Defining Our Own Course

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“If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.” (see The Publicity Dilemma at http://newsroom.lds.org/)

“If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.” (see The Publicity Dilemma at http://newsroom.lds.org/)

This is the resounding conclusion to a very well articulated article featured at the LDS Church’s newsroom yesterday in response to the Church’s increased prominence in negative mainstream media depictions. It seems that the devil is ranting and railing in anyway possible to thwart the forward progression of this work. 

I mention this not to point out our opposition. On the contrary, I want to use these concluding remarks as a spring board for discussion in defining LDS Cinema. I think it is not becoming of us in attempting to fulfill our objectives as Latter-day Saint filmmakers to build upon frameworks of mainstream media production models. Perhaps what I mean to say is that LDS Cinema cannot and must not ever be in response to main stream culture.

We’re creative enough in so many regards without resorting to the preconceived conventions of the Hollywood/US model of media entertainment. Yet, this seem much harder for filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers to break apart from who are constantly bombarded by exposure to such media, especially within the United States. Perhaps one of the best remedies to this is a season of exposure to other world cinema. As a people, we still have so few instances of attempts to tell the real stories of Mormonism outside of the Church’s institutional productions, we’re far from even beginning to define our syntax in film effectively. 

Where I am going with all this is simply this: as we discuss what form of media entertainment will make for a sustainable commercial enterprise among the LDS consumers and other interested parties, we cannot simply regurgitate the mainstream US product with a tint of LDS-ness and expect it to have the broad audience appeal of a world-wide audience that is looking for something better. In place of meaningless antics that we pass off as entertainment, let us tell the true stories of our unique yet universal experiences.

The real stories of Mormonism are timeless and comprehensible, regardless of language or culture. They freely tell of our appreciation for faith, virtue, and integrity. They depict the challenges of faith, the intervention of Providence, both direct and via the influence of others, and they show the joys of discipleship, its blessings and protection. Such entertainment frequently depicts expressions of gratitude and effectively instills such feelings upon its willing viewership. 

There is so much of substantial entertainment to be told in the good stories of our faith, that a blank slate  coupled with a prayerful heart are probably the best tools for successful start in any such venture. 

Follow Brent Leavitt:

Brent is married to a very supportive woman, is father of a large family, and went into business for himself in 2006.

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