DAWN OF A NEW DAY FOR CHRISTIAN FILMS

For 16 years, Christian filmmaker Rich Christiano has waited for the opportunity to produce a theatrical film with a very open and challenging spiritual message for the Lord. The wait has ended. On Oct. 4th, opening on as many as 500 selected screens across the country, Christiano Film Group will unleash Time Changer, a time travel adventure about a Bible Professor from the year 1890 who travels to present time. Never before has the mass theater audience seen the likes of a film genre that Christiano plans to introduce.

Christian films have been around for years. Most of the films are 45-60 minutes in length and have been marketed to church groups and Christian individuals. Christiano has been one of the few successful Christian Producers still open for business having three top releases in the 1990's that continue to do well in the marketplace: The Appointment (1991) Second Glance (1993) and End of the Harvest (1998). He also has produced a weekly TV series for syndication called Family Theatre broadcasting the best in Christian movies that has aired continually since 1994.

According to Christiano, the most thought provoking films he has ever seen are the Christian movies. Often made fun of in the past because of their low budgets, Christian movies have been greatly used to impact people for the cause of Christ. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands have made commitments to follow Christ as a result of watching a Christian movie. The quality of the productions continues to increase "and it's high time this genre of film gets wider appeal and be taken a little more seriously," Christiano adds.

The recent Christian movie movement towards theaters started in 1999 with the release of The Omega Code. The film grossed nearly 12 million dollars and proved there was an audience for Christian movies in the theatrical marketplace. Christiano liked the production but was hoping for a more open message for the Lord in the film. Other movies have followed including Left Behind, based on the popular book series, but also, in Christiano's opinion, fell short of its message potential. Many other Christians voiced similar thoughts of disappointment with the lack of spiritual content in these releases. "There was very little spiritual substance in these films yet they were heavily promoted to Christians," Christiano states. "It's like making a martial arts film without putting any martial arts in it because we're re afraid of offending people who don't like martial arts."

Time Changer is different. First, Christiano is a Christian Film insider having been involved in production and distribution and the advancement of the Christian Movie industry since 1985 and his strategy towards his theatrical release is different. First and foremost, he wants to challenge and fire up Christian viewers with his films. "There are over 100 million people who attend church each week in America and this movie is for them, " Christiano states. "We want to challenge these people in their spiritual thinking. These people are already interested in spiritual matters and this film will give them some spiritual food to chew on. One guy told me that if we just promote this movie to Christians that only Christians would attend, we will be preaching to the choir. I told him that was okay because the choir isn't all saved!"

At the same time, Christiano feels his film can be used to attract non-believers to consider the claims of Christ and biblical Christianity. "We aren't trying to hide anything here," Christiano says, "nor trying to be subtle with a hidden agenda. This film is meant to challenge Billy Graham. However, at the same time, we have learned now how to present truth so that it will not be a turn off. I think the message is presented in an intelligent way to at least gain a hearing from those who see it and I am hoping the audience will respect that. "

Some good things have fallen for Christiano too. He has made arrangements for promotion on Christian TV that will greatly help his cause. He has made the movie for less than a million and was able to attract recognizable names to the project including Gavin MacLeod (Love Boat fame), Hal Linden (Barney Miller fame), Jennifer O'Neill (Summer of '42 fame) and comedian/actor Paul Rodriguez.

Christiano says his cast is very solid, and people are going to be surprised, especially with his relatively unknown lead, D. David Morin, who plays Russell Carlisle, the Bible Professor who travels forward in time. Christiano cannot say enough good things about Morin, a professional actor for 16 years, who a couple years ago re-committed his life to follow Christ. "Simply put," Christiano states, "viewers will not know David Morin when they walk into the theater, but they will when they walk out. He is an excellent actor and a real professional with Tom Hanks like appeal and ability. Hanks is good. Morin is good. Period. And Morin is great in Time Changer. His Russell Carlisle character could go down as one of the all time great characters in Christian films."

And Time Changer could be one of the most important Christian movies ever made. If The Omega Code opened the door to the theaters, Time Changer can knock them down. "Christians are a consumer group in this country, and a rather large one at that." Christiano adds. "This doesn't mean everyone claiming to be a Christian is born again but there is an interest in spiritual matters. A recent USA Today poll said that 61% of Americans feel that Religion is very important in their life."

Another surprise for the audience will be the performance and character played by Gavin MacLeod. MacLeod, best know from his roles in the popular TV series like Mary Tyler Moore and The Love Boat became a "born again" believer back in 1985. MacLeod plays Dr. Norris Anderson, a fellow Bible Professor who has a difficulty with a premise that Carlisle has written in a book he is wanting Anderson to endorse. Anderson sends Carlisle over 100 years into the future so he can see for himself where his premise will lead to. "I loved this script," MacLeod says, "this is the most important thing as far as significance that I have ever done." Christiano is quick to add that "Gavin is excellent. People will love him in this movie and his character is a man of authority. When Norris Anderson speaks, people will listen. The audience is going to really be surprised."

Christiano also has high praise for Jennifer O'Neill, also a Christian in real life, who plays a key role. "Jennifer O'Neill has put her faith into action in this film. She says some lines in this movie that very few actors would have said. She throws some darts of spiritual truth with sincerity and kindness but they still are darts."

Overall, Christiano is happy with the movie and hopes that Christians will support the film. He also strongly believes that theatrical Christian films can be here to stay. "We are now living in a much more diversified and dissected marketplace that allows many other ideas and concepts to exist," Christiano adds. "Twenty years ago, if you had said there would be a channel on television totally devoted to weather, you would have thought no way. But the Weather Channel exists and so can spiritually challenging movies in the theatrical marketplace. There is nothing like seeing a movie in the theater. It is a great setting that really impacts people. And this film affects every person on the planet with its message because all of us will die and face the Lord some day. This films presents answers to help people find their way out of this mess down here. If Christians will support it, there will be many more like it."

Christiano and some of his comrades have a supply of quality projects they want to bring to the big screen including Christiano's next film Cosmic War, about UFO's and the Christian response to it.

"I would like to get on a mountain top to shout a message to every Christian in this great land of ours," Christiano adds, "let's penetrate society by supporting something that is positive for Christ and offers some real answers to spiritual issues.


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TIME CHANGER
In Theaters October 4, 2002