Hope is an odd thing in the motion picture business, as it’s the life-force of a filmmaker. It’s the singular thing that keeps my aspirations going after hitting roadblocks throughout my journey in getting another film made. It’s also the one element that always stays true, regardless of the uphill battles fought.
A few weeks ago I decided to put my screenplay, Quest for the Nail Prints, up for sale with the possibility of using the funds for another project or finding a co-producer. My original goal was to produce the film, but I was unable to raise the needed funds, mostly due to its higher budget.
Quest for the Nail Prints is similar to Fast and Furious meets Passion of the Christ. It’s high action coupled with time travel puts its budget higher than any faith-based film, but lower than redemptive summer box office blockbusters. In other words, I’ve created a story that will play well in the general market without offending the faith-based crowd.
The film is based on the book by the same title and was rebooted for the screen to include lots of adventure and a lightly salted in heartfelt story. Here is the logline:
A pastor’s broken promise to his wife results in him taking their anniversary trip to Israel alone, where he stumbles into an ancient well that catapults him back in time. After spending the week with Jesus of Nazareth, the pastor is forced to decide between sparing Jesus from his agonizing death and handing the Roman soldiers the nails needed to crucify him.
The logline attracted 17 Hollywood production companies to consider the story and zero faith-based companies. Clearly the companies understood that the film was a fun adventure salted with a heartfelt message about marriage commitment and not a title that preaches.
I couldn’t help but reflect back on my previous career in the film and television industry. I’ve made seven films and over 300 television episodes, which have followed a similar pattern. Every one of my shows made for the general audience was successful and the faith-based stories fell short of success – With the exception of my first film.
A Letter of Love was my first title under the Powers Productions’ banner. It was loved by most and generated some amazing fan mail. One letter came from a Baptist pastor in the south. He stated that his church was falling apart with the teens headed in the opposite direction in life from their families.
One night he showed A Letter of Love to his congregation and then had the students write love letters to their parents and visa versa. The pastor shared that the audience was so taken by the film that their letters were passionate and started a healing process that not only restored the families, but also grew church attendance. I was spurred on by a new hope to make films that would touch lives.
Soon after, I made a handful of films for the church market, but nothing seemed to work. Oh, some people were touched, but my films didn’t have that preachy feeling that most churches prefer. That’s when other doors opened for me.
I suddenly found myself working for ABC and learning techniques and skills that were far superior to anything I had seen in the church market. I fell in love with the art form and spun back off on my own, producing shows for CBS, PBS, ABC Family, WGN, etc. It didn’t take long for me to win numerous awards and cherish a new hope that maybe I could touch the general public with stories they’d never see had it carried a faith-based label.
I set out to make new stories that were designed for the general public with subtle messages of redemption salted in. The stories would take on various genres and avoid being labeled as church only material. This hope sprung into a full-blown vision and I designed an entire working studio structure to facilitate it.
Unfortunately, everything was in writing only, as I couldn’t find people of faith to fund stories for the general public, nor was I able to find secular dollars to fund films with redemptive themes. I found myself holding the keys to bringing two different audiences together under one topic of hope, but I was without support.
As an act of faith, I continued writing stories that balance well between both types of audiences. I did this with the hope that someday people will see how this new hybrid line of stories might touch our nation with moral and ethical themes – Which I believe is needed.
Today, I realized that Hollywood is starting to see the light in positive redemptive stories, while faith-based production companies are holding to their proven track record of titles that preach well to the “choir” – Which has its place in the church.
It’s my hope that Hollywood will welcome my new titles and I’ll be able to finally make a difference in our society with stories that touch lives. Hope is a good thing and I’m hoping the on going negotiations resolve with a film that looks and feels like the script suggests. We’ll see.