The Church of the Masses
You're starting to see this in so many movies. I think four or five of this year's academy award nominees are very hopeful pictures. They're seeded with hope, not infected with the kind of cynicism that the boomer generation had come to. The boomers, after exhausting themselves with every kind of sexual license and permissiveness and me-centeredness, basically had come out with a "whatever" attitude in their movies. That is not the spirit of the Gen-Xers.
Do you have advice or words of encouragement for people who want to get into the game, but they are afraid to give everything up and move to Hollywood?
If you're young enough, I would ask: "Why don't you throw your hat in the ring and get the best training you can get in the field you're interested in?" You need to discern if you have talent, and what level your talent puts you at. Maybe you're a talented singer, but you're only in the top 15%, so that means you should sing in Denver. If you're in the top 10%, you can sing in New York or Chicago. And then if you're in the top 5%, you can sing in Broadway. It's the same thing in the movie business. This is the major league out here, but there are many places to be an actor, and you want to become as good as you can. So find the top school you can get into, and get yourself in there.
I would also say to get your act together first, spiritually and morally. This is a very competitive, demanding field. Creative people can ask you to make choices that will define you, in a way that working for an insurance company may not. Where you have a lot of power, you're going to have requisite dangers and temptations. But this is no reason for us not to be in the middle of it. We need to get rid of the fear. Let's stop cursing the darkness and make something beautiful for the people of our time. That will go a long way.
But there's no secret way to get in, for someone who believes in Jesus. That's something I combat all the time. I have people contacting me constantly asking if I can help their kid start out. I say, No, not really. What's your kid done? "He just graduated high school." Well, no, I can't do anything for that.
What I'm saying is this. You shouldn't seek to be the exception to the rule, if you're going to make a profession out of something. You should do what everyone tells you to do. Work hard. Find the best education and training you can. This is a field like any other. The misperception is that because we make entertainment, people think it should be entertaining along the way. It isn't. It's grueling. But it is cool. Very cool.
You mention how Christians entering the filmmaking industry may be pressed into "defining" decisions. Do you have any such stories from your own life?
There have been many, probably because I was on the executive side for the first couple years. On that side, I had an experience when I had just arrived, when a woman came and pitched a reality show. This was at least four years before Survivor. She was just off the turkey truck from Iowa, but she pitched a reality show that my boss really liked, and she left the room. She had just pooled all her money and got a plane ticket and came to Hollywood to meet with production companies, pitching her proposal.