Director of Blue Like Jazz visits campus

Steve Taylor shows students how faith and Christians in the entertainment industry can be influential in the types of everyday films that are released in Hollywood.

Taylor is a Christian record producer, director and songwriter. He has earned multiple recognition awards for his work, including Grammys, Billboard and Dove awards. His most recent accomplishment is directing the film Blue Like Jazz.

He spoke in Chapel Feb. 20 about faith and Christians in the arts.

Associate Professor and music department Chair Dr. Mark Aaron Humphrey thinks Taylor is a great representation of what a Christian artist should be.

“Obviously, he’s a talented guy, and he’s succeeded in many different areas, as a pop musician, as a producer of videos and of albums and now as a filmmaker, so I think that’s one of the things that I really found fascinating about him…how he’s reinvented himself,” he said.

Sophomore finance major Kristina Liu enjoyed the chapel service. She explains what her favorite moment was during the assembly.

“When he was talking about the movement of creating new and original art instead of recreating ideas that have already been done, I agree with it. A lot of the art, music and movies that have been coming out lately have traced back to things that have been done years or decades ago,” she said.

After Chapel, students were encouraged to attend the free screening of the film directed by Taylor.

It is a film adaption based on Donald Miller’s semi-autobiographical novel by the same name.

The book is a collection of essays chronicling the author’s understanding of God and his experiences at Reed College.

Humphrey thinks the novel can have a strong impact on those who read it, regardless of what their religious background is.

“It’s one of those books where I think no matter where you are in belief, is worth reading. No matter what your beliefs are, you are going to have a lot you can identify with in the book,” he said.

Fans of the book shouldn’t expect the film to play out the same way.

“This is kind of a coming-of -age tale when he goes to Reed College in Portland. I think they do a good job of telling the story of Don’s life, but a lot of the commentary and things Don wrestled with are just a little part of the overall movie. If you’re a Blue Like Jazz fan, you definitely want to watch the movie, but know that it only tells the narrative from the book,” he said.

Blue Like Jazz recounts the tale of a young man on a journey of self-discovery after he rejects his religious beliefs.

The movie received most of its funding by  way of Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects.  The fundraising project became one of the most successful charity events in Kickstarter’s history.

For Humphrey, Blue Like Jazz is a great conversation starter for those with religious beliefs and for those who may be on the fence on what they believe.

“I think it’s really honest, and it’s a spectacular story. At the same time, it’s authentic, and it gives people who are Christians and non-Christians some really great things to talk about.  No matter where you find yourself on that spectrum of belief, I think you’re going to have moments in the movie that you can identify with,” he said.

After the screening, students engaged in a Q-and-A session with the film director.

Junior nursing major Breanna Flanery explains what she took away from the whole experience.

“It wasn’t something I learned, but I was reminded that God never leaves me when I fall away. He is faithful and loves me unconditionally,” she said.

Flanery wants students and other people who plan on viewing the film in the future to take to heart some of the situations shown.

She said, “Don’t be surprised by what you see or hear in the movie, but realize it is how the real world is like for a Christian. Temptation is everywhere.”

Author: April Littleton

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