Written by Sherry
Thursday, 04 December 2008 07:42
Christianity Today has an interesting interview with two film-makers who are doing what many Catholics want them to do : create intelligent beautiful films that don't beat their viewers over the head with religion and morality but deal with themes of faith and redemption in more subtle ways.
They find themselves caught between the rock of secular industry suspicion and the hard place of a potential Christian audience that is mostly evangelical and wants their cinematic religion loud and clear.
Executive producer Buzz McLaughlin and director Aaron Wiederspahn formed Either/Or Films—named for a book by Soren Kierkegaard—a few years ago "for the purpose of developing and creating films of beauty and artistic excellence that provoke the public to engage with the providential mystery of grace," as their mission statement says.
Other than ourselves, however,we don't know of any contemporary American filmmakers with films in distribution, who are upfront about their faithand attempting to make intelligent films outside the commercial marketplace that are not evangelical or didactic in intent.If they're out there, we'd love to know them.
Before The Sensation of Sight premiered in 2006 at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, you hired a well-reputed firm, Premier Public Relations of London. But before the festival you received a surprising phone call from the PR person, didn't you?
McLaughlin: Yes, not long after we hired them, I received a call in which she said, "I know who you are." I asked, "What do you mean?" She said, "I was a philosophy major in college.I know about Kierkegaard, and I can see from the film what you're up to."
This surprised me. We'd thought that The Sensation of Sight would be our Trojan Horse into the film business, since the spirituality was not overt; we were trying only to tell a story of a man's search for meaning in a hurting world. Our mission statement appears on our website, but is not explicitly Christian.
Her next question was even more unexpected: "Did your church fund you?" I assured her that all our capitalization had come from private equity investors. She warned that there would be considerable hostility from the press, and that we should be careful not to mention anything about our faith or why we founded the company.
That must have been a surprising revelation to you.
McLaughlin: Up until that moment, both of ushad been blissfully unaware that a sizeable portion of the secular media would be hostile to any production company bold enough to state what they're trying to accomplish on the spiritual plane. Our assumption while making The Sensation of Sight was that the work would be assessed on its own terms, on the basis of quality and artistic merit. Like most film companies, we'd employed the best talent possible, from actors (including Strathairn, an Academy Award nominee for Best Actor in Good Night, and Good Luck) to cinematographer to key crew; most of themwere not religious, and had come on board simply because they wanted to work and liked the material.
As it turned out, our London PR person was right. This is something that we've learned to live with since.In some venues where the film has screened, there hasn't been a problem at all, with everyone seeming to judge the film on its own terms.At others we can sense the resistance, and sometimes wonder how the film even managed to slip into the festival. Of course, this brings up the issue of the gatekeepers and the power they wield in accepting or rejecting films.
The dilemma of so many creative lay apostles in the marketplace. I wonder what Barb Nicolosi would say to them?
And I should note - this is ID's 2000th post. And our 2 year anniversary is coming up on the first of January. Mark Shea just marked 20,000 (!!) posts but I will gladly leave industrial size posting to him.
Thanks all y'all for your companionship, comments, and the memories over the past two years. And for giving us a chance to think (or bleat) out loud for your entertainment.