Critic for Christ: Pastor reviews Christian films
Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 2, 2011
NATCHEZ — Before the pulpit, and even before knowing Christ, The Rev. Scott Green was first a movie buff.
Green, the pastor of Natchez First Assembly of God, has been in the business of reviewing Christian films for approximately 12 years.
“A Christian movie brought me to the Lord,” Green said.
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The 1970s Christian film series, “Thief in the Night,” set the reels in motion — a trailer for big changes to occur in Green’s life.
“It showed me where I was without Christ,” he said. “It presented Biblical truth in a way I could understand it.”
Green found a way to edit together his love for film with his spiritual convictions — and he eventually began reviewing Christian films online as a hobby.
Movies, Green said, can reach people in ways a sermon can’t.
“Many pastors present messages people don’t relate to,” Green said. “I had a hard time listening to a preacher. But characters, actors and suspense got my attention. For the first time I felt like someone spoke my language.”
While some might disregard Christian cinema as low budget, poorly-acted productions, Green has a system for identifying the most worthwhile Christian films.
“First, the script,” Green said. “You’ve got to have a compelling story. Second, budget is very important. Named actors are good, but not necessary. And third, quality.”
Green said besides creative cinematography, sound and lighting quality can make or break a movie.
Green said several years ago, his website, which evolved into www.onewayfilms.net, started to attract the attention of Christian movie producers.
“Film companies started contacting me,” Green said. “They sent me screeners before they were released.”
Green’s reviews have been used as promotions for many films. Blurbs under his company name, OneWay Films, have been quoted on DVD jackets, movie posters and promotional material.
Green’s film reviews have opened other doors in the industry — like interviewing celebrities.
“I got to interview David A.R. White,” Green said. “He’s one of the biggest Christian film stars today.”
Green said he has also met and interviewed Mark Christopher Lawrence and Timothy Bottoms. He has hobnobbed at red carpet premiers, “those are fun,” he said, and hung around movie sets. Green said soon he will head up to Canada to review the film “Apocalypse 5.”
Though Green could have taken the opportunity to work his way up in the movie industry, his position as a volunteer, freelance reviewer actually worked out for the better.
“Promoting films I enjoy is much better than being on the crew — the guy lugging lights around,” Green said.
Green said he has no plans to retire from reviewing Christian films, but he is realistic about the precedence the “side hobby” takes in his personal and professional life.
“I still believe in the power of film,” Green said. “It’s always been a passion of mine. But I’m just putting my focus now on my pastoral calling — which is a lot more important.”
Green said he has never been paid to review films, which means he’s free to be honest in his reviews.
Because Green has made a name for himself in the business, producers also send him scripts. He responds with notes, suggestions and approval. Recently Green received the script for “Left Behind 3.”
“I’m very honored, blessed, to be able to do this,” he said.
Green said Christian films offer entertainment without graphic violence, explicit sexuality or profanity.
“Christian films give a wonderful alternative to the stuff Hollywood is offering — with positive morals and a life-changing message,” Green said. “I am drawn to that message in Christian films.”
Sometimes Green must review films that are underwhelming. But he retains a positive spin.
“I am honest,” Green said. “But I try my best to stress the positives, and mention the negatives lightly. I want to encourage the filmmaker.”
Green said for movies that aren’t so memorable, he will write comments like, “Great first attempt… can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”
But, Green said he has penned a biting review before.
“There was a ‘Christian’ sports film that really ticked me off,” Green said. “I wrote a scathing review.”
Green said the film had absolutely no mention of Christ, except when someone sneezed — garnering a “God bless you.”
Overall though, Green said some Christian films are pretty good, and can even get better.
“I would like to see Christian films get more respect and attention from people,” Green said. “But also to see the quality improve. Some are geared for entertainment with a Christian message, and some are geared toward evangelism.”
But no matter how the film is geared, Green said their impact is universal.
“It’s an unwritten rule that every movie category — whether entertainment or evangelistic — can be used as an ice breaker for Christians to share (their faith) with non-Christians. Movies can be outreach tools.”
Green offered his own Christian movie suggestions.
“I recommend ‘Saving God,’” Green said. “It’s about a minister in jail, who returns to his calling as a preacher. He has past hurts, and is trying to change his ghetto community.”
Green said the film is full of action and deals with real issues, like drugs and relationships, leaving the audience with a spiritual message.
Other films Green suggests are “Hidden Secrets” and “Courageous,” which is due for release this year.
“Left Behind” is also undergoing a big-budget revamp, Green said, with a less political, more personal message about the rapture.
Green said for families interested in obtaining Christian films, there is a website that operates like a Christian Netflix, called www.christiancinema.com. To purchase films, Green suggested www.christianmovies.com — which functions like Amazon.com.
A building attached to the church is set up to screen films — which he shows to church members and the community for free, with permission. Concessions purchased at the screenings are used to benefit youth group projects.