This isn’t music, but something needs to be said.

I’m not even sure where to start with this clip.

I go to Patrick Henry College and I had heard that they were making some type of film on campus during the summer.

I had forgotten all about this movie until one of my friends stuck the trailer in my face yesterday.

First I laughed.
Then I got mad.
Then I laughed again.

I laughed because the plot-line seemed so incredibly contrived and artificial. I’m still not entirely sure what would make someone think that the story of a moot court competitor trying to win the national tournament while falling in love/courting his partner and resisting the temptations of his liberal mother would actually have any real artistic value outside of pure novelty.

It reminds me of one of those Billy Graham movies that they used to put out about once a year, you remember, “The Ride,” “The Climb,” “The Acid Trip.”

Those films would always be this slightly engaging yet insipidly moralistic movie where at the end of the day, good beat evil, the boy gets the girl (or at least her hand) and the altar call was tearfully accepted. In the grand scheme of things there was little redeeming value for these movies outside the realms of Christian exclusionary “culture.” It’s not that people hate the Christian message; they just hate having it driven down their throats in a sadistically brutish and crude fashion. With classic lines like, “Do the right thing,” and “Ok team, are we ready to dismantle Roe v. Wade?” Advent Film Group seemed to be the proud continuers of the Billy Graham tradition of innovative artistic excellence.

This is about the time I got mad, because while people have all the right in the world to make boring unimaginative art, I don’t want to be attached to their productions. If it wasn’t bad enough that the film was set at Patrick Henry College, Advent Film Group never ceases to take every opportunity to talk about utilizing home schoolers and a working relationship with PHC. This isn’t the type of work that I want representing my college, my educational choice or even my faith. AFG claims:

“We don’t want poor-quality movies that evangelize to Christians because nobody else can tolerate them. We want to make authentic movies about Christians facing tough moral, real-life issues; imperfect people who happen to hold a Christian worldview.”

But unless this trailer is the most deceiving misrepresentation of the films actual content, that’s exactly what this film is, a poor-quality (at least content wise) movie, only digestible by culture starved Christians and Mystery Science Theater 3000 enthusiasts.

If Christians want to change culture, or at least make an impact in culture, they have to actually create meaningful, imaginative and beautiful art which can contribute to the culture around them.
Come What May, unfortunately, will serve as little more as safe viewing material for Friday night youth group meetings and a laugh track for anyone with half an appreciation for true beautiful art.

Advent Film Group has big plans and some lofty goals (see this video), but until they learn to write something substantive, these productions will be little more than Heartsong romance novels for the small screen.

About The Author

Nathan Martin

0 Responses to Advent Film Group’s “Come What May”

  1. micah towery says:

    here’s one thing i have been thinking about…and really, it’s something i’m guilty of myself, so i’m going to refrain from judgment as much as possible…

    but i think the whole art from “people who happen to be christians” is sort of bugging me. i definitely appreciate the sense in which christian artists (or artists who happen to be christians) are trying to avoid separating themselves from other artists, while acknowledging that their worldview is important to them as artists, BUT if we really are transformed as christians, our art will be separate in some ways. so the question is, if we are separate, in the world, but not OF the world…how do we make art that follows the same rule: in the world, but not OF the world.

    i haven’t seen the movie yet (and i’m judging completely by the trailer and what i’ve read on the movie website, so take my opinion with a grain of salt), in many ways, this whole movie is definitively counter-culture (and there is certainly a place for that). in some sense, defining itself by culture by refusing to be defined by culture…i.e., its negation of culture is a inverse acknowledgment and, if the film is bad enough, endorsement of those values.

    it IS possible to be a christian artist that is accepted by culture at large. the paintings of caravaggio and rembrandt, and music of bach, who all engaged christianity and art equally…not as if they were contrary items, but on the same continuum.

    it is possible to do. as i work on my mfa, i find myself writing about faith a lot and bringing it to workshop. the others in the workshop, who do not share my beliefs at all generally, are effected by it, and are able to engage it on the same level as any other piece of art. it’s possible to do, and do well.

