ICVM Family Celebrates the Life of Christian Film Pioneer Russ Doughten
A Tribute by Brad Mix, ICVM President
If you ask any long-time Christian 40 years or older what the top five all-time classic Christian films are, “Thief in the Night” would almost certainly be on their list. Russell Doughten Jr. was one of the great pioneers of Christian film. He died at the age of 86, August 19, 2013 in Carlisle, Iowa.
Russ Doughten's Obituary
Russ Doughten honed his craft starting in the mid 1950’s. He was Associate Producer on Steve McQueen’s first film, “The Blob” in 1958. Paul Marks, ICVM’s Director of Operations adds, “The Blob was Directed by ‘Shorty’ Yeaworth, who was also the director for such Christian films as GOSPEL BLIMP. Apparently he and Russ worked together at Good News Productions in Pennsylvania in the 50s.”
Russ’s passion led him to start Heartland Flims, Mark IV Films and Mustard Seed International, all with a purpose of producing films that would lead people to Christ.
I came to know Russ through ICVM. From our first meeting in 1993 at our conference in Atlanta (the first ICVM I attended), he was gracious and kind, and his heart for the Lord and for people was very evident.
My wife, Sandy, first met Russ getting onto an elevator at an ICVM conference many years ago. Upon finding out Sandy was married to me, he said, “Oh, I like Brad.” Sandy replied, “I like Brad too.” He quickly responded with his sly smile, “It’s not a competition, is it?”
Russ made around 30 films, but he is best remembered for the “end times” series, made up of four films: “Thief in the Night”, “A Distant Thunder”, “Image of the Beast” and “The Prodigal Planet”. He didn’t just write and produce, he also acted in them!
Russ worked hard to the end, trying to raise $35 million for the 5th and final film in the series, “Armageddon”. He set the bar high for the “end times films” genre. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone has raised that bar.
Looking back, I see Russ as one of those rare individuals who accomplished great things, but did not need to credit himself for them. His humility was real. He believed in the power of film to change lives, did his best to produce great films, and rather than being possessive about his projects, more than anything, he was just along for a great ride, piloted by the One he was laboring for.
Throughout my time serving on the ICVM board, Russ constantly reminded me of the importance of using the power of film to impact the world for Christ. That was his heart, and that is his legacy.
Thank you Russ for showing us the way, and doing so with passion and humility. You will be greatly missed.