Local film director’s movie gets national attention

March 10, 2014
Harold Cronk

Harold Cronk

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

A small film that is getting big attention has a local connection. The Pure Flix production “God’s Not Dead,” which debuts on March 21, was directed by Amber Township resident Harold Cronk, who wrote and directed “Mickey Matson and the Cooperhead Conspiracy” along with the soon-to-be-released “Mickey Matson and the Pirate’s Code.”

God's_Not_DeadThe full length “God’s Not Dead” is Cronk’s first major theatrical release. It is scheduled to be released nationwide on March 21 in about 800 theaters. The film is about Josh Wheaton (played by Shane Harper), a freshman college student who enrolls in a philosophy class taught by the infamous and dictatorial Professor Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo). The professor demands all of his student must sign a declaration that “God is dead” in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses to sign and will go to any length to defend his belief in God, but he needs to take the class to meet his academic requirements.

The professor strikes a bargain: Josh must defend his position that God is alive in a series of debates with him in order to stay in the class. If he loses, he fails the class. When Josh accepts the challenge, he gets more than he bargained for, jeopardizing his faith, his relationships and even his future.

The film is based on a book by the same name written by Rice Broocks and also the song “Like a Lion,” originally written by Daniel Bashta and performed by the Newsboys.

Cronk said his production company, Manistee-based 10 West Studios, has worked with Pure Flix on other projects, which is how he got involved with the project. But for him, it was more than just a gig.

“I’ve never looked at myself as a Christian film maker,” he said. “My films certainly reflect my faith and my values but they aren’t necessarily faith based. While this film is a little less subtle it’s not just a Christian movie. I wanted to create something that had some depth and had some opposing points of view. It’s certainly something that makes one think.”

Last week Cronk showed the film to a small group of local pastors.

“It was a great movie,” said Pastor Jim Peterson of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Ludington. “Finally an accurate portrayal of Christ followers not being ashamed to stand for Him; especially in an academic arena. That’s a refreshing change from Hollywood’s caricature of Christians as know-nothing flat-earthers.”

Peterson said the movie is one that welcomes conversation.

“I think it’s necessary to gather information and understand where atheists and agnostics are coming from and actually deal with those arguments,” he said.

In fact, Cornerstone Baptist plans on hosting a conversation about the topic following one of the local viewings.

“God’s Not Dead” will officially begin playing at Carmike Harbor Cinemas in Amber Township on Friday, March 21 with a special sneak peak on Thursday, March 20 at 7 p.m. The church will host a conversation on Sunday, March 23 at the church, following the 4:20 p.m. showing of the film at the cinema.

Cronk said he will be hanging out at the cinema for the sneak peak. He said he’s curious about people’s feedback on the film.

“I’m hoping to get the community to give it their vote of confidence in the box office,” Cronk said. “If we want to see more faith based films in the market place, then Hollywood needs to see more people watch these films. This is an opportunity to show that this is some serious business.”

Cronk will also be at the church on March 23.

“This is really exciting,” Peterson said. “We get to go watch the movie then we get to have a debriefing with the director. This is open to anyone who wants to come. We want to stress that.”

“God’s Not Dead” comes out at a time when another “faith-based” movie debuts. “Noah,” directed by Darren Aronofsky and staring Russell Crowe debuts March 28. Cronk said the film has received a lot of criticism from the faith community for not necessarily following the spirit of the Bible story.

While that film is getting its share of critics, “God’s Not Dead” has stirred up the opposite spectrum. “It’s gotten a lot of traction in social media,” he said. “The trailer went viral with 50 million impressions already and a social media following of over 2 million.”

See the trailer for “God’s Not Dead” here:



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