Faith-based films gaining foothold in Hollywood

theGRIO REPORT - At its forefront is 33-year-old DeVon Franklin, who is vice president of production for Columbia Pictures (a division of Sony)...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

A film genre is currently taking over Hollywood. It’s known as faith based-films.

At its forefront is 33-year-old DeVon Franklin, who is vice president of production for Columbia Pictures (a division of Sony).

With more than a decade of experience in the film industry, Franklin has helped create films with religious undercurrents, such as The Pursuit of Happyness and most recently, Jumping the Broom — one of his greatest successes.

theGrio: How Christianity lords over black romantic comedies

Jumping the Broom was a great experience,” he said. “It was bigger than a movie it was a movement. In recent years, there have been fewer films in the African-American market and fewer writers, and this film turned that. It was film that made a value contribution to a rich legacy.”

According to Franklin, the faith-based film genre came from his wanting to create movies that would inspire audiences: “I have always wanted to create movies that really allow people to see themselves on screen. Movies that give people a sense of hope and purpose.”

Indeed, Franklin said he believes that faith-based films are necessary and helpful to audiences given every person’s daily struggles.

“I feel like we all go through struggles,” he said. “My hope is that audiences will be able to see films like these and that they will be encouraged to keep going on and keep fighting. I hope they will definitely see a change in their circumstances.”

Yet Franklin is not only pushing the idea of faith throughout his films, he is also preaching it as an ordained Seventh Day Adventist Minister and writing it in his book debut, Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success Without Losing Your True Self.While many people may be uncomfortable to embrace their religious beliefs in their work, Franklin is not shy to do so.

Franklin expressed he wanted to write a book that would encourage people who are struggling with their faith and have anxieties move forward to the next level in their careers.

“The many concerns and questions people generated about life motivated me in writing the book,” he emphasized. “I have been blessed with a multitude of experiences in my own life and my own career. It is always advisable to get career advice. I really wanted to help people and provide a manual for having a more rewarding career and life.”

Franklin said, he hoped generating a faith-based genre within his book, his movies, and his daily life would encourage others to have faith in their life journeys’: “Everything is a process. A lot of times people want to rush through the process. However, the process is there to make sure that we don’t rush through our success.

From his own career experiences, Franklin said his advice to anyone pursuing their dreams is to continue to work on your dreams, and allow them to come into fruition.”

Franklin’s mission and work ethic is not only capturing the attention of audiences through his work, but it is also capturing the attention and respect of many entertainers.

Will Smith, who once had Franklin as a intern said, is quoted on the back of Franklin’s book saying, “In the fifteen years I’ve known DeVon, he’s lived his life the same way he makes his movies: with commitment, humility, and a work ethic that demands respect. I’m honored to have been a part of his journey from stellar intern to studio vice president — his story is one to be shared with anyone chasing a dream.”

Tyler Perry, who has also been generating faith -based films into Hollywood, has shared his admiration of Franklin’s work.

“Holding on to one’s faith while pursuing a dream, especially in the entertainment business, is no small feat. DeVon demonstrates this possibility beautifully and without compromise,” Perry said. “The themes of DeVon’s book are great examples of how to pursue any career, not just within the movie business, and stay true to God.”

Although Franklin has yet to work with Perry on films, he hopes to do so in the future.

“We keep trying to do something together,” Franklin said. “I am confident that we will find the right project to do soon. I have the utmost respect for Tyler and for what he is doing in the business.”

As for other upcoming faith-based films, Franklin said there are plans of crafting bestselling book Heaven Is for Real, A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, into a film. He hopes this film genre will continue to grow, expand, and continue to make higher quality films bigger than in present time.

“I hope that the industry will stay vibrant and will be a voice for others,” Franklin said. “I believe we will continue to thrive and meet the challenges that we are facing now. Twenty years from now we will still be the industry that the world looks to for a laugh or hope…”