/ MICHAEL WESTFALL INTERVIEW
Once Hollywood produced very successful
family friendly films with wholesome moral messages, many of which were faith based. Today’s movies have changed.
Moviemakers now stretch the envelope
in every possible offensive direction without regard for societal consequences for ever-greater shock value in order to increase
box office sales.
While some may find the idea of movie
studio insiders voluntarily cleaning up their movies and responsibly returning the industry to a point of being morally acceptable
by respecting biblical values as “far fetched” …it just may happen.
Kleg Seth is involved in ministry through
the Media Fellowship and the Trinity Life Center in Las Vegas. He spent over six years at Centrum of Hollywood sharing the
Gospel with thousands of young people.
Seth also was the casting Director and
appeared in the 1970 highly acclaimed movie “ THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE”, which starred
The movie was about Nicky Cruz, who was
one of the most violent gang leaders in New York City. It was a story about how a gang leader and addicts were changed by
the grace of God and a country preacher who eventually led him to Jesus Christ. This powerful movie has been spiritually influential
for countless viewers.
Kleg contacted me regarding his work in
the launching of a new movie studio where he would bring together, with the objective of both spiritual and commercial success,
stories of faith and redemption. He would combine established Christian producers with investors to produce stories that can
have a positive impact on our society for Christ.”
The end result would be a nonstop stream
of excellent movies released with budgets ranging from $100,000 to $25,000,000.
Kleg’s mission is an essential one.
He is an authority on the workings of Hollywood and the film industry. He is challenging America to view Hollywood as the
world’s most influential mission field. I have invited him to join in this very informative and important interview.
MICHAEL WESTFALL: Kleg, I would like to welcome you to this interview. You have a illustrious and interesting background both in movies
and in doing God’s work. You are setting out to create a very different kind of movie studio. Can you tell a little
about yourself and your activities in the film industry? What inspired you and why do you feel compelled to start a new film
studio and what are your objectives?
KLEG SETH: My motivation for The Christian Studio (TCS) has come out of the enormous need for truth to be conveyed through the
entertainment industry in contrast with the constant flow of movies that come out of Hollywood which are corrupting our society.
Although there have been several very good movies of faith produced recently like AMAZING GRACE and END OF THE SPEAR the tragedy
is that, for every movie of faith produced, there are hundreds of movies released that have no regard for decency or for God.
My objective is to facilitate the continuous production of movies that will inspire and offer hope. The Christian Studio
would evaluate stories and screenplays for their potential for success and would then match investors with producers to make
the movies. Unlike the Motion Picture Studios in Hollywood, we would not have a studio lot which would dramatically
help to keep overhead at a minimum. The goal of The Christian Studio is to bring together investors with established
producers who want to make a difference by producing movies that will have an impact for Christ on our society.
MW: Do mainstream studio decision makers really care about the values and morals of America? Are there other Hollywood
voices speaking out and, if so, who are they?
KS: Years ago I went to see a story editor in Hollywood with a screenplay. I told him the story was a comedy about
a home for juvenile boys in central Los Angeles, which was based on actual characters and events and that it had a positive
message. His response was, “If it doesn’t have sex and violence then I don’t want to look at it.”
The corporate heads of the studios far too often base their decisions on what will produce the greatest commercial profit
regardless of the negative impact it may have on our society. Cecil B. DeMille, after making the movie The Ten Commandments,
made this observation, “Between these two, the calf of gold and the law of God, the struggle for men’s minds continues
to this day. Which do you put first, material values or spiritual values?” I think it is very apparent that
many of the major decision makers in Hollywood do not care about family values and morals or we would not have the decadence,
which is prevalent in the motion picture industry today. There are a number of ministries, churches, and individuals
in Hollywood that are impacting the lives of many in the movie industry. Media Fellowship International is bringing
the Good News of God’s love to the entertainment industries in Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nashville and other cities.
There are several other ministries that are making a difference in Hollywood and you can go to hollywoodclub.net for information
on these ministries.
MW: What are the messages that the movie industries are sending out in their films today, how do these messages impact
our culture and how would your studio differ from the other major studios?
