Interview with Jerry Jenkins, Christian Author

Jerry Jenkins | Proven Writing Tips from a New York Times Bestseller

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Jerry Jenkins: “I had done a magazine story on a dynamic young evangelist. Though he was only 25 and I was 23, I felt he was worthy of an as-told-to-autobiography. Sammy Tippit: God’s Love In Action became my first book. He and I are now both in our 70’s and that book is still in print (in its fourth iteration, called Unashamed: A Memoir of Dangerous Faith). And I have served on Sammy’s board for decades. He remains my spiritual hero.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JJ: “Being an evangelical Christian, my worldview is hope, and that should come through in everything I write.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

JJ “Making what the uninitiated feel is religious nonpreachy and accessible. To me, religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Jesus is God’s attempt to reach man.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JJ: “Realism, believable characters. Credible skeptical characters. Not everyone comes to faith and many raise demanding questions that must be faced.”

 BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

JJ: “The writing itself. It’s gotten better and better, but there’s always room for improvement.”

 BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

JJ: “The writing itself will never be collaborative for me. If two people are collaborating on a book, only one should do the actual writing. The other can be a resource, an idea person, an editor, but not the writer.”

 BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

JJ: “More grit and realism. More believability.”

 BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

JJ: “It varies. Some of the best, most encouraging editors I’ve worked with have been general market New York editors, but there are great ones in the Inspirational market as well.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

JJ: “I’m about to deliver Dead Sea Conspiracy to the publisher for a ’22 release. It’s a sequel to Dead Sea Rising, the story of an archaeologist. Then I’ll write The Chosen Book 2; Title to be determined. I’m novelizing each season of my son Dallas’s creation, The Chosen TV series. Book 2 will release in late ’21 or ’22.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Mr. Jenkins, we appreciate your feedback and look forward to reading your upcoming releases!

Interview with Chris Fabry, Christian Author

Chris Fabry Live! - Faith Radio Faith Radio

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

 Chris Fabry: “I don’t call my books “Christian” because only people can be Christians, but I know what you mean. I try to write authentic stories that have elements of faith in them and have a redemptive message that other mainstream novels may not deal with. I once had an atheist tell me she read June Bug and that while she didn’t agree with some of the conclusions characters came to, she understood why they believed. That was a big compliment.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

CF: “I want to write compelling, engaging stories that make you feel the characters are real. I go by the dictum of Hemingway, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” And I believe in the power of stories to change hearts in a different way than a non-fiction book. A novel engages the heart like Nathan’s story to David. It can sneak around the back and knock gently.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

CF: “There are different struggles for different writers. Some struggle not to bang the reader over the head with spiritual content. Fiction shouldn’t preach. My struggle has been taking the idea I have in my head and bringing that to the page. I have high expectations for my stories to be cinematic as you read.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

CF: “Real-life issue and deeper character development. That’s what I’m striving to do.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

N/A

BOR:  “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

CF: “Most of my novels have been done in seclusion. Writing is a solitary job, which is part of what I like. Then, when editors get involved, it’s total teamwork and you try to make the book the best it can be. My latest novel, A Piece of the Moon, was like that. I finished and was happy with the story, but my editors felt it needed more work. I had to go back and change a lot of elements of the book and in the end, I think they made the book a LOT better. My work on making films into novels has been collaborative and it’s a different discipline. With that, you know the world being built is a community project.”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

CF: “There are more writers and publishers willing to tell gritty stories, real stories. Across the board I see a greater commitment to depth in good storytelling.”

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

N/A

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

CF: “On April 6, A Piece of the Moon releases and I’m really excited about it. I’ve waited 40 years to tell this “small” story about a treasure hunt, a radio station morning show, a love story—there are so many characters I think readers will identify with and come to love. The story is based on a fictional song that weaves itself throughout the story. I’m hoping the novel will sing in your soul!”

Thank you for your time and for sharing your perspective Mr. Fabry, we look forward to reading and reviewing your new release!

Interview with Joanna Davidson Politano, Christian Author

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”


Joanna Davidson Politano: “I honestly just love stories so much—that’s my primary inspiration. God is woven into my real-life story so deeply that I can’t really come up with a story that doesn’t involve him, and some of the bigger truths of life with him, so there you go.

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JDP: “I’ve heard that every pastor has one sermon they preach over and over, from a different angle, every Sunday. Every writer has a heart thing, and it shows up in every book, no matter the specific theme. Mine revolves around the value of each person—especially the ones the world undervalues or overlooks. In grade school, I actually made superheroes out of bullied kids in my earliest stories, and I tend to make the underdog shine somehow in my book—or have my characters peel back unexpected layers of a character to reveal surprising elements of their nature. I don’t set out to do it, but I love doing that! Writing has also been a true deepening of my connection with God—talking through every nuance of every book.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

JDP: “It’s hard to find a balance between including “Christian content” and being overly preachy with it. Often authors start writing because they have messages they want to share, but to be honest, my most authentic work has come from a place of “ok God, I don’t understand this—let’s untangle this throughout a story” rather than, “Here reader, here’s what I’ve learned.” It’s hard to write that way because you don’t have the answers when you start—and you have no idea where the book is going! It’s a great adventure, though.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JDP: “Authenticity. It’s like a rare gem when you find it, because it’s hard to be authentic and to write the things that scare you, to expose your vulnerabilities. Again, this goes back to writing to learn rather than teach, and it isn’t easy. I love when I find a book that’s raw and real and honest, and I soak those books up.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”


JDP :”Wow, we’ve come a long way as a broad genre! When I first started reading Christian fiction, there wasn’t much variety in storylines, settings, or subgenres. Publishers and authors have really stretched their boundaries to include very diverse voices, real life character flaws and dilemmas, and new and unusual rule breaking books. It’s been amazing to see what is being released now. That said, I’d love to see more truth-filled books that non-Christians find accessible. I always think about how Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles didn’t mention God at all, but his books were full of God’s truth.”

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”


JDP: “I’ve never known of a book that didn’t have a team behind it, and I’ve never written a book worth reading without loads of help and input. From beta readers to marketing teams and even friendly cheerleaders, everyone contributes brush strokes to the canvas, and the final artwork is richer and nuanced because of it. The biggest difference in my own writing journey happened when I first off made it a collaborative effort with God instead of letting the sound of my own voice bounce around the empty pages!”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”


JDP: “I mentioned the broadening in publishing limits, and that’s been true even in the few years I’ve been involved. I’ve seen books published that no publisher would have touched a few years ago—stories that are a little creepy or set far off or even simply far outside the box that are now shaking up (in a good way) the way readers walk out their faith. Those books really make us think, and I’m extremely grateful for them!”

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”


JDP: “I’m new on the scene, so I can’t speak to general market publishing companies, but the absolute support and almost “family” feel I’ve found at Baker has been a delightful surprise. It’s wonderful knowing I have extremely talented people who can help me with the aspects (like cover design and titling) in which I have zero skill. It frees me up to focus on writing, knowing my team has my back.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”


JDP: “For my next novel I’ve ventured into a place I’ve hardly ever gone in real life—the theater. The Victorian ballet theater, to be exact. I started on this project when my sweet little daughter fell in love with ballet, and even though I’ve never been coordinated enough to dance, the first time I took my girl to a live performance I was mesmerized! I poured all those impressions—and a whole lot of research—into a mysterious, romantic story about a ballet dancer who is determined not to be one of those “doomed” theater stories. I can’t wait to share it this fall–there was so much energy in life in the hero that I can still picture him!”

BOR: “Thank you for your time and input Ms. Politano! We value your perspective and can’t wait to read your upcoming novel!”

2020 Box Office Revolution Entertainment Awards

Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

I Still Believe Review: Christian Rock Biopic Tells Jeremy Camp's Tale |  IndieWire

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: I Still Believe

Runners-Up: Home Sweet Home, Lost Heart, Small Group

I Still Believe' Review - Variety

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: I Still Believe

Runners-Up: Home Sweet Home, Small Group, Lucy Shimmers and the Prince of Peace, Switched, Selfie Dad, Our Father’s Keeper, Love Me, The Job

Josh PERRY : Biography and movies

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Josh Perry

Runners-Up: Sterling Hurst, DJ Perry, KJ Apa

Sarah Kim - IMDb

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Sarah Kim

Runners-Up: Britt Robertson, Natasha Bure, Emily Dunlop

UTA Signs 'I Can Only Imagine's Andrew & Jon Erwin And Kingdom Story  Company – Deadline

Staff Choice Directors of the Year: Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin

Runners-Up: Juan Mas, Jesse Low, Matt Chastain

Lesley Ann McDaniel (@LesleyMcDaniel) | Twitter

Staff Choice Writer of the Year: Lesley Ann McDaniel

Runners-Up: Jon Erwin, Jon Gunn, DJ Perry, Matt Chastain

Why It's Better Not To Know Who Jeremy Camp Is Before Seeing I Still  Believe - CINEMABLEND

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: I Still Believe

Runner-Up: Home Sweet Home

2020 Box Office Revolution Book Awards

Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, these novels are judged based on the presence or absence of plot continuity and exceptional storytelling skills, above average character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses issues that relate to current American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. Likewise, winning titles are listed according to their genre. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

Staff Choice Winning Books of 2020

Thriller of the Year: Nine by Rachelle Dekker

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Fantasy of the Year: Cry of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (the final novel in the Ravenwood Saga)

Image result for cry of the raven

Historical of the Year: Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Amazon.com: Stories That Bind Us: A Novel (9780800735708 ...

