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Hollywood

 “FAM FILMS”

A NEW HOLLYWOOD STUDIO

 

By Michael Westfall

January 1, 2006

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This will be a different kind of paper worthy of serious thought and consideration. It was written to open the debate and garner support for a new vision for Hollywood’s movie industry.

    At one time Hollywood produced successful family friendly films with wholesome moral messages, many of which were faith based. The Bible was actually considered important and the name of “God” meant more then a common swear term. In the movies, being “virtuous” was an admirable quality. There was not this mission to denigrate our culture by stretching the envelope in every possible offensive direction for ever-greater shock power. Not to be “preachy”, but if the leaders in this industry would turn back to responsible biblical values this problem would cease to exist. While some today may find the idea of Hollywood voluntarily cleaning up its movies as “far fetched” …it could happen.

    One only has to view a few of the old movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel to see the skill, artistry and true abilities of movie makers from the 1930”, 40’s & 50’s. Those same skills, abilities and “potential” for artistic excellence are still available in Hollywood today.

    Through their movies over the years some of Hollywood’s liberal, spoiled and arrogant film industry heads have proven again and again that they do not share the same values as mainstream America. These folks have exemplified through their movies that America’s culture is of little importance to them because their God is fame, power and money. Not to unduly demonize these people, but in all honesty, their contributions to American values have been a big zero…but this “could” change.

    Multi facetted L. Brent Bozell III, the articulate nationally syndicated writer, founder of the Media Research Center, Parents Television Council and the Conservative Communications Center has eloquently asked the question, (relative to the large numbers of Christians in America), “why is the entertainment industry so incapable of looking at numbers like that as an opportunity to mine a vastly untapped source of riches?”

    Popular movie columnist Michael Medved has stated that Hollywood does have to care about their bottom line and they have found that with Mel Gibson’s financially successful movie, “The Passion of the Christ ”, that Christians have formidable ticket buying power.

    While Tinsel Town has deliberately avoided being decent or kind to Christians and Christian beliefs, it is likewise no secret that Hollywood is a big believer in the power of money. Gibson’s blockbuster, “Passion”, blew the Tinsel Town doors wide open for the first time in 50 years. Hollywood was given clear undisputable evidence by Gibson who “forced Hollywood to learn” that it can be financially rewarding to produce faith based “Gospel” films.

      Since the days of Thomas Edison and the beginning of films “Passion” is one of the top 10 moneymakers of all time and has easily surpassed in ticket sales all of the sleazy cookie cutter movies that have been formulated with objectionable anti-biblical content. “Passion”, is proof positive that Hollywood has been traveling down the wrong track and going in the wrong direction.

    Some in Hollywood don’t know exactly what to do with “Passion” because it totally goes against their liberal theology and the messages that they have been putting out for the last several decades through their movies designed to loosen America’s morals and liberalize our culture. Well, I know what to do withPassion”. “Use it as a springboard for profound change in Hollywood and use it as an example to produce more movies for Americans who are hungering for family films with a moral and spiritual message.” Hollywood needs to get back to creating essential American family classics again. This would create two seismic events. The first is that producing these kinds of new movies would generate incredible profits for these Hollywood moguls whose only Bible scripture to date has been the liberal version of the rules of the marketplace jungle, which they have been enslaved to. The second is that this would allow them to use their skills and abilities to make a more meaningful contribution to our society and culture, which will open their horizons and be a real revelation for them.

    Isn’t it ironic that self-congratulating Hollywood, who remains caught like a deer in the headlights, has had it backwards all of these years? Tinsel Town could have been generating much greater profits in ticket sales by making movies for America’s Christian families, who are a majority, rather then targeting and falsely convoluting the Christian image into accusatory, finger pointing, Bible thumping, laughable “chumps”. From a purely business standpoint…this has been insane and makes no sense in any way.

There are over 150 million Bible believing Christians in America who would like to go back to the movies. They profoundly outnumber those who presently buy tickets. That is the financial reality.

