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A Tough Audience

Michael Landon Jr. on making movies for Christians.
2007This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Unlike his famous father, Michael Landon Jr. stays mostly behind the camera, directing films like The Last Sin Eater and the first four editions of the Love Comes Softly series—all unabashedly "chick flicks." Landon, 42, says making movies for a faith-based audience can be a challenge.

You like making chick flicks?

Oh, yeah! That's my world. Because of my dad, I grew up with this genre of courting the female audience in hopes that the male audience will join in.

What do you make of Hollywood's courting of the faith-based market?

Some people are sincere about it, and some just see the dollar at the end of the tunnel. I think it'll be like any other genre—you'll have good movies and bad movies.

Some are concerned about a "Christian ghetto" of movies that preach to the choir but lack wide appeal and great storytelling.

We make movies with universal themes—like redemption, forgiveness, unconditional love. But every movie has a worldview. For me as a Christian, Jesus didn't give us any fudge room on that particular aspect. Just because a story is "exclusive" in its truth, I don't think that ghetto-izes it.

Christians want truth in movies, but not always the depiction of reality.

Yes. With a Christian audience, sometimes there is hypocrisy. The same people who will see a secular PG-13 or R-rated movie have a different standard if there is violence or sexuality or bad language in a Christian film. I don't get that. How is anybody going to tell a really good urban story if these kids from the streets are saying, "Oh, gosh darn!"? Sometimes I think how cool it would be not to be a Christian and have no boundaries to telling a story. But that will never work with me. Never.

Mark Moring, CT online editor of music and film.

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