If there's one thing I took away from my time at the Art Within screenwriting labs last year it was accepting the fact that when it comes to media, I see God best and most clearly in ugly things.
I hate Hollywood endings. Some of my favorite movies are ones that deal with dysfunction that never gets solved, that never gets cured…ones that show the depravity of man's soul without offering apologies for it…
Sounds like something out of life, doesn't it? Our problems don't always disappear with a neat little bow. And those things that are wrong with us don't go away overnight. I think that's the point of God. I mean, let's face it. We're some messed up people in need of a savior, and our messiness can sometimes be ugly.
I happen to think that our art should reflect that. Christian artists, in particular (and in my case Christian filmmakers), seem to have a hard time going deep into the ugly things of life in order to show Christ. We have a tendency to write through a filter of goodness. In other words, we tend to shy away from violence, profanity, sexuality, etc when it comes to writing our own material. I'm not suggesting that we become gratuitous with this stuff, nor am I saying that every piece of art that Christians create should be vulgar. What I am saying is that sometimes maybe we should consider "going there" and writing the ugly in order to ultimately point the world to Christ.
I'm struggling with this issue now as I get ready to direct my next two films "Class Picture" and "Something Worth Waiting For." The one I'm working on now, "Class Picture", has a lot of profanity on it because it deals with kids who are being bullied and kids who are bullies in school who grow up to be bigger jerks. But ultimately it's a story about forgiveness. Would you forgive your bully if you were given the opportunity or would you seek revenge? The story is actually based on some true events in my life. So why should I sugar coat it, especially if it points back to the need for God in one's life.
I think sometimes these things only become an issue when we know an artist personally and know them to be a Christian. We go to movies all the time with ugly things in it, but when a Christian makes a movie with an F-bomb then we start to question their religion.
Well, we'll see what happens with these next two films. My goal is just to show some truth on the screen…to live in the reality that I'm just a sinner saved by grace…