    OK America, for years the conservatives have chastised and beat up on Hollywood for its distasteful movies. Well, guess what? There are many important people and organizations connected to the film industry that agree with us on the moral issues and they want to be heard. These concerned Christian insiders have families just like the rest of us along with a burning desire to help improve the culture and society in which their children will spend their lives. They are actively working to redeem the industry.

    More directly in the industry itself, there are moviemakers on the cutting edge who are sickened by the senseless demeaning anti-biblical liberal films, which are filled with adolescent vulgarity, excessive violence and gratuitous sex. They are concerned with how these movies shape the minds of viewers and seriously wonder what sort of long-term negative impact such movies make on our culture and national values. One positive notation is that on December 9th Disney will be releasing The Chronicles of Narnia, which has a clear and definite Gospel message.

    Candi Cushman, the very articulate writer and co-editor of Focus on the Families Citizen Magazine, has stated in one of her recent articles “ the fact that any major movie studio, much less Disney, which was boycotted by pro-family groups for the last eight years, is willing to bankroll a story with Christian symbolism is evidence of a thaw in Hollywood”.

    Jonathan Flora is another important and talented Hollywood filmmaker with a backbone who has taken a stand for his beliefs on abortion with his film “A Distant Thunder”. While Mr. Flora didn’t write and direct  “A Distant Thunder” to be a full-length feature film, he cleverly takes the debate of partial birth abortion to the next level. This film showcases to the nation Mr. Flora’s credentials and his ability to deliver those issues in a profoundly interesting way.

    I respect and relate to both Mr. Flora and Mr. Gibson because they are fellow American worker rebels in the best sense of the term. It was rebels like this that built our great God fearing nation through strong character and intestinal fortitude, people who were willing to fight and go against the grain for what they believe in. It is critical for our culture that the momentum and importance of their bold contributions are recognized as crucial stepping stones that do not end here, but rather are used as a springboard to deliver movies and the movie industry itself to a much higher level…This is very possible if those in a position to do so will seize the opportunity. In the big picture, filmmaker’s of this caliber and mindset offer tremendous potential through their work to help in the fight for the return to decency and morality in America.

     Everything has to start with a vision and a plan. Without a plan or a well-conceived blueprint for change it is all rhetoric and empty dialogue.

    The importance of this particular paper is to create the visionary spark by opening up the debate, seeding the issue with ideas and then using this paper to ascertain if there would be support for the establishment of a select group of focused Americans whose ultimate goal would be to create, finance and produce wholesome full length commercial movies “exclusively”. I am not suggesting for one minute that we destroy Hollywood…far from it. This paper is written as an exercise to help energize the power of Hollywood to become more upright and more successful then it ever thought possible by changing the content and messages of its films in a positive way to reach a much larger and broader audience. Isn’t that what the industry, which is a business, should strive for?

    I have put together and run various groups over the years and for a period of time I wrote important contractual programs for GM & the UAW. I can say from experience that without a plan of action that nothing gets done. The concepts in this paper will work, if concerned people feel a calling and champion this project.

     For the sake of discussion, if a focus group were to be headed up by proven Hollywood producers and directors such as Gibson and Flora, and if this focus group were populated with talented, bright people of vision who came together for a period of time and passionately put the cause above themselves, they could deliver movie making to a much higher level. What thinking American could not support this?

    My premise is simple. It is to create and support a different kind of new movie studio beginning with a new film production company and a clean sheet approach. For the sake of this paper I will name the hypothetical studio or production company “FAM FILMS”, a name or acronym derived from “FAMILY FILMS ”.

  “FAM FILMS” would quickly become a dependable household name brand synonymous with clean wholesome family films. Anyone seeing the “FAM FILM” name on a film or movie ad would immediately know it was a movie suitable for the entire family, without exception. This would open up the movie theatres to millions of new popcorn buying viewers. I can envision the possible need for the building of more movie theatres because of the increased ticket traffic and that is a critical point that should not be given short shrift. This would significantly help, not harm, Hollywood.

