It is time for a fresh look at LDS Cinema, a cinema that ought to be as universally engaging as the religion from which it comes. As a direct means of fulfilling the Savior’s mandate to “let your light so shine before men,” LDS media entertainment ought to be chalked full of the religious stories the constitutes the substance of our unique faith.
This could easily be longer and more extensive than a blog posting would merit, but I feel compelled to present this idea today to get it out and hopefully generate some discussion on the topic. I’ve been thinking a great deal about my own preconceived expectations for LDS Cinema and how we might change our current approach to media production and why we should do so.
With the receding tide of the last wave of LDS filmmakers not experiencing the desired success that was hoped for, almost without exception, the answer of the filmmakers was to go mainstream, avoid anything LDS, or even more taboo, anything religious all together. With a target market that was far too narrow to begin with, and by only depicting a regional variety of cultural Mormonism, these filmmakers never tapped into the true LDS market itself.
That was the mistake. By avoiding that which makes us universally LDS, we have tried to paint a picture without using paint itself. Instead of avoid the religious elements of our faith, we ought to be embracing and depicting the very rites and routines of our faith in dynamic and meaningful fashion.
Prayer, vocal musings on doctrines, personal relationships with others and with God – these things are the substance of our faith and ought to be the substance of our entertainment too. Why not? And if not, what else is there that makes LDS Cinema unique from the rest of the world? I say that there is nothing else.
How many times have we sat in Church listening to a talk, when the speaker reinforces the doctrinal point with a story? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, “my, wouldn’t that be a fun story to make a film out of?”
One of the most frequently voiced concerns of aspiring LDS filmmakers is the need to avoid becoming preachy in our productions. Perhaps it is a valid concern, but it is also unfounded. These stories that might be termed as preachy, will not be if the focus is place on telling the story out of reverence and respect, instead of out of a need to prove something with them.
It is not the place of the LDS Church’s Audio Visual Department to produce films on every aspect of our diverse and dynamic faith. There is, however, a responsibility for members of our Chruch that are able to, to tell our stories. In fact, we must in a much larger fashion than what the Church organization itself could ever produce, respond with stories of hope and conviction. It seems to me that there should be a much larger movement in media entertainment production from the general membership itself.
Hopefully, you’re like me and don’t feel constrained by the standards of our faith. Hopefully, I’m painting in broad, general strokes to help you gain something of the vision of where we as member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints need to be going in our media entertainment production, without limiting your own visions of stories yet untold. Hopefully, I’m not alone in this opinion. I know that there are readers out there. I invite you to take just a moment and express your personal opinion on the topic. Thank you.