As I’ve been working on improving the screenplay for my animated short film, I’ve had an unsettling thought:
Am I writing for the wrong reason?
One of the emotions I felt as I re-read my screenplay was anger: Anger that movies like God’s Not Dead 1 and 2 — movies that give Christians and non-Christians a bad name — exist.
One of the reasons I started writing a screenplay is because I wanted to counter what I saw as mediocre (at best) and dangerous (at worst) writing by fellow Christians.
I wanted to (implicitly) say to my fellow Christians, “This is how it’s done!”
I know that I don’t know “how it’s done” — I know that my writing will always need improvement (I believe writing is never a skill that one masters: just constantly improves upon)…
…and, thus, my writing isn’t going to make as big a splash in the Christian movie community as I hope it would.
But: I still felt it was important to try anyway.
I had gotten to a point in my life where I thought It’s no longer enough that I criticize art. I have to make art, too. I believe it’s better to create something than to tear something down.
One of my inspirations for my screenplay was Kate Marsh from Life is Strange, a character who is bullied for her Christian faith.
Every fan of Life is Strange that I’ve come across loves Kate. And, it’s inevitable that not all of these fans are Christians themselves.
So, that made me think: Why do people love Kate?
Well, some possible answers are (contains SPOILERS):
1. Kate is relateable.
The bullying reaches a point where, desperate for an escape, Kate considers killing herself. More than one person I’ve run across mentions how they know how Kate feels because they themselves once considered suicide.
2. Kate doesn’t force her faith on others.
Everyone knows Kate is religious, but Kate doesn’t proselytize. It is her actions, not her words, that inspire people to better themselves.
3. Kate struggles.
Kate is under pressure from her family to be the very best Christian, and very best student, ever. She wants to succeed, and live out her faith, but she worries that she won’t meet her family’s high standards. As a result, there is a gulf between her and her parents — a gulf that is lessened by the more positive relationship that Kate has with her 2 sisters.
4. Kate is hard-working.
Kate is the kind of student that other students aspire to be. She has a good relationship with her teachers and constantly passes her assignments.
With my screenplay, my goal is to portray a character who is religious in a non-preachy way — to take the reader (and eventually, hopefully, the viewer) on a journey, not hit them over the head with a message.