Monday, August 24, 2009

Isn't all religious belief a form of acting?

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?


  1. Great. I guess next actors will be forced to read the gospels instead of Stanislavski. So much for Method acting ;)


  2. I think inherently if you can't even ACT like a non-believer and put yourself in their shoes, you shouldn't be an actor. I'm starting up my own blog Freethinker Media Junkie, which will focus on atheist and other stuff in media issues and one of my planed rants is on PAD's bitching about writing Midnighter. No one but pure comic geeks will get that, but the abridged version was a christian writer a bit out of shape over having to write a homosexual character and all. My stance is firmly, then you're the wrong person for the job.

  3. Ing:

    I do seem to recall (vaguely) that Peter David situation...but it's very odd considering there was recently a big hullabaloo involving him and Liefeld over David insinuating over the years that Shatterstar & Rictor gay/bi. This recently culminated in a kiss b/t the two, prompting Liefeld's angry comment about how he'd get rid of that if he ever got his hands on the characters again.

    Weird. You have a link or anything on the Midnighter thing?

  4. Anyone else here think of Orgasmo when they read this? Very funny movie from the two South Park guys in which a button-down mormon gets offered a role in porn movies, not for sexual reasons, but because he's good at martial arts or something, and the director thinks this will draw more people to his films.

    A pretty funny movie, but it did get an NC-17 rating, mostly for things talked about rather than things shown.

    It has lines like "Stunt cock!" in it...very funny.

    On a serious note

  5. "
    I do seem to recall (vaguely) that Peter David situation...but it's very odd considering there was recently a big hullabaloo involving him and Liefeld over David insinuating over the years that Shatterstar & Rictor gay/bi. This recently culminated in a kiss b/t the two, prompting Liefeld's angry comment about how he'd get rid of that if he ever got his hands on the characters again.

    Weird. You have a link or anything on the Midnighter thing?"

    The debate came mostly from a forum on comics (which due to falling out with it I won't state), and actually might be apocrapha. It came mostly from comments atributed to PAD saying how he wasn't comfortable with his children being exposed to Midnighter and that for the homosexuality reasons. The topic also talked about whether Morrison and Ennis were valid in their decisions to make Midnighter and Apollo "less gay"

  6. Jennifer

    Perplexing! It appears that either I remembered the debate wrong myself or the debate was inheriently erroneous. It appears that, a) PAD is actually cool on the issue. b) it was Chuck Dixon who had the problem. I'll be tackling that on my new blog soon as his reasoning betrays the iconic hypocrisy on the issue.

  7. Cool! I thought that didn't make sense...

    Glad I helped in some small way! :-P

  8. Wow which is a worse movie, Fireproof of Transformers 2? The answer of course is Twilight.

  9. I think acting, like any art, can be perceived as threatening for Christians, or indeed any religious person. Ironic, since religion was often a subject of inspiration for artists. But artists reflect on, question and interpret religion, something that must be suspicious at best for the faithful. And good actors have to love their character, no matter what said character does and believes in. Art is by definition amoral.

  10. I agree. Transformers 2 was a pile of shit.

  11. Fireproof? Haven't heard of that one, but closely named Firewall was ghastly.

    Is Faith-based acting what Kirk Cameron tried to do? If you can't act, but have faith that you can and go ahead anyway? Kinda like Uwe Boll directing?

  12. You can read all about Fireproof here.


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