Sunday, August 14

Faith in the Land of Make-Believe by Lee Stanley

Film students, especially those attending a Christian university, often get asked what they want to do with their field of study.  “So do you have to go to Hollywood to get a job.”  Or they get ask, “Are you going to make Christian films, like Fireproof?”  This is partly what led me to pick up Lee Stanley’s book (Stanley produced Gridiron Gang)—I wanted to see how a Christian in Hollywood approaches their faith as well as hoping to get a different sort of look into Hollywood.

Before producing Gridiron Gang, Stanley primarily shot documentaries, many of them featuring juvenile delinquents.  After serving as a sort of guest-chaplain at juvenile detention camp he began to feel that God was calling him not only to minister to those serving time but to show the world that there is hope through these kids.  Having quite a stubborn side, Stanley was able to court approval to take some kids sailing and to eventually take a small film crew and make a documentary for television.

In Faith in the Land of Make-Believe Stanley tells of many of the struggles he had getting his documentaries filmed.  He also writes about the relationships he developed with some of the kids and the hopes he had for them.  He writes honestly, and I sensed that he truly did care about them.

From the title, I expected there to be a decent amount about his experience working in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, the title is rather misleading in this regarding.  There is a bit on the filming of the documentaries, though Stanley does not go in-depth.  He goes a bit more in-depth when talking about the process of preparing for Gridiron Gang, but even that was not as detailed as I expected.  Also, Stanley did not spend much time on what it was like being a Christian in Hollywood.  He talked about his faith quite a bit, but in the way the title implies.

All of that said, I still enjoyed much of the book.  Though the title seemed quite misleading, I enjoyed reading about Stanley’s interactions with the juvenile delinquents.  When I realized it wasn’t what I thought it was, I nearly put it down.  But the passion he poured into helping them kept me flipping to the next page.  He had his share of difficulties, including a tale of an accident that almost happened while at sea with a bunch of the kids.

In the end I enjoyed most of this book.  I’m still disappointed at being misled, but thankfully the story gripped me anyway.  I do wish they would change the title though….

3.5/5 stars

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