Nathan AshtonNathan Ashton

Benching our Preconceptions

I live straddling a divide.
One foot is in the independent film world.
The other is in Hollywood.

Heartwarming Story

If you look at this web site, you may come to the conclusion that my forte is in independent Christian films since that is where the majority of my credits lay. I believe in the power of media to open up new points of view, introduce strangers to each other, and help the cloistered feel open again. I strongly believe in the power of love, truth, and sacrifice. I have experienced Christianity’s power to elevate the downtrodden, set at liberty those who are bound, and shine light into dark places. The people working on these films are working to make a better world. They are wonderful, sincere, and passionate. I am honored to serve them.

Golden Reel Nominated

My technical accolades come from work done for HBO which is, and of this I’m sure they are aware, not Christian. I relish every chance I get to work on projects coming from the Hollywood scene. These are the projects most often described with adjectives such as: amazing, wonderful, artistic, reaching, powerful, visionary, revolutionary, and technically excellent. The people working on these films love their craft. They are wonderful, sincere, and passionate. I am honored to serve them.

Sadly, the two worlds refuse to talk to each other.

Being a liability is bad.

Yep. It’s true. If you land on the blacklist then your prospects for work go down the drain.

However, the blacklist isn’t really black or white. It is actually a high-risk, do the math, buyer beware list existing largely in our minds. For example: When a property hires an actor to play a role, they are also purchasing the potential of that actor to attract an audience. If that actor has a lifestyle tendency that attracts bad press instead – onto the blacklist they go. If the analysis shows that this lifestyle tendency can be hidden or is irrelevant to the audience then the actor may be hired anyway.

Thing is, not every difference is actually a liability.

Being different is just different.

I recently participated in a Facebook thread that asked, “What can make better Christian movies.” It is rare that a Facebook discussion stays positive but this one did! As positive as the discussion was, it was clustered around a homogenous set of viewpoints and so generated few out-of-the-box ideas. Nobody suggested “go work in LA” or “hire Hollywood trained talent” or even “promote our best players.”

We need to bench our preconceptions and look again.

Composer for Film and TV

My lovely wife, Lydia.

Let me jump to the absurd to bring this point home. My wife Lydia is an accomplished music composer with thousands of credits on everything from Oprah to Honey Boo Boo. She attended a gathering of film composers at a festival a few years ago. When it came time to take a group photo she was asked to step aside because they only wanted “real” composers in the shot. They made a judgement based on preconception. To this group, real wasn’t defined by credits, experience, or excellence, but by the presence of boy-parts. My wife gracefully left the room. Those left behind still don’t know the wealth that walked out the door that day. While this happened at a Christian festival, Lydia has encountered gender bias in LA as well. (Consider THIS LINK for a detailed Canadian study of the phenomenon.)

We all have preconceptions. This is not just a studio-LA vs inde-Christian thing. Most of us suffer from blindness created by refusing to engage with people who live outside our self-created playgrounds – and we grow ever more divided. Lets work on coming together. Consider giving someone different a shot at working with you. At least consider sharing a cup of coffee and listening to their thoughts.

Different doesn’t always mean liability. It might just represent the secret sauce for success.

What do you think?

2 Comments on “Benching our Preconceptions

  1. Love this, especially the story about your wife! In fact, that’s why I originally started Faith Flix blog to bring to light the stories of film folks who were getting overlooked.

    • Thanks for visiting Sharon – and thank you for your kind words. Keep the fire burning hot over there at Faith Flix!

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