Thursday, August 10, 2006

Filmmaking to the Glory of God: Dick Staub on "Facing the Giants"

A few weeks ago Dick Staub hit some nerves when he predicted that "Facing the Giants," the Christian film that gained notoriety for its PG rating, would be "another artistic embarrassment in the name of Jesus." Today he gives further explanation for his criticism and asks a series of thought-provoking questions in response to a reader who took offense at his previous post:
I have no doubt that "Facing the Giants" will make a ton of money, but since when is that American materialistic standard our standard? As for emotional reactions? I'’ve been "moved to tears" by art my kids brought home as children, but I did not expect it should be mounted at the local art museum. If we want to glorify God, why should we champion movies with good storylines that make people cry, but are created with inadequate, uncompetitive budgets and substandard acting? If this film DOES make tons of money, Hollywood may distribute more of them. Do we really want to send the message to Hollywood that the kind of films Christians want will be characterized by poor acting, low production values that are inoffensive, make us cry and also make tons of money? Is this truly how we want to influence Hollywood for God?


Jeff Burton said...

How much more "Christian" cultural criticism do we really need? I am just about fed up with endless hand wringing and sniping from the sidelines. Pick up a brush, a chisel, a pen, a camera or just shut up already. Not directed at you, Rev.

KP said...

I don't have an answer for the question of how much more Christian cultural criticism is necessary. I'm convinced, though, that all believers are called to engage in such criticism in varying degrees.

I don't think Staub was either wringing his hands anxiously or sniping (a loaded (no pun intended) metaphor since literal snipers intend to do harm to their targets) from the sidelines. I take him as raising important questions about the criteria we use to evaluate the quality of Christian media.

Jeff Burton said...

Sorry for being so intemperate on your blog - it just so happened that a circuit flipped when I read that post you linked to - I have been reading too much lately in the same vein.

KP said...

No problem, Jeff. Reminds me of a proverb.

Mark Goodyear said...

Yeah, so I've seen the movie. It's good. It has a good storyline. It makes you want to cheer. And cry, too.

And really, the acting is not bad. (Have you seen Keaneau Reeves lately?) If anything, the actors look more like, um, real people, not plasticized supermodels. And they are incredibly earnest.

Does the movie have the glitz of big budget Hollywood? No.

But not because it is bad. It is an independent film. Evaluate it as such, and you'll recognize its achievement.

Especially amazing, I mean burned-into-my-mind-I-will-never-forget-the-scene amazing, is one student's blindfolded "deathcrawl" during football practice. (You'll have to see the movie.)

And, of course, the story of the movie extends outward. As you watch it, you know these people are all members of the same church. Many people in the audience will forgive moments of heavy handedness or awkwardness for the same reason we forgive these moments in any independent film.

Because we could have made the film.

Only we didn't. Catt and Kendrix and their church did.

Good for them.

KP said...

Thanks for that perspective, Mark.

Scott Eash said...

I think Mr. Staub is on to something when he exhorts Christians to do our best in all that we do. I am a Christian filmmaker and I make it my goal to do my best for the glory of God. I know I haven't reached Hollywood standards yet, but am trying to get there. I will not be satisfied with sub-standard quality in my films.

As for "Facing the Giants", I have not seen the film so I cannot comment on its quality one way or the other. I did see their previous film, "Flywheel", and it is absolutely outstanding as far as story goes. Mr. Kendrick is a very talented screenwriter...and director, and actor, and composer, etc.

The production values of "Flywheel" were somewhat lacking, but that was due more to inferior equipment than anything else. In "Facing the Giants", however, they used High Definition equipment. The acting in "Flywheel" was substandard, except for the lead who was outstanding. I think acting is the biggest problem area for Christian filmmakers. We need to work on this.

Thankfully, a new independent film industry is springing up with films that seek to reach an outstanding level of professionalism as well as a solid biblical worldview. This industry is being cultivated at the annual SAICFF, from Vision Forum Ministries.