    “Fam Films” would be a totally new and different studio and production company that is run and filled with people, who are morally upright, have sterling credentials and a burning desire to change films forever in a very responsible way. Those mentioned in this paper are the kind of professionals who would run such a new studio.

     Because of the nature and power of the movie industry Fam Films would not only produce decent entertainment for its newly found audiences, but it would also be a tremendously powerful business opportunity, which would generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year for investors.There are certainly many successful conservative investors who would find that participating on the ground floor of this concept could prove to be very “financially interesting” as well as socially beneficial. What they would bring to the table would be their financing and business expertise.Interestingly, I will add that there has already been ongoing positive conversation with individuals in Hollywood and elsewhere relative to this concept.


FAM FILMS  Blueprint

    “Fam Films”   "exclusive purpose" would be to start a fresh new studio that produces full-length films that are of every flavor from comedies to dramas. Not a niche market, but an aggressive and competitive film company that produces wholesome family friendly films “exclusively”. That is the difference and that is the “hook”! All movies produced at “Fam Films” would be required to have the approval by the all-powerful in-house conservative Fam Films screening board, which would be responsible for reviewing and accepting all scripts for production. That is not to say that the films would all be stories from the Bible, on the contrary, “Fam Films” would produce all kinds of movies, but the board would follow strict moral and ethical criteria, which would “guarantee”  that each and every “Fam Film” was family friendly.

At Fam Films, Christ would be respected and Christians would be actively involved on the board. This would grant Christian leaders a major and important tool that they don’t presently have.

    The Fam Films screening board would adhere to a strict code of ethics. This new code of ethics would be developed by the Fam Films executive board, which would run the new film company.  This powerful code of ethics could possibly be an “updated version” of the old Hays Code of ethics abandoned in 1967. See…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hays_Code  The difference is that the new code would have “in-house teeth”. Any movie produced would have to go through the “screening board” where it would meet all of the same rigorous discussion as today’s scripts. In addition, it must also meet the tough “code of ethics” criteria
 set up by the “Fam Films” executive board” and pass the smell test for deeming it as wholesome entertainment and suitable for the studio to finance and promote.

    Some might call this censorship. So be it!  These folks would be the same people who hide behind the term “censorship” and use it as a license to circumvent morality and decimate America’s values.

These folks have been winning because they have been unchallenged by peers in their own arena. Fam Films would boldly change this myopic view by removing the blinders and opening up the competition. America’s families would then vote through their enormous ticket sales. This would no more be censorship then how the thriving successful studios operated in past eras when they required a level of decency in their films.

    While old mainline studios, may disingenuously produce Christian genre films in the future as “niche films” only because of the financial rewards, Fam Films would be different. In addition to making a profit, Fam Films would be a company with an underlying social and Biblical purpose…Unashamedly, by design and unapologetically.

    There certainly are Christian leaders who have tremendous disgust for Hollywood today. To those church leaders, I say, Hollywood isn't going to go away and while I am not bashful in blasting Tinsel Town’s trashy films I also believe we should commend and celebrate them when they produce positive family friendly groundbreaking films and encourage them to make more.

This truly is the Hollywood solution that Christian conservatives have been demanding for decades and they should get on board quickly. Once this vision gets acknowledged it will never go back into the bottle. The momentum will be unstoppable and it will change Hollywood.

    This paper provides a big picture perspective and blueprint for dramatic change in movie making. A change that “you” can consider, debate, actively support and rally behind. A vision creating a clean sheet controlled studio putting out wholesome full-length films of all genres from comedies to dramas suitable for Americans of all ages to watch.

    The opportunity for moviemakers, entertainers and the industry as a whole would be incredible with the new audiences and the infusion of their ticket dollars for the new wholesome family entertainment.

    There would be more to this studio then making money, which it would, or making tremendously successful new movies, which it would also do. The opportunities and societal impact would be profound.

    If bright, God fearing, highly focused people will put the cause above themselves for a period of time and openly come together on this issue for the good of our culture, then America will change for the better. In years to come our children will thank us…are you going to help?

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