Friday Five Interview: Dallas Jenkins
Dallas Jenkins produced the $2 million independent “Hometown Legend” at the age of 25, ultimately guiding it to Warner Brothers for distribution. Dallas made his directing debut with the short film “Cliché,” which “FilmThreat.com” called “Fast and funny…ingenious,” and his next short film, “Midnight Clear“, starring Stephen Baldwin, won a Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival and was the opening night selection of the San Diego Film Festival.
In 2006, he was the Co-Executive Producer of “Though None Go With Me,” a movie based on his father’s book that aired on The Hallmark Channel. His feature directing debut, also called “Midnight Clear,” was based on his short film and was featured in over a dozen film festivals, including winning the Cinequest Film Festival award for “Best First Feature” and the “Audience Choice” award at the Kansas Int’l Film Festival. It’s currently available on DVD from Lionsgate.
In 2009, Dallas directed his 2nd feature film, entitled “What If…,” starring Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, John Ratzenberger, and Debby Ryan. The film is available. Dallas recently accepted a position as Director of Visual Media at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, where he’ll produce and direct multiple films starting in 2011.
1) Dallas has film making always been a passion of yours? How and when did you get involved and sense God’s call to do this work?
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” As I got into junior high and high school, I noticed that the church was cursing the darkness of Hollywood a lot and not lighting too many candles. I felt like if Christians could make movies that inspired the kind of emotion I felt when watching films, but with our message, we could really make an impact.
2) Christians have been involved in movie-making for a long time, but do you think this is the golden era of Christian movie-making? And why is that?
There’s never been a time where Hollywood had this much interest in faith-based films; they’re not only open to them, they’re actively seeking them out. I don’t know if it’s the golden era in terms of content and quality, but it’s certainly a great era of interest and availability.
3) We’ve all grown up with what we could call well-meaning, but maybe poorly produced Christian films. But companies like yours and others are really stressing Hollywood-quality production. Why is it so important to do this art well? >
Well, I believe God calls us to do our best. Additionally, we serve the Creator, so certainly we can access the creative spirit from the One we serve and worship. Centuries ago, the greatest artists in the world–Michelangelo, Handel, etc., were doing their art as an act of worship. We seem to have lost that.
4) I’m sure you’re inundated with scripts, so you have to carefully weigh which films you make. How do you choose your stories?
We unfortunately can’t read scripts, we’d just get too many. We have to think about it on a project by project basis; what kind of film am I looking for, what story am I wanting to tell? Sometimes it’s a book or true story or simply an idea. And then we usually bring someone on to execute that vision.
5) You’re a second-generation Christian, growing up with a pretty famous father, bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins. Many Christians fall away from their parent’s faith, but you didn’t. Why didn’t you and what message would you give to 2nd Generation believers to keep their faith fresh?
I just never felt the need to rebel. If I ever disagree with my parents or believe something different than they do, it’s for legitimate reasons, not just that I want to disagree or push back or rebel for the sake of it. I’d just advise 2nd Generation believers not to base their belief and faith, or lack thereof, on some sort of external desire to prove something, either right or wrong. The notion that there’s a God who created us and has a plan for us isn’t a crazy notion; stick with that until proven otherwise, not the other way around!