Making Movies That Glorify Christ
About the Guest
Sometimes life gives you a second chance. That’s the theme of the new release, No Greater Love, a Christian romantic drama about a couple, Jeff and Heather, whose marriage falls apart. Ten years down the road, however, Jeff and Heather cross paths again, and are torn by the decisions they must make. Joining Dennis Rainey in the studio today is the executive producer of No Greater Love, Russ Rice, along with the writer/director, Brad Silverman, and lead actor, Anthony Tyler Quinn.
Anthony Tyler QuinnAnthony Tyler Quinn is an American actor best known for his role as Jonathan Turner on Boy Meets World from 1994-1997. More recently he had the lead role in No Greater Love.
Brad SilvermanBrad Silverman is a former comedian turned filmmaker turned theologian. Selfie Dad is his third Christian feature film, following No Greater Love and Grace Unplugged. Grace Unplugged won multiple faith film awards, including awards from Movieguide, Focus on the Family, and the Dove Foundation. Brad received Movieguide’s Epiphany Award, which is given to creators of the best wholesome, uplifting, and inspiring movies and TV programs.
Russ RiceRuss Rice is the founder and president of Coram Deo Studios and producer of Grace Unplugged. He and his wife, Carina, live in the Los Angeles area and have five children, four of whom now work for dad.
Sometimes life gives you a second chance.
Making Movies That Glorify Christ
Brad: The entertainment industry is made up of just a bunch of individual people who need Christ. Certainly when we get a bunch of entertainment industry people together, they can get together and put together some stuff and put it on the big screen that we wouldn’t support. But, having said that you’re just dealing with individual people who need Christ.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 15th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I'm Bob Lepine. If there is going to be any kind of turnaround in Hollywood, it's going to happen one heart at a time.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I'm excited about what we're going to share with our listeners today and let them know about a new movie that is about to be released. But, before we get to that, I'm also excited about what we’ve been sharing all this month. And that is a challenge to listeners to spend a little bit of time each day in 2010 in God’s word.
Dennis: We wanted to start off the New Year by reading a verse at the beginning of the broadcast every day, and then encourage couples and families to talk about this verse, perhaps around the dinner table tonight.
Bob: The verse that we're using comes from your devotional book Moments with You because you start each of these daily devotionals with a verse from scripture. What's today's verse?
Dennis: Titus 2:4-5. A lot of the women know this one. It says, "Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home." Scripture has a way of just cutting through the white noise of the culture, and just helping us line up straight the direction we’re supposed to go. Perhaps tonight what you need to do at the dinner table is share with your husband a way in which you need to be mentored right now, as a wife, a mom, or perhaps a grandmother, as you enter this next season of life.
Bob: Yes, it would be a good idea to talk about who might be someone in your circle. Someone in your church, someone you know, who could step into that mentoring role. Then, you could go to that person and say, "Could we have lunch from time to time? I'd just like to ask you some questions.
I think sometimes if you go to somebody and say, “Would you be my mentor?” that can feel a little awkward. But if you just go and say, “Could we have lunch from time to time so I can ask you some questions?”
Dennis: Just pass on your life with me and some of the lessons you've learned in this season of life that you're in, because you're one lap ahead of me in the race of life.
Bob: Well, again if our listeners are interested in getting this daily devotional, Moments with You e-mailed to you, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and you can sign up there, and we'll send the devotional out to you each day. Or you can order a copy of the book from us on our website FamilyLifeToday.com.
I mentioned the website. I should mention today is the last day that we have to remind listeners of the special offer we're making for FamilyLife Today listeners. If you register before the end of the week, for one of our upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conferences, you call us today, or you go online today and register. It’s the last opportunity for the buy-one-get-one-free offer we’ve been making for FamilyLife Today listeners.
So you can the information you need about an upcoming conference on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, you can register online, and if you want to take advantage of this buy-one-get-one-free opportunity, we need to hear from you now, and you need to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. Just type my name “BOB” in the key code box that you find on the registration form. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, register over the phone, and mention that you’re a FamilyLife Today listener.
When you do that, you and your spouse can attend one of the upcoming Weekend to Remember® Conferences when it comes to a city near where you live, any time this spring or even into the fall. You attend at, essentially half-price. You buy one registration and the other one is absolutely free. But again, the offer expires this week, so we need to hear from you today.
