Movies By and For the Faithful

By Dick Rolfe – CEO, The Dove Foundation

Good independent movies with faith messages are on the increase. At Dove, we see many of them while they are being developed. Sometimes we are invited to visit the sets, while on other occasions we are kept up to date at every step of the way with scripts, rough-cuts and early screeners.  In past years, the terms “good” movies and “faith-based” movies were mutually exclusive. Recently, however, Christian filmmakers are getting better at their craft. And, investment capital for movies with uplifting messages is available for the right projects, even in this tough economic climate. There are many good faith-friendly movies currently in development. For this article I’ll focus on three.

If you’re a “social networker” you can join FACEBOOK FAN PAGES for The Dove Foundation and each of these movies and stay in touch with their development.

What If… is a clever movie patterned after the ever-popular, It’s a Wonderful Life. In this film former Hercules star, Kevin Sorbo is Ben Walker, a man who leaves his sweetheart and his desire to become a minister behind to pursue a successful career as an investment analyst. Once he becomes wildly successful, he is confronted by an angel portrayed by John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of Cheers and Hamm in Toy Story). Ben is taken back in time and shown what his life would be like if he had stayed with his girlfriend and career choice.

What If…. is the best Christian comedy in a decade! It is coming to a theater near you on August 20, with advance premiere screenings in Elgin, IL and Grand Rapids, MI. See my interview with producer/director, Dallas Jenkins in an adjacent article.

Like Dandelion Dust is the first filmed version of a novel by popular Christian author, Karen Kingsbury. This is an allegory of the Biblical account of Solomon and his encounter with two women who each claim to be the mother of the same baby. In this film, two mothers fight to keep the same child. In the end, one mother makes the ultimate sacrifice putting the interests of the child ahead of her own.

Filmmaker-brothers Bobby and Kevin Downes have produced a high quality, compelling story with top production values and an all-star cast including Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper. Like Dandelion Dust will release in theaters September 24th and this powerful drama is sure to appeal to a broad audience of movie-goers regardless of faith.

Courageous is a new project underway by Sherwood Pictures (a business venture of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA) in association with Sony/Provident Pictures.

These are the folks that produced Flywheel in 2003 for $20,000. Their first venture earned $37,000 in a limited theatrical release. (Flywheel: The Director’s Cut went on to sell over 300,000 DVDs in 2007.) Next, in 2006 they produced “Facing the Giants” for $100,000 which garnered $10 million at the box office. In 2008, this team of fast learners released their most successful movie to date. Fireproof was made for $500,000 and took in $34 million in theaters before selling its first DVD. Every movie made by this church-turned-studio has a clear, unabashed Gospel message, which has impacted an untold number of lives. One of Sherwood’s “secret” ingredients is the prayer that permeates every aspect of the process; from the story concept to the final edit.

So far, Sherwood Pictures’ stories have featured an unethical used car dealer, an uninspired high school coach, and an uncommitted husband and fire chief. Courageous, the newest movie now in production is the story of four police officers who all face similar tragedies in their lives. The theme of this stirring movie is about restoring the role of husband and father as spiritual leader of the household. Courageous will be in Theaters in 2011.

Movies by and for the Faithful are here and they are gaining in stature, production quality, and audience numbers both inside and outside Christian circles. While, secular filmmakers are attempting to break into the religious market, the adage, “It takes one to know one” is certainly true here. Dove has been called on frequently by non-Christian filmmakers to help develop movies that are true to Judeo-Christian values and have authentic characters in the stories. As long as audiences continue supporting these films, more and better movies will be in the offing.