On November 6, 2004, I attended a scriptwriters expo in Los Angeles organized by Creative Screenwriter magazine. Attending that convention were several thousand filmmakers who wanted to be part of the Hollywood of tomorrow. Apart from a few of the more experienced speakers there, nearly all of them had a tiny, twisted vision of what their movies should be achieving. Most of them merely wanted to become rich celebrities, seeing film success as the quickest way to fame and fortune. Others wanted to write raw, shocking stories, but their idea of originality was simply to copy the depravity of some other edgy yet successful script.
However, nearly all of them believed that film, being a modern art form, should somehow be used to attack traditional culture and anything that might resemble traditional religious values. This is common view in the media, and all forms of media are understood to be cultural weapons to realign the culture in revolutionary ways. Of course, media is culturally powerful, and film is the most potent of all art forms, especially when teaching lessons about morality. These lessons can be highly destructive if the lessons are wrong and contrary to Gods Word, but if a film is created within a biblical worldview, the lessons are encouraging and constructive.
This is why I like movies. Good films with good messages can annihilate dangerous ideas that have injured entire cultures. Ever since I was a child, my father has taught me this. As Christians, it is our duty to take captive every rival thought to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 10:5), and this means that we must use the weapons of media wisely, whether we are watching films or making films. We live in a culture that has been saturated by the secular media, and unfortunately there seems to be a prevailing idea in many churches that Christianity should somehow be culturally irrelevant; a kind of spiritual hobby.
This means that few Christians are working anywhere in the area of media, and few aspire to be filmmakers. But fortunately, this is changing. As soon as the convention in LA was over, I flew to Texas for the first annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. Here there were gathered about seven hundred young home schoolers, most of them with their families, eager to learn more about the craft of making movies and the theological reasons of why and how they should do so.
I think the entire festival was a great encouragement to all who came. The speakers were excellent, the participants were attentive, and all of the short films submitted to the contest showed great potential. A nice contrast to the bitter, burned-out hippies and clueless, neo-Marxist college students of California. Also, the attendees of this event had a different goal; rather than trying to assimilate themselves into the corrupt Hollywood industry, they are working to build a network of independent resources outside the studio system.
And it makes sense. Who better to create an independent film industry than home schoolers? Theyre already accustomed to doing things outside the system. Theyre already experienced in doing the research and setting up alternative ways to get better results than a set formula can offer. Also, home education frees students from the worlds normalized perspective. They are free to have creative new ideas for telling original stories. They have an understanding of true history, great literature, and honest biblical business principles.
They are the ideal candidates to save the art of film from Hollywood. As I write this, Hollywood is concerned about the large number of runaway productions that are being filmed outside of California and outside of the United States. They are also wary of the publics growing interest in films that are being created outside of the studio system. Furthermore, advances in equipment, such as digital cameras and computers, are making the film industry easier to get into. Hollywood has a right to be worried, and young Christian filmmakers, particularly home schoolers, have a golden opportunity to step up and contribute truth to our culture.
Attendees of the first SAICFF found new friends who share their interests, and met other talented technicians whose gifts and abilities compliment their own.