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.11th, opening on as many as 500 selected screens across the country,
Five & Two Pictures and Christiano will unleash Time Changer, a time travel
adventure about a Bible Professor from the year 1890 who travels to present time.
Although Christian films have been around for years, few have reached a mainstream audience.
Most of these films are 30-60 minutes in length and have been marketed to church groups and
Christian individuals. Christiano has previously directed three films for the Christian marketplace:
The Appointment (1991) Second Glance (1993) and End of the Harvest (1998). Since 1994,
he has produced a weekly TV series for syndication called Family Theatre broadcasting the best
in Christian movies.
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. Millions of people worldwide have been influenced to follow
Christ as a result of watching Christian movies. The quality of the productions continues to increase
"and it's time this genre of film gets wider appeal and is 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, could have been more open for Christ.
"I think we need to make sure we don't forget about our core audience here," Christiano adds.
"It would be like making a martial arts film without putting any martial arts in it because we're
afraid of offending people who don't like martial arts. To me, Christian films should point to Christ
and I think it is important to note that just because a movie has Christian morals in it does not
necessarily make it a Christian movie. The devil is not against good morals,he is opposed to Christ
and this is an important distinction to understand."
Time Changer should not disappoint the core audience. "There are over 80 million people who
attend church each week in America and this movie is for them," Christiano states. "We want to
challenge these viewers in their spiritual thinking and 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. However, at the same time, we have learned 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."
Time Changer was made for less than a million and features the well-known actors Gavin MacLeod
(Love Boat),Hal Linden (Barney Miller), Jennifer O'Neill (Summer of '42) and comedian/actor
Paul Rodriguez. Christiano says his cast is very solid, and thinks 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 true professional."
Another surprise for the audience will be the performance and character played by Gavin MacLeod.
MacLeod, best known from his roles in the Mary Tyler Moore and The Love Boat TV series,
became a "born again" believer back in 1985. MacLeod plays Dr. Norris Anderson, a fellow Bible
Professor who has 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 first hand
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."
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. "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."
If Christians will support Time Changer, there could be many more quality projects that will
follow it including Christiano's next film Cosmic War, about UFO's and the Christian response to it.
In Theaters October 11, 2002