“Letters to God” director aims to make 3-D faith films — Hollywood In Ten
BY SEAN O’CONNELL
If David Nixon has his way, the 3-D craze that is sweeping the multiplexes with mainstream pictures like “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” will carry Christian-themed message movies to larger audiences. And it will happen sooner rather than later.
“I definitely think that if the (craze) hangs on, then in the next year or two, we will do a Christian film in 3-D,” said Nixon, the successful producer and director behind such inspirational hits as “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants.” He called to promote his latest (two-dimensional) Christian drama “Letters to God,” which is in theaters.
“They’ve made is so easy now,” Nixon continued. “The technology doesn’t hurt your eyes. And it’s not about the effects. It’s not about that cheesy kind of play in the 1950s. It’s about adding depth, the way your eyes really see the world. So I definitely see that maybe our fourth or fifth film will be shot in 3-D. … If that (trend) continues, in the next couple of years, I think all films will be in 3-D.”
Regardless of the new technologies, story comes first, and Nixon’s film has a heartwarming one that’s based on the true story about a cancer-striken boy (Tanner Maguire) who connects with his neighborhood postal worker (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson) after writing a series of letters to God.
Nixon said he started working on “Letters” when several studio heads, in the wake of the profitable “Fireproof” and “Giants,” approached him looking for more Christian stories. That’s remarkable progress considering the fact that years ago, Nixon said it was a challenge even getting a faith-based film into a theater. Not so anymore.
“Every big studio in L.A. now has a faith-based division, since (Mel Gibson’s) ‘The Passion of the Christ’ made $611 million (worldwide),” said Nixon. “Then we came along with ‘Facing the Giants,’ and that did well. Then ‘Fireproof’ did well. Obviously Hollywood sees an opportunity, and they figured since Christians are going to films, we better make some God films.”
He has more in the pipeline, including a teen-themed drama about cutting called “To Write Love On Her Arms.” He’s also trying his hand at a Christian comedy.
“A lot of people said to us, ‘Don’t just make heavy, dramatic films. Can you make something lighthearted?’ So we came up with a great little story called ‘Saving Livingston,’ which has a ‘Home Alone’ kind of feel. It’s a fun movie that has a Christian message, and it will make you smile,” Nixon said.
Ah yes. The Christian “message.” Often, films like “Fireproof” and “Letters” are criticized by audiences and critics for being too heavy with a “message” as opposed to just trying to entertain. Nixon believes those who level that criticism have missed the point.
“We’re not about making art. We’re making films with a message, and we’re not apologetic about that,” he said. “It has been amazing to me that some people have almost been surprised that a movie would have a message. Now obviously every movie out there has a message. Some are negative, and some are positive. This movie just happens to have a Christian message. And that’s the only reason that we are doing this.”
In Nixon’s opinion, more people want him to keep doing that, for a long time.
“It seems like the nation, and maybe even the world, is hungry for spiritual things,” Nixon said. “They want these kinds of films. Especially positive, hopeful films. And so I think you are going to see a lot more (faith-based) films going theatrical, to DVD, and on the Internet. It’s just going to open the whole door for faith-based films.”