Call 1-800-FLTODAY, or register online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and then attend one of our fun, romantic weekend getaways for couples, the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember®. The conference, by the way, comes with an unconditional money back guarantee. If for any reason, you are not happy with the event, we’ll return the registration fee with no questions asked. So we really do hope that you’ll be a part of a Weekend to Remember® this spring.
Now, we have got what I think is a blockbuster idea for listeners today. By that I mean, blockbuster in the sense of the video rental company, because we've got a movie we want to tell you about, and we think it's one you're going to want to rent. And, watch with some friends.
Dennis: It's going to be coming out next Tuesday, on DVD, it's called No Greater Love, and we just happen to have the Executive Producer, Russ Rice. Russ, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Dennis: The lead role Tony Quinn, Tony joins us again. Tony, welcome back.
Anthony: Nice to be here.
Dennis: And Brad Silverman, joins us on the broadcast, he is the writer and director of the movie. Brad welcome back.
Brad: Thank you, great to be here.
Bob: And before we rush past Anthony Quinn, you had to throw Tyler in there otherwise—there was this other Anthony Quinn who is an actor right?
Anthony: Yes, you might have heard of him. I don't know.
Dennis: Yes, we have.
Bob: But, before we rush too far past this, I just need to mention this, because some of our listeners might have seen Boy Meets World. That's probably your best known role right?
Anthony: That's one of the things that people seem to recognize me from, and know me from, because it's been on TV.
Bob: You played the "cool" teacher?
Anthony: That was me.
Bob: Mr. Peter...?
Anthony: Mr. Turner.
Bob: Mr. Turner. OK. And what made--I'm sorry I've not seen Boy Meets World--what made you so cool?
Anthony: You know, his whole approach--that character's whole approach was just trying to reach the kids on their level. He had longer hair, he had an earring, and he rode a motorcycle. And he put the motorcycle helmet on. He tried to associate with them on their level, and they just identified with him.
Bob: Did you have longer hair, and a real earring?
Anthony: Yes, I did, at that time.
Dennis: I can kind of picture it, Tony.
Anthony: You can? Why, thank you.
Dennis: The motorcycle, and all.
Anthony: I'm flattered by that.
Dennis: While we're talking to you, before we go back to the movie for a moment, you're an actor in Hollywood.
Dennis: And you're a follower of Christ.
Dennis: Those two things can work?
Anthony: Yes, they seem mutually exclusive, don't they? But, by God's grace...
Dennis: What are your boundaries? Do you have any? I'm sure you do.
Anthony: Oh, sure. I'm very uncomfortable doing things that obviously contain any kind of graphic sexual content.
Dennis: So, are you saying you don't take those roles.
Anthony: No, I don't. I'm pretty uncomfortable with that. Not only from being a Christian, but in terms of being a husband, I just don't feel comfortable doing that. I don't like things that have explicit language in them. I remember one time my agent sent me a script and she said, "We just have an offer, they want you to do this." I hadn't seen the script, and I said, "OK great. When do I start work?" She said, "You probably start next week."
So, I said, "Well, if I start next week, I had better see a script. I don't have a script." So she sends me the script. I read four pages of the script, and I literally, within four pages there was everything in there that I objected to morally: Filthy language, sexual content, blasphemy. I just said, "I can't even do this. I hadn’t even gotten five pages into the script and it’s just awful. So I had to turn it down.”
Bob: Would it even be a temptation? Let’s say that script that you got was going to be a…
Dennis: Bob, you just kind of …
Bob: I just want to say what if this is Scorsese’s next big movie?
Anthony: It’s a great question.
Bob: And it’s going to have a $100,000,000,000 budget and you are going to be playing opposite…
Dennis: Who would be the toughest opposite for you to turn down at this point?
Brad: Margaret Quinn.
Dennis: There you go. His wife. There you go. That’s worth one point.
Anthony: I’ve had to turn her down on a couple of occasions.
Bob: But let’s say your going to be opposite Johnny Depp.
Anthony: It’s hard to say. It would be…I don’t know if I would be tempted. I don’t think I would. Anybody’s work that I admire that I’d love to share the screen with you might look at and say I wish this was the kind of project I could do.
Bob: Wouldn’t your agent say you have to be out of your mind?
Anthony: I’ve actually lost agents because of it. I actually had a conversation with a manager I had at one time where he said I just got off the phone with your agents and I said yes, and he said they are a little frustrated.
I said, why? And he said because you turn everything down.
Dennis: You've got convictions.
Dennis: I applaud that. I really want you to know that.
Anthony: I appreciate that.
