I’ve been in Hollywood for a very long time, and if you’ve been a moviegoer in the last 40 years chances are you’ve probably seen one of the movies I’ve produced like The Godfather or Apocalypse Now. So why was I, a mainstream movie producer, speaking at the recent Faith and Family Summit, hosted by Variety?
Well, it’s not because I’ve undergone a dramatic religious conversion, but I am one of a growing number of Americans who thinks Hollywood has gone too far in making movies that degrade the common American values that we all once shared, and I want to be a part of pushing back against the darkness that seems to be pervading our culture.
The fact that a venerable and secular Hollywood institution like Variety recognizes the trend of faith-friendly movies shows that the tide is turning in favor of movies that inspire and uplift our culture instead of dragging it down into the sewer.
I was at the Summit to talk about my next movie and one that I’m especially proud of–a political/religious thriller called Persecuted that I produced and which stars Fred Thompson, James Remar and a stellar cast of Hollywood veterans. Persecuted was written and directed by an up and coming writer/director named Daniel Lusko, and I am heartened to know that young artists like him are the future of our business.
Although Daniel is a young man who takes his faith seriously, I never got the sense in working with him that he was out to make a religious movie for other religious people, but rather that he was merely telling a great story and wasn’t going to keep the religion out of it as so many movies seem to do.
Sure, the movie poses deep questions and some that touch on politics and religion: questions like what if the government one day comes against us for our religious beliefs? What would each of us do if we were forced to choose between our beliefs and our allegiance to our country? And what is most important to us?
These are the questions that all of us have in common regardless of our religious faith or perspective. They are the questions that animate us and give us purpose in our lives.
I’ve had a wonderful career in Hollywood and I’ve lived the dream. Still, as I look back on my work life, I wish that I could have brought more movies to the big screen that explored religion and spirituality, and I lament the movies that young people are watching today–movies in which evil is good, the bad guys win, religion is mocked and religious leaders are invariably killers, murderers or thieves.
That’s not the America I love and its not the America I know.
At the Variety Purpose summit I met hundreds of filmmakers who don’t want to compromise their faith or their art–who want to make great movies but also infuse them with the values that will make our nation strong.
That’s something we should all support.
This summer I am privileged to have Persecuted hit 600 screens on July 18. I hope you’ll give it a look. But more broadly I encourage you to be a wise consumer of movies–to reward the good with your money and punish the bad by not attending. Remember, the types of movies you reward get made and the ones you don’t don’t. It’s that simple.
If you’re alarmed at the pace with which our nation seems to be falling apart, join me this summer and begin to push back in small ways-by helping this burgeoning movement of meaningful movies to make an impact on our culture.