Interview With Sharon Wilharm, Creator of Providence

Briefly tell us about your faith journey.

I grew up in a Christian home where we were at church every time the doors opened. I was very involved in missions and assumed that God would call me to a life as a missionary or as a minister’s wife.

When I was in college at a Baptist Campus Ministries retreat, the speaker called for individuals to commit to a life of Christian service, and I remember feeling then that God was calling me to serve, but in a way that wasn’t even on my radar yet.


When was the first time you wanted to make a Christian film?

It seems like so many people nowadays are chasing after the filmmaking dream. That was never me. I call myself a reluctant filmmaker because I came into it kicking and screaming.

It all started when I married Fred. As I said, I assumed I was going into ministry. I got a degree in education and was registered for seminary. Then God put me together with Fred who was a businessman with a chain of coin laundries. I figured I must have misunderstood God. But what I didn’t realize then was that Fred’s passion was filmmaking, and even though he wasn’t pursuing it when we married, he had gone to college with that purpose.

So about ten years into our marriage Fred decided to make a local history documentary. Then, as he listened to all the stories, he decided that it would be fun to put them together into a narrative story. Then we stumbled upon a local Christian artist, and we thought her music would be great as a soundtrack. Since I was a writer (newspaper and magazine journalist), Fred asked if I wanted to write a script. I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing, but I wrote a script. Then, since I was also a church drama director and loved acting, I ended up directing and starring in it. It was awful because again, I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing. I told Fred never again. I meant it, but God had other plans.


What makes you interested in creating Christian entertainment?

After fighting God for many years, I finally accepted that this is what He has called me to do. This is my mission field and so it’s important that I give Him my very best efforts.

What I love most is the way God has taken our movies to places I’ll never go and used them to speak to people I’ll never meet. Our movie The Good Book has made its way around the world and is used by missionaries to help spread the gospel. Providence screened in AMC theaters including Times Square and L.A. All our films have aired on television channels nationwide. Now I’m working on our latest script, getting it ready to film this summer, and our desire is that God will take it even further than our previous movies.


What do you ultimately want to do in the field of Christian movies?

I want to create movies that speak to souls and that continue to speak long after I’m gone. I want to create works of art that draw people to Christ, movies that bless people and ultimately makes them better individuals as a result of seeing God in a new and personal way.


Do you think that Christian entertainment needs more quality productions?

I am a firm believer that Christians should be offering our very best fruits to God and not just serving up stale leftovers. I know that everyone has to start somewhere and that we are limited oftentimes by our resources. But it hurts my heart to see all these filmmakers throwing together projects,  not bothering to put any real effort into making them. And then they complain that the critics are picking on them because they’re Christian.  Critics desperately want life changing works of art, and if we listen to what they say, we can create movies that will truly impact the world in a positive way.


How hard is it for a new Christian film maker to make it in the business?  What is the level of support like?

Honestly, it’s not that difficult to get your movie out there. Distributors are hungry for quality content and there are plenty willing to give newcomers a start. There’s also film festivals and organizations who strive to help support new filmmakers.  And, of course, my blog Faith Flix helps spread the word about upcoming films and filmmakers.

The biggest thing that filmmakers need to remember is that it is our responsibility to promote our movies. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the responsibility of churches to promote your movie, nor is it the responsibility of distributors. Ultimately, if you want your film to go places, you’ve got to work, work, work to let people know about it.

Finally, if people come in thinking they’re going to get rich and famous making Christian movies, they’re going to be sadly disappointed. There’s always someone higher up the food chain than you, and the money is slow to trickle in. But if you look at it as a ministry and your goal is to get it out to the people, God will help get it to the people who need it.


Do you have plans for a non-silent film in the future?

For the past eight months I’ve been working on a new script, this time a “talkie”. The reason we initially started doing silent films was because  we discovered that we were better at telling a story visually than with words. But even though the response to our silent movies has been surprisingly great, they’re still limited in how far they can go. The average moviegoer expects dialogue and so in order to reach the masses, that’s what we’re doing. However, we are taking all that we learned from our silent films and applying it this one. So even though the characters talk, the story will still be primarily shown rather than told.


What can we expect next from you?

Be watching in the next month for our casting notices and then as we begin filming this summer. This latest movie is a period piece, very ambitious, and definitely our biggest project yet. We’ve been studying and preparing and can’t wait to see where God takes this one.


Thanks for participating!

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