Why I’ll Never Make One

Les Miserables PosterI’ve watched too many faith-based films over the past two years. It was curiosity more than anything else. The sudden glut of like-minded stories peaked my insurmountable drive to understand why and how it happened.

Looking first to the past, I learned that church-supported “Christian” films had been around since the early 30’s (not to be confused with religious biblical films that started in 1908), but faith-based films launched in 2006 and was immediately embraced and sustained by millions of home schoolers.

Studios got behind the new films, after fledgling around with previous breakout Christian films. Hollywood didn’t know how to promote the films nor did they know how to build the ideal audiences; so faith-based films that arrived complete with audiences intact or with church based promotional campaigns were welcomed.

Studios finally got a handle on the faith-based market when they realized the similarities between all of the faith-based films. These were the same similarities that made genres and sub-genres what they are today. By simply labeling faith-based films a genre, the studios got control over what was once elusive.

Unfortunately that meant audiences would suddenly focus on what made faith-based films faith-based, which was mostly the story’s weaknesses. The good news is that redemptive stories were never tossed into the mix, although many Christians tried to convince others that redemptive films were also faith-based.

The biggest arguments surrounding the claims were in connection with two high profile redemptive stories: The Blind Side and Les Miserables. The faith-based market claimed The Blind Side as one of their own, even though director Tom Hooper specifically stated that it was not a faith-based film. Les Miserables was rejected by the faith-based community due to the whore, drunkards, and other low life characters, even though the story was arguably the greatest redemptive story about faith, forgiveness and love within the past two decades.

The weak, yet repetitive elements within faith-based films, the clear acceptance of non-faith-based films because of certain elements, and the rejection of overt redemptive films missing certain elements, made it clear that faith-based films were about a specific Evangelical culture, not the Bible’s theme of redemption.

What made and didn’t make a faith-based genre became obvious to all film studios. It also helped clarify why some films made a lot of money at the box office, and why others flopped in general release or barely survived in limited release.

When I read the list of elements making up the faith-based genre and saw it played out on screen over the past two years, I concluded that I’d never make a faith-based film. In fact, I’m not capable of putting into a story the things that make a film qualify as a faith-based film.

This is probably a shock to some who know my penchant for redemptive stories. But those who are shocked are simply ignorant about what key elements make up faith-based films versus redemptive films. However, this can easily be clarified with a weekend marathon.

I propose you watch three faith-based films back to back on Saturday, followed by three redemptive films on Sunday. The difference between the two genres should become obvious. For the faith-based films I recommend Facing the Giants, Left Behind (2014), and Soul Surfer. For the redemptive films I recommend The Blind Side, Les Miserables (2012), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

My personal take away from each film was high, but not in the way you’d expect. I can, however, clearly state that I learned something valuable from each of the six films. Unfortunately, I’ve since forgotten what I’ve learned from the faith-based films and I still clearly remember what I learned from the redemptive films.

After you surface from your weekend binge of films, you’ll be able to clearly understand why I’ll create redemptive and not faith-based stories. You’ll also be able to understand why I still remember the message from the redemptive stories and not the ones from the faith-based stories.

Once you clearly see the difference between the genres, you’ll no longer be shocked that I won’t ever make a faith-based film. You might even get excited enough to cheer me on with making redemptive stories.

Happy viewing!

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers

97 Films Recommended by The Church of Satan

Good vs. EvilI’ve written about Christian films in recent days due to the surge in religious films. Some of the films are great redemptive stories for the general market, while others are preachy and intended for the like minded. In both cases, the genre has been difficult to define by production companies and distributors.

Another type of film is also getting attention and it too is hard to capture within a defined genre. Some refer to the films as satanic, while others suggest it is atheistic. In reality, it’s a genre that is more based in “I-theism.” In other words, pictures about a main character that is his own “god” – A person that establishes his own subjective hierarchy with himself as the most valued.

The films might also reflect the strong satanic beliefs followed like:

  • All forms of emotions from love to hate are healthy.
  • Ritual is for self-psychotherapy to purge any sense of conscience or emotion that hinders intelligently moderated pursuit of pleasures.
  • The prime dictate in lifestyle indulgence, over compulsion.
  • Animalistic tendencies and concern for the ecosystem.
  • All forms of sexuality between consenting adults.
  • Societal laws that regulate behavior so that a maximum of freedom might be obtained.
  • Justice where the punishment fits the crime when working to maintain an equitable society.

BladerunnerWhile some of this content sounds fine, like justice fitting the crime, it’s the intent and overarching goal that is self-centered. The purpose of the philosophy is to help individuals take their place, as god in their own lives, which is what Satanism is all about. That’s right, for most followers, it’s not about worshiping the devil, but self.

The list of films is one that Magus Anton Szandor LaVey felt best guided a viewer toward Satanism. While most of the filmmakers didn’t know they were leading their audience down a religious path, some were purposeful in their intent.

There was no surprise reading some films from the list like Rosemary’s Baby, Bedazzled and Svengali. Each of those films had overt satanic elements. However, some films were more of a surprise including classics like Citizen Kane, Metroplois, and Fantasia. Even more shocking was the family friendly film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The List of Films is NOT to be FearedWhen it comes to films like All the King’s Men, Bladerunner, The Comic, Pennies From Heaven, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, Scarface (the original), The Stepford Wives, and Westworld, I can understand how the elements appreciated by the cult can be gleaned from the films, but that doesn’t make the film itself a satanic film.

Depicting a characteristic or a human flaw doesn’t make a film satanic, for it’s how the element is demonstrated that determines how it is received. For instance, a film about a wretched sinner that is later redeemed doesn’t make a film satanic, yet it might get the title onto the list.

Intent and performance determines if the content is redeemable or not. A selfish character may make the list, but if the film depicts a realistic cause and effect of his life, followed by a redemptive outcome, the film does more for the soul than a story steeped in teachings that convince audiences to put themselves above others – Looking out for number one.

The bottom line is that the list of 97 films is not to be feared or avoided, as some would conclude, but can bring an awareness of perspective.

A film like Les Misérables depicted a character that may have made a more recent list. But the story’s realistically portrayed redemptive qualities were far more powerful, putting the character’s original life choices in perspective with love, humility and gracious generosity that overcomes all. There has never been a better movie depicting the redemptive qualities of grace and mercy. Yet, some avoided the film for fear that their character would be negatively affected.

Redemptive stories will always overcome self-centered stories. Call it good versus evil, or God versus Satan, if you will. But, most of the highest grossing films of all time are stories of redemption. And, most satanic films do poorly at the box office.

What’s your view? Can a filmmaker unknowingly make a Satanic film?

Copyright © 2914 by CJ Powers