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director.lionel

Movie Mom's Interview with Me

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Hello!

 

I'm a Christian filmmaker, and I did an interview with Movie Mom, Nell Minow, who's also a Rotten Tomatoes Critic. Here's one of the questions and my answer:

 

Why do you think so few movies communicate meaningfully to teenagers?

 

Most Hollywood executives are not out to communicate but to market. Money,

aka the prohibitive cost of making and marketing a film, so dominates the

landscape that executives--the money men--have reign of the regime and not the

artists, visionaries nor auteurs, of whom the latter are now industry relics.

Studios can't afford to take risks on niche movies that don't have obvious

mainstream allure. And, so they make movies that appeal viscerally with the

lowest common denominators (explosions, skin, weed, 3D, etc.) to fill seats in

the theaters.

 

If you'd like to read more, here's the link: http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/2010/07/interview-lionel-chew-of-long-.html

 

I'm curious to know as a filmmaker, what things do you consider when deciding whether or not to let your child or children watch a movie?

 

Lionel

Edited by director.lionel
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My child is only allowed to go the movie theater to see movies which my DH and I approve of first. Nothing over a PG13, which is getting harder and harder to come by. Almost any movie these days is at least an R. We really can't be too controlling over what he gets to go see...there's almost nothing available anymore that doesn't have cursing, nudity, violence. We try to limit his exposure to this stuff though when we can.

 

He really doesn't mind. When the kids were younger we bought all the Feature Films For Families and that was pretty much all the kids got to watch. Those and Disney movies. Nowadays though you even have to be careful about Disney movies...crazy, huh?

Edited by momsense
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My child is only allowed to go the movie theater to see movies which my DH and I approve of first. Nothing over a PG13, which is getting harder and harder to come by. Almost any movie these days is at least an R. We really can't be too controlling over what he gets to go see...there's almost nothing available anymore that doesn't have cursing, nudity, violence. We try to limit his exposure to this stuff though when we can.

 

He really doesn't mind. When the kids were younger we bought all the Feature Films For Families and that was pretty much all the kids got to watch. Those and Disney movies. Nowadays though you even have to be careful about Disney movies...crazy, huh?

 

Hi Momsense (Is your name related to the magazine?). Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate your sharing about what goes into your movie decision making. You're right about the state of movies now. Actually, even with the PG and PG13 ratings, the MPAA (the organization which determines the ratings) allows for a certain level and quota of profanity for each rating, respectively. And, yeah, even family-oriented Disney is driven by very strong humanistic concepts, which aren't necessarily biblical. Though, at least, they do try to be ethical.

 

And when it came to my own screenplay, I really tried to keep families in mind. I did strive to be as real as possible since that's what teens relate to (and actually any movie goer). But I felt I could do it without the "cursing, nudity, violence" just as you mentioned. That's why the parents of the teen actors we cast were so relieved when they read my script and heartily endorsed their kids' roles in it.

 

Again, thanks for sharing. It's encouraging to know my approach isn't obsolete, and there are parents out there who may be looking for these kinds of movies.

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Your Welcome

 

Thanks, abc!

 

Hello,

I am so sorry, I have not gotton a chance to fellowship lately.

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My daughter is 12 and she is more strict than I am on what we go see, I wanted to see several movies she told me she did not want to see b/c they looked "kinda bad", and really held to the Bible's standards they were, she has taught me so much.

 

I wish there were more mystery movies made like the tv shows we watch, like Monk and The Mentalist, that actually have a story and plot and you have to think, not just action packed mindless junk, most movies I end up spacing out on even if we do go,all the mindless fight and car chase scenes, I end up thinking about my to do list or making a mental grocery list, so they are a complete waste of money for us to go to. The last movie we went to see was Iron Man 2and it was so boring I almost fell asleep in the theater.

As I said some I had been interested in going to, but she did not want to see, usually b/c they have sex scenes in the commercials and she is very against any of that kind of stuff, more so than I ever taught her to be, she always turns her face and covers her eyes at even kissing scenes. So this leaves out all romantic movies and comedies, even PG-13 ones. I had wanted to see the one with Miley Cirus in it but this was one she was like no way mom too.

