Conservative Filmmakers Vow to Work Around Hollywood System

First-time filmmaker Steve Laffey knew he was in trouble when his film Fixing America got beat out for a festival slot by a documentary chronicling the gender transition of Cher's child, Chaz Bono.

Laffey shared his frustrations and triumphs Friday at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver, an event held by the Centennial Institute and Colorado Christian University.

Laffey appeared on the "Taking Back Hollywood" panel along with several other right-of-center filmmakers and an actress who chooses projects based on their ability to project positive moral values.

Laffey, former two-term mayor of Cranston, RI, co-produced and wrote Fixing America about the country's calamitous economic situation and what everyday Americans say are ways to mend it.

Producer Jim Leininger (Smooch) said conservatives should consider developing alternative delivery systems to work around Hollywood. Given today's technology, "it's more possible than ever," Leininger says.

The market is on the side of conservatives, he said, noting a poll in USA Today which said a large group of citizens don't go to movies today because they don't like the content.

That, he said, is simply a sign of the times.

"Years ago, moms knew they could send their kids to a Walt Disney movie," he said. "We don't have that anymore."

Actress Kelly Greyson (Alone Yet Not Alone, Return to the Hiding Place) said conservative crowds play a major role in allowing right-of-center films from getting lost in the Hollywood shuffle. If a conservative movie flops at the box office, the powers that be will dismiss such fare as box office poison and move on, Greyson says.

Ralph Avi Goldwasser, an executive producer behind the documentary Losing Our Sons, says he struggled to get technical crew members on board his film. The movie, about a Muslim convert who shot and killed a U.S. soldier in Little Rock, Ark., made some potential crew members leery.

"As soon as they heard the subject matter they're not going to touch it," Goldwasser said. "It's not going to help their careers." 

Laffey doesn't think conservatives can "take back" Hollywood in any real sense, but he does see a way around the current system, and it's one that connects to the runaway success of The Bible miniseries.

"Put out products that people will buy," he says.

Christian Toto
Christian Toto is a film critic and podcaster and runs the website