Contemporary of the Year: The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

Romance of the Year: The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

Staff Choice Honorable Mentions of 2020

Biblical Fiction: Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Image result for daughter of rome by tessa afshar

Speculative: Synapse by Steven James

Synapse | Steven James

Allegory: When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Image result for when silence sings"

Reader’s Choice Book of the Year

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Book Review: Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner –

Staff Choice Authors of the Year

Rachelle Dekker

Rachelle Dekker (@RachelleDekker) | Twitter

Morgan L. Busse

Morgan L. Busse | Morgan L. Busse

Susie Finkbeiner

Amanda Cox

Edge of Belonging: Cox: 9780800737405: Amazon.com: Books

Joanna Davidson Politano

Staff Choice Honorably Mentioned Authors of the Year

Tessa Afshar

Steven James

Sarah Loudin Thomas

Concluding Remarks

Congratulations to all the authors mentioned in this post on their wins and honorable mentions! Thank you all for being committed to producing high quality Christian entertainment and for glorifying God with the gifts He has given you!

Interview With Erin Bartels, Christian Author

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Erin Bartels: “I have never been inspired to write specifically Christian books or write for a specifically Christian audience. I aim to write thoughtful stories about people dealing with the tough things in life, irrespective of the faith of my potential readers. My stories come from and express my own worldview, which is informed by my faith, but the reason they are categorized as Christian fiction is because company that publishes them is a Christian publishing company. They could just as easily be categorized as book club fiction, general fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, family saga. I just want to write good stories. They won’t all have a specifically Christian message—just as a Christian carpenter does not build specifically Christian shelves but rather builds shelves to the glory of God. As to what actually inspired me to start writing? Reading. Thinking. Observing. And, at some point, realizing I had something to say.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

EB: “Honesty. Truth through fiction. I want to tell the truth about people and life, even if it’s not popular or politick. I never want to write or edit from a sense of fear of what people will say. I don’t want to hedge my bets. I want be authentic and write stories that feel real-to-life. I want the characters to feel like real people (even if that makes them “unlikeable”). I want the setting to feel visceral. I want readers to feel real emotions and wrestle with real problems. I’m interested in this world and the people in it and our problems and our mistakes and our triumphs, and I want everyone else to be interested too!”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

EB: “I think the hardest part of writing a good novel, irrespective of genre, is getting the story from the writer’s head to the page in such a way that readers experiences in their minds and hearts what the writer experienced in her mind and heart. To write in such a way that we take readers on the journey we mean for them to have. That means plot, character, pacing, etc. all need to be working together to allow readers to immerse themselves in the story and truly feel what the characters are feeling. It feels magical and effortless to read that kind of book, but to write it is always an enormous challenge.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

EB: “I’d like to see a whole lot more of the world represented in Christian fiction. More characters of color, more authors of color, a wider swath of the vast and varied Christian tradition than just white Evangelical America. I’d also like to see more honest representations of human nature which allows for characters to make real mistakes with real consequences that real people make. Perhaps more realism and less idealism. Because real life is messy and our deepest problems are not easily solved. Yes, we have an incredible hope, we have victory in Christ, but we also we live in a fallen world with fallen people and I think if we’re to have a strong witness in this world we have to be honest about our challenges and not gloss over the hard stuff. Christian artists should be in the business not of putting rose-colored glasses on the world, but of holding a mirror up to society—without flinching—and shining the light of truth on it.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

EB: “For a lot of readers, the “Christian” in Christian fiction means “clean.” No swearing, no sex, no characters will be portrayed smoking or drinking alcohol. No one will do anything too awfully bad and what happens to them will rarely be the result of their own bad or morally suspect choices. Characters will be put upon, misunderstood, falsely accused, but we’ll be cheering for them the whole way because we know that they’re actually really good people at heart. So, what “Christian” comes to mean for many readers is unrealistic, trite, formulaic, moralistic, didactic, and insincere. I’d like to see the general impression of the genre change for the better, and that means we need to write and publish not just “clean” stories but the best stories. Readers come to fiction not to learn a lesson but to experience a great story, to see themselves and their struggles reflected in characters, warts and all. I’d like to see stories that stretch the limits because those are the stories that stretch us as readers.”

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

EB :”Publishing a great book is absolutely a team effort. I know, because I’ve been part of that team for the eighteen years I’ve worked in the marketing department of a Christian publishing company! Yet when it comes to entertainment, be it books, music, movies, or TV series, I’m someone who nearly always prefers the work of an auteur over art by committee. I love it when you can tell that what you’re experiencing is an artist’s vision coming to life. And you can nearly always tell when there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Lowest common denominator entertainment lacks teeth. It’s never going to shift a paradigm or cut a new path or even raise the bar. An author’s publishing team—her agent, her editor, her publicist, early readers she trusts for feedback—should be committed to helping her tell the story she longs to tell in the clearest and most effective way possible, not to change that story to fit reader expectations or placate the most conservative sales channels.”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

EB: “In my eighteen years in the Christian publishing industry, I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction and been privileged to work with many fine writers who are interested in telling compelling stories. Some of the writing I have enjoyed most are those books that don’t fit neatly into the typical Christian fiction subgenres (meaning they are not historical romance, romantic suspense, or set in closed religious societies, like the Amish). It’s been great to read more literary and upmarket books in the past few years that deal with complex issues and themes in creative ways. I’d love to see more of that.”

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

EB: “I don’t know. My work in publishing has been entirely for a Christian company and I currently publish with a Christian company. My experience has been, on the whole, positive.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

EB: “My third novel, All That We Carried, comes out January 2021. Here’s the description: Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a backcountry hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. Over the years, they grew apart, each coping with the loss in her own way. Olivia plunged herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world—what you see is what you get, and that’s all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life-coaching business around her cafeteria-style spirituality—a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy. Now, at Melanie’s insistence (and against Olivia’s better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they’ll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.

EB: “Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my work and my thoughts!”

BOR: “Thank you for your time and input Ms. Bartels! We value your perspective and can’t wait to read your upcoming novel!”

Interview With Jaime Jo Wright, Christian Author

The Writers Alley: Interview with Author Jaime Jo Wright {VIDEO + ...

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Jaime Jo Wright: “I’ve always harbored a deep love of story. When I was little, my first read that completely captivated me—I still vividly recall the feeling—was Dick and Jane. It was an old, hardback copy and seeing Dick run was riveting. It sounds silly, but as a four-year-old, those words made such a lasting impression on me. Movement was encapsulated on the page and became a story that breathed life into my imagination. From there, I devoured books until I was introduced to authors like Janette Oke, Tracie Peterson, Michael Phillips, and then I saw that not only were stories a reflection of life, but they could also reflect our Spiritual walk. The marriage of story and relationship with God became a passion of mine by the time was an early teenager.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JW: “Wow. What a great question! My underlying philosophy of writing is to write stories that can influence hope in Jesus, but also in a way that will touch the heart of someone who may not be familiar with faith. My passion is to show the reality of hope in real-to-life people—in broken people—and in circumstances that are less than ideal. I want Jesus to be real in the broken places, and even though the broken places may remain dark, there is hope. Hope is the driving force of each and every one of my stories. What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book? For me it’s finding the balance between writing solid thematic messages without being overtly evangelistic in my approach. There is a place for that approach in fiction, for sure, but I’ve felt led to write stories that come alongside and walk with the reader rather than a more bold, outright message. Because of that, trying to show faith and hope in action while not watering down the Gospel into a non-existent message, can be very challenging. It’s a balance between wanting to inspire the faith-driven reader, while not wanting to drive away the reader who may be exploring Christian fiction for the very first time.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JW: “Diversity. Hands down, diversity. We need more authors from varying backgrounds, because we can’t all reach all cultures. I would write a very poor representation of an African American or Asian heroine as compared to an author coming from that specific background. And those stories need to be told so those who love to read and who want to grow in their faith, can do so under the representation of characters they can relate to. In this need for diversity, I also believe we need to diversify the characteristics and backgrounds of our characters. It’s time we realize humanities’ flaws aren’t something to be hidden, but embraced, challenged, and even confronted.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

