Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

October Baby and beyond. The independently-produced Erwin Brothers film dramedy about the emotional journey of a young abortion survivor has proved to have had a strong limited release — grossing nearly $5,000,000 over five weekends, according Box Office Mojo.  Here’s hoping a major distributor takes notes and gives it the major push it deserves. BTW, I still have one more October Baby t-shirt and movie poster (signed by the cast) to give away.  Send me your review of the film, via, and you could win both.

A good chunk of October Baby‘s success is the result of grassroots organizers like Jason Jones and his Movie to Movement volunteers. The organization is set up to help create awareness of high-quality positive films with strong faith components among the wide mainstream audience that is clearly craving such fare.

I wrote about the Jason’s October Baby campaign on Friday. A producer himself (Bella) with six kids of his own, he’s devoted to seeing the industry he loves provide uplifting entertainment for this generation and for generations to come.

Talking about why he formed Movie to Movement, he says :

We’re trying to fulfill the Great Commission through film and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through art and also to share the dignity and the beauty of the human person…and there’s no better way to do that than through film…Imagine if we lived in a society where we all looked at each other and realized we were looking at someone made in the image of God. How much different would our society be if when I looked at a homeless person I saw somebody made in the image and likeness of God?… Damon of Athens said “I’d rather choose the music for my city than the law.”  We need to choose the art that the community is seeing.  We have a responsibility. We can’t expect the world to produce godly films. Why would we want the world to fulfill the Great Commission. We’re called to fulfill the Great Commission. If we  want to see these types of films, we need to make them…We need to do the writing, the directing, the producing, the investing but we also need to do the distribution…You know a thousand people before one screen for a week in the industry is considered a grand-slam homerun.  But so manyof our churches have 7,000, 10,000 20,000 people a week (attending services).  If all of the church’s in our communities said “We are going to support art that communicates the Gospel of Life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ” can you imagine how our society would be transformed?”…We can preach the Gospel through architecture, we can preach the Gospel through how we behave in the workplace and we preach the Gospel (through film). Now, not everything’s gonna be a Bible story. Jesus spoke in parables not in Bible stories. We can preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in parables that aren’t (necessarily) Bible stories…Distribution is the key. But who is the key to distribution? The person reading this article right now is the key to distribution because they’re the ones that can fill a theater in their community…If you read Beliefnet, you are a leader in your community and you can stand up in your pulpit or you can pass out flyers in the parking lot (and) you can fill a theater (by being a Movie to Movement theater captain)…Doing this will allow us, at will, to make sure that any film of high production quality (and) good content can be a box office success.

Among the upcoming films Movie to Movement is supporting is Hardflip, a youth-oriented film with a skateboarding motif. Jason says this one has him  particularly excited “because, to me, some faith-based films land just a  little over the head of our teenagers and youngsters. But Hardflip is a film  that speaks ot the heart of youth groups. It’s really made for the teenager…It preaches the Gospel in a very specific way…aimed at sort of the angst-ridden teenager…John Schneider is absolutely incredible.”

Schneider (known for his roles on The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville, among other things) plays the absent father of a troubled young skateboarder portrayed by Randy Wayne. Interestingly, this is Schneider’s third role in a recent or soon-to-be-released faith-based film. The others being the aforementioned October Baby and Doonby, both of which deal with abortion.

Also, kind of interesting, Randy Wayne portrayed Luke Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, the prequel to the classic TV series. Luke, of course, was the cousin of Bo Duke (the role originated by Schneider).

Here’s the plot of Hardflip as summarized by the movie’s website:

What happens when your life takes a hard flip? Teenager Caleb Jones goes skateboarding. With no father in his life to guide him and his mother, Beth, working two jobs to make ends meet, Caleb believes nothing matters in life but to become a sponsored skater to get him away from all his troubles. When his mother falls ill, Caleb is forced to deal with her illness and his lack of responsibility. Through the tragedy of his mother’s illness and the sudden appearance of the father, Caleb becomes the man his mother always prayed he’d be. Hardflip is a story of what can happen when we let go of our anger and pain and willingness to forgive those who’ve hurt us most, just as God forgives us.

Hardflip also stars veteran actress Rosanna Arquette and features real-life skateboarding star Christian Hosoi.  The film debuts in theaters on June 1st.

Regarding the films’ similar themes, Jason says the John Schneider told him that he didn’t seek out such a trilogy of sorts but the work found him. But, as he thought about it, he realized it was quite interesting because, as the actor put it, “Doonby is about  someone who never was, October Baby is about somebody who have never should have been and Hardflip is about a father who wasn’t who he should have been.”

Movie to Movement is supporting Doonby as well as the upcoming non-Schneider film (apparently there are some of those) For Greater Glory which, like Hardflip, is also due out on June 1.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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