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Movie to Movement: Have You Heard of Them?
By Fr. John Larson, MIC (Jun 5, 2014)
The pro-life movement in the United States has grown considerably over the past 40 years, and while not having much support overall in the media — including blackouts in coverage and numerous limitations in getting the message out — it has been able to garner support in some unlikely arenas. One of these is Hollywood. I'm not necessarily talking about the major media companies, but among some independent outlets.
Hollywood is much more pragmatic than many people realize. Yes, there is a lot of agenda-driven work, but never underestimate the importance of the bottom-line: money. They want your eyes and ears, and they are looking to get them by tailoring to specific demographics — "faith communities" among them. They preview and poll to see how people of particular faiths react to films. Sometimes they will take out something that people find offensive. For instance, this occurred with the movie Man of Steel, which included some stronger language in a rough cut previewed by various groups. The producers removed the language from the final version released to theaters because they knew they could gain some support for the movie by doing so, and lose support with the stronger language.
Part of the bridge between movie studios and people of faith is a group called Movie to Movement, which produces and promotes films that support a "culture of life, love and beauty." This organization was founded by those involved in the making of Bella, a critically-acclaimed film from 2006 with a strong pro-life theme. This film, directed by Alejandro Monteverde and made through a new production company called Metanoia Films, had a strong impact on many women in crisis pregnancies. There were many reports of women with unplanned pregnancies choosing life after having seen the film. Indeed, suddenly there were "Bella babies" that, to some extent, owed their lives to the film.
Movie to Movement, started by Jason Jones, one of the executive producers of Bella, includes a conglomeration of social networking activity; pro-life outreach, particularly in conjunction with crisis pregnancy centers; local outreach to the poor of Hollywood (yes, there is poverty there); and movie production, distribution, and promotion.
One result of this organization is a new short film called Crescendo. I don't want to give away much about the film (although other sites include spoilers about it), but it's extremely powerful and inspired by a real life crisis pregnancy. Also, a young woman named Patty Mallette who was also in a crisis pregnancy situation produced it. Her son, Justin Bieber, is a fairly well-known young man. It is true that he is not exactly a role model today, not unlike a number of child stars after they turn 18, but such bad behavior reminds us of the need to pray for the famous.
The film Crescendo has won a number of awards, even in the secular film festival scene. If you see it, you don't have to wonder why. In every aspect, the film says "professional." Each scene has been carefully crafted, and there isn't a wasted second of playing time. It is a film best enjoyed by not having any idea of what it is about. The impact is all the greater then.
Movie to Movement was started by professionals that know something about Hollywood, and they know how to use the media, movies, and social networking in effective ways. True, they are a very tiny operation in the midst of multi-billion dollar film companies, but impact is not always based on the size of an operation. This is especially true in today's world.
Father John Larson, MIC, serves as the Marians' house superior in Steubenville, Ohio.