This is a complete and accurate transcript of the second part of the oral history interview of Mr. Harvey Marks (Collection 308, #T2) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded were omitted. In a very few cases, the transc ribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts, verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made April-May 1986 by Fran Brocker and Robert Shuster.
Collection 308, Tape #T2, Interview of Harvey Marks, interviewed by Robert Shuster, July 28, 1985
SHUSTER: Mr. Marks, you were talking about the recruitment of the actor who played Christ.
MARKS: Yes, uh, well, Cathedral Films is not a wealthy organization at all and they had the planned shooting schedule right down to a minute, and they didn't leave leeway for re-shooting. And they had to do it right the first time because it was too expensive to re-shoot. And they were coming up to the time when they needed to shoot the character of Christ, and they didn't have anybody to play the part. They'd used Nelson Lee before in the small, short films. They'd used him in the St. Paul series of films, an excellent series, but they didn't want to type Christ as being one man. They wanted to change that concept.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
MARKS: Because they didn't want to impress in people's minds that here is the Christ. That he's just portraying it. So they needed to have people to portray Christ. They went through the usual process of interviewing applicants and none of them were satisfied. So they used a committee and judged them separately [unclear]. About two days before shooting started one of the men came to Dr. Friedrich and said, `Jim, don't you think we'd ought to get somebody here? We don't have anybody for this part.' Jim says, `No, the Lord's got somebody for it. And we'll wait until He provides it.' So then the casting office called and said, `We've got some fellows here that you uh can look at.' And they looked at a couple, and finally [the casting office] said, `Well, we've got one more. He doesn't seem to have much talent. But, uh we'll...if you want to hear him, why okay.'
So they listened to him. And when they heard him they all agreed, independently, that this man was it. Well, after that they began looking into his background. They asked him who he was, where he came from. Bob Wilson was his name, and he, and he was the son of a Church of Christ minister down south who had become enamored with acting, and he wanted to become an actor. The Church of Christ didn't believe in it. And finally his father said, `Well, Bob, if you believe that this is the Lord's will for you, we'll pray for you. And you can go'. So he went to Hollywood, he got some bit parts, didn't do anything. But it was giving him some experience in acting that he needed. But he didn't do very much until this thing happened. And he says, `I know why, what the Lord was saving me for, for this part.' And when you see Bob Wilson in that part, playing the part of Christ, you can see the hand of the Lord was in it. Well, that's Jim Friedrich. That's the way he was.
SHUSTER: How would, uh, how would you describe Jim Friedrich? His personality.
MARKS: He was very gracious man. And, uh, and he had a group of us in one time, a counseling group for films. Well, I just loved the man . He was a great Christian man, an Episcopal rector, and uh, a bit formal, uh, in some of his religious principles, deeply evangelical in what he did. He made a real impact upon this industry.
SHUSTER: In what way?
MARKS: Well, the type of films, and the way he did it, and the quality that he insisted on having. He was one of the first ones to say that we've got to have quality in Christian films. Well, today we can match them up. When I look at films--I don't watch TV very often--but some films I just wonder about credibility of some of those films. But you don't find that problem with Christian films. He was stickler on details. It had to be accurate in its presentation.
SHUSTER: Can you give some examples?
MARKS: Well, like The Living Christ series or The St. Paul series. The St. Paul series is in black and white, and yet it is so good that as you watch it, you forget that it's black and white, and you get involved in it. Uh, he took detail in the lighting of it, so that... many black and white films were flat, flat lighting. His aren't. His have almost a 3-D effect to them because of the lighting. Of course a lot of that was due to Walt Disney studios, having people there who understood the technical qualities.
SHUSTER: You mentioned his friendship with Walt Disney before. Uh, do you know of any involvement of Disney in Christian film industry besides allowing Friedrich...?
MARKS: No, primarily that to help him. I think he had a real influence on the high quality that the people put into their films. I think.... I'm sure that Jim Friedrich influenced [the] life of Walt Disney.
SHUSTER: In what way?
MARKS: Well, most... when Walt Disney was alive, there wasn't a film but what you couldn't take your children to. They were family-oriented films. And I think that Friedrich had an influence on him. Since his death, you see they're bringing in the occult and witchcraft and things like that that were never in before.
SHUSTER: Did you ever meet Disney?
MARKS: Not personally, no.
SHUSTER: What about C. O. Baptista? How would you describe him?
MARKS: Well, he was a very sincere man. I'm not sure that he uh used the right methods, because his productions were not the quality of Dr. Friedrich, and that's why they didn't last. Because when quality productions came in, why the Baptista films fell out. They were good. They had a message, every one of them had a strong message, and that was important. And uh Baptista was dedicated to presenting that message. That was number one. So now Fam...er, Ken Anderson films uses that as their theme, and Ken Anderson was influenced by Baptista somehow in his... too. But their theme is, the message comes first. And I suspect that he got that from his contacts with Baptista.