Dennis: Russ, you established a company with a purpose. Share with our listeners why you did that. That really is ultimately how this movie has come about.
Russ: Coram Deo Studios was birthed out of a fundraising company we have, called Signature Fundraising. We do product sales in schools, helping schools earn that extra money to do things for the kids. Brad and I worked together in that. He was one of my sales reps in that. In the process of that we started doing little films for our schools and we realized we could do something bigger than that, so we started the film company.
Coram Deo means, living in the presence of the Lord, before the face of God. We wanted to make sure that we honored God and glorified Him in everything we did. It's just like what Tony is saying. The reason he hasn't been out there on the big screen is because he has convictions and when you're in the heat of the battle, it shows really where your character is.
So, for us, even if somebody came to us, if a studio said, "Hey we'll give you a hundred million to make this movie." We would be in the same situation that Tony is in. Because, we're not going to compromise what we believe scripture is clear about. That is part of why we named our company Coram Deo Studios, because, if we can't do it to glorify God, we're not going to do it.
Bob: Are we at a point, and Brad I'm asking you this because you spent years in the industry before you were a Christian. Christian filmmaking is kind of emerging these days and folks are takings stabs at making films. Movies like Fireproof are probably the best known of those films. The Left Behind series, there were a couple of films made off of that. Are we at a point where Christian filmmaking is starting to become competitive with what big studios are putting out? Or, are we still a ways from that?
Brad: Well, I think what's happening is the ability to make movies has gotten so much easier. It's just desktop editing; everybody has a camera and some editing equipment. So, the ability to make movies in general is easier. I think if you look around, you're going to see that more movies are being made period. So, with that certainly, a lot of Christians are also making movies. To your point Bob, yes, I do think that there are a lot more Christians with this generation, and future generations that are feeling much freer to explore the creative arts as a career or as a hobby, and feel fine with it.
Dennis: Brad what would you say to a mom or a dad who is raising a son or a daughter who has that creative bent as a writer, maybe a producer, actor, actress and it scares them to death to think about them marching off into Hollywood. In the past, it seemed like that was a sinkhole from which you never returned. What would you say to them, what coaching tips would you give them?
Brad: I definitely think it's a case-by-case basis. It would be so hard to give some general rule. I have four children of my own. Boy, if by the time they're ready to march off into the real world, I hope that the Lord has, in spite of me, allowed me to raise them in such a way that they would have discernment, and have wisdom, and have character. We're talking about the convictions that Tony has. I hope that my children, should they choose to go into the entertainment industry, would have those kinds of convictions.
The entertainment industry is made up of, just a bunch of individual people who need Christ. Certainly when we get a bunch of entertainment industry people together, they can get together and put together some stuff and put it on the big screen that we wouldn't support. But having said that, you're just dealing with individual people who need Christ.
So I do think that if I send my kid off anywhere, to do anything, I'd be concerned that they're going to make the right choices. And perhaps, the lure of Hollywood is an added temptation that does create extra problems.
Anthony: I would think that would apply to really any field that they want to pursue. No matter what job or profession you have, it's going to maybe tempt you or force you to make a compromise. You have to have your roots in place and your convictions in place to say,"No I'm not going to fudge on this contract, or clock out ten minutes early,” or whatever it is. If your aim is success, you might be tempted to do that.
Dennis: But, here's what I'd say about that Tony. I agree with you in terms that there are temptations across the board. It seems as though this area, because of worldview, because every movie is a statement of some person or group of persons, approach to life. It's either God-centric, or man-centric. It seems like in Hollywood, it's a whole lot more man-centric than it is anything around what God's doing.
Anthony: That really reminds me of a story. When we first, if you don't mind I'm going to talk about you for a minute Russ. The very first day of principal photography of this film--this made a huge impact on me, because I've been in this business a long time. He gathered everybody together in his living room in his own house, because we were doing some interior stuff in the house.
Dennis: You are speaking of Russ now?
Anthony: Speaking of Russ, yes. There were many non-believers in the crew. Some 40 something people gathered in Russ's living room. He had a Bible in his hand. He basically stood up and said what his mission statement for this film was going to be. He said he wanted to make a film that would glorify the God of the Bible, that we would all be proud to have our names on it, and he said, "We're Christians; we're not going to hide that fact.
There are some here who are not Christians, and we're not asking you to be fake. You just be who you are. If you're going to use language we're going to ask you to keep that at a minimum, because we would be offended by that.”
