Momentarily putting aside the discussion of the labels “Christian” or “faith-based” or “religious” or “spiritual” or any other descriptor as they relate to putting a movie in a box and/or providing—depending on one’s disposition—either a stamp of approval or a caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) warning of sorts…
Without a doubt, of all the press that has circulated in the six weeks or so since we announced the theatrical release of Old Fashioned on the same weekend as Fifty Shades of Grey (Valentine’s Day 2015), a blog entry by Scott Beggs over at Film School Rejects remains one of the most thoughtful, balanced, and convicting…
In it, the author strongly affirms our marketing strategy:
… choosing sides can have a powerful psychological effect, and Swartzwelder has effectively thrown the challenge down in a way that tacitly paints people who go to his movie as being one way and those who pick Goliath as being another. Those who don’t desire more from love and those who do. It’s an incredibly shrewd and clever move, and you can imagine more faith-based projects in the future making direct appeals within the scope of a mainstream, Hollywood giant.
He goes so far as to actually call our Fifty Shades counter-programming angle “the second smartest thing Christian movies can do right now.”
And while I personally appreciate the kudos on our release date savvy, what really hits home is Mr. Beggs’s follow up:
So what’s the smartest thing a Christian movie could do? Be good.
Boom. He couldn’t be more right and I couldn’t agree more intensely. The word “good” is subjective, of course, and the measure is relative, in my estimation. An indie film with a budget a far less than a million dollars and a blockbuster with a budget of $100 million plus can both be good movies… albeit in different ways, most likely.
Regardless, his point is well taken. He continues:
… the hallmarks of great, non-hammer-to-the-head storytelling have not found their way into faith-based filmmaking yet (unless you count movies like The Book of Eli, Noah and most of The Blind Side). At least not this particular, indie-focused subsection. Sure, there’s evidence that more people want “Christian values” in more movies (in whatever myriad ways they personally define them), but until Christian filmmakers learn nuance and symbolism to communicate those values, they’ll be preaching to the converted.
This is a smart guy. I’ve never met him, but he is dead on. And please know, I’m not afraid of messages in movies (and they all have them, no matter what anyone says), but good messages aren’t enough.
Yes, I am a person of faith and I believe in and love God… but I also love good movies, good art. And I appreciate a wide variety of films from all over the world… just as I also very much appreciate this blogger’s call to excellence. It should be heeded by anyone endeavoring to tell cinematic stories, filmmakers of faith and otherwise.
So, will Old Fashioned measure up to Mr. Beggs’s standard? Are we “smart” enough to qualify for number one on his list? Only time will tell. He’s right in calling us out, whatever the case may be. One thing I can assure you is that a very talented team poured every ounce of themselves into making not just a “good Christian movie” but a good indie movie, period.
It was never about a cash grab or exploitation. Never about an agenda or propaganda. It was about telling a dramatic and entertaining story in which we believed fully… to the very best of our ability…
Thank you, Mr. Beggs. Sincerely.
Check out his full article here: http://filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/second-smartest-thing-christian-movies-can-right-now.php