JW: “I think Christian books could afford to be less concerned about portraying a “separate from the world” hero or heroine. This tends to set them so apart that the only readers who can relate, or even want to relate, are Christians themselves. While this is good in some respects, it can ostracize non-believing readers as they see characters being caught up in trivial issues like drinking wine or using a slightly off-colored word. Instead, I’d like to see humanity represented as humanity truly is. We’re imperfect, searching people. Whether drinking wine or dropping a cuss word is or isn’t allowable, to me, isn’t so much the issue as the character’s journey toward faith and toward a relationship with Christ. When we vet all Christian fiction to be “clean” and “separate”, we can run the risk of vetting out reality. It’s a fine line, I realize. I would never argue that overt sexual material or dropping four-letter words are necessary to reach the non-believing reader. But I would argue, that sugar-coating our characters can make them very unrelatable in a world where very little is sugar coated any more.”

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

JW: “Oh, I definitely feel Christian novel writing is a community effort. There is a distinct, warm atmosphere among Christian authors where we support and back one another. It’s less competitive and more “how can I help”. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the collaborative efforts of established Christian authors nudging me, mentoring me, and helping me along.”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?

JW: “I see an upswing in Christian books attempting to reach a broader readership. While I feel there is still plenty of room for growth, I’ve been thrilled to read authors like Kara Isaac, Rachel McMillan, Natalie Walters, and Joanna Davidson Politano who aren’t afraid to tackle deep topics, relatable characters, and create clean reads without incorporating sermons and soapboxes.

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

JW: “I honestly haven’t worked for ‘secular’ publishing companies, so I would have to defer on this question.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

JW: “My upcoming novel, releasing in Spring 2021, will be the first novel where I touch on the Civil War, and also the first novel to incorporate a treasure hunt. It was so fun to write and so eye-opening to research the Civil War and how far north the Confederacy actually reached. But that’s all I’ll say for now.”

Thank you for your time and input Ms. Wright! We look forward to reading and reviewing your upcoming novel when it is released!

Interview with Susie Finkbeiner, Christian Author

Susie Finkbeiner – Living the Story

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Susie Finkbeiner: “Honestly, it was never my intention to write books specifically for the Christian market. I just wanted to write stories. My world view as a Christian just became part of the novel. As with anything in my life, I’m hard pressed to divorce who I am in Christ from what I do.”
 
BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

SF: “I guess it all comes down to writing the very best story of hope that I can manage. Everything else — the plot, characters, themes — come together out of that.”
 
BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

SF: “From my experience, it’s hard to write a book for a Christian readership that avoids being preachy. But it’s so important that we, as writers, produce a story in which the art isn’t drowned out by a message. A sunset speaks to the glory of God without a big sign that declares,
“GOD MADE THIS AND HE IS SO GREAT FOR SHARING HIS BEAUTY WITH
US!”. The sunset is message enough. It’s the same for books that are written from a Christian worldview (as well as movies, fine art, etc.). The art is message enough on its own.”

 
BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?

SF: “You know, I would love to see more character driven novels on the shelves of the Christian bookstore. The past few years have brought a few, but I’d love even more!”
 

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

SF: “We need to make room at the table for authors of color. These writers have much to say, incredible talent, and hearts for Jesus. It’s well past time for their stories to be shared!”
 
BOR: How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

SF: “I don’t know a single writer who thrives in the ‘lone ranger’
mode of writing. We all need community in order to create our best work. I’ve been so fortunate to have many friends in all different aspects of the publishing world and I’ve worked with some incredible people. When we go at it together we have support, lots of fun, and can share in the good work God has for us to do.”

 
BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

SF: “When I started writing novels I was often disheartened when I visited the fiction section of Christian bookstores. It seemed that most of the books on the shelf were romance. That’s not to say that the romance genre is bad, its just isn’t what I choose to write. Back then I worried that there wouldn’t be a place in Inspirational fiction for me either as a writer or reader. Now I see much more diversity of genre when I peruse the shelves. This
is exciting!”

 
BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

SF: “I can’t say from personal experience. However, I have
friends who have worked in both Christian and General Market houses and have had fantastic experiences in both. I’ve not heard a horror story from either side of the coin, which is great! I think that publishing houses are peopled by those who love good books and are enthusiastic about helping authors grow as writers.”

 
BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

SF: “I have a novel releasing next year that I’m very excited about. It revolves around the events after the Vietnam War, particularly the adoption of 3,000 Vietnamese children by American, Canadian, and Australian families.”

Thank you for your input Mrs. Finkbeiner! We look forward to reading you new novel when it releases!

Interview with Angela Hunt, Christian Author

Angela Hunt: Writing to sell | WORLD News Group

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?

Angela Hunt: “I have never felt inspired to ONLY write Christian books, but since I am a Christian, I tend to write books about people who believe what I believe—to a point. Someone once asked me whether I considered myself a Christian writer or a writer who was a Christian, and after giving it some thought, I’d have to say the latter. Christian dentists don’t only work on “Christian” teeth, so why limit my intended audience?  Of course, when you’re writing for the world at large, you have to speak the language of the world at large. That does not mean using inappropriate speech, but it does mean avoiding “Christianese.” 

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

AH: “I write to communicate something important, and often I have to figure out what that is as I’m writing. For instance, I once wrote a book about cloning (THE PEARL), and though I knew we Christians were generally against it, I wasn’t sure exactly why. I mean, if we could clone a liver to save someone’s life, why not do that? So I had to investigate to understand why, and then I had to present both sides of the equation.”

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?

Ar: “What is a “Christian book?”  Is it a book for Christians or a book containing Christian characters and concepts? If it’s the former, well, Jesus didn’t speak only to believers. And if it’s the latter; He told lots of parables, but few of them were about religious people; most were about farmers and families.  Lately I’ve been writing a lot of “biblical fiction,”  but if something is biblical, it can’t be fiction, right?  I prefer “historical fiction involving biblical characters,” but that’s not nearly as succinct.  But I haven’t answered your question. The hardest part of writing ANY book is getting started.  There is always something else to do, like laundry, gardening, staring into space . . . . “

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

AR: “More characters whose flaws are revealed through deep, strong pressure. All Christians struggle with specific issues, but often we never see those struggles in our fiction because our characters maintain a pristine facade. We writers tend to be too gentle for fear of offending an audience that is too easily offended.   We live in THE WORLD—Jesus said, “I pray not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).  Once at a convention, a womancame up to me with a copy of my book—she had written BANNED across the cover in thick, black marker. She wanted to be sure I knew she would not allow a story (about an unsaved woman who has an affair—with nothing explicit described) in her church library.  I understand the principle of being gentle with weaker brothers, but why are folks who have been Christians for years still weaker brothers? They ought to be strong enough to realize what is happening in the world around us, and rejoice when a believing character’s grace (another woman in the book) makes a difference in an unsaved character’s life.”  

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

N/A

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

AR: “Collaborative efforts can be fun—a couple of years ago, Bill Myers brought Al Gansky, Frank Peretti, Jeff Gerke, and I together to write a series of novellas, and that was a blast because we brainstormed events beneath one story arc. But in the end, each of us still had to sit alone with our computers and spin our own stories.  At its core, writing is an individual expression.

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?”

AR: “Christian novels have come a long way in the way they describe reality. I can’t think of any subject that we haven’t addressed from a Christian viewpoint and with discretion and sensitivity.”

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

N/A

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

AH: “I am about to begin writing the fourth book in THE JERUSALEM ROAD series, a series about actual women who lived at the time of Christ. I have learned so much by studying the Jews of the first-century—it’s been an amazing experience that I hope will translate to my readers. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, but God does. :-)”

Thank you for your time and for sharing your perspective Mrs. Hunt!

Interview with Morgan Busse, Christian Author

Morgan L. Busse | Morgan L. Busse

Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first write Christian books?

Morgan Busse: “Years ago, I walked into a Christian bookstore looking for Christian fantasy and science fiction. I had devoured the small section in my local library, but got tired of running into language or scenes that ran contrary to what I believed. Then I thought, what about Christian fantasy? I asked the lady working in the bookstore and she gave me a puzzled look before pointing toward the lone Frank Peretti book at the bottom of the bookshelf. After talking to my husband about what little I had found, he said I should write. I kept saying no, I had never thought about writing, but months later I had an idea for a book that eventually became Daughter of Light, my first novel. I discovered I loved combining my imagination and my love of God into a story. I can’t imagine writing anything else!

