Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I am writing this piece not as a creator of film content, but rather as a passionate consumer. I am a husband, father of seven (ages 8 to 20), former NFL middle linebacker and devoted follower of Jesus Christ. And I am a sucker for a well-made movie that contains a redemptive plot.

One of my favorite movie series is “Rocky.”

“Rocky” is not considered a faith film, yet it contains content that I consider real-life, positive and faithful. As a dad, I wanted to experience “Rocky” (“Yo, Adrian, I did it!”) with my four sons without compromising our core beliefs, but some of the content in the movie was mature and what I deemed out of bounds.

As a frustrated father, I began to search for a service or company that could take a movie like “Rocky” and clean it up. In my pursuit, I uncovered VidAngel, a video-streaming service that allows consumers to filter out content that they deem personally inappropriate. I was able to watch the series of “Rocky” movies with my sons without the stress and worry of them consuming content that I, as a parent, deemed inappropriate. After we would finish a film, I was able to have engaging and real-life conversations with my sons that I could not have had otherwise. As a dad, I love creating opportunities for memories. “Rocky” went from being on the “no watch” list to a shared memory.

I am pumped that the studios and Hollywood are producing specific, targeted content for the faith community. I’m even more pumped that as a consumer with strong beliefs, I now have the ability to take high-quality, well-made existing films and filter out the objectionable material. This empowers me to hold on to my convictions while having a life-engaging experience with my family. Services like VidAngel enable a consumer to watch movies whenever and however they want, without compromising their core values.

Before I am a consumer, I am a father. As a parent, my roles and goals are to protect my children and empower them to make right decisions when it comes to consuming entertainment. Many faith films also contain mature content that I will not expose my younger children to, so the ability to filter movies has enabled us to watch these films as well.

As a person of faith, my goal is not to run from our culture, but rather be a transforming part of it. Our family wants to be a part of the conversation. The majority of the people who watch and go to movies do so because their friends went and they have a “fear of missing out.” Services like VidAngel can become tools for people of faith because they enable these consumers to watch films that they normally would avoid and allow them to become a part of the greater cultural conversation.

The community of believers many times has been labeled as irrelevant and out of touch. Because entertainment is a massive part of our pop culture, as people of conviction, we have a responsibility to at least be up-to-date when it comes to what is being consumed by the masses. Like it or not, the faith community needs to learn the language of our culture in order to help positively influence it.

As was the case with my sons, entertainment can now become a part of how I weave my beliefs into the conversations I am having with others. For me, faith in film is not about specific “faith films” as much as it is about me sharing my faith with others using the medium of films.

Bryan Schwartz and his wife, Diane, are co-founders of Family Goals, a nonprofit dedicated to applying the lessons of sports toward creating winning families. They believe that with the right game plan and consistent training, every family can achieve new levels of excellence, happiness and influence.

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