KS: First, let me say that Hollywood is not all evil. There are a lot of good people working in the
motion picture industry who are working to make it better. Disney and other companies are producing a number of good
entertaining movies. The Jerry Bruckenheimer movie GLORY ROAD is an example of a great movie with a very positive message.
However, the messages in most of the PG-13 and R-rated movies reflect a total disregard for God and His commandments.
The numerous times God’s name is taken in vain, the use of four-letter words, exploitation of sex and violence, the
promotion of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, and generally, a world-view devoid of God. The impact on our
culture is very apparent in such things as -- the breakup of families, adult and teen abortions, the epidemic of sexually
transmitted diseases, and the tremendous increases in violent and sexual crimes. Many of the scenes in movies today
are pornographic, and contribute to the increase in sex crimes committed in our society. The motion picture industry
has polluted millions of minds, not only here in the United States, but around the world. While many movies coming out
of Hollywood blind people to the truth, The Christian Studio would bring truth to the screen in a way that would have the
potential to help change viewers lives, to give them a meaningful purpose for living. A friend of mine involved in Media
Fellowship here in Las Vegas said that the beginning of a new life for him happened after seeing the movie The Cross and the
Switchblade. That friend’s life was totally changed and he is involved in full time ministry today.
MW: Could you explain to our readers what motivated the great film producer DeMille to make the highly successful and
powerful Biblical epics of faith such as The Ten Commandments and King of Kings?
KS: Well again, I believe Cecil B. DeMille can best answer this in his own words, which were published in Wisdom magazine,
"To transfer the Bible to the screen, you cannot cheat. You have to believe. The Ten Commandments are not laws.
They are the law.” DeMille knew the influence films can have for good or for evil, he stated “When
leaders of nations tell us, as the highest officials have told me, that as boys they derived their conception of the world,
their ideas of right and wrong, from American motion pictures, they bring home to us our awe-inspiring responsibility.”
DeMille's words should be heard by every producer in Hollywood. "Perhaps we think that vice sells at a higher price
than virtue. Unfortunately it often does in this world. Perhaps we think it is easier to draw a crowd by pandering
to their lowest tastes than by inspiring their highest ideals. It is easier and cheaper--cheaper in every way you can
think of. But it is treason to the human spirit and treason to the art we serve."
MW: Just what are the budget projections for the movies you wish to produce, do you think that ticket buyers will respond
and what potential financial returns do you project for investors?
KS: The budgets for the initial stories I would like to see produced range from a low of $100,000 to a high of $25,000,000.
I received a screenplay recently from a Christian writer and producer who has a Christian comedy he wants to produce for $150,000.
I have a story about the struggles and victory of a young man coming out of the homosexual life; a 55-minute drama on this
story can be produced for $100,000. A story that can have a powerful influence for good both here and in Japan is the
amazing World War II story of Jacob DeShazer and Mitsuo Fuchida. I believe this epic story could be produced for $25,000,000.
Specific budget breakdowns would be prepared by the production company making the movie. One objective of The Christian
Studio is to evaluate the potential distribution (theatrical, television, DVD, Christian) to provide investors detailed information
about potential financial returns. Information would be provided on previously released movies of faith that have done
well financially, contrasting them with those that have lost money. The purpose of The Christian Studio is to bring
stories of faith together with investors, producers and distributors.
MW: Would you explain your passion for these issues to our readers?
KS: Many of the movies produced today dramatize social problems, but very few provide any real solution. However,
God has given us the answer to every social problem people are facing today. The majority of the stories I would like
to see produced are true stories that offer real hope. My experiences working with the inner-city ministries of Centrum
of Hollywood and Centrum of Las Vegas gave me the opportunity to see runaways, prostitutes, drug addicts, compulsive gamblers,
criminals, and others who were suicidal find a new life and reason for living through God's grace. The problem of pain
and suffering that so many are going through today can be dramatized in a story like the life story of Rev. Richard Wurmbrand,
who spent 14 years in a communist prison. The life story of how Esther Lee Barham found God’s love and joy while
blind, paralyzed and experiencing deep physical and emotional suffering is unbelievable. I don’t think I have
met a more joyful person in my life. Those caught up in the deception of homosexuality need to know there is a way out
through the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A large percentage of our youth today lack direction and purpose.
