We are doing a blog series on those in the PCC community who work in different facets of the entertainment industry about the advantages or obstacles they face as Christians in their field.
Paul Myers – Filmmaker
- Could you give us a quick bio of yourself and what you do in the arts/entertainment industry?
I graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Critical Studies from the School of Cinematic Arts in 2007. I’m an aspiring writer and filmmaker. I have worked the past six years predominantly as a production assistant on television commercials. I like to quip that we make the content everyone mutes and fast-forwards while watching their favorite programs.
- Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
I grew up with an admiration for cinema from an early age. A trip to the movieplex was a frequent and delightful pastime. It wasn’t until college that I considered filmmaking as a potential career though. I was a firm believer of the romantic notion “Find something you love to do & you won’t work a day in your life.” I love working in the film industry and I intend to continue forward on this path, but to imply it isn’t hard work would qualify as a deception, at least.
- How forward are you about your faith with others in the industry?
I am not shy about my faith (I am not a shy person in general), but I do try to be sensitive and discern when quality opportunities arrive to share my beliefs. Working in a field where I don’t tend to encounter many other Christians, I find it’s easy enough to sprinkle some seeds into the day-to-day: reading the “verse of the day” to my office colleagues or sneaking one into my email signature. I’ve had some great conversations with my colleagues who have approached me with queries about my faith because they’ve seen me reading my Bible during a break on set. Make no mistake, Iam not the John the Baptist of Hollywood, dispensing shooting schedules and scriptures with equal measure in my camel hair coat. Plenty of days I resemble every other worker bee in the hive. But, I cannot stress enough my goal each day is to love those I around me. If I can be loving, kind, patient, joyful, gentle and the rest of the “good fruit” to those I encounter, people will notice. Salt to the bland. Light in the darkness. Water to the thirsty.
- What are your biggest struggles as a Christian in your field?
The production world can be a spiritually dry and lonely place. People are motivated by every pursuit out there from wealth, fame, popularity, power, privilege, vanity, etc. While I readily admit these hollow treasures don’t make up my motives, I can appreciate the twinkling allure of each and how they suck people in. A culture of selfishness suffocates love. The two are incompatible. Personally, I am a proud man. How that pride swells from the approval of others. When I am not approaching my work (and life) from a Christ-focused humility, I catch myself once again unsustainably perched atop a pedestal I’m not meant to maintain. And, the fall stings every time. Thankfully, graceabounds.
- Is it risky to be labeled as a Christian in your field?
The Bible tells us that Christians will be persecuted. Not the most settling of God’s blanket promises. I have certainly been privy to the lambasting of “Christians” in conversation. But, I use quotations around the label because I find most “Christians” who come under criticism do so for the very un-Christ-like mantles they purport. If people don’t personally know someone who knows and follows Jesus, their opinions of Christians will be formed by those in the boldest news headlines and those with the loudest bullhorns. I find that when I’m able to delve into who Jesus really was and the love he espoused, industry folks are an understanding and open-minded people (to a pluralistic fault, perhaps). I am proud to tout the name of Jesus. Jesus was a rad dude. I like to remind myself that Jesus wasn’t persecuted by the lowly, unsavory company he sometimes kept – the outcast, downtrodden, unsaved folks he loved so completely, just like he loved the rest of them. The people who put Christ on the cross did so with blinding, misguided religious conviction. Being labeled a follower of Christ doesn’t worry me nearly as much as sullying the name of Christ does.
- Would you label your art “Christian?” If so, what does that mean to you? If not, why not?
I wouldn’t label my art as “Christian” for several reasons. Primarily, I am label-averse in general because I prefer to avoid the prejudicial assumptions labels tend to evoke. I hope my work explores the fascinating nuances of spiritual matters in unique and challenging ways. I personally have also never been much of a consumer of what I would refer to as Christian art. The Christian genres – be it music, film, literature, etc. – don’t tend to resonate with me in a means different or more substantial than what one might deem secular art. They usually resonate less, actually. I believe you cannot authentically represent this life or anything in it without an honest nod to its Creator. Whether art imitates life, informs it, distracts from, or some invariable combination, God’s fingerprints run rampant. The gospel is woven into our very existence. When I read Raymond Carver’s prose and watch Sam Mendes’ films and listen to Johnny Cash, I see God there in the midst of it all. Sometimes in the hopelessness of a life absent of Jesus. Oftentimes in the affirmation of the beauty God surrounds us in. God smiles and weeps. Whether a stunning vista, the warm embrace of an old friend, a hot cup of good coffee on a crisp morning, God lacks no creativity in bombarding us with reminders of his love and hope and plan for us. How divinely comforting.
- What advice would you give to Christians who aspire to do what you are doing?
I’m not sure I have advice unique to the film business. I’m still figuring it out myself. But in no specific order: know thyself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself about them. Be honest with others. Establish accountability. Be of unwavering integrity. Remember the advisement, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Finally, in all its simplistic perfection, remember our only obligation is to love God and love others. No matter one’s career, we Christians share the greatest occupation.