Thursday, June 19, 2003


a) Because we are afraid of Hollywood, we do not pay it any respect.

- "It’s easy to watch. Must be easy to make. Let’s send a message to Hollywood by showing them what we can do!”
When we do this, we send a message alright: That we are trapped in Plato’s double ignorance. We don’t know, and we don’t know that we don’t know.

- Because we feel a spiritual and moral superiority to the evil people in Hollywood, we refuse to admit that they might know more than we do about anything. Even their own business of making movies. It reminds me of the Pharisees dismissing the testimony of the man born blind: “Would you, who are a sinner, dare to teach us?”

- A Christian informed me recently that he and his friends had just decided to produce a series of videos to the tune of three million dollars. When I asked him what his credentials were to make videos he said, “Never wrote a script. Never held a camera. Never been in an editing room.” I looked at the first ten minutes of one of the videos and thought, “Never gonna sell it. Never gone get seen by more than a few hundred loyalists.”

b) Because we are afraid of Hollywood, we tend to produce media/entertainment as Outsiders.-

- Christians are famous in the business for not being able to trust anybody. They end up ruining the creative process by being overly-legalistic or suspicious or inapropriately demanding. We do this with best of intentions – wanting story purity. We are afraid that we are going to give Hollywood Cinderella, and it is going to come out a triple X Last Tango in Paris. If only you knew how rarely this really happens.

The industry tends to only mess with projects that don’t work. It’s only when your second act is boring and flat that some executive somewhere tries to fix it using one of the methods they always use: “Hey, maybe we could have a decapitation before the ten o’clock break! Maybe a naked woman gets decapitated!!”

- The problem with working outside the system is that, even if you do get a movie made, AND even if it miraculously comes out half way decent, you still won’t be able to get it into theaters, because the exhibitors(theater chains and television networks) are all dependent on the studio distributors for product. So a movie made outside the Hollywood system will most likely end up unseen by the masses.

- The main reason I am against the Christians keeping to themselves approach, is that it eliminates any potential for us to connect with creative people in the industry, in the hopes of winning them over to Jesus. God could have lovely family movies on the screen tomorrow if that was all He wanted. He wants us to reach out to the people in this industry. To love them into the Kingdom. We can’t do this from afar.

c) Because we are afraid, our approach to the culture tends to be reactionary, in spurts, with no strategy for the long-term.

We should focus on People not projects.

- I have seen scads of projects from good people come into the industry with one project. They struggle to get it made, and most of the time they fail. If they do suceed, it generally results in a pathetic production. If it is half way decent and manages to get on a few screens, the producers stand back and wait to watch the whole planet fall into awe and compunction. It doesn't happen.

It is a mistake to think that one movie or even a few movies are going to make that big a difference in the popular culture arena. It’s like the Church keeps trying to plant one lily in the middle of a huge garbage dump. Even if you get ten lilies to all be living at the same time, it’s still fundamentally a garbage dump. We need to remake the whole dump. We need to change the whole system of the business from the inside, by establishing hundreds of believers in places of influence.

d) Because we are afraid of the people in Hollywood, we failure to respect the real, but often subtle, temptations of the industry.

Committed Christians who come to Hollywood generally end up falling into one of three groups. They either leave just when they are starting to have power, basically because it occurs to them that no amount of money is worth all the exigencies of the business. Or else, they find a way to stay and adopt a missionary attitude to sustain them.

But many more Christians end up becoming the problem. They lose their spirit. My new students say to us all the time, “It isn’t about the money for me. I just want to do good.” Yeah, right! What are you, made of special dirt? Pretending that you will not be seduced by the extraordinary perks of money, influence, beauty, luxury and celebrity that come with a successful Hollywood career, is a recipe for destruction. Anyone who comes to this town and wants to hold on to their faith, must be fortified by a fervent prayer life and a vibrant connection to a faith community.

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