from the word "go".

Cloud Ten Pictures has already released a moderate sized series of films based on the best-selling books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins that starred Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Gordon Currie and Academy Award winner Lou Gossett Jr. But a fourth installment was held up due to a court battle over the rights of the films. As of October 1, 2010, the film rights have officially been restored back to Cloud Ten Pictures. Cloud Ten is excited and have already begun developing a script for a major reboot and compiling a team for this high-profile film. "This is the movie that Christians have been hoping for" Paul says, "and I can hardly wait to get it going."

Will the new Left Behind look just like the original, or will there be any differences is what a lot of fans want to know. Paul LaLalonde has given fans at the OneWayFilms forum a sneak peek into his vision for the new reboot. "I want to show the world what it will be like when the rapture happens, and what it will really be like to be left behind. Not, the politics of a new world order, not the mark of the beast - this is about the rapture. The day it happens. That's why it needs a bigger budget obviously. So I'm trying to stay "true" to the books, but most of what you see will not be "from the book". In the book, the rapture just sort of happens - and then we're straight into the aftermath. In reality, it's going to be A WHOLE LOT BIGGER DEAL than that. Millions of people vanish into thin air! Imagine the first few hours after that happens and you'll get a sense of what I'm hoping to do with this movie."

If you have any questions for Paul, you can join our FORUM for free and post your questions for him. He enjoys reading what fans are saying and occasionally, he pops in to respond with exclusive info.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Loving the Bad Man (Coming Soon)

Stone Bridge Films and Eastlake Films have teamed together to present "Loving the Bad Man" starring Christine Kelly, Arturo Fernandez and Stephen Baldwin.

This story focuses on Julie Thompson (Christine Kelly), a young conservative Christian woman, whose faith is put to the test after being raped and giving birth to a child. This tragedy leads her on a difficult journey that forces her to explore and redefine her relationship with God, her family, her friends and even her rapist Mike Connor (Arturo Fernandez).

It's "calling people to really look at who they are in Christ," said actor Stephen Baldwin at the latest screening which has so far screened in front of over 5,000 people. Baldwin, who plays McQuade, the nefarious leader of the Skinheads, said the film is not evangelistic by nature. But he suggested that it's meant to convict those who call themselves Christians.

"It's a film that ... is not fooling around. We are living in a time where if you're fooling around with your faith, you're going to be held accountable," said the actor, who became a Christian about a decade ago.

"Loving the Bad Man" will be in select theaters Friday, April 29, 2011. Visit the official web site at LovingTheBadMan.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

OWF Interview with Hollywood Actor Timothy Bottoms

In 2007, Hollywood actor Timothy Bottoms (The Last Picture Show, Rollercoaster) did a little family film called 'Paradise Texas', which was about a washed up Hollywood actor struggeling with his family, marriage and career.  In real life, Timothy had a career that was one step from 'Superstardom' in the 70's and developed an impressive filmogrpahy, but when the movie roles thinned out, he turned to TV and faded from the A-list status. Since then, he has enjoyed a very successful career in several films and television, playing George Bush in TV's comedy satire 'That's My Bush' and TV's remake of Sid & Marty Kroft's 'Land of the Lost'. I had the oportunity to attend the red carpet premier of 'Paradise Texas' in Dallas and hooked up with Timothy the next morning for a sit down interview at his hotel.  During that interview, we got to talk about his faith and his career and how his character in 'Paradise Texas' reminded him of many area's of his own life. Here is a piece of that interview.

OWF (OneWayFilms): Thank you Mr. Bottoms for taking time with us this morning. I enjoyed ‘Paradise Texas’ last night, it is a great family film. You seemed very comfortable and at ease in your role of Mack Cameron. Let me start by asking, how did you get started into acting?

TIM: It’s just like the movie. When you watch the beginning, there is a montage of a little boy growing up. That first shot of the little boy eating birthday cake was actually me from 1952. My life kinda followed that (montage) in a lot of ways, as far as performing for family and friends. I finally got the opportunity in school to be in a play and sing. That carried me all the way though my high school years. My last year in high school, I was involved in a production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’  It was a pro/armature production and it received a lot of notice. The LA Times came up and did a review and called it one of the best plays in the country that year. I received an offer from an agent, and I thought this is a great way to make some money before I continue my education in college. I was accepted for my first year in the California Performing Arts, a school set up by Disney to discover new talent.

After that, I got a couple of movies. One of the big ones in Texas (The Last Picture Show), that one just shot me up in the Hollywood scene, right to the Academy Awards. The film before that went to international fame (Johnny Got His Gun), and all this happened just overnight. I got to work with Maggie Smith, Jason Robards, and some wonderful people.

OWF: It must have taken you by surprise.

TIM: It did. As I look back now, I think maybe it would have been better for me to go back to school and build a stronger foundation in my life before I jumped into the Hollywood thing, because I was just a kid from the canyons and beaches of Santa Barbara.

OWF: How did the sudden fame and success affect you?