That being said, we usually only go to a handful of movies per year, this year that was The Cross-The Story of Arthur Blessit (we all loved this movie), Toy Story 3, Shrek The Final Chapter, Marmaduke, and Iron Man 2. We do plan on going to see the latest Narnia movie coming out soon.

So we look for sex free, no sex,not even kissing, no sex language.

At her age some violence that is necessary to the story plot is ok, violence not necessary to the plot of the story is not ok.

We both do not like bad or foul language, esspecially taking the Lord's name in vain, using Christ's name wrongly is very offensive to us, it makes us both very angry to hear this, we also do not like all the OMG's lately, (since they do not believe in Him, why do they insist on using His name) we say Oh my Guy in our home, so that my young son thinks the whole OMG thing means oh my guy, and if we see it on a preview we not go to the movie, but though I would be a better Christian if I did, we do not leave once I paid a small fortune to get into it.

I needed to edit that we did go see The Blind Side too and we all loved this movie as well!

One thing though is we all agreed in that the Mom dressed too provocative, she should have dressed more modest as a Christian woman. I thought realistically if she wore an outfit like she did in the movie to vist the bad neighborhood, she'd have surely been raped there. It was not appropraite at all, but we all agreed on this and my daughter dresses super conservative even to the point of wearing boy's swim trunks over her swim suit so boys cannot look at her butt.

 

We are totally against all those vampire movies and do not understand at all why anyone would want to watch such nonsense! God Blessed me with this girl, b/c if she wanted to see Twilight movies, I'd have to have put my foot down and said no way, but I have it pretty easy, Praise God.

Edited by DiamondRing

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My daughter is 12 and she is more strict than I am on what we go see, I wanted to see several movies she told me she did not want to see b/c they looked "kinda bad", and really held to the Bible's standards they were, she has taught me so much.

 

I wish there were more mystery movies made like the tv shows we watch, like Monk and The Mentalist, that actually have a story and plot and you have to think, not just action packed mindless junk, most movies I end up spacing out on even if we do go,all the mindless fight and car chase scenes, I end up thinking about my to do list or making a mental grocery list, so they are a complete waste of money for us to go to. The last movie we went to see was Iron Man 2and it was so boring I almost fell asleep in the theater.

As I said some I had been interested in going to, but she did not want to see, usually b/c they have sex scenes in the commercials and she is very against any of that kind of stuff, more so than I ever taught her to be, she always turns her face and covers her eyes at even kissing scenes. So this leaves out all romantic movies and comedies, even PG-13 ones. I had wanted to see the one with Miley Cirus in it but this was one she was like no way mom too.

That being said, we usually only go to a handful of movies per year, this year that was The Cross-The Story of Arthur Blessit (we all loved this movie), Toy Story 3, Shrek The Final Chapter, Marmaduke, and Iron Man 2. We do plan on going to see the latest Narnia movie coming out soon.

So we look for sex free, no sex,not even kissing, no sex language.

At her age some violence that is necessary to the story plot is ok, violence not necessary to the plot of the story is not ok.

We both do not like bad or foul language, esspecially taking the Lord's name in vain, using Christ's name wrongly is very offensive to us, it makes us both very angry to hear this, we also do not like all the OMG's lately, (since they do not believe in Him, why do they insist on using His name) we say Oh my Guy in our home, so that my young son thinks the whole OMG thing means oh my guy, and if we see it on a preview we not go to the movie, but though I would be a better Christian if I did, we do not leave once I paid a small fortune to get into it.

I needed to edit that we did go see The Blind Side too and we all loved this movie as well!

One thing though is we all agreed in that the Mom dressed too provocative, she should have dressed more modest as a Christian woman. I thought realistically if she wore an outfit like she did in the movie to vist the bad neighborhood, she'd have surely been raped there. It was not appropraite at all, but we all agreed on this and my daughter dresses super conservative even to the point of wearing boy's swim trunks over her swim suit so boys cannot look at her butt.

 

We are totally against all those vampire movies and do not understand at all why anyone would want to watch such nonsense! God Blessed me with this girl, b/c if she wanted to see Twilight movies, I'd have to have put my foot down and said no way, but I have it pretty easy, Praise God.

