Notes from afar: Tim in Tinsletown

I feel like many Christians see Hollywood as a toxic waste dump that should be walled-off with bio-hazard signs.

Actually, maybe it is–the smog does appear particularly thick today as I look outside my eleventh floor apartment window in Los Angeles.

These Christians think that other believers should avoid contact with Hollywood at all costs. Its poisonous fumes serve only to hurt and destroy.

Other Christians may see Hollywood as not walled-off, but fenced-off with a “Keep Out” sign speaking directly to them. Maybe it’s not so much that the Church doesn’t want Christians in Hollywood as much as Hollywood doesn’t want Christians in Hollywood.

Both of these viewpoints hold some truth. There certainly are movies that promote a worldview or lifestyle contrary to what the Bible teaches, and Hollywood certainly holds some hostility for people who disagree with the movie industry.

But the Los Angeles Films Studies Center, a semester-long CCCU study away program, has a different view of Hollywood, believing that Christians can and should be involved in the entertainment industry.

As for the trash that pours out of Hollywood by the truckload, one of the LAFSC faculty members, in giving a devotional to the Fall 2006 class (of which I am a part), pointed out that God is the Creator of everything, which means He had a hand in even the filthiest of Hollywood’s filth. Somehow, even the trashiest art has to point back to God.

The LAFSC Theology in Hollywood course is designed to help students understand the Christian’s role in the art world and art’s role in the Christian’s responsibility to spread the Gospel.

As for the “Keep Out” sign to Christians, Hollywood is a difficult industry for anyone to be a part of.

Possibly the best way to get into Hollywood is to become an insider, developing connections and relationships with people already in Hollywood.

In addition to teaching students the basics of film production, the LAFSC places its students in internships at any of a number of production companies (some major ones) or other industry-related work places, depending on who is in need of interns and what the student is looking for.

Many LAFSC students plan on seeking a career in the entertainment industry, and in some cases these internships get students jobs after graduation.

It is still very early in the semester, so there is not an awful lot for me to report (I’m still waiting to hear about my own internship). However, during the week and a half of orientation, the LAFSC has worked hard to teach us at least one thing: humility.

There are two sides to this humility. First, nobody should come to Hollywood and expect to have immediate success. Fame and fortune come to a select few, and it usually takes a long time to come to those few.

It may take 10 years for a person to write a screenplay that a production company buys, and even then the movie may never be made.

Second, no Christian should come to Hollywood expecting to turn the entire industry around. A Christian may find himself only ever at the very early stages of a movie’s development, never given an opportunity to produce that extremely moral and redemptive movie he always wanted to make.

Still, even if a Christian is unable to connect to millions of people, she still comes in contact with some people, and if she works hard and loves those people she serves, they will notice, and they will wonder what (or who) makes this person different from other employees.

Tim Olshefski is a Senior majoring in English writing and minoring in philosophy and the former Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Waltonian.

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