TIM: Just like the character I play in this film, there were a lot of pitfalls in my life, and I’ve been struggling to find a place where I feel good about myself. I had fallen on my face after my first marriage and I just let the devil take a hold of me and I ended up destroying my own life. I was my worst enemy.

Then I met a wonderful woman, she was an eighth generation California catholic. I asked her dad for permission to marry his daughter, and he said “You can marry my daughter but I sure would like it if you were baptized in the Church.” I was baptized by a Priest who was involved with a circus.
OWF: A priest in a circus?

TIM: They were all priests who went around the country telling the parables of Christ in all their performances, and I just fell in love with all those guys. I went to seminary and stayed there a couple of weeks, got a crash course in a quick amount of time, (laughing) made my profession of faith, accepted it, and cast out the devil.

OWF: How has your life been since then?

TIM: It’s still a struggle, everyday it’s a struggle because there are so many things in the world that come at us from all around. I walked away from Hollywood. By running away, I abandoned morals, I abandoned my wife, my kids, my faith but I kept coming back because of the forgiveness of God, the forgiveness of Jesus. I kept coming back because he will forgive you, and you just learn from it. That’s what’s so wonderful about Him, you can ask forgiveness daily, and I think we all have to.
OWF: Your professional career sounds very similar to your characters in Paradise, Texas.

TIM: It is. When I read this script, I talked to my wife. She reads all my scripts before I do it, and I said “How could they come up with a story that is so close to my life?” She said “Maybe that’s God talking to you.” I said “Well, that’s kinda scary, it so close, I don’t know if I should do this.” She said “No, that IS the reason to do it.”

OWF: So it was the script that drew you to this project?

TIM: Absolutely. My manager came to me and said this was a great opportunity for me. He listed some other actors who were being offered the part. I like a challenge so I said, “Let me see if I can convince them that I am the one for this.” Luckily for me, the others passed on it. One passed because it wasn’t enough money, and the other passed because it was too close to his life. I thought the same thing, but this was the reason TO do it.

OWF: How did this film affect you personally?

TIM: I was trying to find work that would stretch me and I wanted a film that I could show people without being ashamed of my failures, but instead to learn from them and to teach that to other people. This film was a healing for me. I think I’m a better person because of this movie.

OWF: How has being a Christian influenced your decision in which roles you take?

TIM: As an actor, I don’t say I’m only going to do things that are morally right, because in my business, you have to be able to perform the evil bad guys to show people what evil and bad is, so as actors, we’re messengers. Our job is to pretend, I’m a pretender, that’s what I do. My real life is my family, to raise my kids to make moral decisions in the world. My real life is to try to do unto others what I would have them do unto me, and try not to kill anybody (laughs), try to love my neighbor. That is how my faith has influenced me, but in my work, I have to cast all that aside, put on the horns and the fork-tail once in awhile and I have to pretend. That’s what I love, telling stories. We have to be forgiven or we are not worthy of our faith.

OWF: Thank you for time today, you have been very gracious.
TIM:  Thank you, I enjoyed it as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Box Office Results for 'SOUL SURFER' Openning Weekend.

Soul Surfer caught an estimated $11.1 million on around 2,300 screens at 2,214 locations, which was solid considering that surfing movies tend to wipeout. Not bad for a film with a budget of only $15 million.  Sony considers this a big success, as they were only expecting a $10 million openning. This will end up being a very small but profitable film, which might pave the way for more Christian-themed family features.  Distributor Sony Pictures' research showed that 80 percent of the audience was female and 56 percent was under 25 years old. Also, it was the rare movie to score an "A+" in CinemaScore's moviegoer polling.

For a film about surfing, SOUL SURFER has already beat 'Point Break', 'North Shore',  and 'Endless Summer 2' for an openning weekend at the box office.  If you got to see this inspirational film, visit our public forum at OneWayFilms Forums and tell us what you thought.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

'Run On' Now Available...

Starring David A.R. White, Tommy Blaze & Brad Stine.

When the name of David A.R.White is mentioned, stand up comedy isn't the first thing that comes to mind.  Even though he's done a one-man comedy show called HOLYMAN UNDERCOVER which recently became a feature film, David White is best known for his independent apocalyptic and Christian-themed action thrillers. 

With several productions in the making (To The Wall, Me Again, Marriage Retreat, Jerusalem Countdown), David recently took time out of his busy schedule and joined Christian comedians Brad Stine (Apostles of Comedy, Sarah's Choice) and Tommy Blaze (TV's Friends, The Newz) in a stand up comedy performance, "RUN ON" which has just been released on DVD by Pure Flix Entertainment and based from an inspired idea by Brad Stine.

Each performer will share their hysterical experiences from their life, family, career and most importantly, their faith.  "What I like about this show," David says,  "is that you have three different stories, three different perspectives, and no matter  what side of the street you grew up on, at the end of the day we all need God's grace and we all need God's forgiveness."

Brad Stine gets to share a whole different side of himself that his fans may have never seen before, "For my fans who knew Brad Stine, the comic; they get to see Brad Stine the man, flawed, broken and human."

