questionmarkWhat is your take on the Christian movie scene?

I am new to all of this and just finished up a treatment for a Christian movie. I have been doing some research now on a few specific things and trying to read as much as I can on screenwriting. I just wonder if given the climate we are all living in if this is a good genre to focus on?

— Kimberlee
Denver, CO

It’s absolutely a valid niche/scene. Every year a few capital-c Christian movies — some starring Kirk Cameron — do serious business both theatrically and on video. But there are many more Christian films made that find an audience, even if they don’t make millions. So if that segment appeals to you, go for it.

A few points of advice — which could apply to almost any specially-targeted film:

  1. Pick your sweet spot. A “Christian audience” is too broad a category. Are you making a film for teenage youth groups, or moms who sing in choir? Both are valid, but there’s not a lot of overlap. Know your target viewer precisely.

  2. Follow the examples. Christian films are notable both for their themes and their omissions (sex, profanity, drug use). Study the successful movies of the past few years and figure out what your audience expects from this category — and just as importantly, which elements are deal-killers.

  3. Figure out the players. Specialty films have specialty distributors. In the case of Christian films, you’ll likely find companies with a track record of marketing films through religious channels. They’re the people you’re going to want to release your film. You may even find a specific director just right for your script.

  4. Aspire to be the best in your category. Films targeted at specialty audiences — Christian tweens, Latina lesbians, extreme skiers — can sometimes find success simply because they exist. These audiences seek them out, even if they’re not particularly good, because they want to see their lives and values portrayed on screen. But don’t let that be an excuse for making a mediocre movie. In the long run, quality always counts.

You want this to be your first movie, not your last. Be sincere and smart. You never want it to seem like a stepping stone to “real” movies — but of course, with success, those opportunities could come.