SHUSTER: You say there wasn't the same emphasis on quality. What did you mean by that?
MARKS: Well, they used amateur actors. The... the photography was something like my photography was at college. The lighting wasn't the best. Most o them were amateurs, pretty much. Well, he tried to get some, if he could find a technician or anybody which was a born-again Christian, he would involve them in it, and that helped him too.
SHUSTER: Did you ever use any of his movie projectors?
MARKS: No, I didn't. [Coughs] They didn't ever quite get around to my [unclear]. Looking to find out to put in the Archives.
SHUSTER: How would you describe him personally?
MARKS: Well, I...I only knew him in the office when I was a... I'd spend a few hours with him as he showed me all his facilities. So I didn't get to know him too well as a person. Now there's a man here, Wilfred Miller, from Muskegon, Michigan, who worked as a technician with Baptista and he knew him very closely.
SHUSTER: What about Edwin Moon?
MARKS: He was a great man too. Irwin Moon...
MARKS: ...was a pioneer in this area of scientific Christian production. He could...well, his latest film he didn't do. But he was thrilled with it. Because he had had that in his mind before he retired, to do it, and he was afraid they weren't going to do it right. But he was excited [unclear].
SHUSTER: What is the latest film about?
MARKS: It's about seeds. How seeds scatter, and how God has provided each seed with its own method of uh reproduction, and then that's related to the gospel and the Christians being reproducers in their own way and all the same way.
SHUSTER: And you say he was afraid they wouldn't do it right...?
MARKS: Well, he thought maybe they wouldn't get the proper emphasis in. Or.... He developed a lot of the tools for making these films. For instance, Irwin Moon was the first man to photograph theinterior of a heart, a beating heart. But he was.... He developed the device to do that. He developed the methods of uh, uh, photographing in a stop-action type of form. And uh he developed a lot of these things that technically nobody else had done before. He was a, he was a wizard, but in all of it he gives God the glory. He wants a strong message, an evangelistic message to be a part of these films.
SHUSTER: How would you compare his films with, say, Baptista films?
MARKS: Well, they're a different type of film. His were called Sermons in Science. And they were that--took scientific subjects and, the fact is, my early deal with uh the Power of God, using scientific films, was actually what he has done. And I'm so glad to see him do it in that way, because he's taken that and put the message right on it. He's, he's uh brought about him a group of people who understand the message [unclear], and they're still doing it.
SHUSTER: Uh, what about the question of quality?
MARKS: He was a tech...quality, high standard of quality for him, yes. He controlled it, everything right through the processing. They have their own processing laboratory. He'd do their own processing themselves, they don't send it out, they do it themselves because they want to control that quality. SHUSTER: Would you have some other example of quality control?
MARKS: Well, it's pretty hard to... on quality control, on accuracy. There's a picture in MOODY MONTHLY told about this month's film. And it shows how they captured a dandelion seed, and they photographed it in a captured environment. But on the film you don't see it. And uh some of them were saying, `Well, that's just a fake.' But they follow it floating along, but they have to control it. And they know [unclear]. And that's what they're trying to do. They built their own equipment, and everything practically they build themselves, around [except] motion pictures cameras and things like that. Much of it they build themselves.
SHUSTER: Can you describe him personally?
MARKS: Very gracious man. He...he...He's willing to talk. I talked to him in Chicago at Moody Church that time, first time I met him. We talked as though old friends. He wasn't the high and mighty kind. `Well, I know how to do it and you got to recognize me.' He never did that. And he recognized me whenever we'd meet [unclear].
SHUSTER: Well, uh in summing up, how would you describe the development of Christian films and your involvement? What have been the major changes, continuities?
MARKS: The thing that concerns me the most (I'll start with the negative) that churches are not using Bible stories, Bible films, like they ought to. With the excellent films that we have, the people have The Living Christ series, have The St. Paul series, plus they have some individual story films. Family Films has some excellent films, The Living Bible films, and now The Christ the the Lord film that they have produced. They don't get used like they ought to. The Genesis Project has the book of Luke, and the book of Genesis, excellent films. They don't get used like they ought to.
SHUSTER: Why do you think that is?
