Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
Brian Shields, founder of Lumen Entertainment, left his Hollywood career in 1997, after realizing that the roles he was playing and shows he was performing in “were assisting in the moral decay of our society.” Sparked by a renewal in his Catholic faith, Shields set out “to dedicate his God-given talents to glorify God.”
He produced the movie Thérèse: The Story of a Soul with St. Luke Productions, and then in 2003 formed Lumen Entertainment, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit production company made up of industry professionals that have a common vision of evangelizing families through the use of high quality productions that are in line with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
What projects are you working on?
I have a movie in the works. However, I'm spending my time working on the distribution problem for Catholic films. Your Ticket Your Voice is a movement to unite Catholic movie watchers, encouraging them to support films that build up the culture.
Obviously, Mel Gibson and the rest of the A-list can get their films out, but there are many awesome filmmakers who don’t have the financial swag to reach the masses. And, we need a tidal wave of great films to influence culture. When we movie watchers join together and show our numbers, it's going to inspire filmmakers to know they can make us movies and not go bankrupt. However great you see the Catholic film world to be, it can be even better.
What motivates you in this work?
Jesus Christ is my motivation. And, even more important, He sustains me to persevere. This is critical in missionary work. If I did not understand that God is completely in control of all aspects of life, I would not have the confidence to trust in him (especially in the darkest of times). And if I did not trust in him, I would think it’s up to me, and end up taking an extended sabbatical. Fortunately, the Truth came to save us from an opponent no human being has ever vanquished. That opponent is sin, which is death. That Victorious Truth motivates me.
Tell me about your background.
I grew up in a Catholic home with loving parents. Around 15, I got into the film industry as an actor. I slowly drifted away from my faith until my spiritual life hit rock bottom while my acting career continued to soar. This led to a big moment of conversion for me. It didn't take long before the Lord put me to the test and presented me with the biggest role of my life, but would come at the price of me glorifying immorality. God gave me enough grace to get out of the enticing entanglement and I knew I needed to go in a different direction with my talents.
After immersing myself in the devout life, I started Lumen, seeing the need for quality entertainment for kids and families. I started it as a nonprofit because I had an innate sense that I was going into missionary territory. I can say that the last 16 years have proved that to be true. (Shields tell his story here.)
Tell me about your film camp.
Pope Benedict XVI said we should train youth in the proper use of the media, so I started to do so in 2008. Film camp has been an amazing experience of conversion, reversion and deepening of our relationships with Jesus Christ. The main thing I share with all those involved is Truth is beautiful, and the more you know Truth and the closer you are to Truth, the more beautiful your art will be. (To learn about the Lumen Film Camp, click here.).
What needs do you have?
The simplest thing I need is for people to go to www.lumen.tv and sign up for the Your Ticket Your Voice campaign. Your voice is so powerful when united. It’s free, too.
What's not free is gas and groceries. If you feel called to support this work of evangelization, we need your support.
What else would you like to share?
God did not give us hearts of fear but hearts full of courage and joy. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. Go out in full force, strengthened by the Creator of the Universe, your King and Father. And when you’ve caressed his loving face in the hearts of your family, open your front door and adventure out into the world.