 

Hi Diamond Ring! Thanks for your sharing! I'm truly amazed your daughter has such godly standards for her age. You must be a terrific model of what it means to follow Jesus in a real, practical way. I suspect you must have invested hours and hours of prayer into her life. She seems to be protected and inspired by the Holy Spirit in a uniquely powerful way. I'm also touched that even though she is your own child of only 12 years old, you learn from her. That's a rare spirit of humility!

 

I laugh at your candid critique of Iron Man 2. Honestly, I haven't seen it yet. I do plan to, but I hope it won't end up being $11 nap. Thanks for helping me keep my expectations in check. =)

 

Yeah, sadly, Hollywood has been anti-Christian and historically so. It's been atheistic at the least and agnostic at best. Hollywood heads have been so intoxicated by their own press, glamor and success, that they have no need or perception of God. They often mock Him, by abusing His name and His people as if subconsciously daring God to do something to them. And He does by giving them over to their own exploits (Rom. 1:18-32), though they don't realize it. Hence the widespread addiction to alcohol, crack and a whole catalog of barbiturates as well as rampant marital and relational failures.

 

I'm still hoping that God will raise up a generation of filmmakers and artists who will stand up in the industry and help break the dark strongholds that are there. I pray that there will be revival in Hollywood. Otherwise, who knows...that part of California does lie close to some very powerful earthquake fault lines.

 

I also saw "Blindside" and enjoyed it for the most part. However, I felt that, though the family was Christian, it wasn't an especially accurate portrayal in that they never mentioned Jesus by name, not even in their dinner prayer. I felt it was another studio sanitization ploy in an attempt to make it more "marketable."

 

The bulk of Hollywood producers have yet to respect the sensitivities and, yes, even market power of the Christian community to their disadvantage. Movies like "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof," unapologetically and positively feature the name of Jesus, and were actually quite profitable in terms of return on investment. (Not surprisingly, they were made by independents outside the big studio system.) Even without the heavy Hollywood marketing machinery, those movies still did relatively well. But still, mainstream Hollywood either fails to perceive such success and potential or chooses to ignore them. There's really an unspoken cultural-values war going on.

 

I've seen all the Twilight movies (for my personal research =] ). I understand their appeal to the demographic. But, ultimately, the premise of good nether beings vs. bad is dubious. And it's completely bereft of spiritual truth. There's no hint of the power of a Supernatural Benevolent who can thwart the dark powers. At least the old school vampire and werewolf movies had that. Ultimately, you and your family aren't missing much. But you probably suspected that.

Edited by director.lionel

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Sandra Bullock took a hard hit b/c of making that movie, she lost her husband and suffered greatly, she gained a reward of an Oscar, but I bet she'd give that back to have her husband's faithfulness again. IS she a Christian or did she just do a really great job acting the role of one who was in real life, sometimes we may forget she was depicting a real mom, and I forget too how the world dresses since I spend a lot of time concentrating to keep my eyes directly in contact with another's person's eyes while in conversation, as a woman I do this not b/c the breasts hanging out hold the same temptation as to a man, but a differant one, to judge them, to think they look like tramps and tell them to put some clothes on, I admit this is wrong, but I am from Amish Country and this is just not something we do as women even if not Amish we just cover ourselves, we don't want men looking at us like that, so it is a challenge fo rme to keep my thoughts on not judging them and trying to keep in mind thwt they do not know any better and if I tell them it will not be recieved, as God taught me in a Christian song, He needs to change thier hearts before He can change thier shirt. So speaking of music, take heart and be encouraged, twice this week we heard Christian music played on a new tv show commercial and out in public where usually you only hear secular, but it is getting in there finally after all these years, and it had to start in tiny seeds, with music only the ones who already knew Him even knew was Jesus in that song speaking through the singer. Anyway movies will follow I am sure, it will take years, but keep hammering these movies out and they will start to multiply grow and be bigger and stronger than what even came before the corruption, like the mustard seed that grows to be the tallest tree that can shelter the birds of the air with it's branches.

Keep the Faith, God is working His plan!!!

