By Michael Westfall
December 1, 2005
Montrose, Michigan’s hometown
“Moose’s Movie Theatre” was one of the favorite places to visit every weekend in the 1950’s. Kids
in small towns all over the country would go to the movies every week back then to see a recent Hollywood “flick”. You would go to Moose’s for a few hours with your
family or girlfriend and watch an entertaining movie, created with the skills of professional artists who had the ability
to weave a good story. There was no gratuitous sex, nudity, profanity or excessive in your face violence. Movies were just decent family entertainment back then and not formulated
to be offensive or political.
Kids would look forward to seeing Martin & Lewis, Abbot and Costello, Bob Hope and the great Disney films.
For the older set there was John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Lucille Ball and dozens of other equally popular stars. The movies
back then were really made to be suitable for the entire family. Hollywood was working
it’s magic with blockbuster “edgy” movies such as 1955’s “Rebel
Without a Cause” starring James Dean
and "Blackboard Jungle" with Glenn Ford. In 1956, when I was 10 years old, the big movie was Cecil B. Demille’s “The
Ten Commandments” starring the great actor Charlton Heston as “Moses”.
In the pre-boomer generation of our parents the movies were just as important. My father would talk of how
on Saturday summer nights back in his youth of the 1930’s, the Montrose folks would gather at Elks corners on the outskirts
of town and “crank up” an old flickering projector outdoors for folks to see an old movie. These folks were just
coming out of the depression, and these “free” old movies would take their minds off of their hard times.
To small towns in the 1950’s, the movies were an uplifting and important part of life.Today there is a huge void for the kind of family friendly films put out during my childhood.
A Different Hollywood
Any Christian wanting to work in the Hollywood film industry today needs to be aware of the culture in which
they are entering. This is true not only in Hollywood but in the film industry wherever movies are made. It could be a very
real spiritual struggle for Christians who practice their faith. If ever there was a stark
need in the mission field it is in Tinsel Town, which is one of the world's most influential locations.
It is a well-known fact that different audiences are susceptible to different influences and some will mimic
what they see on the big screen, be it good or bad. Many films are now made without regard
for the societal consequences. Who can argue that this doesn’t contribute to a ruder culture where values shrink in
Until the industry decides to take the higher moral ground, the only way to fight this is to strongly
support decent movies and to avoid indecent movies. Why enrich the purveyors of trash, if there are decent alternatives?
In addition to the sex and violence, there are also those in the film industry who are promoting a political
agenda. Michael Moore is an example of just how far the bar of excellence has dropped
in Hollywood. See…http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/id22.html
Moore was from Davison, Michigan, which is a Michigan town not far
from my hometown of Montrose. Twenty-five years ago Ralph Nader, Moore and I worked together as a loose team in Flint on a
few issues. See paper.. http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/id17.html
I believe the public is tired of politicians and moviemakers who “twist
spin” everything and then cherry pick only the “contrived” propaganda to support their biased views. Many
Americans find this one sided. They also rightly find ambulance chasing and anti-American themes offensive. Some believe that
Moore, who has been proven wrong so many times, has revealed just what he is thinking, and they have come to the conclusion
The power of film is very influential. When you have self-promoters like Michael Moore, who continually
jump on the hot issues and use their power to promote and spread their ideas, which are all too often biased, with
negative venom and marginal plots, it eventually becomes very irritating to anyone with a working brain.
“The Passion of The Christ”, Mel Gibson’s independent
hit movie, was a certified blockbuster and opened Hollywood’s eyes to the possibilities of filming movies of substance
to reach the forgotten Christian conservatives in our nation. The Christians are the folks who returned to the theatres to
make this particular movie a blockbuster runaway hit. That audience rewarded Mr. Gibson and is still there awaiting more good
Jonathan Flora is another award-winning producer who works for Disney and Miramax. He also directs music videos
& commercials. Mr. Flora independently wrote
and directed “A Distant Thunder”, which is a gripping supernatural courtroom thriller that deals with partial
birth abortion. This haunting film generates awareness and dialogue about a topic surrounded
by a great deal of misinformation and controversy. The film is emotionally chilling and
has a special twist at the end.
I recently did an interview with Mr. Flora. To me what stands out in this interview, See… http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/id42.html , is Mr. Floras unwavering strength of character, moral values, fearless demeanor in
fighting for the things he believes in and his concern for his family and the culture in which we live.
While some might call "A Distant Thunder" a divisive film, because of the issues it raises, one must remember
that important issues are always considered divisive, and there are few issues equal to the issue of partial birth abortion.
