I guess you could say I’ve hopped on the support-faith-based-movies bandwagon and plan to stay aboard.
I’ve been so excited about the success of the faith-based movie “Old Fashioned” that premiered over Valentine’s Day weekend. Dubbed the “little film that could” by producer/director/writer and lead actor Rik Swartzwelder, the movie’s opening weekend broke box-office records for a faith-based film (under 300 screens). The movie continues to open in new cities weeks after its premier weekend.
While many assumed the multiple roles Swartzwelder took on had to do with a lack of funding, he actually auditioned for the lead role of Clay.
The mainstream media would have us believe Swartzwelder only recently bounced onto the movie scene and in response to the highly touted big screen premiere of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Neither assumption is true.
As Soncee Brown Partida discovered while interviewing Swartzwelder—
“Rik Swartzwelder is no stranger to the entertainment business. As a college student in Florida he created Studio 13, a live sketch comedy/improvisation show that ended up playing to exclusively sold-out audiences for the entire two-and-a-half years he was its primary writer, director, and featured performer. He has an M.F.A. in Motion Picture Production from Florida State University, and more than 50 major awards for his work as a Writer/Producer/Director. Nearly ten years in the making, Old Fashioned is clearly more than just another project to Rik Swartzwelder – it’s his labor of love.”
Originally scheduled to open in mid-2014, Swartzwelder nixed those plans when he saw the announcement that “Fifty Shades of Grey” would release Valentine’s Day 2015 as a mainstream, romantic date night option. He was stopped in his tracks and describes it as a “moment when the skies part and you hear the choir of angels singing in the background”. The realization dawned that “Old Fashioned” was made for “such a time as this.”
Having begun the project long before the existence of “Fifty Shades”, Swartzwelder never dreamed of the David vs. Goliath type drama he and his film would be embroiled in.
Ten years in the making… That’s a long time.
This fact caught my attention as I’m 5+ years working on a young adult Christian fiction series whose high school characters grapple with issues of love and intimacy, abstinence and renewed abstinence in today’s sex crazed world.
I so appreciated Swartzwelder’s comments—
“…when it comes to issues of intimacy or sex, we are terrified of being perceived as judgmental. So we don’t want to make comments on anything, because we don’t want to be a joke on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We don’t want to be a punchline or be written off as out of touch or just judgmental or condemning.”
I can identify with those feelings but agree with Swartzwelder’s conclusion—
“If the Church is so afraid of being laughed at, or having to bow down and have pop culture sort of affirm us, that we’re can’t even offer an example for that young girl to follow, or that young man who’s growing up, then what’s the purpose of us even being on the planet?”
Amen and amen.
Thanks, Mr. Swartzwelder, for not giving up… for believing in your story… for being obedient to GOD’s timing.
We’ve grown weary of perusing movie rental sites and the cable/satellite TV offerings for the rare less than “R” rated film. I’m praying that the response to “Old Fashioned” will inspire more faith-based films to pursue the oft-times long, rock-strewn journey to the big screen. And I vow to be more supportive of those that make it to either TV or the big screen.
I was thrilled to discover the Christian Films Database (CFDb) chock full of information on upcoming TV and theatre movies including release dates, in-depth reviews and previews. Easily searchable by genre, category, even film format as well as month of release and TV vs. theatre, the site is a comprehensive source of information.
CFDb led me to ChristianCinema.com offering plans for buying, renting or streaming faith-affirming, family-approved movies. It appears to operate similar to NetFlix. I will definitely be looking into the details on this great as faith-based films often are not widely released or considered popular enough to be stocked at rental outlets.
Let’s not give up on Christians making an impact on our world but rather get behind cinematic attempts to share truth and light.
What upcoming movies are you looking forward to seeing?