Valentine’s Day moviegoers had a faith-based romantic movie option this year with the release of Lipscomb University filmmaker Dave DeBorde’s “Old Fashioned,” booked in more than 200 theaters nationwide for the holiday weekend.
The release of “Old Fashioned,” an independent, faith-based film about traditional courtship in modern America, was strategically timed to hit screens on the same day as the much-ballyhooed “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a movie based on the series of best-selling erotic novels. That decision led to “Old Fashioned” garnering numerous national headlines including coverage in “Variety,” “Time Magazine” and in “MTV News” among many others media outlets.
“We knew when it was decided to release ‘Old Fashioned’ on the same day as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ that we would get some attention,” said DeBorde, producer of the film and chair of Lipscomb University's College of Entertainment & the Arts’ new Department of Cinematic Arts, which offers graduate and undergraduate film programs as well as a new undergraduate animation major.
“But the level of attention it has received is amazing. It took a little longer to produce the film than we originally anticipated. But it was in God’s hands. His timing is perfect. With ‘Old Fashioned’ being released on the same day as ‘Fifty Shades,’ we have gotten an enormous amount of attention in the secular press for this film, which tells a much-needed story.”
“Old Fashioned” is about a reformed fraternity man and a free spirited woman who seek an old fashioned courtship in today’s society. Its tagline, “Chivalry makes a comeback,” hints at one of the themes of the movie. The cast includes Elizabeth Ann Roberts (“Criminal Minds,” “Southland,” “CSI”), Rik Swartzwelder (“The Least of These,” “War Prayer”) and Dorothy Silver (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Mothman Prophecies”) among other veterans of the screen.
“There is a lack of movies about the Christian single person’s journey,” said DeBorde, whose work has shown at film festivals around the world. “These are valid and important issues to talk about. And ‘Old Fashioned’ examines the possibility of a higher standard in relationships. ‘Old Fashioned’ offers audiences a viable romantic alternative. It can set the tone for what healthy relationships, authentic relationships look like. It’s a Christian response to culture that is very healthy and wonderful.”
In limited release in three markets the week before Valentine's Day, “Old Fashioned” earned an impressive per screen average of $12,988 per screen. In a Feb. 16 Religion News Services release, the filmmakers announced that "Old Fashioned" set a new record for best-performing Christian film in fewer than 300 theaters, as measured by Box Office Mojo. In 224 theaters, the film exceeded $1 million for the four-day holiday weekend. Viewers on Rotten Tomatoes rated it a positive 96 percent.
The film companies backing “Old Fashioned” include Freestyle Releasing, which distributed “God Is Not Dead,” and Working Title Agency, which produced “Heaven is for Real.”
Training future filmmakers
Training future filmmakers and entertainment industry leaders to produce quality entertainment like “Old Fashioned” is one of the primary goals of Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts.
“We don’t believe that stories always have to be safe and sanguine or faith-based to have a positive impact on audiences and society,” said Mike Fernandez, dean of Lipscomb University's College of Entertainment & the Arts. “But they will often have a redemptive quality, just like stories in the Bible. We want to produce students who are great storytellers. Storytellers are the gatekeepers of the social consciousness. Just like Plato says in ‘The Republic,’ stories should provide good models for us to imitate and are a main tool in the formation of character. This is important to us.
“As humans, stories help us process ideas and life. Through stories we look for truth and meaning. The mass media, through television and film, is one of the most wide-reaching and powerful tellers of stories. Just as Christ told a story about the mustard seed and yeast, how they grow and have an impact, we want to challenge our students to think about what kinds of seeds they are planting through their work,” Fernandez said.
DeBorde said that film students at Lipscomb have a great storytelling example to emulate.
“Jesus was the best storyteller,” said DeBorde. “He spoke to people in parables, in stories they could understand. Those stories spoke to people’s lives. We take artistic cues from the Bible. The Bible is filled with good stories and stories of redemption.
“I am so excited that God brought me here to Lipscomb to be a part of the exciting work in the College of Entertainment & the Arts. There is an amazingly talented group of faculty here who have won Emmys, have had theatrical releases and have worked on the biggest Disney movies who want to be involved in training the next generation of Christian entertainers and artists.”
DeBorde’s work has been screened at the Cannes Film Festival and at over 100 film festivals worldwide garnering more than 60 awards. In addition to writing scripts and screen plays, DeBorde occasionally gets in front of the camera as was the case with his starring role in the Canadian production, “A Lot Like Marriage,” which is slated for release later this year.
Building on the university’s strong liberal arts foundation, Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts was formed in September 2014 with Fernandez appointed as founding dean. It combined the university’s art, music and theater departments with its fashion merchandising program and its graduate film and creative media program. New programs to prepare students for careers in contemporary music, digital entertainment, film, design, gaming and animation are planned for the near future. The college is an integration of several disciplines formerly housed in the College of Arts & Sciences (now the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences).
The mission of the College of Entertainment & the Arts is to be a Christ-centered, innovative, entrepreneurial arts community committed to rigorous artistic training, creative collaboration and professional growth.
“We believe that you can honor God and be a leader in the entertainment industry,” said Fernandez. “To that end, we seek to train the next generation of believer artists who seek to uplift, challenge and entertain culture through their art.”
For more information about Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment & the Arts visit www.lipscomb.edu/cea. For more information about “Old Fashioned” visit www.oldfashionedmovie.com.