    i don’t see it being done well by these people. at least not in this trailer. i hope i’m wrong, that this trailer was just a colossal accident, but i’m afraid it isn’t.

    anyways, we must be charitable. there have been many times i’ve made very bad art. of course, i didn’t have a 100,000 dollar budget to do it with…

    ANYWAYS, i don’t know if i have a final point in all this. i’m definitely conflicted about this film…wanting it to work in so many ways…at least as a GOOD film. if only because there’s so much BAD film out there. and if it has a worldview that i’m sympathetic with, then all the better. but the fact of the matter is, all good art is honest…that’s what makes it good. and even a film with a worldview i don’t agree with (if it can be boiled down so simplistically—maybe that’s the problem) is honest about life…even if it concludes things i don’t agree with…in good art, the deck isn’t rigged so that everyone who watches it comes to the same conclusion, you know? which is, i think, the assumption that people who are making this film come up with. and that they can do the same, only with the opposite effect.

    anyways, i’m rambling now…that’s all.

  2. As the director of “Come What May” and founder of Advent Film Group, I am deeply affected by Mr. Martin’s comments. I take them to heart not because they express a negative view of the film or question our goals as a Christian film production company. He is definitely entitled to those views. We welcome all comments, positive and negative. My concern is that the criticism of content is based on a pre-disposed set of assumptions and comparisons versus the material facts of the movie’s content.

    I would genuinely like to learn more about Mr. Martin’s specific concerns because we approached the making of the movie in the critical fashion he is raising, as follows:

    1. Develop a central character (Caleb) who is in conflict with his old beliefs, which was formed from a previously strong relationship with a secular mentor, his mother. Now Caleb must adjust to a new Christian worldview as he attends PHC. What specifically is wrong with this setup? Isn’t this what drama is all about? A battle of worldviews in the midst of a college and home setting seems a natural backdrop for conflict.

    2. As a homeschooling father involved in NCFCA speech and debate for over 5 years, I have observed a natural penchant/tendency among debate partners of the opposite sex to become very close emotionally. Rachel is guarding against this possibility, which creates natural relational conflict. Again, is there anything wrong with this additional dramatic tension in the story? The so-called romance is in fact avoided.

    3. Good drama (Lajos Egres’s “Art of Dramatic Writing”) dictates that the “want” of the main character (to win the national moot court championship) must be in tension against the character’s actual “need” (to learn to do what’s right, no matter the cost). Please let us know other “want” vs. “need” contentions you think would be more effective. The majority of films have used the one we chose. Perhaps that familiarity is a fault we should seek to avoid in future films.

    4. We wanted to ensure that one of PHC’s major precepts for “living out one’s faith” provided the actual spine of the story. It is in fact stated by Dr. Mike Farris when he tells Caleb: “I’m training you to make the right decision every time you have a choice between right and wrong. Living by Christian principle, living by God’s righteousness, that’ll guide your whole life.” If we are wrong about this with respect to PHC, please tell us why, and what you would like to substitute instead. (Please note that many popular movies all state their moral message in a similar fashion: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Casablanca,” “Cinderella Man,” even the recent “Rocky Balboa.” Because this movie is inherently in a Christian setting (PHC is a Christian college), did you want us to avoid using the words “Christian principle” or “God’s righteousness” as part of the moral? If we do, please tell us the proper words to substitute.

    It was our genuine prayer and intent to capture the spirit of the school, its students, and the aspirations of the parents who have sent their son or daughter there. There were a dozen PHC students involved in the making of this film, plus another dozen staff and faculty. We sought input from a diverse group and attempted to make a good film for a specific audience (yes, Christians first). Our model in scope and scale was “Facing The Giants.”

    As AFG seeks to train young Christian filmmakers using micro-budget filmmaking techniques and budgets, we believe our students must first learn to communicate to the audience it knows. Later, we will seek a wider audience. Changing the culture will take incremental steps. We have begun a small step. At the same time, we cannot begin by denying the existence of Christ in the lives of the characters in our movie, especially at an overtly Christian college, like PHC.

    I welcome an honest and open dialogue.

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