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?

MB: “I ask questions when I write: who am I? Who is God? What does it mean to be a Christian? Can a person fall so far as to be unredeemable? What does it cost to follow God? Every single one of my stories asks these questions and I search for answers through my characters. Selene from Mark of the Raven is searching for who she is and can her gift of dreamwalking be used for good? Kat from Tainted has never heard of God, only science, so she is asking is there more to this world than what she can see? Rowen from Daughter of Light asks if the pain of following God is worth it? I don’t always find the answer these questions, but I think the best novels ask questions, the same questions people are asking themselves.

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?

MB: “Being both authentic in your storytelling and in your theology. My job is not to write a sermon, it is to tell a story. So I want to write one that grips my readers and shows the world how it really is. But I also want to stay true to who God is, to reveal Him through my story in an honest way. That’s why I pray before I write each day and talk to God about my story.

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?

MB: “Reality and God. Show real situations, real emotions, real questions. But also bring a real God into the story. Not someone who solves everything, but tackle with how and why God allows evil in the world, where is God when it hurts, and how great His love is for us.”

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

MB: “Honestly, I think Christian books are pretty good. They have grown in quality and craftsmanship with a good understanding of balancing the Christian worldview and writing a good story (at least all the novels I’ve read recently).”

BOR: How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

MB: “I think it can be done both ways. It takes a good team to be able to collaborate and work together, but sometimes it is easier to write solo. As of right now, I do solo projects because I’m able to work on my own timetable, which I need as a mother of four.”

BOR: How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?

MB: “I think the biggest improvement I’ve seen is the inclusion of the fantasy and science fiction genre. Back when I first started writing, there wasn’t a publisher who would approach those genres with a ten foot pole and self-publishing really wasn’t a thing. Since then, traditional Christian publishers have started carrying a few speculative titles, numerous small presses have risen with quality books (like Enclave Publishing), and self-publishing is allowing even more Christian fantasy and science fiction to be written and published.”

BOR: Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?

MB: “I think it depends on what your end goal is and understanding the publishing house you’re choosing to go with. Each one has its benefits and flaws. If you writing a secular book, a Christian publishing house probably isn’t a good fit since there are certain Christian worldviews editors like to see in the books they publish. Same goes with a secular publisher. The best advice I can give is know your book, your audience, and which publisher would be best for that book. Also, don’t go with just any publisher, make sure you will work well with them since you will have a close relationship with them.”

BOR: What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?

MB: “I just signed a two-book contract with Enclave Publishing for a steampunk series. I’ve written steampunk before and look forward to working in that genre again (steampunk is a high science novel set in either the Victorian era or the Wild West). This particular series will take place in a world were humanity lives on mountaintops or on airships due to most of the ground being contaminated with a spore that turns humans into walking dead husks. Of course, like all my novels, there will be a spiritual twist and insight into the story.”

Thank you for sharing your perspective with us Mrs. Busse. We are excited to read and review your new series when it is released!

Interview with Patrick Carr, Christian Author

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Patrick Carr: “I wasn’t so much inspired to write a Christian book as I wanted to write the best book I could. That it was Christian fiction was more because that’s my belief system and my worldview. I don’t really like that we have ABA and CBA. To me that’s like saying “Oh, you can’t read that,” or “You won’t like that. It’s Christian.” A great story is a great story.

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

PC: “To write the best story that I can at that point in time. Hopefully, as we get more experience as writers we progress in the craft. A Christian book, piece of music, anything, should be the very best we can make it. If we’re doing this to honor God, it should never be anything less that our absolute best.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

PC: “The hardest part of writing a good book is making it good, Christian or not. For a Christian book it’s allowing the faith portion to flow in an organic way. I don’t like being preached to in my literature no matter what the writer’s worldview is. That kind of author intrusion always comes across as heavy-handed, and the work suffers for it. Lately I’ve noticed that there are shows on TV or Amazon or Netflix that seem to have some kind of checklist they have to satisfy and it ruins the product. I’m sure people feel the same about Christian writing that sacrifices the story for the message.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

PC: “It would be nice to see a little variety. If you look at the awards that are given for Christian writing, they’re dominated by romance in some form. This means that most Christian fiction is written by women and most Christian fiction is read by women. Men largely avoid it. Is that what we really want?”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?”

PC: “Better story-telling. There are some amazing Christian fiction authors out there, but there are also a lot of authors that are so intent on pounding the message into the story that the craft suffers. This is just my viewpoint, that craft should be the first priority. Others will say that Christian fiction should make the message paramount. I get that, but it’s important to remember that most Christian fiction is being bought and read by Christians. In essence, we’re already preaching to the choir.

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?”

PC: “That’s funny. My wife asked me today if I thought I would collaborate with another writer on my next book. I think it’s hard to keep the voice from getting muddled during collaboration. I’ve seen cases where it’s been done well, but I’m pretty intent on how I want my narrative and my characters to sound. I don’t know if I could ever do it.”

BOR: How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?

PC: “The craft has gotten better in the sense that there are authors that have been writing for a long time, much longer than me, and so the story-telling has improved. Of course, the availability of self-publishing has pushed the needle to the other end of the spectrum. There are some very skilled self-published authors out there, but there’s also a lot of low quality work. This isn’t just Christian Fiction, this is ABA as well. The real problem here is that the market is being pushed towards cheaper product and people aren’t willing to pay for a decent book. I had a reader flame me on a review because my publisher had set the price of my kindle book at $5.99. So a venti-mocha-caramel-latte candy-bar-in-a-cup that won’t last more than thirty minutes is worth more than a book that took a year to write and produce through seven rounds of editing and polishing. This is the mentality we’re up against.”

BOR: Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?

PC: “I don’t know. I’ve only worked with Christian companies and only one of those. That’s such a limited amount of experience that I wouldn’t even begin to conjecture an answer.”

BOR: What are your future plans for new novels? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?

PC: “I’m in grad school right now, so nothing will be coming for the next year or two. In the meantime, I’m hoping the publishing world starts to sort itself out, but the prospects are grim. People read less and less each year. Writing is difficult enough and the commitment in time and energy is hard to justify if you can make as much taking a part time job as you can putting out another book. We’ll just have to wait and see. I have some wonderful ideas, but there are so many amazing things to see and learn and do here in God’s creation and time is such a precious commodity.

Thank you for your time Mr. Carr! We appreciate your insight and honesty.

Interview with Bryan Litfin, Christian Author

Bryan Litfin

Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first write Christian books?

Bryan Litfin: “I think a lot of my fellow writers will understand what I mean when I say, ‘I couldn’t help but write.’ It’s not like I woke up one day and decided to do it. There was no single aha! moment. As a writer, you find you have a fire in your belly and it inevitably moves you to action. It’s like a woman who is pregnant: she can’t help but give birth, because that baby is in there and it has to get out! Books are like a writer’s babies—they demand to be born. My move into formal Christian publishing began with my non-fiction books about the ancient church. This is my area of academic expertise, and I wanted to share this important part of church history with everyday Christians. Writing fiction was the natural next step for me. Why not tell a story that illuminates the historical period that I know so
well? I find the era of the ancient church fascinating, and I believe others will, too. I wrote The Conqueror to show some of the exciting plot-lines that could arise in this momentous historical period.”
 

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?

BL: “For me, the most important principle of my writing is to write in such a way that God is glorified. As a Christian writer, that is my first and foremost aim. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t sometimes depict evil or ungodly things. I have to show sin in order to show how God triumphs over it. Yet the overall purpose of my writing (unlike a secular author) is to honor God and convey themes that will elevate His name and advance the Christian worldview. Second, my goal in fiction writing is to entertain the reader with great stories. That is why I prioritize ‘storytelling’ over ‘writing.’ Sometimes, you encounter writers who are in love with their own prose, and you can tell by how often they use fancy language. They seem to care more about their own literary prowess than getting their readers engrossed in a great tale. While I do want, of course, to use good English, my goal isn’t to win literary prizes. I try to write scenes that are straightforward, vivid, and
easy to imagine. I favor verbal clarity over verbal cleverness. (That probably comes from the teacher in me.) My goal isn’t for a reader to say, “Wow, what an elegant paragraph Litfin just wrote,” but rather, “Gosh, I can’t put this book down!” Forget about me; forget about your surroundings. Just get lost in the story.

