Journey from Secular to Christian
Paul Long and Brad Silverman are two veterans from Hollywood who reside in Burbank, CA, the studio capital of the world. They caught the vision of what God is doing through the Christian Worldview Film Festival and Guild when they attended last year, and now they’re back to share how God transformed them from a secular studio into an all-in, Christ-centered one, changing the game in the midst of the hostile environment of Hollywood.
In a casual round table (literally, around the table where they were visiting prior to the session and had it brought onto the stage) moderated by Festival Director Phillip Telfer, they each shared their background of coming to Christ and how it set-up an internal conflict as they started to turn down more and more projects due to questionable content.
Long started in radio. His Dad was a director and did animation at Disney. He shared that work was their God.
“My parents worked 7 days a week,” Long related.
He didn’t hear about Christ until he was 28 years old. He and wife were newly married and went forward at Billy Graham crusade.
“We didn’t go down there to become believers, I wanted to be on the baseball field,” Long admitted. “We were believers, but not walking with Christ.”
They experienced troubles in their marriage, and God gave them the insight to start seeing their sin. His wife penned a humorous book about those days entitled, If you don’t die to self, I may have to kill you.
“It started to inform me in my business,” Long revealed.
Long got more and more convicted about the content of the films they were doing as God revealed the severity of it, he and Silverman experienced a holy discontent with it. They started turning down business.
“We really need to say ‘No’ to certain jobs and we had a hard time getting work. Asked God, ‘if you really want us to keep doing this, you’re going to have to bring it to us’,” Long expressed.
Silverman recounted, “I was all in for Christ. Kappa was starting to make new decisions. When I came on board with Kappa, by end of 2017, it was the moment in time we’re going to burn the ships and only serve the faith and family community — right there in the epicenter of the movie business for the world.”
He paused as he was about the push the button to announce to the world that they were only going to serve faith and family community moving forward, and asked Long, ‘Are you sure? I’m about to push the button and announce this. And I’ll never forget it. He just said, ‘I thought we already did’.”
The two never looked back.
Telfer asked how they got through the new growing pains as a strong studio business of 25 years was now navigating uncharted waters.
Long responded, “We just sort of rolled through it. If the business continues, God’s gotta do it. He helped us make that decision, He provoked us, He’s gotta do it. It’s not always easy. I had to lay off half my company.”
“From day one, Paul and I would spend half hour or 40 minutes in prayer together, search the word together. Usually 3-4 days a week,” Silverman described. “If we don’t do that…the Lord will make the time for everything else. If we get anything right, it’s gotta be that. Need to be united in Christ in everything we do. Lord, you bring in the customers, You bring the projects, You bring the people.”
Long shared how they’ve had different people come in during their bible study time. They were finishing up their study and client was out in front, and they initially asked him to wait in the lobby, then ended up inviting him in. As they were finishing up, the guy just sat there and listened in. Didn’t say anything, just listened. He lived out of town, but they invited him to come join them anytime. Before they knew it, he started showing up in the lobby during bible study time.
Later he said, ‘You guys are doing a film, I just want to get behind ya.’ Long shared that the client ended up helping fund the project they just finish.
Silverman recounted how a non-believer joined them for bible study every day for a year as they went through Romans verse by verse. It got to the point where he would correct other believers if they came in and inquired about some things, ‘No, the Bible actually says this…”
“All of this sort of happened. It’s all the Lord. He put it on our hearts — to make it a priority.
Long added, “At the end of the day, you can’t give what you don’t have. What goes in you will come out of you. If the word of God is in you, then it won’t come out of you. What’s in me should be coming out. Reading the word is the only way for it to come out of you. Read the word because you love it.”
Kappa has recently worked on Run the Race, Unplanned, and they’re the hub for the show called, The Chosen.
Long declared that last year when they came to the guild and festival, “I knew these are my people. This is where I belong.”
There’s a unique sense of a united body of Christ that are doing things. “Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one in this trench, but you’re not alone.”
Silverman warned, “There’s something about this industry that has the potential for idolatry, more than other fields (like an accountant, dentist or other field). Fame was a driving force, a motivator that fueled me when I got into the industry. It’s so deceptive and so subtle – the heart motive of why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
But Silverman encouraged filmmakers to, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Be a humble servant of Christ, period. Let Him lead you. The minute you get out of that mode…see to it that that is your focus. Keep Christ pre-eminent, front and center in everything in your life. Your identity is in Christ.”
Long joined in, “We wrestle with this all the time. How will we proceed? God, how do you want to move forward? You have to ask yourself, what am I living for?”
“God’s gonna light that fuse. As you burn your fuse down in this life, you don’t want to waste it. I wish I had known that sooner,” Silverman added.
Long noted, “You have to have a fire in your belly. Ask yourself why am I here?”
“We wouldn’t be here without the Kendricks,” Silverman admitted. “I didn’t grow up in a Christian home in Georgia. I grew up in LA. I have more fruit in the film business in LA than anywhere else. God is using me right He planted me…We don’t hide who we are. This is where God has placed us. Is it awful? Worse than other places? Maybe. But the competition is probably fiercer. The best in the world are in our community. And the buses keep coming.”
Silverman added that if you feel God is calling you to jump into the Hollywood cauldron, “You had better be ready and have your heart right. ‘Cuz if you don’t, that part will tear you apart.
Telfer pointed out that Bill Reeves addressed the generation gap in the morning general session, and the need for the older and younger generations to come together. “Young people have a lot of zeal. It’s good, but terribly dangerous without wisdom, which you do not have.”
He went on to say, “What does the Bible say to do if you lack wisdom? Ask for it. So if God answers your prayer by working with Paul, He tempers your zeal with wisdom.”
Silverman encouraged the next generation, “It’s exciting and it’s energetic to see young people wanting to serve Christ. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have envisioned this. Now there’s a track record of wisdom and we can see all these beautiful things. Let’s just absorb it.”
The interview session ended with the two anointing attendees with a prayer that “we might decrease that You may increase. If it’s about us, my name, it’ll be like ashes in my mouth. Wasted time and a life lived for self. May we always die to self and live for Christ…This is like a camp experience. When we leave this place. may we carry it with us and think of You and serve You, Lord. May they be obedient and grateful. Counting the cost and not make any moves outside of Your will. Show us how we should walk forward and when.”
Written by Terri Hall