MOVIES: Filmmaking debut from actress Erin Bethea

by Phil Boatwright, posted Monday, October 24, 2016 (one year ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- The further we Christians walk with Jesus, the less important the things of earth become. At least that's the way it should be as expressed in Colossians 3:2-3.

But like anyone else, we must deal with the toils of life on a daily basis. It's natural for us to seek moments of escape either through sports, long walks on the beach or through the woods, or even in movies. But are there movies we can still view? Yes.

Throughout the years, some -- mainly men -- have developed film companies catering to discerning Christians. Now there's a new family-friendly studio in town, this one co-founded by a woman.

Actress Erin Bethea (pronounced Beth-ay) of "Fireproof" fame heads Argentum Entertainment along with partner Drew Waters ("Friday Night Lights"). Argentum (Latin for "purified silver") is based in Los Angeles and was formed to make wholesome family entertainment for the big screen.

I became convinced of Bethea's desire to serve Christ through her profession as early as 2013 having interviewed her after she completed her role as a newly graduated missionary student in the film "This Is Our Time."

When I asked what it's like being a Christian in entertainment in today's sociopolitical climate, she expressed her excitement at God's timing.

Our society is so twisted right now, she said, but God has a funny sense of humor in that He has chosen this time for Christian media to take huge steps forward. More and more Christian films are being made, Bethea said, and there's a hunger these days for positive, spiritually enlightening forms of entertainment.

She is the daughter of Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. If that church sounds familiar, it's because that's where the concepts for "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" developed.

She is a committed performer, nowhere more so than in her latest film and the first offering from Argentum, "New Life." Portraying a character losing her hair to chemotherapy, Bethea actually shaves her head on screen. Now that's commitment!

Though not religiously themed, New Life is a moving story reminiscent of "Love Story," where the love of two people fated for each other is cut short by terminal cancer. But it's not morbid; rather, it offers hope even after enormous loss. "The most important thing about life is to live it" is the film's conclusion.

Opening in theaters Oct. 28, New Life also stars Jonathan Patrick Moore ("The L.A. Complex") and veteran actors Terry O'Quinn ("Hawaii Five-O") and Bill Cobbs ("Night at the Museum"). Drew Waters has already won the Best Director prize at the Love International Film Festival in Los Angeles for directing the film, his feature film directorial debut.

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Bethea co-wrote and produced New Life. In an interview, I asked her what her objectives are for Argentum Entertainment.

Bethea: I wasn't being offered roles that contained a positive message. So I thought, if I wasn't being offered them, maybe I could start making them myself.

Q: Do you have in mind just doing family-friendly pictures or will the productions contain faith-based themes?

Bethea: We're a little bit across the board. New Life, for example, is not an overtly faith-based film. But it's a good, clean, inspirational love story. Our next film is going to be more faith-based. And then we've got a crime drama. It's very John Grisham-y; but there will be no objectionable content, and there will be a redemptive message at the end. That's the thread that will run through all of our films.

My business partner, Drew Waters, comes from a very mainstream world of entertainment. And I was coming from the faith-based world. We both were asking the same question: "Why can't we incorporate the best of both worlds?"

Q: Is your partner a Christian?

Bethea: Yes, we both are. And we both believe that not all of our productions have to have an overt Christian message. They just have to be something that you can walk out of the theater and not have to use the phrase, "I really liked that movie, except for…"

You know, Phil, good stories are out there and they can be told without the need for the "except for" disclaimer. We want to tell those stories.

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It's a pleasure, I believe, for Christians to view a film with positive themes. New Life is a movie without objectionable language, and shows a romantic couple without depicting gratuitous sex. Bethea and her fellow Argentum team prove that a cinematic story with mature subject matter can be told without crudity. And told well.

Phil Boatwright, in addition to writing for Baptist Press, reviews films at http://moviereporter.com and is a regular contributor to "The World and Everything In It," a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group.
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