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?

BL: “The hardest thing for a Christian book to achieve is to be pious without being pious. What? Here’s what I mean. The good connotations of ‘pious’ are to be upright, clean, mature, and God-honoring. That should be a main goal in a Christian book. The negative connotations of ‘pious’ include things like legalism, hypocrisy, super-spirituality, and a holier-than-thou attitude. Obviously, you want to avoid those things in a novel. The trick is to create narratives that convey themes which honor the Lord and depict his grace and truth, yet don’t come across as preachy or fake. It’s a fine line to walk as an author. If you fall off on either side, you become cheesy, trite, pedantic, or bossy. Nobody wants to read a book like that! Unfortunately, because of these difficulties, too many Christian authors avoid deep theology and spirituality altogether. At best, they might include some vague “God-talk.” But I think a good Christian novel should truly engage with matters of the soul.”

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?

BL: “Today’s Christian fiction landscape is divided into very fixed categories. Readers know what they like, and they buy it again and again. Only rarely do they branch out. This means that publishers are nervous about saying yes to stories that are different. I’d like to see them offer more novels that break the mold and become memorable as something other than just the latest entry in Christian genre fiction. The trick is getting people to buy those boundary-stretching books. In today’s competitive marketplace,
publishers are reluctant to take risks (which is understandable, because it’s real money they are risking). So, it’s up to the readers to buy novels outside their normal reading area and show the publishers that there’s a market for innovative new titles!”

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

BL: “Older Christian books from a few decades ago were more ‘meaty’ when it came to the Scriptures. They really dug into the Word and expected readers to track along and engage at a deep level. Now, the common wisdom is, ‘Today’s readers don’t want so much Bible.’ However, I don’t think that’s true. People just want it to be done well. They obviously don’t want to be blasted with a Bible verse shotgun or have the author drag them into theological minutiae. Instead, they want a skillful writer to exemplify wisdom and show them the meaning of God’s Word. Christian books, ironically, need more Bible in them. The Scriptures are inspired and inerrant, and they can transform lives by the power of the Spirit. We need more of that! (By the way, this same principle applies to today’s churches and preaching, too.)”
 

BOR: How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?
BL: “People often imagine an author as someone like Ernest Hemingway: a solitary hermit plunking away at his little black typewriter in an exotic location. Then, after much laborious wordsmithing, the almost-divine writer submits his nearly-perfect manuscript to the publishing house. All the publisher has to do is slap two pretty covers on it, and off
the book goes to become a bestseller. Nothing could be further from the truth! An author is only as good as his or her editor. Both of them must have a working relationship built on trust and mutual respect. The writer and editor should not view each other as adversaries. The editor isn’t trying to hack away at the author’s sublime manuscript like a devious piranha biting away chunks of living flesh. Rather, the editor is a skilled artisan who wants the same thing as the author: to produce the best possible
book for public consumption. We should think of a book manuscript in medical terms instead of adversarial ones. Sometimes the best thing for the human body is an excision, or maybe even an amputation—not enjoyable, but healthy in the long run! So too, manuscripts need good doctoring so they can achieve maximum vim and vigor. Beyond the author/editor relationship, a writer today also needs to trust the team of marketing and sales people who know how to get the book in front of buyers, readers,
and media influencers. I have been thoroughly impressed with the editorial and marketing folks that I have been working with at Revell for The Conqueror. I feel like a partner in a shared project—certainly not a lone ranger!”
 

BOR: How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?
BL: “In general, Christian writers today are less insulated from secular publishers. It used to be that Christian publishing was a separate fish tank with its own unique ecosystem, very distinct from the life and currents of the ocean. And because of that isolation, its water tended to stagnate.
Today, however, the waters are thoroughly intermingled. In fact, the big New York publishing houses now own many Christian houses as a subsidiary unit. This has raised the quality of the product because the bar of expectation is set higher. Christian writers have benefited from learning the craft of their secular counterparts. Christian publishing houses have learned the best practices in design, sales, marketing, and profitable business models. Today’s Christian books no longer emerge from a cheesy and insulated religious subculture. They are products that can stand on their own two feet alongside the best of what the secular world offers.

BOR: Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?
BL: “I can see pros and cons of each. Working with secular companies could open up doors for an author’s writing to reach more people, including many unbelievers. As for me, I like working with Christian companies because I consider my writing as a ministry, not a business venture. I like partnering with organizations whose goal is to advance the gospel or to send good Christian content into the church and the world. However, the truth is, the lines are often blurred between secular and Christian companies. More often that not, a Christian bookseller these days is owned by a secular
publishing corporation.

 

BOR: What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?
BL: “Definitely! I have some great things in store for the Constantine’s Empire trilogy. The three novels will span about eighteen years. The first book, The Conqueror, takes place in the early fourth century AD, which was a pivotal period in church history. So many important events happened in that time frame as Emperor Constantine came to power in the Roman Empire and put an end to Christian persecution. The first book tells the story of a young, strong Germanic warrior who joins the Roman army as a special forces operative under Constantine and is sent ahead to Rome to
spy on a false emperor. There he meets the Christian daughter of a senator, and they work together to help Constantine defeat his wicked enemy. The novel climaxes at the famous Battle of the Milvian Bridge, where Constantine fought in the power of the Cross instead of by Jupiter and the gods. These two central characters continue the saga into the second and third books. The plot events include more great battles by land and sea; the establishment of the canon of Scripture; the underground worship of the catacombs; the founding of St. Peter’s Basilica; the search for the ancient bones of St. Peter; the Council of Nicaea and the formulation of the Nicene Creed which describes the Trinity; and the discovery of the True Cross and the Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem by Empress Helena. I hope my readers enjoy the adventure!”

BOR: Thank you for your time Bryan! We greatly appreciate your openness and honesty in answering our questions and look forward to reading and reviewing your new novel!

Interview With Andrew Erwin

2016 Top 40 Under 40: Andrew Erwin, Erwin Brothers Entertainment ...

Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first get into making Christian entertainment?
Andrew Erwin: We grew up hearing my dad tell the story of the Woodlawn football team and their magic season of 1974. We fell in love with that story and it was such a privilege to bring it to life several years ago. My dad is a great storyteller and we caught it from him.

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of movie making?
AE: We are attracted to real life redemption stories, particularly of underdogs. If a story moves our soul then those are the ones we latch on to telling as filmmakers. Our driving philosophy is the right to be heard. Make an entertaining story and the moment to share redemption.

BOR: What do you think is the hardest part of making a good Christian film?
AE: Quality. We say that quality is something we always chase but not something we actually ever catch. The key is to see each story grow and get better. You achieve a little more quality in each story you tell. I’m excited how the whole faith genre has grown in that area.

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian entertainment?
AE: I would love to see more diversity in the story tellers. I think we need young voices being developed to hand the baton to in this race. There needs to be a way to nurture and develop that talent early.

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved in Christian entertainment as a whole?
AE: I think collaboration is a powerful tool and I’m grateful for other filmmakers who have poured into my journey. If we want to grow in our stories we need more and more of that in faith film.

BOR: How do you feel about Christian entertainment creation being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?
AE: Haha! I promise I didn’t read this question before my last answer. There is a power of multiple voices pouring into making an idea the best it can be. The book Creativity Inc. was a powerful one for us. The creative braintrust refines ideas in such a streamlined fashion but other filmmakers who have done the job. On our last film I Still Believe had amazing voices in making it. Jon Gunn, Madeline Carroll, Ben Smallbone and many others. We have a policy that the best idea wins. As faith filmmakers trust their voice more and more it makes a better film to listen to trusted voices and make that story as a team.

BOR: How has Christian entertainment improved during the time you’ve been involved in it?
AE: Everything from the stories being more authentic, to bigger actors being
attracted to these stories, to the budgets studios like Lionsgate are willing to
invest. I’m grateful for people like Devon Franklin and the Kendrick brothers and many others have done to help blaze a trail. Hopefully we have been a part of that for others as well.

BOR: Is working on Christian movie sets any better or worse than working on ‘secular’ movie sets?
AE: I think it’s a movie set either way. We are so grateful to do this job with other people regardless of what they believe, but the key is as a Christian working on a story that I feel can change someone’s life, I find the ministry opportunities on set are endless as people bring that story to life.

BOR: What are your future plans for new Christian entertainment (movies, series, etc.)? Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?
AE: Yes, we are in the middle of prepping American Underdog: The Kurt Warner story. So excited to return to a football world. It’s an amazing story and the largest budget we’ve ever had! And we are producing Jesus Revolution with Jon Gunn directing and that one will be a game changer. Can’t wait to see what he creates.

