Isaac Botkin makes an interesting distinction between independent and "indie" film, describing the first as those films created and produced independently of Hollywood and its worldview, and the latter as films by rebellious directors who want to do their own thing, yet follow largely the same formula for filmmaking employed by Hollywood moviemakers. Outside Hollywood is a guide for Christian filmmakers intent on making genuinely independent films that articulate and promote a distinctly Christian worldview.
As the son of a filmmaker, and subsequently a filmmaker in his own right who has worked both inside and outside Hollywood, Botkin's book is semi-autobiographical as he illustrates the difficulties and frustrations working both sides of the industry. He is clear at the outset—this is not a "how to" manual for directing, producing or shooting a film. Rather, it is intended to help focus young filmmakers on the ultimate goal of moviemaking (affecting change in people through artistic expression) from a Christian perspective.
Hollywood, he claims, is rotten to the core. Only outside its death grip can Christian artists hope to make movies that count, movies that enrich people's lives, movies that don't succumb to the hollow values of a defunct secular system. It is his confident hope that in a few years the best films will be made by independent Christian directors, but this can only happen if Christian filmmakers eschew Hollywood and its anti-Christian sensibilities, devote themselves to genuine artistry, and stop trying to preach through film without offering compelling narratives as a vehicle.
The life of a moviemaker (or any artist, for that matter) is, for Botkin, a life at war. Whether we choose to acknowledge the case or not, filmmaking is about promoting specific ideas over others. Because emotions are the most effective conduit to extended reflection, and because films are primarily an emotional art form, the cinema is quite possibly the most powerful source of change in our modern world—it's time Christians use it without letting secularists tell them how. From production and funding, to scriptwriting and acting, Outside Hollywood prepares would-be filmmakers to think like Christians about every step in the often arduous process.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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