This film captures that issue like a pulsating lightening rod with the energy to educate and awaken a sleepy nation to this
The Bible says that if you are serving Jesus, you can expect a measure of persecution. What would be infinitely worse then human criticism, in this vaporous life, would be to look into the eyes of God
at judgment with the knowledge that we had an ability and conviction to take a stand on these issues, but we refused.
We instead slithered away with our tails tucked between our legs like whimpering little cowards because we were afraid that
somebody might say something that wasn’t nice about us. This film truly is
a symbolic and clear reflection of America's moral struggle.
Isn’t that what excellent filmmaking should be about?
There are dozens of people and groups in Hollywood and elsewhere that are working for change. Dr. Ted Baehr
is a Christian who is one such person. Dr. Baehr publishes Movie Guide and is the
chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission. Dr. Baehr is an activist
who is working to have the industry produce more wholesome family oriented films.
Karen Covell and her husband Jim are a team that both work in Hollywood and also run a Hollywood ministry.
Karen is a TV producer, and Jim is a composer. Karen
founded the Hollywood Prayer Network, which prays for the projects, people and the societal influence of the entertainment
industry today. Karen encourages Christians outside of Hollywood to pray for the filmmakers
so they might have a change of heart.
She can be reached at http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org .
There are many other successful folks in Hollywood who are putting the
cause above themselves and making a difference. Some have been in contact with me, and I will write about them in future papers.
At the bottom of this paper I will include more sites of those in Hollywood who are working to make a difference.
To suggest that all those who work in the film industry don’t
care about their families or our culture and the moral issues is false. Those of us with
a deep concern for these cultural issues need to be cognizant of one another and garner support for each others important
work. We all come from varied arenas in life.
The number of readers who have connected to our “American Conservative Worker” site is vast. There are millions of workers in this country, and it seems that we have hit a huge nerve and are garnering
an impressive number through our work…. http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/index.html
Being a Christian in Hollywood is no different then being a Christian in Montrose, Michigan. So fellow conservatives, let us understand Hollywood’s ability to reach and influence millions
of people. We aren’t going to win the cultural war by fighting Hollywood. The razzel-dazzle of glitzy tinsel town is
so important that it isn’t going to go away, nor should it. It is a potentially powerful and important
resource that could be used in a better and more meaningful way that improves mankind.
I understand the power of film, and I believe that the best way to make meaningful changes in Hollywood is
to support in a “huge” way the people that do movies right and encourage them to do more. Mr. Flora has stepped out front to say, “Hey, there are other voices in Hollywood, so listen up”! He has demonstrated the same potential for greatness in this film genre as Mel Gibson and his “The
Passion of The Christ”. Mr. Flora has the qualities to be an example to others who would like to take movie making to
a much higher level.
So, church leaders, politicians and everyone concerned with America’s
moral erosion, we are finding allies in Hollywood. Let's partner with them and open the floodgates of support for their work.
Hollywood is knocking…Let's
open the door!
“The American Worker” http://michaelwestfall.tripod.com/index.html
Please check out the sites below for further
information on how to obtain copies of A Distant Thunder. Then share this letter with colleagues around our nation.
CHRISTIAN ORIENTED MINISTRIES
WHICH ALL WORK INSIDE HOLLYWOOD. THEY ARE ALL RUN BY INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS' AND ARE BUILDING COMMUNITY, NETWORKING AND
MINISTRY INSIDE THEIR MISSION FIELD.
…ACT ONE… www.actoneprogram.com
…ACTORS CO-OP… www.actorsco-op.org/
…ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT… www.A-E-M.org
…CATHOLICS IN MEDIA… www.catholicsinmedia.org
…CHRISTIAN COMEDY ASSOCIATION… www.christiancomedyassociation.com
…THE HAVEN… www.havennyc.com
…HOLLYWOOD CONNECT… www.hollywoodconnect.org
…HOLLYWOOD PRAYER NETWORK… www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org
…LAFSC-LOS ANGELES FILM STUDIES CENTER… www.bestsemester.com
…MASTERMEDIA INTERNATIONAL… www.mastermediaintl.org
…MEDIA FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL… firstname.lastname@example.org
…OPEN CALL… http://home.catholicweb.com/opencall
…STUDIO ADVISORY TASK FORCE & BIOLA MEDIA …CONFERENCE…
…UNITED PRAYER FOR HOLLYWOOD… www.unitedprayerforhollywood.org
…THE BRIDGE… www.lakeave.org