But then he did something that I've never seen before. He held up his Bible and he said, "I challenge you, everybody here, that if you see me living inconsistently with this book, I want you to come and tell me." I thought to myself, I've never seen an executive producer with the courage to say to that to his crew, come and point out some form of hypocrisy in my life.
I just thought, this is going to be an absolute heavenly playground to be on for the next month. Because you have an executive producer who loves Christ, you have a director who loves Christ. Every morning, there was a prayer meeting that sometimes I was not able to go to. It was there and anybody could go to it if they wanted to. A couple of times, on some difficult scenes that we were doing, that required some pretty heavy emotion stuff. Russ would come over to me, and put his arm around me, and privately just pray with me. Brad did the same thing, and I've never experienced that. And it was absolutely wonderful.
Bob: When you got the script for No Greater Love did anybody counsel you that this would not be a great career move to make a Christian movie. Something that would get you pigeon holed and cause people to say you don’t want to call Quinn. He’s off making Christian movies.
Anthony: No one counseled me. I wouldn’t have asked for that counsel because it didn’t matter because I wanted to do it. This is where I live. I want to make films that talk about God and a faithwalk with Christ. I want to make films that honor him and talk able his providential care in your life and his sovereignty in your life and the practical living out of difficult Christian circumstances.
I love it when Peter comes to Christ and he’s asking him a practical question and he asks Lord, what if my brother sins against me what does that look like? Am I supposed to forgive him seven times? And Jesus says no. I tell you seventy times seven. And Peter says increase my faith. So he’s asking him about practical living out of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
So to make those kinds of films that is what I want to do.
Russ: That is part of the thing that we are about too. We are telling earthly stories with heavenly truths in them. That’s really on our ProverbsCinema.com which is for our church exhibition. That is one of our slogans and that is really our goal in doing this is we have opportunities to change people’s lives through this media. It’s been used a little bit but it is definitely becoming more used.
Bob: There are a bunch of churches Sunday night that are premiering this film before it comes out on DVD. They are using it as a way to introduce people to the movie and bring them out to see it and use it evangelistically. And then it comes to DVD on Tuesday. One of the reasons we are excited about this film is not just because it is Christian film that is biblically rooted and anchored but because it tells the story about permanence in marriage. There are some twists and turns related to that. There are some dilemma’s that your character faces Tony as your wife abandoned you after you were first married. She’s been gone for ten years and you’ve been unable to track her down to know where she even is.
In the meantime in that ten year period she’s come to faith in Christ and you haven’t in the film?
Bob: So when you get back together through a series of providential circumstances when your paths cross again she’s the love of your life and you want to get remarried. She’s not sure what to do with that now that she is a Christian. Does she get back together with her non Christian husband?
Anthony: Yes, that is one of those difficult dilemmas that we talk about. What does that look like and how does it play itself out?
Dennis: It was interesting as I was watching the movie I thought good for those guys to throw a standard in against a moral dilemma. Movies many times will throw a moral dilemma in there but they will never bring any outside standard from which to make a decision. You guys upheld the Scripture in that.
Bob: You guys have had a chance to screen this for audiences leading up to the release of this. Tell me what you've heard from folks. What has been surprising to you as people have watched the film? How have they responded to it?
Brad: Well, it's been overwhelming. Really from day one, we've just been keeping our heads down, trying to do the best movie we can from top to bottom. To actually sit in the back of the theater or church or wherever it's being screened and just experience the film with a crowd, and have them along for the ride with the laughs and the tears, the highs and the lows. I think we're finding as people are walking out of the screening, they're just being tremendously moved. And first and foremost I'd say for the men they're kind of walking out saying, "I want to be a better man."
What's so exciting is that though the script was written on my knees with more prayer than I've ever given to anything in my life. Yet, I am so humbled and so overwhelmed at the finished product. I'm just one small cog in the whole piece. But, to see how it is impacting people that they want to have a better marriage, they want to individually be a better man. For women as well, wanting to support their man, wanting to have an unconditional submissive love for their husbands. It's just amazing the way God can use the medium of film in ways I certainly never anticipated.
Bob: Russ, any stories that you've heard in these screenings that have stuck with you?
Russ: Yes, I have to tell you one thing that happened. Well, it's happened several times. But one I remember in Texas very clearly. We were down there with about 800 people showing the film. At the end, I always get up and try to recap some biblical truths in the film, just to leave them with something. This guy grabs onto me as the credits are rolling, and he's just bawling. He's just bawling. And he just kept saying "Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this movie." I'm going to start crying now. He said "I want to be a better husband." I want to be changed.
