I was invited to a series of meetings with a film producer and screenwriter who create faith-based movies. They wanted another set of eyes on their project. In our conversation about the movie script, I asked a question. “Why do some actors in faith-based movies have an English accent and not an accent true to the geography and cultural context depicted in the film?” The answer was something I had never considered. Those in charge of casting got their actors from British talent agencies because they were cheaper to hire than U.S based agencies.
This is not a slam against English-accented actors. It is about cultural relevancy and authenticity. It is an illustration of why some projects like faith-based movies have a hard time gaining credibility with an audience beyond those already convinced of the message being depicted on the screen.
Whenever a follower of Christ is unwilling to speak the truth in love, they can come across sounding like someone speaking Elizabethan English who was cast to portray Jesus in a historic Mediterranean context. The cinematography might be great, but the message is out of sync with reality.
Casting actors on a limited budget and allowing that limitation to affect the movie’s credibility resembles some aspects of a life of faith. It will always cost us more in relational currency to speak the truth to people. There is a positive aspect in these challenging encounters. If we speak the truth, those hearing our words will trust what we say because our words will carry the sound of authenticity. The authenticity of truth can disrupt a person’s emotional cart and their current understanding of reality, but in the end, those who hear the unvarnished truth will be able to trust what we say because our words were true and lined up with the text of God’s script for their lives.