How “Grace Unplugged” Director Brad Silverman Engages the Culture
Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
- 2013 Oct 01
One of my passions is to encourage believers to engage the culture with a Christ-like spirit. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, you can bless the people around you when you’re open to letting God use you in your sphere of influence.
Brad Silverman is one of those Christians who “gets” that. He’s a writer and director of movies. Some may consider Silverman to be something of an anomaly in Hollywood, but he is faithful to that calling.
You may have seen the ads for Silverman’s latest movie, “Grace Unplugged,” while surfing online. In the film, Grace, a talented young musician on her church’s worship team, feels like her father is stifling her talents and voice. When she sees an opportunity to get “discovered” by a big-time manager, she takes it – even though she has to go behind her parents’ backs to do it.
A colleague recently had the opportunity to chat with Silverman about his movie, his faith and how he sees his role in Hollywood. Below is part of that conversation:
Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you came to faith?
I grew up in Jewish family in Los Angeles, and while in college I found my niche in the in the film and television world.
I eventually actually got a role as an actor, playing a Christian missionary. As a Jewish guy, I thought it was so cool. It was actually an anti-Christian piece, in retrospect, but they wanted my character to be very real. So I met with a friend of mine who was solid believer and told him, “You have to help me with this script, you have to help me understand this stuff!”
Years later he shared with me, “Brad, we had been praying for you like crazy for years, and here you come to me and ask me to explain Christianity, to explain the details, saying ‘I want to know everything!’”
The seed was firmly planted. To this day, I have a very big place in my heart for evangelism within the film industry. So many see Hollywood, the film and television industry as evil… but I basically grew up there. I see individual sinners who need the grace of Christ like I do.
That’s so great to hear that you use your place in Hollywood to engage the culture.
We’re called to engage the culture. Did not Jesus interact with “the least of these” and those who the Pharisees looked down upon?
After I got saved in my mid-20s, I walked away from industry for about eight or nine years. I was taking steps towards going into full-time youth ministry, but when fell through and I thought perhaps I wasn’t called to be a full-time vocational pastor. Then the Lord just combined my passion of ministry with my background in film making.
Soon doors started to gradually open… and then they flung open. He has opened up crazy opportunities for me to make films in Los Angeles, in the Hollywood system if you will, but everyone knows exactly who I am and exactly where I stand and the lines I won’t cross.
I joyfully and gladly make movies and hopefully will continue to speak into the culture.
When I first heard about the premise of “Grace Unplugged,” I thought it was mainly a movie for younger people. After watching it, I think there’s a lot in it for moms and dads, too. Can you tell me a little about that?
That’s a really good observation. While it’s first and foremost a coming-of-age story of an 18-year-old girl trying to wrestle with making the transition from child to adulthood, certainly the heart behind film is every bit as much about the parents.
But during Grace’s journey, you have the parents – and I’m a dad myself to four kids – who have expectations. I also have expectations and hopes for my children. I have dreams for my children. My kids aren’t 18 yet – my oldest is 14 – but who knows? They may not one day line up with what they want to do.
So we felt it was really critical to be honest and show the flaws and faults and struggles of the parents, in particular the dad, as they’re trying to wrestle with their own faith and trusting that God has a plan for their own child —and that it might not be the parents’ plan.
So yes, I absolutely see this film as much for the parents as for young people.
Brad, you and your wife work with teens in your church, and Grace Unplugged really captures well that season in life when a young person needs to make their faith their own, instead of just inheriting it. Did your involvement with teens inform your writing and directing of this film?
Oh, 100 percent. My wife and I have had involvement with the youth in our church for well over a decade. We’ve spent hours with young people through their teen years and adult years, so absolutely that informed everything.
In fact, there were very specific people and families and dads and daughters and moms and sons that I would think about while writing the script in particular, as well as and directing it. This was born out of a few very, very, very specific episodes in our dearest friends’ lives.
I am so encouraged to hear so many people who are resonating with the film. They see it as a tool God can use to impact the culture and I’m excited. If God sees fit to do that, I’m praising him all the more.
Beyond that, and much more personal to me, I hope that this film generates honest, transparent conversation among families. I hope they can talk about their vulnerabilities with honesty. I hope this movie causes conversations to happen within families so we don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not. Let’s be super honest and examine ourselves about where we are in the faith and where we are in relationships with each other.
To watch the clip on a mobile device, click here.
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