Run On, a comedy with errors. Who would have thought pain could be this funny?  Now available on DVD.  OneWayFilms review coming soon along with exclusive interviews with Brad Stine and Tommy Blaze.

Monday, April 4, 2011

'Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader' Hit's Home Video This Friday, April 8

Most home video new releases hit store shelves on Tuesdays, but Twentieth Century Fox Pictures has selected Friday, April 8 to release the third film based on C.S. Lewis fantasy novel "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."  Dawn Treader stars original actors, Georgie Henley, Skandar Heynes, Will Poulter and Ben Barnes along with the voices of Liam Neeson and Simon Pegg.

Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship, The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world where they must face temptations of the flesh by the White Witch.

This DVD / Blu-ray will be released with several extras including audio commentary with director Michael Apted, deleted scenes,  and TONS of documentary shorts, giving you a Behind-the-Scenes pass into the making of the film with cast and crew.

Carrie Underwood on her First Film Role

This Friday, SOUL SURFER, the inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton hits theaters nation wide which features the acting debut of Christian singer and American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood. 

"She was so honest adn real on camera, it just blew us away." says Director Sean McNamara. Carrie's first film role was frightning. 'It's all so new," Carrie says, "and it's a learning process. But everyone was so nice and helpful and patient, it was really exciting for me. I never set out to be an actress, but I always said if something came along and it was for the right reasons, I would do it. And this script just felt right."

Check your local listing for participating a theater near you and visit OneWayFilms.net to post your review after you see the film.  You can also read our early review right HERE.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

HERO (Coming Soon) Makes A Special Limited Time Offer to Churches

"HERO" (Coming Soon)
From the creators of 'Come What May'

Brightline Pictures and Advent Film Group presents 'HERO'.  One man’s broken relationship with his son fills him with the determination to make a difference in his town, and to reach his own son. He forms a baseball team deliberately designed to involve both fathers and sons in a common effort. His actions begin to turn the heart of a father in prison, and transform a town. As fathers grow in their relationship with their sons, they learn that God the Father wants the same close relationship with them.
HERO is not just another baseball movie.  It is a story with the potential to restore and strengthen relationships, to help remind us of what is truly important and encourage us to get our priorities straight.  The way God planned it to be!

If your church would like to screen HERO and assist in the promotions of this film, visit the web site and watch the trailer at www.herofamilymovie.com.  This is a limited time offer,  Register today.

Cloud Ten Announces 'Apocalypse 5: The Chosen'

Cloud Ten Pictures (Left Behind, Apocalypse series, Saving God) has announced some interesting projects in the works for the near future.  My personal favorite being that the wait for the 5th installment of the Apocalypse last-days film series is finally coming to an end. Cloud Ten Pictures has heard the fans cry for more and hired experienced screen writer, Greg Mitchell and already has a completed script to "APOCALYPSE 5: THE CHOSEN."

Paul LaLonde and Andre' Van Heerden loved his pitch for the 5th film.  After meeting Greg, Andre' was sold. "We hit it off immediately. He's got a great dark sense of humor and is a true fan-boy of comics, 80's culture and old horror films... not to mention our Apocalypse films! He knew them all inside and out," said van Heerden. "Greg has a great ability to be creative within a created world and not break any of its rules.  That's a rare talent and I think it comes naturally for Greg because he genuinely likes the material so much."
Greg has also conceived a graphic novel to accompany the Apocalypse series which will bridge a gap between 'JUDGMENT' and the new film to build interest again in the series.  "We follow Helen’s escape from O.N.E.," Greg says. "We also follow Dawn Blushak, the hacker from Judgment. Dawn’s sort of our ‘everyman’ — or ‘everywoman’, in this case. She’s not as entrenched as Helen and the others in the fight against Macalousso (the Anti-Christ), so we’re looking at the world through her eyes in the comic, taking this journey that will, hopefully, serve as a guide for new people into the world of Apocalypse. Plus, there’re no budgetary restrictions in a comic, so expect action unlike anything you’ve ever seen in an Apocalypse film!"

Greg promises fans of the film series wont be disappointed, they are bringing back some fan favorite characters, including Willie Spino, Helen Hannah's brother from  'Revelation' and 'Judgment.'  "Yes, the plan is to bring back Willie Spino. In a big, big way. I love Willie and what he brings to the scenes he’s in and I think he’s got an incredible character arc that hasn’t even been touched yet in the movies. As the script stands right now, he’s got some major involvement," said Mitchell. "The thing that I love the most about Apocalypse is that there are so many great characters like Selma that exist largely in the background. This movie is really about taking those background characters and some fan favorites and letting them take center stage."

We certainly are excited to hear this and offer our prayers and support to Greg and the entire team at Cloud Ten Pictures.  Keep checking in for updates on this and other projects coming from Cloud Ten Pictures.

Visit the Cloud Ten Pictures forum at OneWayFilms.net and meet and discuss this project with Greg himself.  He's already dropped in a few times for updates and introduced himself.  We're happy to welcome him to the OWF family.