Major Hollywood Player Is a Christian
- Thursday, February 10, 2005
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Movie producer Hunt Lowry is responsible for bringing such diverse films as "A Walk to Remember," "White Oleander" and "The Last of the Mohicans" to the motion picture screen.
During a recent interview, I discovered that Mr. Lowry is also a Christian and weekly churchgoer. What's more, looking over his body of work, which includes "A Cinderella Story" with Hilary Duff, "First Knight" with Sean Connery and "Only The Lonely" with John Candy, it becomes apparent that the majority of his work examines family relationships or contains a moral message. In the case of "A Walk to Remember," he did something unique in Hollywoodland: He dramatized a teen story with a Christian as the film's central figure.
"I look for a good story, good relationships and a positive message. It needs a message of growth, of triumph, of good winning out," Lowry said.
"With 'A Walk to Remember,' we were able to include religious overtones. I loved the fact that it was a teen drama. There's lots of teen comedies, but people were saying teens won't go to a drama about a girl who dies. But it turned out to be a great success," he added.
Lowry went to Los Angeles in 1976 from Oklahoma City, a pre-med student taking a break. After helping his brother on an American Film Institute project, he quickly became a former pre-med student.
"I just fell in love with the filmmaking process," Lowry, now 50, said. "I knew right away that I wanted to be a producer. I think it was because I wanted to be involved in all the elements of the film process. I like putting things together. And that's what a producer does."
Asked why the motion picture industry as a whole seems to ignore the Christian community, Lowry was stymied.
"I grew up going to church every Sunday and still do, now with my kids and my wife. More people go to church every Sunday than go to movies. Faith and religion will always be a huge part of this country. Yet the industry's recent past has been less than receptive to the likes and dislikes of people of faith. But I think studio heads are once again beginning to market to Christians thanks to the success of contemporary Christian music and the success of films like 'The Passion of the Christ' and 'A Walk to Remember,'" he said.
As many readers are well aware, I am angered with the constant misuse of God's name in movies. Despite the third commandment, which makes no dispensation for storytellers, profanity can be found in nearly every film no matter the intended audience or movie genre. Lowry shares my frustration.
"Sadly, profanity has become a casual thing. And it's not a casual thing. When we preview our movies that have profanity, it's the main complaint we receive. It's a bigger complaint than most filmmakers realize.
"Profanity gets adlibbed a lot," he said. "But if you've heard profanity in any of my films, I can guarantee that there was a lot more in the rough cut."
The CEO/president of Gaylord Films and its specialty division, Pandora, Lowry is determined to continue bringing family pictures to the local Cineplex. Two films are scheduled for release. "Dreamer," financed by DreamWorks, is a family version of "Seabiscuit."
"It's the story of a family down on its luck, each member hurting in his or her own way. They are united by this horse that appears to have a healing effect on the family. It's about never giving up. About believing not only in yourself, but also in your family," he said.
"Dreamer" comes to theaters this spring, starring Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson. "Duma," another family-themed picture, will be released March 4.
"Again, 'Duma' is a family drama, one with environmental overtones, about a boy returning his pet cheetah to the wilds," Lowry said. "The message concerns the importance of family. Like faith, all you have to do is open your arms and your soul to the love of family, and it's there."
I've seen 'Duma,' a PG film offering life lessons, a well-constructed story, and cinematography that becomes a character unto itself. (There are some absolutely breathtaking shots of the wilds of South Africa.) I found it to be a great outdoor adventure for the entire family.
Pray for Hunt Lowry and other moviemakers who realize their responsibility to audiences and are intent on making films that nourish and uplift. They're a rare breed.
© 2005 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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