Christians and Hollywood

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Hollywood and Evangelicals go together like oil and water. Love and war. Pizza and Orange Juice.

Or so you would think.

It’s a fair assumption. Movies and TV shows (along with the culture in general) seem to be growing more coarse and irreverent. Many evangelicals percieve this as Hollywood launching an attack on the moral foundations of the culture. Hollywood, in turn, views evangelicals as judgemental, self-righteous prudes who can do nothing but criticize and point fingers.

If you happen to be a Christian (as I am), and want to bring Biblical truth into the culture through movies and TV, you’ve got your work cut out for you. To survive in Hollywood you must hold to your principles without riding on a high horse. You must be loving without being squishy. Churchgoers and atheists alike will view you with suspicion. Both your creative work and your personal character will be held to high standards. What’s a Christian artist/writer/filmmaker to do?

Behind the Screen attempts to wrestle with that question. Written by Hollywood insiders who are also Christians, this book offers advice to media-minded evangelicals about how to walk the road between the church and the movie theater. Each chapter is a short essay written by a different creative professional working in Tinseltown. The cover jacket states:

Behind the Screen presents a fascinating look at Hollywood through the eyes of Christian writers, producers, and executives living out their faith on movie sets, in studio offices, and at TV networks. In their own words, they will take you behind the screen to reveal what Hollywood thinks of God and what you can do to close the gap between Christianity and culture.”

Although I live in Minnesota, I am currently working on an animated show for NBC and have seriously considered a move to LA. I recently finished this book and found it both helpful and thought-provoking. While I certainly don’t agree with everything—some of the authors would make compromises I wouldn’t make—it gave me a lot to think about and wrestle with. Topics include “Why do heathens make the best Christian films?”, “So You Wanna Come to Hollywood”, and “A Filmmaker’s Progress” (an essay on wrong attitudes Christians often have towards Hollywood).

If you are a creative person who wants to serve God in the media trenches, Behind the Screen will give you a lot to think about.

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