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Christians in Cinema: Ken Klein
Christians in Cinema: Ken Klein

Christians in Cinema: Ken Klein

Former NFL defensive back-turned filmmaker Ken Klein is married to Jan, his wife of 32 years. They have 3 very creative sons, and live in Eugene, Oregon, where he continues his movie-making education at the University of Oregon. Ken took some time between projects to talk with us...
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CC.com: Ken, you played for my hometown team the Houston Oilers for a season. How does someone on the road to greatness as a professional football player become what some would call a prophetic filmmaker?

Ken: It started with a serious injury my second year. Before that, all I wanted to do was play pro football. I held a couple of records for the University of Oregon, and saw a bright future ahead until I injured myself. The disillusionment from those unfulfilled dreams caused me to look for something more from life, and I found it in the Lord.

I come from a Jewish home, and I had no religious training in my parents’ beliefs, but in 1969, I made a decision for the Lord, and soon became a voracious student of the Scriptures. Ever since, I’ve been a rabid student of the prophets.

I began preaching and teaching and discovered that I had a gift for that. People used to just tell me I was talkative!

CC.com: Okay, the conversion to preaching makes sense, but how do you go to filmmaking from there?

Ken: In 1991, I wrote a book called “The False Prophet”, and was invited to do a lot of speaking about that. At one point, it occurred to us that it might be good to have these sessions on video, so we set up three cameras at a church in Chicago, and my foray into filmmaking began.

Since then, I’ve made 15 films and feel like I’m just starting to understand the craft. Film is very powerful because through it, we can tell stories that are metaphors for truth. And when people see that metaphor, it can open their eyes and hearts to the truth.

CC.com: So you had no formal education or background in filmmaking. How did you develop your skills?

Ken: I believe what has really helped me is that I’ve studied the Hollywood masters and how they present stories. I took some video classes from the UCLA Film School; Story, Structure & Form, and Premises – the building-blocks of storytelling. You know, without a good story, you can’t have a good film.

I continue to take classes at the University of Oregon – one of my professors wrote the screenplay for “The Hunt for Red October”. Also, when I began to write my scripts, I had some good people look them over and help with the critical aspects of the drama.

See, even though I focus on documentary films, in my view, they still need to contain drama. I think of it as “dramatized documentaries”. My goal is to open up people’s minds to think of new possibilities. God has to be bigger than what we know – we tend to conceptualize Him within our 24-hour day, 71-year span. But He’s bigger than that! I want to expand people’s consciousness of God, eternity, and who they are.

CC.com: You speak about this very passionately.

Ken: I believe it’s my destiny. I believe God has geared me specifically for this, and I only have a certain amount of time to get this done. You better believe I’m sold out and am doing it with all my heart.

It’s my hope for everyone – that they find their destiny and go for it – but it’s hard to find. The Apostle Paul said “This one thing I do,” and that’s my prayer also.

CC.com: You present some very interesting and different ideas in your films. What kind of reactions have you received?

Ken: They’ve varied – I think people might either agree or say I’m a heretic. I admit – what I think is a bit controversial, but I try not to be combative or defensive. Sometimes my defensiveness does pop up, but I’m gradually growing out of it.

My heart’s desire is to reflect God – He’s not defensive, and He doesn’t strong arm anyone. He never violates our freedom of choice, and so my hope is to manifest His qualities of generosity and kindness toward everyone.

CC.com: Ken, it’s been great to talk with you. Any last words for us?

Ken: Just this: Don’t let our culture dictate our Christianity. Life is not about being a great American, ... it’s about being a follower of Jesus Christ.

©2006 ChristianCinema.com 

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