“I hate Hollywood! A bunch of Lefties producing nothing but anti-American, anti-business, hyper-violent, hyper-sexualized crap! While we’re at war with fanatics who want to destroy America, Hollywood makes movies that paint us as the enemy, as moral reprobates. Hollywood is pushing a political agenda rather than making good, wholesome movies Americans want to see.” Anyone familiar with conservative critiques of Hollywood’s Entertainment-Industrial Complex has heard all this and much more besides. In the “Culture War,” Hollywood is enemy number one. Political commentator and journalist Bill Whittle is stepping up his activism in the so-called Culture War with Declaration Entertainment. Its mission is to make
the kinds of movies Hollywood used to make – Movies about Freedom and Sacrifice, Hard-Work and Self-Reliance, Faith and Family. (emphasis in original)
Declaration Entertainment builds its business model on subscribers, dubbed “Citizen Producers.” These “Citizen Producers,” for about ten bucks a month, will
… gain access to behind the scenes looks at your movies as they are being made. Participate in live video chat with actors, writers, and directors. View behind-the-scenes videos of casting sessions, location shoots, special effects creation, editing and scoring. Win chances to appear in the movies and attend opening night red carpet premieres. (emphasis added)
This looks like a well-intended experiment that may create little more than direct-to-DVD movies of limited appeal. At the end of the day, the movies that stand the test of time are well-crafted productions that tell compelling stories. Placing ideology before story and craft almost always diminishes the end result.
Barbara Nicolosi, scriptwriter, script consultant, and former Act One, Inc. Executive Director, firmly believes in the craft of filmmaking. It is not something, she argues, that anyone can do a the drop of a hat. Nicolosi has devoted her life to educating Christians in the art and business of making movies. In a commentary on Facing the Giants, she stated,
Making a movie that is beautiful is damn hard. Damn hard. Expecting to be able to produce a film with no experience or training is arrogant and as absurd as someone thinking they could just build a building with no training or experience in architecture. (emphasis added)
Declaration Entertainment’s business model begs the question, what experience do “Citizen Producers” have in creating quality films? Will individuals more concerned with winning the next election make good choices concerning film production? Will people who spend more time with political commentary than in the art and business of movie making create quality products that will “retake American culture?” These are serious questions the folks behind Declaration Entertainment must consider. Bill Whittle is absolutely correct when he states, in the short video promoting Declaration Entertainment,
The fight for the soul of America is not in Washington. It’s in Hollywood. Politics is downstream of culture. People vote not on what they know but how they feel. And how they feel about America is determined almost exclusively by the stories and values they see in movies and on television.
That has been the argument, for years, from this website, as well as the Culture Alliance, a start-up nonprofit whose mission is to reform the American culture toward one that promotes liberty and personal responsibility by encouraging and supporting artists and others to work in the cultural influence professions. Whittle misses the mark, however, when he states, just prior to the comment above,
Declaration Entertainment is a movement. It’s a revolution. It’s a way to put the power of the message, our American mythology, back into the hands of the American people.
The idea that “Citizen Producers” with no experience in film can create Sergeant York, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Ten Commandments, The Searchers, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Star Wars, Rocky, etc. shows a serious misunderstanding of the movie business. I understand and sympathize with Bill Whittle’s frustration and outrage concerning most Hollywood films. I’m not convinced, however, that attempting to go around the industry is a viable solution. Furthermore, none of the movies noted above began with, “What kind of message do I want my viewers to get?” They began with “What is the most visually compelling, most dramatic story I can tell?” Any movie that puts the message it wants the audience to take home ahead of the story told on screen is doomed to failure. When asked about Christians creating independent productions and trying to bypass the industry, Barbara Nicolosi stated
The problem with working only with people who agree with you 100% is thinking that what God wants is what ends up on the screen. It’s not. It’s the journey of the work itself, the opportunity to share our life, and what we know, with the creative people in the business. … Instead, we … stay over here where it’s safe, because we don’t want to be polluted by them. And the funny thing is that in the end—the movie’s crap. … This is the major problem … the overall dreadful dramatic writing that we’ve seen coming in to the industry from godly people.
Declaration Entertainment encourages us to stay “where it’s safe, because we don’t want to be polluted by them.” It encourages us to believe that we can create movies by, for, and about people who, politically speaking, “agree with [us] 100%.” My fear is that Declaration Entertainment will result in a bunch of low-budget movies like The Marine, a very pro-American, pro-military movie that is unwatchable garbage. The last thing Americans concerned with the direction the culture is taking is “dreadful dramatic writing … coming in to the industry from [patriotic] people.”
– Daniel Crandall