This post was written by Craig Dehut, a Christian filmmaker. I asked him to talk about his experience as a filmmaker and having been through film school because I felt it would give a unique perspective on the issues we often face as Christians regarding entertainment. His vimeo account can be found here: http://vimeo.com/user440564
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” I Pet. 1:13-16
I am by no means an expert. I don’t consider myself an authority on this subject. But I do realize that as a Christian filmmaker, educated by instructors steeped in godless ideology and methods, God has blessed me with a unique perspective; a perspective that has opened my eyes to what, it seems, so many Christians choose to ignore: the potentially destructive power of entertainment.
Please, do not misunderstand me. I love movies. I am absolutely fascinated with everything about them. I can talk directors, plot summaries, and film theories like sport addicts do their favorite teams, but I also understand things about this art form that I believe that can be helpful to our Christian walk.
I graduated from a film school in Atlanta in 2007. I knew that I needed to learn from industry professionals and I had considered myself aware and ready for the worldly environment that awaited me there. I was very wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the blatant and offensive disregard that my fellow students, many of my professors, and this industry as a whole had for anything godly.
My English professor purported that God and religion, specifically Christianity, were merely created by those in power in order to keep the uneducated masses under control.
My script writing teacher spent several class periods and even assigned us a project based on the concept that “sex sells.” Unfortunately for our culture, she was right, but needless to say, I left class early on presentation day.
It wasn’t all bad. We studied producers and directors from the past and present. We learned what made the good directors great and what made the bad directors simply underappreciated. We studied their thought processes, their methods and learned what made them tick.
More than merely learning to construct films, we learned to construct ideas and effectively communicate them to our audience.
We learned how to educate you.
We learned how to inspire you.
We learned how to change you.
It wasn’t until I sat at the feet of industry professionals and heard them talk of film in this way; talk of a power that can be wielded, did I fully realize what many are still blissfully ignorant about. As filmmakers, we are not taught to merely entertain you, we are taught to change you.
My teachers taught us how to deceive and manipulate your emotions, thought processes, and opinions by whatever means necessary. They called us “Culture Changers.” They made the claim that we as filmmakers have more influential power and reach than many politicians, preachers, or motivational speakers. If you don’t believe me, consider this: who else would you let talk to you, not with you, but at you, uninterrupted, for hours at a time? To tell you what they think, to communicate to you their worldview, and convince you (through a variety of means) to think the way they want you to think.
I have spent considerably more time explaining in detail how my fellow “Culture Changers” and I have been trained to accomplish this, but to summarize: film making is an art form and (as with any art form) the successful artists are the ones that think outside of the box, that bend the rules, that push the envelope. The ends always justify the means. Movie audiences don’t like to be preached to, so it’s best to not spell out our intentions right away. If we suspect that our audiences may be morally opposed to something that we may try to communicate, we were taught to deliver that message by whatever means necessary. It’s art, anything goes.
Hollywood may not come right out and tell you that God does not exist and that mankind came about through millions of years of evolutionary process, that a story of a world-wide flood is nothing more than a fairy tale, they’ll just wrap it up in various animated dinosaur cartoons like “The Land Before Time” and “Ice Age.” They will teach our children that Darwin was right and God was wrong.
Hollywood may not actually encourage you to rise up against those that God has placed in authority, they’ll just make movies that depict authoritative figures as oppressive totalitarians that must be overthrown. “The Hunger Games,” and “V for Vendetta” are of this sort. The “moral” of these stories: if those in authority are bad enough, rebellion, deception, violence, and murder are completely justified, in fact, encouraged. Evil justifies evil.
Hollywood may not actually say that God’s plan for the sexual relationship is outdated, they’ll just teach us that casual sex, homosexuality, and adultery is the norm, even the ideal and that their definition of “love” is justification for any kind of immoral behavior. Shows like “Glee” and movies like “The Notebook,” and the “Twilight” series all communicate this idea.
Hollywood may not tell you that parents are out of touch with our generation and are just trying to keep kids from having fun, but these will be the only kind of parents that they’ll show you.
Hollywood may not tell you that violence solves every problem, but they won’t offer you any other realistic alternatives.
Hollywood may not tell you that they’re trying to undermine God’s perfect law, they’ll just do it. And we let them. With every movie ticket, with every RedBox rental, with every Netflix download, we beg Hollywood to continue to communicate to us from a worldview that passages like Prov. 14:12 and Rom. 8:5-8 tell us will inevitably lead to their destruction. As “obedient children” we are commanded to “not be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance.” We used to be this way, we must not go back to the sinful things that compelled Christ to have to die on a cross for.
Are all filmmakers evil? Obviously not. Must we burn all of our DVDs and put an ax through our TV? I’m certainly not advocating that, but we mustn’t, as Christians, continue to willingly allow godless “Culture Changers” to instill in us a worldview that will lead to our destruction. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” and that includes what movies we choose to watch.
For more on this subject and a deeper look into what God’s world reveals to us about how we can make good choices when it comes to our entertainment, I would invite you to listen to a sermon that I recently presented on this subject.