Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 03/27/23

Faith on Film creator/co-host Isaac Hernandez brings his faith-themed twist on Entertainment Tonight to Canyon Star TV. The upstart family-friendly streamer (which I reported on a week or so ago) has added the syndicated weekly show to its large array of original and acquired offerings.

JWK: So, how long have you been doing Faith on Film and how’d you get started?

Isaac Hernandez: I’ve been doing Faith on Film for, I believe, about three years now. At the risk of sounding overly spiritual here, it all started because I woke up at like three in the morning one day and, in my head, I heard “Do a show in which you interview people working in the faith film industry.” I thought, well okay, that sounds pretty straightforward.

Now, I’ve never done anything in front of the camera. I’ve been in Christian TV for, pretty much, all my life – since I was like 17 or 18 years old but always behind the camera. I was the director of several TV shows over at a network called Trinity Broadcasting Network. This was definitely something different for me but I just knew that I had to do it. So, I went ahead and decided that I would at least start a YouTube channel. Anybody can do that! I could start a YouTube channel, put the show on there and see what happens.

I did announce it on Facebook though because I wanted accountability. I knew that if I didn’t make it public I would probably talk myself out of it. I figured if I announce it, now I have to do it because I said it. So, sure enough, I did. I started my first show. As a matter of fact, right away (after posting) on Facebook, I got a call from a pretty well-known actress (named) Nancy Stafford who was, of course, in all kinds of movies and television shows.

JWK: Matlock!

IH: Yeah…So, it was great to start off the show with such a well-known person.

Also on Facebook I got a comment from a gentleman that had a worldwide screening platform with like a million subscribers already. He said “Can I carry your show on my network?” I was like, you know, it’s not going to be a big fancy show. I don’t have that kind of money. I was just gonna do it more like a Zoom kind of a thing where I would just be in my office basically with my camera and then I would bring in the guests from wherever they’re at with their laptop camera or iPad or whatever. He said “It doesn’t matter!”…I said “Sure!”

So, now it’s not only going to be on my YouTube channel (but) it’s going to be on this guy’s streaming platform that has a million subscribers. Well, somebody comments on the same post who happens to work at the same company that I was working at…I used to manage a Christian network that was all about Christian movies and entertainment. He managed a ministry-type network owned by the same company that was on DirecTV. He said “Now, wait a minute. Why do they get the show and we don’t? You work for us.” So, I explained that same thing. I said “Look, it’s not a big show. It’s just me interviewing some people via Zoom kind of a thing.” So, he said “You let me decide that!” I said “Okay!” Next thing you know, the show launches on a streaming platform with a million subscribers and on a satellite network that had, I think, at that time about 18-million or so people that were on DirecTV. So, from the start, it was just a great opportunity for the show. 

JWK: And, eventually, you were joined by your co-host Holly McClure. How’d that come about?

IH: I did the first couple of years with just me. I’ve known Holly for some time. I interviewed her at one point and then realized that we just have a really good chemistry on the show. So, I decided I should bring her in and have her be a co-host with me because that will relieve a lot of pressure on me…So, yeah, I brought her in and we’ve done a whole year now together and the distribution continues to grow. Now Faith on Film is seen on 26 or 27 different outlets – from full-blown television networks to independent stations to streaming platforms.

JWK: Including Canyon Star TV.

IH: I tell you, it’s very exciting. I’m not sure how they found out about the show but they contacted me and I said “Yes! Yes! Absolutely!” It’s exciting to be on Canyon Star TV.

JWK: What’s Holly McClure’s background?

IH: Holly McClure had a radio show in LA. She’s a film critic. She does her reviews from a faith-based perspective…She also produced The Making of the Passion. She (joined with) Mel Gibson and produced…a show that was on PAX and TBN.

JWK: Your show kind of strikes me as, perhaps, a less frenetic faith-based version of Entertainment Tonight

IH: Yeah, you could say that. Actually, we even want to make it more along those lines but, for the most part, it’s really about getting a more intimate look into the creators of a faith-based movies. It is faith-based so it’s not so much about gossipy-type things like “Hey! Here’s what this guy is up to right now!” It’s more about “You directed this film…” or “You produced this film…” or “You acted in this film…why did you feel compelled to create, produce or direct this faith-based movie?” We (then) learn a little bit about their journey into filmaking. Some of them say “You know what? I’ve been doing films since I was nine years old and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do.” So, we try to really sort of get into their lives and into their journey into Christian filmmaking.

JWK: Even though faith-themed films have shown that they have an audience, they don’t seem to get much attention from outlets like Entertainment Tonight and the rest of the Hollywood media.

IH: I’m glad you mention that because that, I believe, is the reason that I do this show. A lot of the faith-based filmmakers are not big superstars. They’re just people that I feel God has called to create this content so they tend to not get a lot of promotion. This show is intended to bring them out – to bring out the people that won’t get the attention from Entertainment Tonight or any of the big networks, even the Christian networks – because a lot of the larger Christian networks like Trinity Broadcasting or Daystar will only bring in the ones that are the big superstars like the Kevin Sorbos or the John Schneiders but there a lot of other guys. For every big major movie that comes out theatrically – even if it’s a faith-based movie (that) came out theatrically and made a lot of impact – there’s probably thirty or so that have been made that nobody hears about. So, Faith on Film is here to let people know that there are other films. Maybe they’re not gonna come out theatrically but they’re available for streaming and you need to know about them.

JWK: When it comes to faith-based films, in your opinion what makes  a good one and do you have any personal favorites?

IH: (laughs) I love all faith-based films. Some are not that good but there’s something in there that I really enjoyed. Right now, I’m gonna say one of my favorites is one that literally just came out. That’s Jesus Revolution. That’s been getting a lot of attention. We, in fact, recently interviewed one of the co-directors and co-writers of the movie. I think the reason I liked it a lot is, first of all, it’s very well done. They’ve got Kelsey Grammer. He’s fantastic! But also because I lived through that time. I’m almost 65 now and I lived through that era when that movie happened so when I was watching it I felt like I was actually in the movie.

JWK: Were you actually part of the movement or do you just mean that you were alive during that time?

IH: I wasn’t part of it (but) I was in it. In other words, as I saw some of the events (portrayed) I remember attending some of the concerts of the band that was featured in the movie. (And) actually I’ve worked several times with Pastor Chuck Smith (played by Grammer in the film) and Pastor Greg Laurie because of my involvement at Trinity Broadcasting Network. I would direct shows that they were in. So, I was kind of right there in the middle of it, really more towards the end part of the movement but knowing a lot of the people from the movement. So, I just feel like I was part of that movement.

JWK: Anything you’d like to say as we wrap up?

IH: If you want to watch Faith on Film, of course, it’s on Canyon Star TV. There’s also a YouTube channel…and, again, it is on several other networks.

Approximately 18-million children in the United States live without a biological, step or adoptive father present in the home. That sad stat is the inspiration (if that’s the word) for a new documentary promoting faith-based mentorship programs from The Alliance for Ending the Fatherless Epidemic. The film, unsurprisingly titled The Fatherless Epidemic, drops this Friday (3/31) on YouTube.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

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

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