Faith Based Films Are An Avenue Screenwriters Should Explore
Faith is defined as having a strong innate belief in something on the basis of intuition rather than tangible evidence. For humans, this often refers to a higher power guiding and protecting us through life. Why do we believe in something we cannot see? It’s the nature of humanity defined by our anthropological evolution. Perhaps it fulfills an inner burning desire to feel loved, special, unique, have purpose, value and meaning in our existence within the universe.
I previously discussed niche cinema as a viable work avenue for screenwriters. Faith films can be defined as a separate genre because they invoke audience expectations and deal with powerful elements of fear and hope. In some respects, they are the beautiful cousins of horror films which explore fear of the unknown and the battle of good versus evil.
They often refer to a belief in God and translate to serious box office coin. Gone are the days of biblical epics dominating the genre. Non denominational offshoots of faith films include aspirational, inspirational and uplifting films that test our humanity by dragging us through excruciating pains to make us better people.
Faith films differ from morality tales. Audiences are still preach-averse. We don’t like to be told what to do and we disapprove of propaganda films. Films dealing with human misery such as loss and death are classed as faith films. They give us hope and shine a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Even underdog films such as “Rocky”, “Signs”, “The Book Of Eli”, “Letters To God” and “In Pursuit of Happyness” may loosely fall into this category, because they rely on testing the self-belief of the main characters.
Faith films typically cover themes of guardian angels, ridicule, sacrifice, pursuing a higher cause, spirituality, redemption and suffering for one’s beliefs. These stories can be metaphysical, supernatural or allegorical. They must feed the audience’s mind and soul and resonate long after viewing. No popcorn here.
There aren’t many players in the faith film market, but Fox Faith (as in Fox Studios), Faith Films, Gener8xion and JITA are key producers. Lifetime channel also has a strong affinity to such films.
Religious films are a sub-category of faith films because they tend to be run by not for profit organizations and churches. They gather volunteers to star and crew these productions which often generate income through the straight to DVD market and private targeted screenings.
Religious films usually explore our relationship to God, Jesus and ourselves. The main character is often forced to face a crisis by looking inside themselves, believe in a higher force and rise to overcome a challenge.
As with all films, the same dramatic principals apply. Faith films are deeply personal and affect people like prayer and meditation. If you want to write for this genre, be respectful and ensure it befits you.
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