Cracking The Movie Code On The Case For Christ
by Brian Bird
It was a September Sunday morning in 2015 when my friend Lee Strobel raised the idea of adapting his best-selling, non-fiction book, The Case for Christ, into a movie. We were chewing the fat together at Mission Hills Church in Littleton, CO, following the service at which he had just spoken. It had been a few years since we had last seen each other and I had gone to hear him give the weekend message for old time’s sake. When he broached the film, I wagged my head enthusiastically and said “absolutely.” Truth is, I’d be happy just digging a ditch with Lee Strobel – let alone make a movie about him.
When Pure Flix, the studio behind the 2014 hit film God’s Not Dead, blessed Lee’s dream to turn the book into a movie a few months later, and asked me to write and help produce it – I was instantly a deer in the headlights. How in the world do you turn an exhaustive work on apologetics – featuring 13 interviews with the world’s most foremost authorities on the historical evidence for Jesus – into a compelling movie that could hold an audience’s attention for two hours? At first, I had no clue.
But I soon fell back onto my journalism training – along with what I’ve learned of Aristotle’s principles of dramatic construction. Screenwriters are really the first architects of movies. We create the blueprints. We draw in the details: the super-structure, the inner-workings, but also the aesthetics inside and out. And it all must be up to code. It all must hold together, or the whole thing can fall in on itself. In the case of The Case for Christ, I employed a few big girders to keep it all standing tall…
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