A Tough Audience

Michael Landon Jr., director of The Last Sin Eater and four Love Comes Softly films, discusses the challenges of making movies for Christians—who can be a fickle audience.

Michael Landon Jr. is a chip off the old block in more ways than one.

Like his dad—star of Little House on the Prairie—the younger Landon, a director, likes telling stories from the old days, particularly the 19th century, and particularly about frontier life. Look no further than his four films in the Love Comes Softly series, based on the popular historical novels by Christian author Janette Oke.

The movies have been hugely popular on The Hallmark Channel, where they all originally aired, and have been among the best-selling DVDs in the Christian market.

Unabashed chick flicks, the Love Comes Softly movies are most popular with women—yet another way Landon is like his father, who died of cancer in 1991. Women adored the elder Landon, and they love the younger too—though Junior's work is all from behind the camera, while his father's work was mostly in front of it.

Hallmark is committed to all eight films in the series (the fifth, Love's Unending Legacy, will air in June), but Landon bowed out after No. 4, Love's Abiding Joy, because of creative differences with the production company.

So Landon broke away and, with an old friend, formed his own production company, Believe Pictures. Their first film, The Last Sin Eater, made with FoxFaith, had a brief theatrical run in February, and releases to DVD today.

We talked to Landon, 42, about the Love series, about The Last Sin Eater and his upcoming film, Saving Sarah, and about the whole notion of what it means to make films for a "Christian audience," which Landon says can be quite a challenge.

Why did you quit making the Love Comes Softly movies?

Michael Landon Jr.: The company behind those movies—Larry Levinson Productions, who makes all of Hallmark ...

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