Elements of Madness contributor Lindsey Dunn recently had the opportunity to interview Tyler Smith, creator of the video essay Reel Redemption: The Rise of Christian Cinema. Hollywood and the Church make for odd bedfellows. But the success of many faith-based movies can’t be denied. Join writer and director Tyler Smith as he explores the dichotomy of the sacred and the secular in the film industry. This feature-length video essay dives into the history of Christianity’s suspicion and admonishment of conventional cinema and the surprisingly popular genre of Christian films that has managed not only to persevere, but often, to flourish.
If you’d like to read Lindsey’s review of Reel Redemption prior to watching the interview, head over here.
While most of the Q & A was filmed via Zoom, unfortunate internet issues interrupted the proceedings. Additional content can be found below.
If you prefer audio, use the link below:
Due to technical constraints the final question in the interview was cut off. Below you can read Lindsey’s question and Tyler Smith’s answer:
Lindsey Dunn: You have mentioned a little bit about your hopes already of where faith-based films can go. Can you expand on that a little?
Tyler Smith: As Christian audience gets more sophisticated, I hope they will be less interested in movies that tell them they’re right and more interested in movies that actually reflect their experiences. When it comes right down to it, whether you’re Christian or not you’re going to get fired from your job or lose a loved one. You’re going to deal with depression or illness or something like that. And then you have to rely on your faith to carry you through. Having faith does not inoculate you from pain. We’re starting to see more movies that explore that idea. There’s a film called Breakthrough that depicts a young boy who falls through the ice on a frozen lake and is unconscious and essentially dead and then suddenly comes back to life. It’s based on a true story. And we’ve seen movies like that before. But in this movie, there’s a part where other characters are wondering why this one family got a miracle but my loved one died. And the film ultimately says, I don’t know. And I love that. I love that the film is willing to suggest that just because somebody is a Christian and they’re following the Bible, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to know God’s reasoning behind everything. Breakthrough was willing to go there, and I hope we begin to see more of that and less of movies that just offer up perfunctory or easy answers. And as the audiences want more, the executives may be willing to take more risks.
Reel Redemption: The Rise of Christian Cinema can be viewed via streaming service on FaithLife TV.
Hollywood and the church make for odd bedfellows. But the success of many faith-based movies can’t be denied.
Join writer/director Tyler Smith as he explores the dichotomy of the sacred and the secular in the film industry. This feature-length video essay dives into the history of Christianity’s suspicion and admonishment of conventional cinema and the surprisingly popular genre of Christian films that has not only managed to persevere, but often, to flourish.
Lindsey Dunn is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and reviews movies at 1ofmystories.com. As an ALA-accredited librarian and lover of film, she’s convinced that finding the right story at the right time can change hearts and lives.