On the heels of movie producer and marketing specialist Mark Joseph’s claim that the “faith-based films” label is problematic and should be abandoned, another industry insider is stepping up to the plate with a starkly different take on the matter.
Dallas Jenkins, director of “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and the executive director of Vertical Church Films, told Faithwire that he believes doing away with the term “faith-based film” would actually do a disservice to moviemakers and audiences, alike.
“All of us nowadays want to know as much as we can about media before we spend the time or money to consume it because there are so many options,” Jenkins said, noting that consumers actually like the label.
Plus, as a filmmaker, Jenkins said he obviously wants to be sure that his movies make it into the right hands.
“I want my movie to find an audience, and I want my investors to make their money back,” he said. “And the idea that we shouldn’t explicitly market to the audience that will most appreciate our film is fiscally absurd.”
Jenkins said he doesn’t particularly like the “faith-based film” term and that, in an ideal world, “faith-based movies would be so amazing and have such big stars that they wouldn’t need to do niche marketing.”
But he said that reality requires more pointed tactics.
Faithwire asked Jenkins if there’s an argument to be made at the heart of the debate that faith films should simply be framed as movies more generally so that they can earn the same level of scrutiny and respect that general market films enjoy.
“Of course, that’d be great. But ‘scrutiny and respect’ are the kinds of things artists love to discuss at parties but don’t mean much to anyone outside of arthouse theaters and online forums,” he responded. “A movie is either well done or not, entertaining or not; the rest is just marketing, and marketing is about finding what the customer wants and making sure they know it’s available.”
Jenkins continues, “Ultimately, it’d be like saying, ‘People have such a bad connotation with church, we should stop calling our churches ‘churches’ because that might turn people away.'”
The filmmakers comments came after Joseph took specific aim at the “faith-based films” label, saying that anyone who accepts it to describe his or her work is agreeing with what he called a “strange” cultural paradigm.
“It’s the idea that somehow films that work hard to keep religion and God out of stories are ‘normal’ and those that choose to let religious themes be honestly reflected in art are somehow strange and deserving of the modifier ‘faith-based.’ I think that’s a huge mistake,” Joseph recently told Faithwire. “It’s especially dangerous because we live in a culture where things can be excluded if they are labeled ‘religious.'”
Joseph wonders what happens in this case if a public school wants to show a film that’s been labeled “faith-based” but can’t due to concerns over the separation of church and state. This very pointed labeling, he said, is problematic. Read his arguments here.
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