Stories like The Keith Green Story, and Centrum of Hollywood, would dramatize the excitement of knowing God and show the power
of God to work miracles in changing lives.
MW: Are there other stories and other writer's materials that you would like to see produced?
KS: The vision for TCS is to facilitate the continuous production of movies that can impact our nation for Christ.
There are a number of stories that are not my properties that I would like to see produced. I received an excellent
screenplay from Martin Bennett on the life of John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. Another writer/producer
sent me his screenplay, a Christian comedy, which he can produce on a very low budget. One of the most inspirational
stories to come out of World War II is the true story of Jacob DeShazer (a DooLittle raider) and Mitsuo Fuchida (lead Japanese
pilot in the raid on Pearl Harbor). This story could inspire audiences in Japan as well as here in the United States.
The story of the Pilgrims, from treason (in England) to Thanksgiving (on Cape Cod), needs to be dramatized to portray an important
chapter in our nation's spiritual heritage, helping us understand the true meaning of “separation of church and state.”
Another story that needs to be told is the story of Keith Green. In the 1970s and early '80s, his music and life touched
and influenced many all around the world. There are many other stories that need to be produced which could help counter
much of the evil in our society.
MW: Do you believe that the audience that rewarded Mr. Gibson's efforts is still there waiting for more good pictures?
KS: Yes, there is no doubt about it, the audience is still there. The success of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was
phenomenal, in large part, due to the fact that it was a Mel Gibson film, the publicity surrounding the film and, most important,
the reality of what Jesus went through to save us. I would like to see Mel Gibson do a movie on the life of Norma McCorvey
(Roe in the Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade). I believe her story could have the potential of helping overturn Roe vs.
Wade. It would also be a movie that could generate a huge amount of publicity. The church produced film, FACING
THE GIANTS, about a high school football team was produced for $100,000. The opening weekend that movie grossed $1,343,537
and the total box office gross was $10,178,331 with additional revenues from DVD sales and rentals. Obviously there
is a vast audience looking for quality stories of faith and redemption that can positively impact their lives, and the lives
of their children, for Christ.
MW: How do you think Hollywood will respond to your new studio when they have continued to produce more PG-13 and R-rated
movies even though the G and PG-rated movies have produced better Box office returns? Does this create a commercial
opportunity for your new studio?
KS: The major Hollywood studios will take notice when several movies of faith do exceptionally well at the box office.
To some extent this has already begun with Fox forming Fox Faith to distribute family movies and movies of faith. The
goal of TCS is to have a greater impact on viewers that can help bring our nation back to God before it is too late.
The production of quality movies with great stories of faith and redemption certainly is an opportunity for commercial success.
However, investment in any movie involves risk and TCS hopes to be able to help reduce the risk for investors, as much as
MW: Are there any other points or interests that you would like to address?
KS: I believe that it is vital today that all of us do all that we can to help bring our nation back to God before it
is too late. We need to fight the good fight of faith, through prayer and action, whether it be in Hollywood or in our
own communities, overcoming evil with good.
In conclusion, movies do influence our
culture and Hollywood has been traveling down the wrong track speeding in the wrong direction.
That said, movies are a powerful
and entertaining medium that hold great potential for positive cultural messages. We must understand Hollywood’s ability
to reach and influence millions of people.
This industry is not going to go away because
its razzle-dazzle is so powerful. We simply won’t win the cultural war by fighting Hollywood.
This industry needs to be viewed as an
important national resource that could be used in a better more meaningful way that improves rather then harms mankind.
Those of us with a deep concern for these
faith and cultural issues need to be cognizant of one another and be supportive to each other’s important work.
The paramount way to make meaningful changes
in Hollywood is to encourage and fully support the people that do movies right. Kleg Seth is undertaking a very important
mission and deserves our support and the help from those of us who can provide it.
THE CHRISTIAN STUDIO … www.freewebs.com/klegseth
CENTRUM … centrumlv.org
HOLLYWOOD INSIDER SPEAKS OUT ON PRAYER…
A NEW HOLLYWOOD STUDIO… http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/id48.html
HOLLYWOOD “2005” … http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/id47.html