MARKS: I can't understand it. You'd think that a Christian church, believing, a Bible-believing church, would want to present the Bible first. Now they do it inadvertently in some of these other ways. But when you take a Sunday School class [coughs] that may be studying a section of the Bible here and the next Sunday it's another section, pretty soon it's another section. They never see it tied together. They need to see the life of Christ in one unit, from beginning to end. The life of Paul from his conversion to his journey to Rome. But they're not doing it. They're not taking advantage of it. That's the main thing that disturbs me. It's interesting. Now they're getting the Bible. These other films are Bible-based. Many series are the ones that come out now. Most everything has to be in series, which has [unclear] advantages. It started because Cathedral had these two series of films, and they were used. But the Dobson Focus on the Family series came out. That split it open, wide open. From then on there've been numerous series, most of them talking heads. And that's getting to be overdone, I think. Uh, we need something that's more down-to-earth, not lectured at. The series by David and Karen Mains on the Christian family is an example of a good series, practical series, where they take you into their home and they talk with you in an informal way and involve their children. And they're not standing up there lecturing [and saying] this is the way to do it. They're showing how they do it in their home, and how it can be done in any home.
SHUSTER: How did video affect the film industry?
MARKS: That's a question that is bothering all of us. Tomorrow night we're having a full evening session on video to discuss it and find out what the future of video is. Uh, the thing that...well, there are several dilemmas with video. One is its misuse in the church. And I mean video tapes that are made for home use only. And the church is not doing it.
SHUSTER: You think it is unethical, then?
MARKS: Yes, it's not only unethical, it's illegal. And some of the major companies are really going after that and we're going to try to put a stop to it. I think it's an educational process. And the video does not have the quality that 16[mm] does. And yet they're trying to project it on a larger screen with inadequate equipment. And it doesn't do the job. I foresee the day when they're going to give it up.
SHUSTER: You mean give it up on a large screen?
MARKS: Yeah. Video has its place in small groups, small classes, homes, that type of thing. There it... the 16mm. can't compete with them in those areas because of its convenience to use, to stop it. You can take it and put it away until next week and start it exactly where you left off to continue the presentation, where you can't do that with 16mm. very well, you know, when you rent it. It gives a closeness to your small group presentation-type of thing that 16mm. doesn't always do. But there again, some of the producers have said, for home use only, and they mean for home use only, not for organizational use. The question with that, `Well, what if a Bible study group in a wants to use a video?' No, that's an organized activity. Now a home can invite some friends in informally. That's all right. So there's a problem there. And I think we need to face that problem and open it up. If we can get the church to cooperate and not misuse it and show it where it isn't supposed to be shown, then I think producers would be willing to be [come around?]. Another use for it is in the many, many small churches, particularly out in the West, where you may have 20-25 people in the church. [Unclear] They can't afford a $60-$7500 film to show, but they could afford a video tape. [Unclear] from Australia tells about their use of video in the back country of Australia. Every home has a television set, but they can't get television over there, but they have a video player. For a long time all they could get was this junk stuff on video tape. He saw the opportunity and has developed the video, the Christian video ministry in the back country of Australia where they can get the Christian films and show them in their homes. Now that is worth while. That's doing something. If we can get the churches, and some of thy can get the Christian films and show them in their homes. Now that is worth while. That's doing something.
If we can get the churches, and some of the larger churches are the worst ones, to recognize the proper use of video, not use it where [it] isn't supposed to be used [unclear]. Stick to 16mm. [unclear]. They can afford it. There's no problem, and let the video tape be for small churches. Maybe you can make a limit of 20-30 people to be the limit. If you go above that then you've got to rent a 16mm. I can see a radiant future for video [unclear]. I can see a future for video tape for a church to build up a library for some of these cassettes, and make them available to their home, just like they do with books to be in the home. But we've been hearing reported stories of churches that have taken the video tapes, duplicated them, and sent them back. That... that's disturbing, that the church will lower itself to do things like that. But they say, `It's in the name of Christ we do it. We want to get the message out.' Well, Christ never did anything illegal in order to get the message out. I don't think we can...
SHUSTER: Besides the ethical sort of problems you have with people who rent films, have you had any problems with, uh, producers of films, any patterns like...?
MARKS: Oh, well, you always run into some disagreements [unclear] with producers. They may make demands for their own reasons, but we have to have contracts with producers, and we don't accept them right off. I've had producers that sent contracts, and I'll sent them back with all changes on it, and I'll accept it if you do these. And they'll do it.
SHUSTER: What did the standard contract require? [unclear]?
MARKS: Well, basically, they want to be sure that (see, they own the film. It always remains their property), and therefore they control the rental cost. And they want to be sure it's being taken care of properly, inspected and cleaned and all of that that needs to be done. They want to be sure that the the...the library will recommend it. Now some of them put in a little thing that if a person asks for one of their products, you cannot recommend something else. Well, as libraries, we don't work that way. We don't work producer-wise, we work subject-wise. And if they ask for a subject, and we'll give them the best there is in that subject, regardless of producer. We're... the producer is interested in his product. We're interested in the end product, the church, because that's our ministry,. But that hasn't been any real problem actually, because if we have the film and can do it, we'll give it to them. If we can't, we'll try to get something else.
