Market for “non-preachy” movies is elusive

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Christianity Today Movies
Biblical perspectives on contemporary cinema
Friday, December 05, 2008

Out of Their Minds?

A few years ago, Buzz McLaughlin and Aaron Wiederspahn formed a film production company—Either/Or Films, named for a book by Soren Kierkegaard—for "the purpose of developing and creating films of beauty and artistic excellence that provoke the public to engage with the providential mystery of grace."

So far, so good. McLaughlin, a producer, and Wiederspahn, a director, are Christians, but they didn't want to make "Christian movies." They didn't want to "go secular," but they didn't want to do anything "preachy" either. They just wanted to make art with excellence, art that just happened to reflect their faith, but more in subtle ways than didactic ones.

Still, so far, so good.

But there's been a catch. They're finding that the market for such movies is elusive.

Their first film, The Sensation of Sight, is a thoughtful piece of work starring Oscar nominee David Strathairn. But they couldn't find an audience, or get it widely distributed. They even ran into some resistance from the film industry when people learned they were Christians; one publicist even said, "I know what you're up to."

McLaughlin and Wiederspahn never expected that kind of reaction. "Up until that moment," McLaughlin told CT Movies, "both of us had been blissfully unaware that a sizeable portion of the secular media would be hostile to any production company bold enough to state what they're trying to accomplish on the spiritual plane."

In an interview with CT Movies, McLaughlin also says that what he and Wiederspahn are doing is unique: "Hollywood was supplying the marketplace with movies that consistently attempted to reflect the chaos of the world … but rarely tried to make sense of the chaos. On the other hand, films that did attempt to reveal God's hand behind it all were often didactic or overtly proselytizing, preaching a 'message' rather than telling a story artistically."

He acknowledged that theirs is a difficult journey: "One could say we're either masochistic for going down this path, or devoid of business sense, or perhaps just out of our minds. But those are the kinds of films we feel called to make."

And we applaud that kind of vision.

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4 thoughts on “Market for “non-preachy” movies is elusive”

  1. Bravo!
    Like the illusive bridge and Indiana Jones, the market is there – it just hasn’t been revealed yet.
    When artists like McLaughlin and Wiederspahn step out in faith to do what they believe in, the market will show up. No doubt in my mind.

  2. Interesting. I ran into something similar this week. I’m starting my first session of teaching “Writing for Publication” at a different location. A group of women asked me about my class and were extremely interested. I told them all about it. They were ready to sign up, then I told them it was through PBC.
    “What’s PBC,” they asked. I told them, Pacific Bible College. They asked again, and I answered again.
    Then they turned and walked off without another word . . . not even a glance back. The word, “Christian,” was simply too much for them. Too bad, I’m sure they would have loved the class!

  3. Huh. I’m surprised, really, although I shouldn’t be, I suppose.
    But it seems to me the music industry’s doing better on this front–meaning creating alternative options–and so many embrace it.

Discuss...