Dean Jones: “I Wouldn’t Trade This for an Oscar”
SAN ANTONIO, TX — January 13, 2009 — The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF), held this last weekend in the Alamo City, presented actor Dean Jones with a Lifetime Achievement Award before a capacity crowd at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. Ken Wales, producer of Amazing Grace, the 2007 film on the life of William Wilberforce, introduced the award to Mr. Jones on behalf of the festival.
“I wouldn’t trade this for an Oscar,” remarked Jones upon receiving the special Jubilee Award. Jones has played in 46 films and 5 Broadway shows over his career of more than half a century, including 10 films with Disney, 6 of which are on Variety’s all-time hit list. His best-known role is that of racecar driver Jim Douglas in The Love Bug. In more recent years, he has appeared in such films as Beethoven and Clear and Present Danger.
The special presentation in honor of Mr. Jones followed on the heels of the world premiere of Abraham and Isaac, a short film by Crown Financial Ministries which brings to life the biblical epic of Abraham’s call to give up his own son. Jones plays the lead role of Abraham in the new film.
Doug Phillips, founder of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, set the stage for the award before inviting Ken Wales to make the final introduction: “Tonight we gather to honor veteran actor, Mr. Dean Jones,” Phillips stated. “Dean has touched the hearts of millions with his talents and gifts through film, but at the age of 78 he is best remembered today as a follower of Christ, a defender of the family — a man who is finishing his race strong by using his gifts to draw men all over the world closer to the Lord.”
Ken Wales, producer of the film Amazing Grace and the Christi series, then took to the podium to offer tribute to his friend of more than fifty years. Jones and Wales appeared in several films together in the 1950s, including Imitation General and Torpedo Run. During the filming of Torpedo Run — which starred Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine — Jones saved the life of Wales during a near-catastrophe when Wales got trapped underwater on the movie set.
“Dean reached down and [motioning to Glen Ford] pointed to me underwater twenty-five feet below, and they suddenly realized I was in trouble, and they pushed me to the top. And out flowed three gallons of water,” Wales reflected. “So I owe him directly my life. But Dean knows that our lives are more serious than making motion pictures, because he knows that a dedicated life to God and His son Jesus Christ is paramount in telling stories that are redemptive.
“As I introduce this [video] tribute to you,” Wales continued, “I want you to realize the depth of this fine person, the sacrifices he has made — even to the point of abuse by an industry that just doesn’t care about God — to stand straight, to run the good race, to be a true man of God — a man whose life is dedicated to telling great stories.”
As he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Jubilee Award, Mr. Jones offered hopeful words regarding the rising independent Christian film movement:
“There is a curtain on stage, and it is down in front of all of us tonight,” Jones remarked. “And I believe it is going to rise soon, and there will be Christian people that have expertise in Christian filmmaking who become an anecdote to the horrors of our culture today.
“A change is coming,” Jones continued. “It’s a matter of time until one or two of ten of them in North Carolina or Utah or Texas catch hold of Walt [Disney]’s pattern and bring some quality work to the fore…. [They] are going to be doing films that will once again give an occasion for the children and dads and moms to gather together in a theater or around a television and see something that brings them together, that teaches them to love one another — films of quality, films of morality.”
In a separate lecture for students of the Christian Filmmakers Academy (CFA) held during the festival, Mr. Jones urged the students to make Christ-honoring films outside Hollywood: “If you want a job, do what I did: work for other people for 50 years, but the odds of you getting swallowed up by the blasphemous godless, decadent, deadly spirit of today’s show business are thousands to one.
“But there’s a better way — Walt’s way,” followed Jones. “And the pattern will still work: the pattern of keeping control out of the hands of the godless spirit of the age; of setting standards of excellence; of developing your own means of distribution.”
CFA founder Doug Phillips observed: “Dean Jones is emerging as the elder statesmen of independent Christian filmmakers. With a robust Hollywood career behind him, he recognizes the dangerous influence of Hollywood and is urging the next generation of filmmakers to take a different path — a visionary, Christ-centered path outside of Hollywood, one that allows Christian filmmakers to call the shots and make films that honor Christ because they embody a biblical worldview.”
Concluded Phillips: “His work in St. John in Exile — and most recently in Abraham and Isaac — are two examples of how he is modeling this new vision.”
The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) was held January 8-10 at the Gonzalez Convention in downtown San Antonio. The SAICFF is host to the largest single film festival grand prize of its kind in America — the $101,000 Best of Festival Jubilee Award — which was awarded this year to The Widow’s Might, a feature-length comedy adventure. In addition to Dean Jones, special guests at this year’s festival included Fireproof’s producer Stephen Kendrick as well as actor Kirk Cameron.
To download Dean Jones, “I wouldn’t trade this for an Oscar” audio clip, click here
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