Thanks for your time, Andrew!

2019 Box Office Revolution Book Awards

Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, these novels are judged based on the presence or absence of plot continuity and exceptional storytelling skills, above average character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses an issue or issues that relate to current American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. Likewise, winning titles are listed according to their genre. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

Staff Choice Winning Books of 2019

Thriller of the Year: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Rachelle and Ted Dekker and The Line Between by Tosca Lee are tied for first place.

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Fantasy of the Year: Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse (#2 in the Ravenwood Saga)

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Biblical Fiction of the Year: The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr

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Historical/Coming of Age of the Year: All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Suspense of the Year: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

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Staff Choice Honorable Mentions of 2019

Drama: The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

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Historical: The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

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Romance: Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

Courting Mr. Emerson  -     By: Melody Carlson

Biopic/Romance: My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love  -     By: Amanda Barratt

Reader’s Choice Book of the Year: The Line Between by Tosca Lee

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Staff Choice Authors of the Year: Rachelle Dekker, Tosca Lee, Morgan L. Busse, Patrick W. Carr, Susie Finkbeiner, and Jaime Jo Wright.

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Rachelle Dekker
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Tosca Lee

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Morgan L. Busse
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Patrick W. Carr
Susie Finkbeiner
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Jaime Jo Wright

Staff Choice Honorably Mentioned Authors of the Year: Erin Bartels, Susan Meissner, Melody Carlson, Amanda Barratt

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Erin Bartels
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Susan Meissner
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Melody Carlson
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Amanda Barratt

Congratulations to all the authors mentioned in this post on their wins and honorable mentions! Thank you all for being committed to producing high quality Christian entertainment and for glorifying God with the gifts He has given you!

2019 Box Office Revolution Entertainment Awards

Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

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Staff Choice Movie of the Year: The World We Make

Runners-Up: The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story, Heavenly Deposit

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Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: The World We Make

Runners-Up: Overcomer, Breakthrough, Unplanned

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Staff Choice Season of the Year: The Chosen, Season 1

Runners-Up: none

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Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Jonathan Roumie

Runners-Up: Shahar Isaac, Paras Patel, Erick Avari, Caleb Castille, Kevin Sizemore, Sharman Joshi

Elizabeth Tabish

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Elizabeth “Liz” Tabish

Runners-Up: Lara Silva, Rose Reid, Ashley Bratcher

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Dallas Jenkins

Runners-Up: Brian Baugh, Aneesh Daniel


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Staff Choice Writers of the Year: Ryan Swanson and Tyler Thompson

Runners-Up: Chris Dowling, George D. Escobar, Rose Reid, Andrew E. Matthews

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Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: The Chosen, Season 1

Runners-Up: The World We Make, The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story

2018 Box Office Revolution Book Awards

Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, novels are judged based on plot continuity and storytelling skills, character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses an issue that relates to current issues in American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

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Staff Choice Book of the Year: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr (#3 of The Darkwater Saga)

Runners-Up: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin, Looking Into You By Chris Fabry, Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse, Judah’s Wife by Angela E. Hunt

Honorable Mentions: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette, Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

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Reader’s Choice Book of the Year: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick Carr

Runners-Up: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin, Looking Into You by Chris Fabry, Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Honorable Mentions: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers, Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews


Staff Choice Author of the Year: Patrick W. Carr

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Lynn Austin
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Chris Fabry
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Morgan L. Busse
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Mesu Andrews

Runners-Up: Lynn Austin, Chris Fabry, Morgan L. Busse, Mesu Andrews

Francine Rivers
Connilyn Cossette

Honorable Mentions: Francine Rivers, Connilyn Cossette



Interview With Sean Paul Murphy, Screenwriter

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Box Office Revolution: What inspired you to first get into making Christian entertainment?

Sean Paul Murphy: I don’t know if anything inspired me to get into making Christian entertainment. I just wanted to tell stories that resonated with me. Since I was a Christian, the stories I told often reflected my values and faith. I was writing so called faith-based films before it became an established genre in Hollywood.

I find it interesting that you call it Christian entertainment. Years ago, most of people would have shied away from that term. People would say that they were making films to reach people for the Lord, not entertain Christians.

BOR: What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of movie making?

SPM: My underlying philosophy is to tell a good story well.

BOR: What do you think we need to see more of in Christian entertainment?

SPM: Since practically everyone who watches Christian films are already Christians, I would say we should make films that meet the needs of the church, and about challenges in the Christian walk, rather than just continually retelling the sinner comes to Christ story. I deal with this issue in a long post on my blog called Building the Faith-based Ghetto.

BOR: What do you think needs to be improved in Christian entertainment as a whole?

SPM: I think we desperately need to increase the level of professionalism. This hasn’t happened as a whole in the independent Christian film business because our consumers value the message over artistic quality. They would quickly have both if they stopped supporting bad films. And I’m speaking as a guy who realizes that all of his films are flawed in one way or another. I’m not just pointing a finger at others.

BOR: How do you feel about Christian entertainment creation being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

SPM: The Christian film business is cursed with far too many one-man bands.  No one person is equally gifted in writing, producing, directing and acting, and a film will only rise to the level of the weakest of those skills. Also, I tend to be suspicious of people who say “they’re doing it for the Lord” when they feel the need to write, produce, direct and star in their own films. If you’re doing it for the Lord, you would seek the most skilled and experienced people available for every job on the film. Personally, I prefer to be the dumbest person on the shoot. I want to be surrounded by people more experienced than me so that I can learn.

BOR: How has Christian entertainment improved during the time you’ve been involved in it?

SPM: The theatrical releases, like those from Affirm, are getting better every year. I liked “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” and “I Can Only Imagine.” They were both a step forward. However, technically, they were still only on the level of cable movies. We are not competing one on one with even the average Hollywood product yet. And it’s not just budget. I think the difference is that the average Hollywood filmmaker is more devoted to the craft of filmmaking. Christian filmmakers tend to think of themselves as evangelists first.

BOR: Is working on Christian movie sets any better or worse than working on ‘secular’ movie sets?

SPM: I have been working on sets since my days as an advertising producer back in the late-1980s. I haven’t noticed a real difference between secular and Christian movie sets. On the behind the scenes videos of Christian films, I always see people saying how they pray on the set all the time, but I never saw that on any of my films. Then again, I’m a writer. I never have an early call time. Maybe everyone got prayed up before I arrived.

To me, the biggest difference is between union and non-union shoots. When I was an ad producer, I was not a fan of the unions. Now, however, I am a strong supporter of them. Too many unscrupulous filmmakers would take advantage of the cast and crew if the various unions didn’t protect them. Not only that, I think crews work better when they know they are in a safe environment and that their rights are protected.

Most of the Christian films I worked on were non-union, with the exception of the Screen Actors Guild.

BOR: What are your future plans for new Christian entertainment (movies, series, etc.)?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?

SPM: My script. “I, John,” a 2012 winner of the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays, is currently in development. I am not working on any other faith-based scripts now. I have turned my attention to books. Touchpoint Press published my memoir “The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God.” It was a great experience. I was able to discuss my faith and how it affected my life without having to filter it through the egos of producers, actors and directors. It was much more honest and refreshing. I have just finished a novel called “Chapel Street.” It is a horror story, inspired by some events in my own life, which has a strong spiritual message. You can read some samples of both books on my blog.

BOR: Thank you for your time!

SPM: Thank you!

2018 Box Office Revolution Movie Awards

Every year, movies and series are released, and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity. Films and series are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those entertainment creators and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Unbroken: Path to RedemptionPaul: Apostle of ChristIndivisibleAn Interview With God

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Paul: Apostle of Christ, God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in Darkness, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Indivisible

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Dennis Quaid

Runners-Up: J. Michael Finley, Samuel Hunt, James Faulkner, Justin Bruening

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Joanne Whalley

Runners-Up: Merritt Patterson, Sarah Drew, Madeline Carroll, Alexandra Vino

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Harold Cronk

Runners-Up: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin, Andrew Hyatt, David G. Evans


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Staff Choice Writer of the Year: Andrew Hyatt\Terence Berden

Runners-Up: Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkle, Alex Cramer, Richard Friedenberg, Ken Hixon, David G. Evans, Cheryl McKay, Peter White

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: I Can Only Imagine

Runners-Up: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Paul: Apostle of Christ, Indivisible, An Interview With God

Q&A with James Markert, Author of What Blooms From Dust

Allison Carter, the senior publicist for Harper Collins Publishers, was kind enough to share with us an article containing a Q&A with author James Markert discussing Peter Cotton, an important character in his new book, What Blooms From Dust. Peter is a caring and intuitive individual who happens to have autism. While some may see him as unimportant, his role in the story is essential. Thank you to Ms. Carter for sharing this with us!

