Why are we making this film?

A representative of a major film distributor recently told us, “Your script covers a timely subject/scenario ripe for comedy… We’re rooting for you guys to pull the rest of the finance together and make the film. The market needs more comedies.”

I wonder why there are so few comedies that deal with faith themes. Maybe we Christians take ourselves too seriously.

I think it’s time we lighten up, enjoy this life God has given us, and share that joy with everyone around us. Instead of taking ourselves so seriously, let’s take Jesus seriously. Let’s look at who he was when he walked around in human form. Let’s ask not only “What would Jesus do?” Let’s ask, as Eugene Peterson reminds us, “How would Jesus do it?”

Jesus told stories. Great ones. “The Good Samaritan.” “The Great Wedding Banquet.” And my favorite, “The Prodigal Son.”

one-sheet-thumbnailThat parable is the basis for the feature film in development by Belltower Pictures, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. It is a comedy: A movie about a church making a movie about the Prodigal Son.

When Jesus taught, he would start talking about how blessed his listeners were. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… the merciful… the pure in heart… the peacemakers… the persecuted.”

How could you not smile and feel good about yourself after listening to Jesus talk about you like that?

And Jesus could be really funny! That story about the guy who offers to take the speck out of his friend’s eye while walking around with a big ole plank in his own eye… that’s great stuff!

Jesus must have been fun to be around as he went about healing, blessing, comforting… and telling those wonderful stories.

That’s what we want to do. Tell stories of hope and grace. Stories that put a smile on your face and a warm glow in your heart. And you shouldn’t have to be a church-goer to enjoy those stories. We want to paint a bright picture of God and His relationship with us.

And why shouldn’t we have a little fun with it?

I recently read an article by a young filmmaker who talks about why she makes movies. She talks about how very hard it is and how long it takes. She says, “The question ‘Why?’ never stops being asked. It should be fun to answer. Even if you’re exhausted and it’s been two years of work and you’re still going at it, it should be fun.” (Ana Lily Amirpour, “Know Thyself” in MovieMaker Magazine, Issue #110, Volume 21)

As of this writing, I’ve been at this project almost five years. It is hard. I’m often exhausted. But you know what? It is fun. It’s also challenging, fulfilling, and thrilling. I believe God has given me a wonderful gift by planting this passion in my gut.

Amirpour says about her work, “I make films to make friends and find real intimacy, a connection with others based on something that’s meaningful to me.”

This story… this truth that God loves us and constantly seeks us out, ready to embrace, celebrate and affirm us… that’s what’s meaningful to me. And I want to connect with others who feel likewise. I want those who are turned off from the Divine Reality to have an “Ah Ha!” moment as a result of our artistic creation. I want them to see that “God is Love” in a world of hate and indifference. I want them to see that Christians are not afraid to poke a little fun at ourselves to show how God loves us in spite of our weaknesses.

Some of the world’s greatest art was created in homage to God… a response to the divine-human relationship. It is filled with beauty, nuance, grace, subtlety, and artistry. Created by artists who were not afraid to break out of the mold and try something new.

That’s what we’ve set out to do: create a unique, fun, beautiful, engaging work of art that leaves the audience basking in the warm glow of God’s love.

My prayer every day is this: “God inspire and guide us to tell Your story, Your way.” May it be so.

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