Meet the Rev. James K. Friedrich
The Cathedral Films Preservation Project will focus on one of the true pioneers of Christian filmmaking: the Rev. James K. Friedrich. Friedrich was an Episcopal pastor from Red Wing, Minnesota with no prior experience in filmmaking who founded the independent Hollywood motion picture studio Cathedral Films in 1939.
Over the next three decades Friedrich produced short and feature length religious films in a variety of genres using professional Hollywood casts and crews.
Friedrich’s film and television productions set a high artistic standard for other Christian film producers then and now. This was by no means an easy task, and in spite of the good reviews for his work, Friedrich struggled to fund his high quality (and expensive) productions in Hollywood and then exhibit them to the largest number of viewers.
In the late1960s Cathedral stopped regular film production. While it occasionally produced films and videos of its own after that, it concentrated its mission on distribution for some of the younger independent religious filmmakers who were following in Friedrich’s wake
The importance of James Friedrich to independent religious film history cannot be overstated. By the time of his death in 1966 Friedrich had produced or distributed over 150 films that were of a professional and theological quality that impressed contemporary audiences, anticipated and influenced the mid-century Hollywood Biblical blockbusters, inspired two generations of religious filmmakers, and demonstrated that there is a market for theatrical films about religious subjects. The preponderance of Friedrich's Cathedral Films remain highly relevant and more timely today.