Author’s Note: The article below is the property of Harper Collins Publishers. The opinions expressed therein are their own. 

 

Just like us: Characters with autism, developmental conditions are another form of representation and inclusion in literature

James Markert talks about the role of an autistic character in his new novel,

What Blooms from Dust

 

Q: In your book, What Blooms from Dust, the main character, Jeremiah Goodbye, has just escaped from prison and is headed home when he befriends a young man named Peter Cotton. Peter seems to be autistic. Why did you write this character this way?

 

I didn’t go into the story with the intention of creating an autistic character, but when I first had Jeremiah Goodbye lay eyes on him and Peter smiled with such innocence, I felt his personality, challenges and quirks all come together for me.  

 

Q: Your book is set in the 1930s, and the term “autism” as well as the condition was not commonly known. What did you learn about society’s view of people with autism and other developmental conditions during this era? 

 

Once I decided that Peter’s character probably had autism, I delved a little deeper into the time period, and, like many things back then, ignorance unfortunately played too much of a part in how people perceived someone that was different. They were viewed as “simple” or “slow,” which was why the mother in the book, in an unfortunate occurrence during the depression, was trying to sell him and not her two “typical” boys. But this is also why I was determined, even though Peter often struggled to communicate with those around him, to make him the most perceptive character in the story.

 

Q: According to AutismSpeaks.org, about a third of those with autism are nonverbal. Peter Cotton doesn’t speak, but uses a typewriter to communicate with others. How does this add to his character? 

 

He does speak, but mainly to repeat whatever was said to him, which can be frustrating to some of those around him. The typewriter for him, and subsequent letters he writes, simply act as a conduit to his brilliance; in turn, making his character quite unique. Not so much because he communicates with the written word, but because of the power of his words, however simple they may be. Peter has a way of saying a lot with a little.

 

Q: Mental and physical disabilities are underrepresented in literature, so how did you go about researching characters with certain challenges in other books?

 

To be honest I didn’t. Peter came to me and he was what he was. Part of the beauty of being able to set

his character during a time period where autism wasn’t an official diagnosis yet, was that I never labeled him as anything other than a smiley boy with dimples. He was just…Peter.  I’ve read about and

researched autism in the past and have gotten to know various neurodivergent individuals through my

family, friends and students, but Peter really came to me all on his own.

 

—MORE—

Q: Why was it important for Jeremiah and Peter Cotton to meet?

I think their relationship was the ultimate “need one another” situation. Their meeting and ultimate friendship is a major catalyst in the story, one where they not only need each other but end up changing each other. For the good, of course.

 

Q: What make Peter relatable to readers and other characters in the story?  And what makes him distinct?

 

After being abandoned by his mother, Peter is really looking for a place and people to belong to, like so many of us, and like the other characters in the book.  What makes him most distinct is his keen sense of observation. He may be quiet, but he’s always watching and listening. And the other characters will come to learn that they’ve underestimated him.  That he can see and hear beyond their “noise” to the truth of any given situation.

 

Q: What will readers ultimately gain by meeting Peter Cotton?

 

Simply put, they’ll be gaining a friend. Someone who will hopefully make them smile.  

 

About the book

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, giving him a second chance at life. Upon his escape, he realizes he has entered a world he doesn’t recognize—one overtaken by the Dust Bowl. During his journey home to Nowhere, Oklahoma, he accidentally rescues a young boy named Peter Cotton.  When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere let years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust. Unlikely heroes Jeremiah and Peter Cotton try to protect the townspeople from themselves. Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.

What Blooms from Dust releases June 26, 2018 by HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson.

Praise

Booklist STARRED review

“Historical fiction at its finest that makes the reader want to learn more about the time and the people who lived there, and those who left.”

Publishers Weekly

“Markert creatively portrays the timeless battle between good and evil, making for a powerful story of hope and redemption.”

About the Author

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James Markert lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which was later published as A White Wind Blew.

James is also a USPTA tennis pro and has coached dozens of kids who’ve gone on to play college tennis in top conferences like the Big 10, the Big East, and the ACC. Learn more at JamesMarkert.com; Facebook: James Markert; Twitter: @JamesMarkert.

 

2017 Box Office Revolution Awards

Every year, movies are released and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity.  Films are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those movie makers and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

 

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: The Case for Christ

Runners-up: Altar Egos, Because of Gracia, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

 

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: A Question of Faith

Runners-up: The Case for Christ, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, Let There Be Light

 

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Robert Amaya (Altar Egos)

Runners-up: Mike Vogel (The Case for Christ), Max Morgan (Altar Egos), Brett Dalton (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone)

 

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Moriah Peters (Because of Gracia)

Runners-up: Erika Christensen (The Cast for Christ), Anjelah Johnson-Reyes (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone), L. Scott Caldwell (The Case for Christ)

 

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Jon Gunn (The Case for Christ)

Runners-up: Dallas Jenkins (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone), Tom Simes (Because of Gracia), Sean Morgan (Altar Egos)

 

Staff Choice Writer of the Year: Andrea Gyertson Nasfell (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone)

Runners-up: Sean Morgan (Altar Egos), Brian Bird\Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ), Tom Simes (Because of Gracia)

 

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: The Case for Christ

Runners-up: Because of Gracia, Altar Egos, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

 

Interview with Vicki Brown, Co-Producer of Skid

Tell us about your faith journey. Well, I was raised in a Christian home and came to Christ as a teen. I have continued to grow in my faith throughout my life with many trials and challenges, like most Christians experience. I was a founding member of Westmoore Community Church in 1994 and have served faithfully to help our church grow to over 2000 members.

How does your family influence your film making? I have been married to my husband, Tim Brown, for over 25 years, but we have no children. Having no children gives me a unique view on how children grow up. I am able to look at things that contribute to a child as they become an adult. I really see how the media contributes to what society thinks is “normal”. What we find entertaining really speaks to what we find acceptable. I hope that our society begins to demand more wholesome entertainment that doesn’t feel like it is childish or corny. I know there is sophisticated entertainment that is clean and wholesome, but I know it requires a lot more thought.

When was the first time you wanted to make a Christian film? Probably the first time I read a book. I visualize my reading as though I am watching it on a screen. I think the more I read good, wholesome books, like the ones written by Rene Gutteridge, the more I wanted to see it up on a screen. I decided to try to get a film made in 2012. I wanted it to become a reality.

What makes you interested in creating Christian entertainment?  I think the entertainment that is out there now is creating the view of the world for our society. I think the Christian view is under represented and needs to offer an alternative look at the world.

What do you ultimately want to do in the field of Christian movies? Well, if I had unlimited resources, I believe there would be an entire writing team dedicated to creating sophisticated, funny, good movies, who, along with talented actors, will open doors to audiences who wouldn’t otherwise watch faith based films. I think people need to see a different view of how the world is for Christians. The movies should show that we are all the same, but there is grace in Christ that allows us to change, start over, and get forgiveness from mistakes. Movies should show how to make decisions based on the good of others as Christ did in his ministry and to show why we make those decisions because of our faith.

Do you think that Christian entertainment needs more quality productions? Oh my yes! Making a movie is a gigantic risk and people willing to risk millions of dollars on a market that doesn’t usually support movies (because of what is out there) is cost prohibitive. I believe as people demand and support Christian movies, the quality will go up.

How hard is it to cast an independent Christian film? Well to be cast isn’t that difficult because the “Big Names” aren’t lining up to audition for these roles. However, there is always many, many more actors than parts so in terms of an actor who is just starting out, so it can be very difficult to get cast in any movie, even and independent movie.

How hard is it for a new Christian film maker to make it in the business?  What is the level of support? The film business in general is almost impossible to make as a living. Most of the film folks do commercial work to support their film fix. The level of support is very difficult to garner as the people who are promoting films are not on board, so most of the support is very grass roots. It takes large masses of folks to offset the cost in order for a film to make money.

What are your plans for the future? There is another of Rene’s books that I would love to get into production. I would love to be able to have a budget to make it a SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) Production. The truth is that there have been some attempts to raise funds, but none have been successful enough to get it off the ground yet. I would love to know what the Christian community thinks would be a film they would really get behind. Is it an actor with a known name? Is it a book they love that tells a great lesson? Is it more that it supports a cause? I want to produce movies that the public wants to see and finds it a joy to support. So I am open to hearing what your readers want!

 

Thanks for participating!

