Producer hopes ‘Time Changer’ strikes chord with Christians
By Staff Reporter

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Armed with a meager $1 million budget, several familiar Hollywood names and a Christian plot, producers of “Time Changer” are hoping to demonstrate the entertainment muscle power of Christian films.

The film stars Gavin MacLeod (Love Boat), Hal Linden (Barney Miller), Jennifer O’Neill (Summer of ’42) and comedian/actor Paul Rodriguez. It’s produced by Christian filmmaker Rich Christiano, whose credits include “The Appointment” (1991), “Second Glance” (1993) and “End of the Harvest,” (1998).

Christiano said the movie targets the 80 million Christians living in the United States.

“I think we need to make sure we don’t forget about our core audience here,” Christiano said in a news release. “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.”

While the Christian themes are clearly portrayed on the screen, he said the movie can be used as an evangelistic tool to the unsaved.

“We aren’t trying to hide anything here, nor trying to be subtle with a hidden agenda,” he said. “However, at the same time, we have learned how to present truth so that it will not be a turnoff. 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.”

A look back
“Time Changer” is about a Russell Carlisle, a Bible professor (D. David Morin) from 1890 who writes a book about morals and seeks the endorsement of his colleagues. Another professor, Dr. Norris Anderson (MacLeod) has concerns with one of the premises in the book and sends Carlisle to the present time to find out what society looks like under his premise.

Christiano said MacLeod, a Christian, portrays his role with authority.

“I loved this script,” MacLeod said, this is the most important thing as far as significance that I have ever done.”

Castmate O’Neill is also a born-again believer.

“Jennifer O’Neill has put her faith into action in this film,” the producer said. “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.”

Christiano said he’s hoping to build on the legacy of other recent big-screen releases, including the 1999 “Omega Code,” which grossed $12 million. Earlier in October, Big Idea Productions released its first theatrical offering, “Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie.” The family film grossed nearly that much during the first two weeks of its opening.

Christian films, long the butt of jokes about poor quality and over-the-top scripts, have slowly garnered more respect as quality technology and scripting have brought them more in line with mainline films.

Ted Baehr, noted expert on the role of Christians in the movie industry, gave “Time Changers” two stars out of a possible four, though he called the movie exemplary on his Web site.

“Though the story sometimes lags in dramatic tension, Movieguide is excited about ‘Time Changer’ and this imaginative and courageous step into feature filmmaking,” the Web site said. “We pray that Rich Christiano, and all believers who are making these films, both learn of, and excel at, their craft.”

Published by Keener Communications Group, November 2002
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