Are you sick of being on defense? Would you like to do something proactive for a change? We have seen the power of film in our culture. We have seen the effectiveness of grass-roots activism. I have an idea: why not combine them?
The Christian market is starving for movies with godly content – especially those that encourage, inspire and motivate to action. That is why I wrote my story, "True to Life – the Movie."
While it looks like a "romantic comedy," it's the true story about the passage of our nation's first ban on partial-birth abortion. But there's a twist that, yes, really happened.
My rival in the Ohio House was a proabortion state legislator who took over the committee to kill our bill. She was tough, smart and effective. What made things even more difficult was that I was dating her pro-life son – kind of like Ann Coulter dating the son of Nancy Pelosi.
We have every reason to believe that a well-made Christian movie with a strong pro-life theme will also perform well in the box office and in DVD sales. I watched "Facing the Giants" last night for the fifth time – a powerful film that honors God in every scene. It also made more than $10 million. "Fireproof" saved marriages around the country (even of people I know personally), and it brought in more than $33 million through the theaters and $25 million in DVD sales.
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"Bella," a pro-life film, brought in $10 million with its theatrical release and was in the top-10-grossing independent films of 2007. "Sarah's Choice," another pro-life film, with Rebecca St. James, was released last month and reportedly already made back more than half of its production cost, and I've been told it already sold 60,000 DVDs in less than one month after its release.
The good news is "True to Life" has already given a "thumbs up"; it came in fourth in the 2008 Kairos Prize screenplay contest out of more than 400 entries conducted by Movieguide's Ted Baehr. It was also given passing coverage by Larry Levinson's group for his Faith and Family television network.
Why does this story matter? Independent polls have already shown that the partial-birth-abortion ban shifts people in the pro-life direction by a minimum of 8 percent to 10 percent. I saw it when lobbying for the first bill, before anyone ever heard about it, when legislators – powerful people in leadership positions – broke down and cried in front of me. Other methods of abortion are also brutal, but this issue, unlike anything else, broke through to even those who called themselves "pro-choice." Rep. Mike Fox (whose character is in the movie) was just one of them.
The movie can act as a springboard for action in the 2010 elections. In addition to the critical congressional races, 32 states are working toward a "Personhood Amendment" on their state ballots (or legislatures). Wouldn't a theater be a great place to gather signatures and hand out ballot cards? Film plus activism would encourage the battle-weary while giving them specific action steps. It's not been done, but if people are willing to step up and help, it's going to be!
Here are two options:
Option 1: We make this film with a Hollywood director (who's already agreed to it). We pay quality actors and shoot it in film. The result: we have a first-class, professional pro-life film. The price tag for this is $2.3 million – but a small price considering the impact and earning potential.
Option 2: We follow the model of "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" and use mostly volunteers from Ohio who won't be needing hotel stays. We travel church to church, pro-life chapter to pro-life chapter, and recruit cast, crew, prayer support and food services. We shoot on videotape, and the price tag is cut by more than half.
What's your vote? Care to back it up with some resources? We've seen what the power of movies has done for marriage with "Fireproof." The goal: as "Fireproof" saved marriages, "True to Life" will save lives. It will also reinvigorate a battle-weary pro-life army and re-enlist their support in the 2010 elections and pro-life initiatives.
We've done ballot cards. We've hosted rallies, speeches and debates. But we have never motivated a pro-life army into action through film before. We now have a vehicle to get out the Gospel and pro-life message in a creative, fun and exciting new way while encouraging and empowering pro-lifers to stop the killing.
Here's a clip from a scene in the beginning of the film where a parental-consent amendment was passed in a rather unorthodox way:
"True to Life – the Movie"
INT. STATEHOUSE CHAMBER
REP. JIM JORDAN
Madam Speaker, move to amend.
There is a hush among the House members. Jim is recognized.
REP. JIM JORDAN
I move that this bill be amended to include a requirement for parents to give their consent prior to the performance of an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18.
REP. JOAN RECUS
This "parental consent" amendment is absolutely outrageous. There hasn't been a single hearing on this bill! And to suggest that a parent should have any say whatsoever over what their daughter does with her own body is a blatant violation of her rights!
REP. JIM JORDAN
You're against parental consent? You sponsored the bill requiring parents to consent before a child can get a tattoo. And now you're against parental consent before they can have an abortion? Isn't that just a little inconsistent?
Ron Hood looks up to Janet in the balcony and looks for her signal.
REP. RON HOOD
(mouthing in an exaggerated fashion) Nooowww???
INT. STATEHOUSE BALCONY – CONTINUOUS
(mouthing back, nodding) Nooowww.
INT. STATEHOUSE CHAMBER – CONTINUOUS
The colorful "Tattoo Flyers" listing legislators who voted for parental consent before a minor could get a tattoo (each with a temporary tattoo attached) are handed out to all the House members.
The atmosphere moves from hostility to levity. Legislators look around to see what tattoo their colleagues got, while others roll up their sleeves to put theirs on. All look for their name to see how they voted.
INT. STATEHOUSE BALCONY – CONTINUOUS
Janet's parents and staff look on in amazement. The vote is cast; and the board fills up with green "yes" votes.
Yes, that also really happened.
I'm sick of fighting defense – I say let's take back ground! If you agree, please e-mail me how you'd like to get involved; type "MOVIE" in the subject line.
Here are some video clips from the original sites of some scenes from the movie:
At the most critical time in our history, we can be ready. We can combine film – one of the most powerful tools – with a powerful message, "True to Life – the Movie," just in time for the 2010 elections. Too much is at stake not to do everything we can to change course of our nation; it may just be the tipping point to change history.