First, give us a brief introduction to yourself.
My name is Christian St John, and I am the Senior Editor and main reviewer for ChristianFilmGuide.com, and co-author of the Christian Film Guide book. Originally from the UK, I came to Canada in 2003 to study for a Master of Divinity degree. Over the next few years I studied full-time while pastoring as an intern, and then as a Senior Pastor. I now live in BC, Canada with my beautiful wife and wonderful children.
What led to the creation of Christian Film Guide, the website?
I have always loved movies. The first film I remember watching was the 1939 classic Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff when I was 3 years old. Since then I have watched literally thousands of movies from every mainstream genre, so you could call me somewhat of a movie buff. For a few years prior to launching the website I had been thinking about how film is one of the most powerful forms of media, when done right. Were we not shocked at The Passion of the Christ? Did we not weep during Schindler’s List? Do we not smile and cheer for Forrest Gump? Movies are powerful! The conclusion I came to, was that movies are made even more powerful when written and produced from a faith-based perspective. It was then that I decided to put the wheels into motion.
FaithFlix.tv was my first attempt at a Christian movie website. On FaithFlix I listed some Christian movies and posted some reviews. But as I was working a full time job at the time, it was hard to keep it fresh with new content, so it just fizzled out. Then in 2012 I left the church I was pastoring and found myself pondering my next move. It was during that time that I watched the Kendrick Brother’s movie Courageous. I know the film has its naysayers, but I for one loved it! It is action-packed, humorous, family-friendly, poignant, and well produced. Shortly after watching Courageous I began to once again think and pray about the Christian film industry, and whether God wanted me to be involved in some way.
About a month or so after watching Courageous I was searching for domain names for some projects I was thinking about putting together. The name “ChristianFilmGuide.com” popped into my head. The domain was available, and right away my mind began racing with opportunities and possibilities. I bought it not quite sure what I would use it for, but I knew I had to have it. A few weeks later ChristianFilmGuide.com was launched – my hope was to build a website dedicated to the Christian film scene that would eventually make it into printed format. Since August 2012, my daughter, Leah, and I have worked hard to add Christian faith-based movies to both the website and book.
Tell us a little about the site.
ChristianFilmGuide.com lists Christian movies, documentaries, TV-shows, miniseries’, and children’s titles. It’s an ongoing work, because although we currently have over 2,000 titles listed, there are still many titles yet to add. Each film we list has an info section where we include the writers, directors, and a synopsis, amongst other info. And we always try to include the official movie trailer if at all possible. Other sections include new and upcoming releases, and I also review many of the films listed, as and when I can.
How do you decide what to include on the site?
The criteria for a film to be listed on CFG is that it includes either a Christian worldview, be about prominent or noteworthy Christians in history, based on Biblical texts, or that they are produced by Christians. I have also listed a few films that are highly allegorical/metaphorical as well as some that are morally sound and family friendly. About 95% of the films listed on CFG are what you would typically call a “Christian film”, while the remaining 5% are secular movies with some faith-based elements in them.
How do you select movies to review?
My goal is to watch and review as many Christian films as possible. Most of the films I have reviewed recently had been sent to me by the studio and filmmakers that produced them. Right now I have a huge pile of films to review, with more on the way. I use the age old tried and tested method of first in, first reviewed… although some of the movies that come through make it to the front of the cue if they are needing to be reviewed in a timely manner i.e. before cinema release.
What are the criteria that you look for when reviewing movies?
As a movie loving Christian who’s a father I mainly look at the three things I would personally like to know before watching a movie.
- The production quality. This includes acting, music, screenplay, direction, cinematography, sound, picture, and so on. I look at this because many people simply cannot get past a shoddy production regardless of how great the message might be.
- The message. Does the film have a solid Christian message? Or is the message more allegorical? You’d be surprised at how many so-called Christian films have little or no message while some secular movies have amazing stories of faith and grace.
- Content. Does the film contain violence, sex, bad language, or drink/drugs? And if so, how much? Many people, especially parents, are interested to know these things before they watch a film.
Tell us about Christian Film Guide, the book.
Right from the beginning, a book version of CFG was one of my main goals. While the website is a great resource, you have to have an electronic gadget of some kind to view it. The book on the other hand is handy to have – you can read it anywhere, keep it on your coffee table for guests to see and browse through, circle the movies you want to watch, give it as a gift to someone you know who is a movie lover, etc. Even though the website tends to have more information on each movie, many of them including a trailer, the book in many ways is handier than the website. The book lists over 1,250 movies and documentaries, and is a great reference guide.
I would appreciate the prayers of your readers. It’s tough stepping out in faith and starting something new. The support we have received in this first year has been overwhelming, so thank you to everyone who has stood by us to make CFG what it is today. The book is now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my journey with your readers.
I would like to offer your readers 20% off the cover price of the book. Please tell them to visit https://www.createspace.com/4331911 and use the following coupon code: KL2RC62E”