Filmmaker Russ Doughten is a study in contrasts. He helped produce the 1963 horror classic The Blob, but the 20 Christian films he has made since are virtually unknown to the unchurched. His four films about the end times—A Thief in the Night, Image of the Beast, A Distant Thunder, and The Prodigal Planet—are the most popular video rentals in Christian bookstores, according to the trade magazine Bookstore Journal.

Though his films have won 33 Christian awards, the 63-year-old Doughten has had neither time nor budget to make the type of movie that would attract secular audiences. His videos are in only a few hundred of the nation’s thousands of video rental outlets. He considers his competition to be the secular television, film, and video industry. “They are the ones who are getting the hearts and minds of people glued to the theater or television screen. I have to ask how I can do something that will get people’s attention. I have a responsibility to the Lord to make my films better than the world’s—if I can.”

Doughten’s last project was The Shepherd (1984), but he has not made a new film for six years. He hasn’t had enough money for even one of 35 new projects he would like to start. For example, he would like to make a film about the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relevance to the end times. And he would like to add a fifth to the four best-selling films listed above. But Armageddon would be far more complicated and very expensive because of special effects and production costs.

Major changes in the technology and economics of the film industry account for his inability to mount a new production—from scripting ideas to raising money and marketing films. And churches use fewer 16-mm films due to the growth of the video industry. ...

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