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Oh and I thought the dinner scene at Thansgiving was very accurate to those Christian homes I would go to when young (90's) and in high school, the ffod grabbed, then everyone sitting in the living room in front of the tv, while mom usually ate alone in the kitchen while already cleaning up, the name of Jesus was never spoken, not even in prayers, in fact truth be told we were so drilled to not use the Jesus name, I think we had developed a real fear of it. One of the things that was very hard for me to get over and why believe God had me in a Pentocostal church for a time was getting comfortable with saying His Name, instead Dear God or Heavenly Father, or Father in Heaven, on tv people said God but never said Jesus too. I know we are to be saying His Name as There is Power in His Name but you know the previous generation (those sinners you know,the factory workers and bikers and blue collar workers and such) would use Jesus Christ all the time like a curse word and we were drilled not to use the name in vain, then we did not use it hardy at all outside of Sunday church. Course most of us only had one parent in divorced families even going to church so we all had a lot of mixed signals going on. But anyway this is how the "rich" christian families really acted and she was portraying a real family so they may truly never have used His Name in prayer, we did not even use His Name to end a prayer, again the Pentacostal Church taught me to pray in His Name, we never did this we would just say Amen, and it to pronouned AAAA like the O in Opera, men. Weird how religion can grip people so.

Edited by DiamondRing

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I guess I should thanks Diamond Ring for the enlightenment. I use OMG all the time, but that's b/c I thought it just stood for oh my gosh! I have probably even posted it on here somewhere. Sorry if I offended anyone. I would never use our Lord's name so trivially. That would be blasphemous!

 

You are blessed Diamond Ring to have a child who is so wary of things offered by the secular world. It's really not easy these days being a parent and trying to raise your child up the way you think God wants them to be. That's why all my kids go to Christian school. We tried the public schools for a time but it was just too difficult for the kids to be constantly bombarded for the way they believed and they didn't like it.

 

I agree that The Blind Side was very good. Nice to see someone thinking about others rather than just themselves. Not mentioning Jesus' name though was a little buggy...we end every prayer with "in Jesus' name we pray" so when we don't hear that it doesn't sound like a prayer. Oh well...I guess that's just us.

 

Hooray for you, director.lionel! It is so refreshing to hear that there is actually a filmmaker who is concerned about what our children are watching. I have never watched any of the Twilight movies (nor has anyone I know) but I can attest to the fact that when I was little vampire and werewolf movies amused me. I was always relieved by the fact that there was God and His goodness who could counteract their evil ways.

That is missing in today's movies and I'm sure that has something to do with why they are no longer appealing to me.

What's interesting to me is that all this will work out for good. God promises us that!

 

BTW, director.lionel...what magazine? I chose the name momsense b/c I have 10 kids and momsense (which is God given) and God have always been what I have relied on.

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I am from Amish Country...

 

...we heard Christian music played on a new tv show commercial...

 

...Oh and I thought the dinner scene at Thansgiving was very accurate to those Christian homes I would go to when young (90's) and in high school, the ffod grabbed, then everyone sitting in the living room in front of the tv...

 

...we did not even use His Name to end a prayer, again the Pentacostal Church taught me to pray in His Name, we never did this we would just say Amen, and it to pronouned AAAA like the O in Opera, men. Weird how religion can grip people so

 

Hi DiamondRing! Thanks for letting me know a little about your Christian background. I don't think I've ever met anyone from an Amish family. Interesting your experience with the name of Jesus. I must say I'm glad you learned about the power of His name and our need and privilege to use it. Yes, it's holy, but the Lord revealed it to mankind for a reason...that we would call on Him!

 

Really, a Christian song in a secular commercial?? Wow, I'm really curious. Which commercial and song? I'd like to look it up.

 

But that's an interesting and funny insight into how some Christian Thanksgiving dinners are. I'm wondering if it's a legitimate custom you're describing or more an unfortunate snapshot of how Christ has become an often an ignored guest in Christian American dining rooms. Hmm...

 

Hooray for you, director.lionel! It is so refreshing to hear that there is actually a filmmaker who is concerned about what our children are watching...

 

BTW, director.lionel...what magazine? I chose the name momsense b/c I have 10 kids and momsense (which is God given) and God have always been what I have relied on.

