For reasons I can't quite fathom, but which probably have to do with the fact that I was at one point listed (I didn't bother renewing when production in Texas essentially dried up) in the Texas Film Commission Production Directory, I've been added to the email list of Brad Wilson Acting. This means that I have intermittently been getting newsletters plugging his "Faith Based Acting" seminars.
Not that I couldn't find this out for myself if I cared to look into it (but as this would involve attending the seminar, my motivation is nil), but I find myself puzzled as to what Wilson, a former personal assistant to Robert Duvall who now produces microbudget direct-to-DVD Christian movies, exactly means by "faith based" acting. It seems Christians can attach the label "faith based" to nearly anything now, thereby making it better.
Here's the pitch:
Does your art collide with your faith?
Does your talent challenge your calling?
Hollywood film producer, Brad Wilson, wants to help you find direction from the Bible that has not only encouraged him to continue his work in film and televition, but to see it as a calling vs a job in his popular workshop, Faith Based Acting For the Camera.
As a Christian, Brad has felt the need to help guide others in the "business" by not only using invaluable techniques he has learned for acting for the camera, but most of all using ones faith and belief in God as the ultimate guidance. Brad will share many of his own experiences and obstacles he himself has faced in a business that does not generally put God first.
Well, you know, like any business (including religion) Hollywood puts money first. They have to, since they spend so goddamn much of it filling the multiplexes with shite like Transformers and G.I. Joe. It takes millions of publicity dollars to convince you that you haven't just been robbed of two hours of your life you'll never get back, after all. "You know," executives have been known to say in meetings over brandy and sneakily imported Havanas, "once audiences leave the theater after this headache-inducing abortion is over, those who aren't 6 years old and under or mentally retarded are going to converge on our offices with torches and heavy weapons. So we really need to make it seem like it's some kind of event going on here, or we're well and truly fucked!"
But that aside, I'm curious to know how acting work could conflict with one's religious faith. If you're offered a role you find objectionable, or that requires you to do something objectionable (like sex or nudity), in a script you find offensive, simply don't audition for those projects.
I suppose many actors might find themselves under pressure to take on roles in films that offend them personally, simply for fear that "the big break" may not come again any time soon. But the good news there is that independent filmmaking is more accessible than ever, particularly in the vital niche market of Christian film. An actor or aspiring filmmaker can build a body of work and allow their talents to be seen in projects they have greater control over artistically, whether or not it's possible (and it typically isn't for indie movies) for those projects to actually get released. Most freshman actors and directors understand their DIY indie work is just about building their experience and putting together a nice reel. Get that work into the right hands, and offers for higher-profile work could well be in the offing. The old cliché of the "casting couch" is a relic of the old-school studio system, when there was, for all intents and purposes, no such thing as independent filmmaking. These days, it's not necessary for a budding young ingénue to shag some lard-assed producer in the back of a limo to get cast in something. I mean, she can if she wants, I suppose, but why?
So, yes, I'm not sure that any Christian actors are really at risk of compromising their values if they don't want to. And maybe, these classes are just Wilson's way to meet a pool of wide-eyed young talent to cast in his own DVD cheapies. That's all fine. As for "faith based acting," though, well, I must say, I'd think Christians would be naturals as actors without the extra coaching. After all, a lifetime of talking to invisible beings is a master class in acting all its own, eh?