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B.A.D. Movies

Bad Movies

I spent last week attending the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where 5,000 films and 8,000 short films were submitted for only a handful of screening slots. It’s always an interesting mix of features, documentaries, shorts and well, people.

Watching these movies, I thought of how often I get asked the question, “Why are Christian TV and movies so bad?”  But after a week at Sundance, trust me, it’s not just Christians making bad films.  It’s a virus that affects everyone.

However,  I believe there are three things Christians can do as filmmakers and creatives, that would help stop B.A.D. movies:


Bait and Switch

Hollywood is about the bottom line – making money. If it doesn’t make money it doesn’t go far.  But Christian films are often based on pushing an agenda.  Whether it’s a well produced or well told is often relatively unimportant.  Well-intentioned Christian filmmakers feel that their message needs to be told and people will want to come see it because it is Truth.

Outside the Sundance Film Festival theater. Photo courtesy of Pandora.

Maybe they’ve sat through too many bad church services and think Christian movie audiences will do the same.  How many times have we heard: “God told me to make it!”  But when it’s not a good movie it gives the faith based film industry a black eye.

Don’t bait the Christian audience with a promise of quality if you can’t deliver.  The world has enough ways to criticize Christians. Let’s not let bad art be another one.


Accidental, or Occasional Filmmaking is Not Quality Filmmaking

It’s not enough to have a passion to write, direct, act or produce. You have to study, write, act, direct, and produce MANY times to get it right – and reading about it isn’t enough.  Do you think the great artists throughout history got it right the first time?  How many hours a day did they spend on their art?

Can an average high school basketball player walk on as an NBA player? Study, practice, gather a group of artists around you, and have a plan of attack.  It’s not about your first script – it’s about the long game.  The word here is Mastery. There are no short cuts or fast tracks to this complicated and multi-layered art form.

Phil and Kathleen Cooke with producer Mark Burnett and Windrider Forum co-director Peggy Rupple & her husband Dan. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Cooke.

Define yourself as an artist

If I listed several names of accomplished film directors, producers, writers, or actors you would have an instant picture about the kinds of projects that person has done.  In the acting community it’s called “type casting.”

Sometimes it’s limiting, but for most, it’s helps define who they are – their “brand” if you will.  You can’t do everything, so you need to focus.  What is the niche where you could potentially be extraordinary?  Don’t be scattered – be defined.

Christian filmmakers have the same challenge as secular filmmakers – to tell a compelling story, make an impact, and start a conversation.  Trying to cut corners on that journey is a recipe for disaster.


Do you want to see more from Kathleen Cooke? Please see Is God Calling YOU to ASCEND?

Read more Christian film festival news! Mimi Sagadin Makes Sundance Debut With “Return to the Hiding Place”


A media professional and award winning actress, Kathleen Cooke, co-founder of Cooke Pictures and The Influence Lab. She speaks nationally and internationally and is on the advisory board for the Hollywood Prayer Network, and Hollywood Connect. Find out more at Kathleen Cook, or reach her on Twitter @kathycooke.



Mimi Sagadin Makes Sundance Debut With “Return to the Hiding Place”


The Official Red Carpet Premiere of Return to the Hiding Place, hosted by the Bel Air Film Festival in Park City, Utah, has a sold out screening!

This moving Christian film is the first in the festival’s history to win in three categories: Best Jury Feature Film, Cinematography and Directing. Bel Air FF planners hand-selected Return to the Hiding Place to be their premiere film at Sundance in 2014!

Mimi Sagadin’s red carpet arrival with her fellow cast members and director will mark her first Sundance experience.

Emmy-nominated John Rhys-Davies and Mimi Sagadin. Photo courtesy of Spencer Productions.

She stars in the movie as the well-known Dutch hero of the Holocaust Corrie ten Boom alongside Emmy-nominated John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Indiana Jones) who plays Eusi, a rabbi from Amsterdam, who Corrie ten Boom aids in hiding from the Gestapo lead Nazi Party.

“This film is critical for our culture today… I’m so proud to be involved in this picture” states Sagadin’s co-star John Rhys Davies about the 9-festival-winning film. Corrie ten Boom’s personal assistant Pam Rosewell Moore commented “I felt like I was with Corrie all over again…” after seeing Sagadin’s portrayal of her friend.

John Rhys-Davies as Eusi, David Jenkins as Hans Poley, and Mimi Sagadin as Corrie ten Boom. Photo courtesy of Spencer Productions.

Mimi’s acting career began when she trained in improv at Chicago’s infamous Second City, and since then she has starred in over 40 projects including Ron Howard’s The Dilemma with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Connelly, Side Effects with Katherine Heigl.

Mimi leads two, true-story feature films: Return to the Hiding Place and biographical romantic dramedy Princess Cut, releasing 2015.

“Mimi’s work as an actress in Return to the Hiding Place has that old-school, raw craftsmanship which transcends you as an audience to authentically experience life during the pressures of that era,” says Jenn Gotzon, Sagadin’s co-star in Princess Cut who has also worked with the same Oscar-winning director, Ron Howard.

Mimi Sagadin in "Return to the Hiding Place." Photo courtesy of Spencer Productions.

Mimi’s passion began at age 8, though it wasn’t until Sagadin was in her 30’s when her best friend, actress Maggie Malone, urged her to pursue her dream. Several-years later, while playing a minor role in Chicago’s stage play The Hiding Place, the cast was offered the opportunity to audition for the film.

In 2010, sisters Barbara and Karen Divisek cast Mimi Sagadin to play Corrie ten Boom in Return to the Hiding Place. One triple-crown winning film later, Sagadin is fulfilling her mission to perform in stories that bring hope to our culture.


Interesting in seeing the film? Watch the inspiring trailer Return to the Hiding Place – Official Trailer

Want to discover another amazing Christian movie? Check out Son Of God – Official Movie Trailer



Justice Film Festival Announces First Official Selections


Second Annual Justice Film Festival Celebrates Films of Excellence Featuring Messages of Justice

The Justice Film Festival is the only event of its kind - an international film festival looking at social justice through the lens of faith.  The festival’s mission is to inform and inspire justice seekers by presenting films of unexpected courage and redemption that are diverse in their issues and geography.



168 Filmmaker Portrait – Joth Riggs “Heartfall”


An incubator for emerging artists, the 168 Film Festival was founded in 2003 by John David Ware, a filmmaker from Columbus, Ohio.  It includes worldwide filmmaking and writing competitions based on foundational Bible verses. The winner of this year's competition for won the Grand Prize of up to $1 Million dollars for a feature film budget, sponsored by Echo Light Studios.



Lost In The Dark – Official Movie Trailer

Lost In The Dark

Lost in the Dark - GMR Pictures teamed up with Chris Bailey at WonderGate to create this thriller for the 168 Film Project 2013.

There's only one way to survive. In a world where light is your only protection, a young woman must do everything she can to be reconciled with the ones she's wronged before night descends and the terrible creatures of darkness come to claim her.