I seldom enjoy faith-based films. In fact, many are so poorly made that they rarely draw enough people to the box office for the film to break even. This is why faith-based franchises are rare.
You can imagine my surprise to learn of the Princess Cut franchise—the result of a husband and wife’s thematic storytelling of real love.
The first go at Princess Cut was a short film. Soon after its release, the filmmaker decided to expand the story and give it a second life as a feature film. Two sequels followed.
Having watched all three features, I thought I’d take advantage of their uniqueness and discuss them over a few blog posts. This won’t be your typical film review, as I’ll share my director’s view or perspective.
Producer/Director Paul Munger
I talked with producer/director Paul Munger, who was happy to receive any and all reviews for the films. He was passionate about the stories that he and his wife, Sheilah Munger, created. He pointed out that she even directed the third film.
When I heard that, I instantly knew I was going to review the films.
Why? Because my curiosity got the best of me.
I had to know if Paul or Sheilah was the better director.
You’ll be surprised by my answer.
But before I dive into these family films, let’s start with the premise. A strong director always works from a logline. This is not a tagline. Nor is it a TV-Guide listing.
Loglines play out the overarching storyline in one to two sentences. They can be crafted in many different ways, but most reveal the main character, the uber bad guy or major conflict, and what’s at risk.
In the second film, Princess Cut 2: Hearts on Fire, Paul used a logline similar to the following:
Two expectant couples that are best friends face crushing upheavals in their lives which force them to make life-altering choices.
As a director, I find this type of logline too general. A logline is a blueprint for ensuring the story doesn’t morph into something it’s not supposed to be.
I would’ve focused the story more singularly. Here’s the specificity I would’ve given the story:
Expecting her firstborn, Lauren worries if she’s capable of being a good mom while managing the expansion of her business.
Not Right or Wrong, But Different
Neither Paul’s version nor mine is right or wrong. They are artistic choices that breathe vision into the entire production. In Paul’s version, he sees the story as an ensemble production, with no single person dominating the screen.
My version is very much about one person struggling to find a balance between work and family.
Paul’s version makes it clear that the battle is focused on man against nature or mankind. As a director, he made sure the words “face crushing upheavals” played out in clear ways, including an incredible storm with excellent special effects. Every upheaval raised the stakes in the film.
My version suggests the conflict is within the main character, who must find a way to overcome the incredible stress of giving birth while managing the risk of opening a second store.
At this point, you’ve decided on whether you prefer Paul’s version or my story blueprint.
But before you tell me whose version is of interest, let me clarify that we both built the logline from vital elements in the story. That’s right; when you watch the film, you’ll see both plotlines.
Driving the Story
The key question is what scenes best make up the throughline of the story.
A good director knows how to take the written word and translate it into a visual story on the screen. The best throughline of the story is something that has action or choices made by the featured character.
The director makes sure the audience knows what the main character’s goal is upfront. Then, they work hard to give the audience a reason to cheer the person on through til the end of the story.
If we never know the person’s goal, we never know if their ending is satisfying. Nor will we know when the film is over, except for the hints given by rolling credits.
I find single-character stories more compelling to watch. The audience can relate to the main character and face the same struggles. The audience can even try on the main character’s choices in their own life.
An ensemble piece shortens each character’s story and makes it harder for the audience to buy into a character’s choices. There is also less development time to cover the pros and cons of the suggested way of life. But, an ensemble almost always guarantees that you’ll relate to at least one of the characters.
In either case, the main story must run the entire length of the film for the audience to embrace the theme or message. This is not possible with an ensemble unless you feature one character above the others.
Now that I’ve introduced you to the Princess Cut franchise, I’ll explore several angles on these three films over my next few posts. Stay tuned to learn if Paul or Sheilah is the better director. And no, they do not know what I’m going to share.
©2022 by CJ Powers