 

Hi Momsense! Thanks for the affirmation! Being a Christian filmmaker, sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a lonely, uphill battle. It's great to hear a cheer from my Christian brothers and sisters like yourself once in a while. Praise God, though, I do have another preview screening of long-distance princess coming up on Sept. 3 at a church. If you could pray for us and the audience (mostly youth this time), that would be great!

 

Wow, 10 kids!! Praise God, you must have a lot of momsense indeed! Btw, here's a link to Momsense magazine: http://www.mops.org/page.php?pageid=547

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I could not recall except it was for a tv show. I am not Amish, just from Amish country and I do not know what they do as far as praying, they are very private people, they aren't harsh at all, they are very peaceful but keep to themselves, I think it is hard to explain my area without giving a wrong impression, we just have so many differant congregations and denominations, many of the families I would go to went to either brethren in christ, UCC or baptist churches, many said the old God is Great God is Good now we thank Him for this food prayer! But at least it was not nothing and as on the movie this was normal family life in much of the late 80's early 90's. We rented a house on an Amish farm and they would come into our home and they were so kind and gentle, they helped us through a very rough time in our lives when we had lost our house to forclosure, without them we would have had no home at all, they were willing to rent to us when nobody else would. I just wanted to clarify b/c I felt I had left a wrong impression of them, they are just a people who have chosen to live simple lives and though seem strict I can assure you they are the light of Jesus in that neck of the woods until other churches were formed interestingly enough frompastors who had come out of the amish upbringing and left the Amish fold (Lancaster County Amish do not practice shunning) to preach to the "English" (anyone not Amish) Jesus Christ and His Salvation through Grace not works, the importance of family life, and staying together, and the joy of simplicity, not materialism, The Blessing of God to be used for His Glory and fulfill His works, not for our own pleasure or consumption, however they have the best food you could ever imagine eating! Just wanted to clarify this, I felt I had left you with a wrong impression, and this area has changed so much in the past 20 years, so when I speak of the issues, know that He has been Victorious and much of the religious strongholds have already been torn down and the area has shifted focus now in occurding to God's leading. Since we are not there anymore I feel I miss out on it, although I know God's call for us is here on the West for now though.

 

Oh my daughter says it was a Toby Mac song anyway!

Edited by DiamondRing

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I could not recall except it was for a tv show. I am not Amish, just from Amish country and I do not know what they do as far as praying, they are very private people, they aren't harsh at all, they are very peaceful but keep to themselves, I think it is hard to explain my area without giving a wrong impression, we just have so many differant congregations and denominations, many of the families I would go to went to either brethren in christ, UCC or baptist churches, many said the old God is Great God is Good now we thank Him for this food prayer! But at least it was not nothing and as on the movie this was normal family life in much of the late 80's early 90's. We rented a house on an Amish farm and they would come into our home and they were so kind and gentle, they helped us through a very rough time in our lives when we had lost our house to forclosure, without them we would have had no home at all, they were willing to rent to us when nobody else would. I just wanted to clarify b/c I felt I had left a wrong impression of them, they are just a people who have chosen to live simple lives and though seem strict I can assure you they are the light of Jesus in that neck of the woods until other churches were formed interestingly enough frompastors who had come out of the amish upbringing and left the Amish fold (Lancaster County Amish do not practice shunning) to preach to the "English" (anyone not Amish) Jesus Christ and His Salvation through Grace not works, the importance of family life, and staying together, and the joy of simplicity, not materialism, The Blessing of God to be used for His Glory and fulfill His works, not for our own pleasure or consumption, however they have the best food you could ever imagine eating! Just wanted to clarify this, I felt I had left you with a wrong impression, and this area has changed so much in the past 20 years, so when I speak of the issues, know that He has been Victorious and much of the religious strongholds have already been torn down and the area has shifted focus now in occurding to God's leading. Since we are not there anymore I feel I miss out on it, although I know God's call for us is here on the West for now though.

 

Oh my daughter says it was a Toby Mac song anyway!

 

Thanks for clarifying everything. It's great you have first hand experience with the Amish, which seems very positive! I think a lot of people (like myself) only know of the Amish from how they're portrayed in the media. I still remember the movie "Witness." I thought it was great, but I have no idea how accurate the portrayal of the Amish was. Thanks also for filling me on the song.

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