What's exciting to me is to realize that this film has the opportunity to say... Hey if you're doing well in your marriage, excel still more. But if you're struggling, and then the church—Dennis as you've said, the church is hurting. Marriages are hurting, and if nothing else, at the end of the day, if this film helps encourage some people to be true and transparent with each other, to come to a Weekend to Remember® event, to get help for their marriage, look the bottom line is, that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.
And that picture needs to be screamed from the rooftops. Because that is an evangelistic tool that God uses. And the permanence of marriage is there, as we know. So if this encourages some people in that way, this is the response that we've been getting. I know I'm going on a little bit here, but that's where our heart is for this film to be used.
Bob: I have to tell you, Russ and I first met by telephone several months ago. I hadn't seen the film, hadn't heard about the film. He was telling me about the plot, asked me if I’d want to look at it, and sent me a copy so I could review it. You said, "We don't want this just to be a movie that people go to and walk away saying 'That was good. I liked that.'” You want to see God work through this and follow it up with things that will strengthen people's marriages.
Russ: Absolutely Bob. That's why we're so excited about being aligned with FamilyLife Today. Because your ministry is, number one, it's worldwide. You're having an effect on people's lives. The tens of thousands of people that attend the Weekend to Remember®, they get the support material that you're doing. This is the stuff that the church needs. This is the stuff. And you guys are a support to marriages in those churches. There's nobody else that we would want to line ourselves up with. That's why I did call you.
We had a mutual friend Pat Howell, which is a great guy, to put us together. And our hearts were knitted together immediately, because we have the same purpose. There are other ministries out there that are family ministries. But, they get involved in social agendas, and stuff like that. But, you guys, your heart is for the marriage. That's why we wanted to bring this together and partner together.
Dennis: Russ, I appreciate that. Tony, you and Brad, I appreciate you guys, really, all of you; for your convictions that are based on the book. Thank you for wanting to let your lights shine, and shine in such a way that men and women will glorify God. I think that's going to happen through this movie. And personally, I'm really excited about this for a number of reasons. But, I'm really excited that out of Hollywood is coming a statement that is a statement of permanence in marriage. And that you don't have to let it go like the culture is going.
I just have to say to the three of you, keep going, keep trusting, and I trust God that your best years are yet ahead. And look forward to what you guys come up with next. I hope you tackle a tough issue. I think you've taken on a giant. This is a giant in the land that is stomping through churches and through our culture. Divorce is destroying a generation of young people. I just appreciate you guys so much. I pray God's favor on this movie.
Anthony: Thank you.
Bob: I hope our listeners will go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again the title is No Greater Love, the DVD comes out Tuesday. If you'd like to get a copy, you can order with us, and we'll send it out to you as soon as it's released. Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is the website, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.
I know there are churches that are going to be showing the movie on Sunday night. You've got a special sneak preview going at a limited number of churches around the country, and other churches throughout the spring are going to be showing the movie in some special events. I know Valentine's weekend churches are planning to show No Greater Love as an outreach event. So, folks are going to want to keep their eyes open for that.
Speaking of Valentine's weekend, that's the kick-off weekend for the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conference. Dennis and Barbara are going to be in Washington, D.C. that weekend at the Gaylord National Hotel, speaking at the conference there. I will be at the Hershey Lodge in Pennsylvania, speaking at the conference there. We have other conferences taking place not only Valentine's weekend, but throughout the spring.
Today is our last day, to let you know about the special buy-one-get-one-free opportunity for FamilyLife Today listeners. If you sign up today, you buy one registration; the second registration is absolutely free, as long as you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. So, if you're signing up online, at FamilyLifeToday.com, type my name, just put "BOB" in the key code box on the online registration form, and you'll qualify for the buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.
If you're signing up by phone, call 1-800-FLTODAY, mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today, and you buy a registration for yourself, and your spouse comes free. So, as a couple, it's like getting a half-price deal on the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conference. Again, this week is the last opportunity you have to take advantage of this offer, this is our last chance to tell you about it, so go online today at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and register. And then spend a weekend with us at an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conference, when the conference comes to a city near where you live.
Well, we hope you have a great weekend, hope you and your family is able to worship together this weekend. And we hope you can join us back on Monday, when we're going to hear a tragic story really. Wendy Blight tells us about an attack that took place just after she had graduated from college. This was a number of years ago, and it left some scars on her soul. We'll hear about God's grace in the midst of that whole circumstance. That's next week, I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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