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Celluloid Gospel Doc

Celluloid Gospel
The Untold Story of 20th Century Christian Films

Gospel Films Archive is an initiative launched in 2013 to rescue, restore and reissue thousands of films and TV shows produced in the 20th century that show how the Bible was presented to mass media audiences. Read more about this at the GFA website.

Along the way, we have uncovered a rich, long neglected history of pioneer independent filmmakers and film studios that were the religious counterpart of secular films and studios of the era.  

To tell this remarkable story, we have assembled a roster comprised of descendants of studio founders, along with producers, directors and writers who worked in this market, as well as historians and writers who have studied the genre. Together we are creating an original 2-hour documentary intended for PBS or a similar broadcast platform.    

Production Participants

Bob Campbell
Bob is recognized as an authority in classic American film content and history. He is co-creator and producer of Matinee at the Bijou (1980-88), one of PBS’s most popular original series and co-founder of Gospel Films Archive. While learning about the history of the genre and working five years with GFA partners Ron Hall and Derek Myers to find and restore hundreds of vintage Christian films, Bob now leads the team in developing and producing the Celluloid Gospel documentary.    

Jim Friedrich
Jim is the son of Cathedral Films founder and pioneer filmmaker James K. Friedrich. Jim is a writer and executive producer on the Celluloid Gospel documentary and will be appearing on camera as one of our primary storytellers to speak about his family’s distinguished film legacy. Jim has been assisting GFA in acquiring Cathedral film prints scattered among four Christian film archives around the U.S., and is a vital participant in helping to preserve and reissue his father's remarkable body of work. Jim writes a spirited Weblog journal called The Religious Imagineer.   

Paul Hersh
Paul is the grandson of Family Films founder Sam Hersh and son of Stan Hersh. Paul is a writer and executive producer on the Celluloid Gospel documentary and will be appearing on camera as one of our primary storytellers to speak about his family’s filmmaking legacy. Paul began his apprenticeship at Family Films with a small speaking role in an episode of This Is the Life when he was 7 years old. He later worked on the Family Films lot and observed many productions on the company’s soundstage.  

Stephen Erkel
Steve was a staff writer, producer and director for Family Films from 1977-83, and is a consultant on the Celluloid Gospel documentary. Steve will appear on camera to share stories about production challenges and the declining years of the studio. Among the many films he helped create are The Train; The Dating Game; No Escape From Christmas; and the Goosehill Gang children’s series. Steve currently works as an editor on reality TV programs for the History Channel.  

Ron Hall
Ron is founder-owner of Festival Films, a media company that specializes in providing vintage film and television shows to DVD markets, movie theaters, TV broadcast and the internet, and is a co-founder of GFA. Ron is also a foremost authority on classic films and has been finding, restoring and distributing classic content under the Festival Films brand for over 35 years.   

Derek Myers
Derek is a TV industry veteran, founder-owner of Myers Memories and co-founder of GFA. He has been collecting 16mm original films for more than 30 years, has a knack for finding lost and rare content, and a passion for tracking down Christian-themed films and TV shows. As a media producer, Derek provides public domain TV shows and vintage features to WGGS-TV, a Christian TV station in Greenville, South Carolina.   

Kenny Suit
Kenny is associate professor of film studies at the School of Arts and Humanities at Milligan College in Elizabethton, Tennessee. His book, James Friedrich and Cathedral Films has just been published. Kenny is a consultant on the Celluloid Gospel documentary and will be appearing on camera as one of our primary storytellers to speak about the history of Christian film in general, and Cathedral Films in particular.