Glory to Jesus! Thank you, Richard/TheChristianFilmReview.com for inviting me to guest blog. It is an honor to be so trusted and a blessing to grow in brotherhood—in Jesus!
You who are film makers know the hard work and self-sacrifice it takes to produce a film. We do ourselves a bit of disservice with so many images of “fun on the set.” Yes, we enjoy our work. But make zero mistake—it’s work! Glory to Jesus!
The other misconception is the profits made. We hear a lot about the movies that earn millions. But what we don’t hear about is the 99% that struggle to even break even. Case in point, my latest release, Alison’s Choice. If you’re not familiar, it’s the story of a young, pregnant woman who plans an abortion only to have an extraordinary encounter with Jesus who has come to plead for her baby’s life.
In spite of tremendous reviews, award nominations and the excitement of the pro-life community, we’re so far from breaking even I’ve scratched it off my list of goals haha! But then one day a few weeks ago I received a Facebook message saying, “I want you to know your movie saved a life.”
It was from a woman who’d learned her son’s girlfriend was pregnant and planning abortion. She invited this mom to come watch Alison’s Choice, and the rest is history. The message was accompanied by a photo of her newborn granddaughter… and suddenly all the sacrifice and hard work; the years of gaining ground one inch at a time; the disappointments and challenges and lack of box office… they all seemed like nothing. And all I could do was fall on my face and cry, “Thank you, Lord; thank you…”
I will never forget once chatting with British producer/director, Andrew Walkington. We’ve done two movies together (one soon to be released, Grace & Gravity). We got to talking about the influence of profit-priority on Christian movies, and he made this statement: “I didn’t get into Christian movies to make money.” In other words, “To me this is ministry.”
I think back on the pioneers of Christian movies who are all but forgotten amidst the hype of today’s big releases. There’s Billy Graham/Worldwide Pictures. They didn’t try to sell theater tickets but instead purchased TV broadcast time. They made numerous films—and saw countless souls come to Jesus. I’m guessing they barely made a dime.
I think of the cult classic, Thief in the Night. Yes, very low budget and remarkably campy. But I just looked at the stats and it’s estimated to have been seen by 300 million people worldwide. I don’t know if producer/director Donald Thompson ever walked a red carpet or made any profit as Thief and his other movies were “screened mostly in churches and missionary crusades” according to Wikipedia. (My wife remembers seeing it at her missionary boarding school when she was an eight year old in Liberia). But who can guess how many souls have come to Jesus as a result.
Then of course there is the film that is unarguably the greatest Christian movie of all time, The Jesus Film. How can I call it the greatest? More souls have come to Jesus through this movie than probably any other outreach of any type in history. What most folks don’t realize is The Jesus Film is also likely the most successful overall film of all time, Christian or mainstream, as it’s been seen by more people than any other movie in history. What more can one say…
A baby girl lives today because her mommy saw Alison’s Choice. I pray she’s the first of many to come. And even though, like anyone else, I’d love to be racking up millions I need to be 200% fulfilled with that. I have to see this baby girl as my box office. For she is what success looks like in the Lord’s eyes.
May I encourage all my fellow film makers beginning with me… “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” and simply serve—and leave the box office and all the other “human things” to Him to either grant or not. Let us make our choices and decisions solely based on what honors Him and draws souls to Him. Let us throw off trying to make a hit and simply do what He says to do, fully trusting, “’My ways are not your ways… My word will never return void” (Isaiah 55:8-11).
One baby’s life… One precious soul… These are true awards. These are our box office. These are what brings heaven to its feet even as the Lord whispers, “Well done…” Glory to Jesus!