2016 Box Office Revolution Awards

Every year, movies are released and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity.  Films are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those movie makers and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

 

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: Providence

Runners-up: God’s Not Dead 2, Priceless, Risen

 

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: Priceless

Runners-up: I’m Not Ashamed, Risen, Heaven Bound, The Matchbreaker

 

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Joel Smallbone

Runners-up: Joseph Fiennes (Risen), Danny Vinson (Heaven Bound), Michael Joiner (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder (The Matchbreaker)

 

 

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Masey McLain

Runners-up: Bianca Santos (Priceless), Christina Grimmie (The Matchbreaker), Nancy Stafford (Heaven Bound), Karen Abercrombie (God’s Compass)

 

Staff Choice Director of the Year: Kevin Reynolds (Risen)

Runners-up: Ben Smallbone (Priceless), Adam Drake\Torry Martin (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder\Torry Martin (The Matchbreaker)

 

Staff Choice Writers of the Year: Marshal Younger\Torry Martin (Heaven Bound\The Matchbreaker)

Runners-up: Chris Dowling\Tyler Poelle (Priceless), Kevin Reynolds\Paul Aiello (Risen), Rene Gutteridge (Heaven Bound), Wesley Elder (The Matchbreaker)

 

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: Priceless

Runners-up: Risen, Heaven Bound, The Matchbreaker

2015 Box Office Revolution Awards

Every year, movies are released and cast members show off their talents.  Writers and directors showcase their creativity.  Films are separated into roughly three groups: the truly talented, the potentially great, and the others.  At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize those movie makers and players who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.

 

Reader’s Choice Movie of the Year: War Room

Runners-up: Woodlawn, Beyond the Mask, Old-Fashioned

 

Staff Choice Movie of the Year: Woodlawn

Runners-up: War Room, Old-Fashioned, Beyond the Mask

 

Staff Choice Actor of the Year: Caleb Castille (Woodlawn)

Runners-up: T. C. Stallings (War Room), Sean Astin (Woodlawn), Andrew Cheney (Beyond the Mask), Rik Swartzwelder (Old-Fashioned), Nic Bishop (Woodlawn)

 

Staff Choice Actress of the Year: Priscilla Shirer (War Room)

Runners-up: Karen Abercrombie (War Room), Kara Killmer (Beyond the Mask), Elizabeth Roberts (Old-Fashioned)

 

Staff Choice Directors of the Year: Andrew Erwin\Jon Erwin (Woodlawn)

Runners-up: Chad Burns (Beyond the Mask), Rik Swartzwelder (Old-Fashioned), Alex Kendrick (War Room)

 

Staff Choice Writers of the Year: Paul McCusker\Stephen Kendrick\Brennon Smith\Aaron Burns\Chad Burns (Beyond the Mask)

Runners-up: Rik Swartzwelder (Old-Fashioned), Jon Erwin\Todd Geralds\Quinton Peeples\Mark Schlabach (Woodlawn), Alex Kendrick\Stephen Kendrick (War Room)

 

Staff Choice Soundtrack of the Year: Woodlawn

Runners-up: War Room, Old-Fashioned, Beyond the Mask

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!

What Audiences Want

Per the Calgary Herald, When Calls the Heart fans, also known as #Hearties, are very much in love with the Hallmark series because it’s family friendly and wholesome.  At the beginning of the show, there was an attempt to craft meaningful characters, and fans still hold on to this, even though character quality has significantly decreased since the inaugural season.  Michael Landon Jr. right hand man Brian Bird has said before that their show fills a deep desire in fans for wholesome entertainment.

So what does this mean?  It means that however cheesy and disappointing WCTH may become, they still have a devoted fan base because there’s nothing else. WCTH exists in a vacuum.  They were obviously trying harder at first because they had to, but now they don’t have to try because there’s no competition in their genre.  This is a sad reality, because there is so much potential in WCTH alone, but we firmly believe that this genre of TV series is largely untapped.  What if there were even better family-friendly weekly series on television and on-demand services?

Christian and inspirational viewers may like certain aspects of non-family-friendly entertainment (this definition is very broad and subjective), they still desperately want wholesome entertainment.  So where are the Christian creative geniuses?  Entertainment still remains to be another area where western Christians have allowed other ideas to fill the vacuum.  The inspirational genre is starved for quality creations.  Hallmark, despite their flaws, would likely approve any series that marketed well and was crafted for their target audience.  The vast world of on-demand entertainment remains untapped by Christians.

What we need is a generation of creative Christians to rise up and redeem entertainment by making better entertainment.  Due to financial constraints, they would obviously have to start out small, but it’s better to start somewhere than nowhere.  If God wants you to create redemptive entertainment, then He will provide.  We must be open to what God wants us to create, because as we have seen, entertainment has a profound effect on western culture and even the entire world.  Christian entertainment has too long been dominated by low-quality and propaganda-ridden sediment, and it’s time for that to change.

PureFlix Goes to Court (Updated)

According to multiple sources, Michael Landon Jr. and co-writer Kelly Monore Kullberg are suing David A. R. White and PureFlix, citing large similarities between their film Rise and the PureFlix film God’s Not Dead. Since God’s Not Dead has grossed over $100 million worldwide, Landon Jr. and Kullberg want $100 million in damages for White and company stealing their plot structure and movie idea and using it for their own good.

We’ve never seen the film Rise, so we cannot comment on the similarities, but if this is true, this is a huge setback for the Whites and PureFlix. Even if this comes to nothing, it should be a huge wakeup call for them to create original content and to avoid shady notions. It would be a blow to Christian movie marketing if PureFlix loses this full amount, since they have proven themselves to be effective in marketing Christian films. Yet it would also not be surprising to find that the Whites have been doing funny business all along. These are the kinds of things that can majorly hurt the image of Christian movies even further.

As for the plaintiffs…both of them claim to be Christians and Kullberg is an outspoken atheist convert to Christianity. Landon Jr. has multiple deals with Hallmark to generate his creative content. We can understand their frustration over a stolen idea, but the Bible does warn Christians not to sue other Christians (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). We in no way are ready to defend PureFlix of wrongdoing, but Landon Jr. and Kullberg need to tread very carefully and determine what kind of image this gives to the Christian entertainment world. Satan would like nothing better than to destroy and divide the progress being made in Christian film making.

UPDATE: According to our research, it looks like the movie ‘Rise’ never even made it to production. Instead, the plaintiffs claim that they know their idea was copied because they shared their almost-movie idea with people close to PureFlix while God’s Not Dead was being created. This may or may not strengthen their case, especially if they can prove that they definitely shared the idea with PureFlix while the movie in question was still being written and that they were not compensated for sharing their idea. Of course, they will also have to show that they have exclusive creative control over that movie concept and that their original idea was explicitly copied by PureFlix.

Easter Eggs in Kendrick Brothers Movies

One of the marks of a truly gifted movie maker is the inclusion of Easter eggs in their films.  For example, any consistent movie-goer knows about the vast collection of Pixar Easter eggs, namely those characters, symbols, objects, statements, words, sayings, etc. that are found discretely in multiple movies.  As far as Box Office Revolution can tell, this is a complete list of the Easter eggs found in Kendrick Brothers movies (it will be updated as more movies come out):

 

Albany Fire Department

  • In Courageous, the fire department where Caleb Holt and his team from Fireproof worked is shown in a drive-by.

 

Bobby Lee Duke

  • In War Room, Tony Jordan’s friend Michael, a paramedic, wears a shirt in one scene that states ‘Bobby Lee Duke Memorial Hospital’, the same name as the infamous outspoken coach of the Giants from Facing the Giants.

 

David Thompson

  • In War Room, following an intense run-in with a knife-wielding attempted thief, Miss Clara and Elizabeth Jordan are questioned by a police officer played by Ben Davies, who also played David Thompson, a police officer, in Courageous. It is possible that it is the same character.

 

Jay Austen Motors

  • In Facing the Giants, the truck that Matt Prater’s father secretly gave Coach Grant Taylor has a Jay Austen Motors license plate, a nod to the inaugural Kendrick film, Flywheel.
  • In Fireproof, Caleb Holt’s truck also comes from Jay Austen Motors.
  • In Courageous, Adam Mitchell owns a vehicle from the same dealership.
  • In War Room, Tony Jordan’s SUV also sports a Jay Austen license plate.
  • Thus far, the Jay Austen Motors license plate has appeared in every Kendrick Brothers movie.

 

Wrath of God

  • In War Room, Elizabeth Jordan asks her husband if he wants ‘Wrath of God’ hot sauce on his salad, a nod to a comedic hot sauce competition from Fireproof.