SHUSTER: So once you you rent a film, it stays their property and you more or less keep it....
MARKS: We keep it for... until the contract says that if you don't fulfill all the obligations of the contract, which includes prompt payments...you see, we have to pay a royalty on every film which is used. A lot of people don't understand that. They think we get all of that money for ourselves, but we don't.
SHUSTER: What percentage usually do you get?
MARKS: There are two basic types of contracts. One is a one-third/two-thirds in which the library keeps one-third, the producer keeps two-thirds. In that the producer provides the film without cost and we catalog the material. The other basic one is the fifty-fifty, where the library pays the print cost on the film, and then keeps fifty percent of the rental. There have been in the past, and I don't know of any right now, where there's a lifetime lease where you pay what they call the pre-royalty, and it could be pretty high. And then you keep all the royalty for the life-time of the film.
SHUSTER: Which type of contract is the most common?
MARKS: The one-third/two-thirds is the most common.
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with Bill Brown?
MARKS: Yes, I've met him, not too much, but I have met him.
SHUSTER: Or have you had World Wide Pictures...?
MARKS: Yes, We have 'em. Paul, oh, what's his name [laughs]?
SHUSTER: Bill Brown?
MARKS: No, Bill Brown's the producer. But Paul, uh, oh, isn't that silly. He came from our church up in Denver and is heading up the distribution [laughs]. Oh. Sometimes I get so disgusted with my memory. [Long pause] Paul Curtis.
SHUSTER: Have you ah, do the particular companies seem to have particular types of churches of people that rent from them?
MARKS: Well, not really. A company does develop a reputation for a certain type of film, and, for instance, a gospel film. We can hardly get the United Methodist church to use a gospel film, although we've got some excellent film
that they could use, because of the word gospel. They shy away from them. And they won't even look at it [in the] catalog. And we try to get a few of them to come look at it. Of course there are the Methodist churches that will use it, but on the whole, particularly out in our area where the most liberal Methodist Seminary in the nation, and they develop liberal preaching.
SHUSTER: Well, that about takes care of all my questions unless there is some further comment you want to make.
MARKS: Well, we've seen a development in a lot of these producers. [Pauses] In the early years, about 35 years ago, I guess, we were out at Michigan. My wife, Hope [unclear], we were over at Muskegon. I heard about this new producer that was starting out there in a barn, name was [unclear] I believe it was. And went out there--it was Gospel Films. Ken Anderson lived in the farmhouse, and he was starting out with Gospel Films. And a few years later moved down to Indiana, and started Ken Anderson films. But they were in his home there with his children, all the studio there in the old barn. Gateway Films started up about ten years, eleven years ago. I'll never forget when Ken Curtis came out to our first convention in Anaheim, and brought a film along. That was, never even heard of him before.
MARKS: Yeah, he is a tall man in the industry. He impressed me so much in that first presentation that he gave. Of course there weren't very many producers back there either, that were doing a job. Now there are producers popping up out of the woodwork all over. We've got over 50 producers that we represent...some of them small, insignificant, some of them don't produce so much.
SHUSTER: How many producers would you say are there?
MARKS: Oh, I suppose if you added all these little guys together, we could have 75 or 100.
SHUSTER: What about Catholics?
MARKS: We represent the Teleketics Films, and Teleketics does good films, so does the Paulists, do some good films, uh, films, but even Catholics don't view their own films as they should. They are beginning to use more evangelical films than they are Teleketics a lot of the time.
SHUSTER: Why is that?
MARKS: Well, they're just turning towards, getting more charismatic, shall we say, whatever that means, more evangelistic in their teaching. And [unclear].
Interestingly enough, the Mormon Church has produced some excellent films. And we've got, ah, there are several of them. One of them, they called The Bridge, and we call it The Sacrifice. And when they brought it to our conven-
tion and showed it, everybody said, `That's a tremendous film. One thing
is needed, and that is [Bible verse] John 3:16 in the film.' And they did. They went back and put it in. And it's a powerful film, the sacrifice of Christ is depicted by a father and his son.
SHUSTER: You say, they called it originally The Sacrifice. Did they have a special edition for you or...?
MARKS: Yeah, I think they, uh... they do. And they changed the name in order to differentiate. The Bridge does not have John 3:16. Otherwise they are the same. Just like Teleketics makes a film on baptism, one for the Catholic church and one for the Protestant church, and they just changed the name. Originally The Living Christ series of films had a Catholic version, because they had to have the imprimatur of the bishop or somebody to approve, on the film. It didn't last. The Catholics said, `why do we have to have that? It's the same film? We know it's the same film [unclear]...
SHUSTER: Well, ah, [unclear] I want to thank you very much for being willing to give me this time. I'd like to thank you.
MARKS: Thank you.
END OF TAPE