Movie Director: There's a 'Hunger' in America for More Family Films

Michael Foust | Contributor | Updated: Nov 30, 2023
Movie Director: There's a 'Hunger' in America for More Family Films

Movie Director: There's a 'Hunger' in America for More Family Films

The director of a pair of new movies on Great American Pure Flix says there is a “hunger” in the U.S. for family films that permit parents and children alike to enjoy a story without worrying about objectionable content.

Aaron Burns, the director of Birthright Outlaw and Legacy Peak, says companies such as Great American Pure Flix and Sony’s Affirm are feeding “the desire for content” within the family realm. Affirm produced both movies.  

Burns says he experienced, first-hand, the hunger for family-friendly content after he made his first movie, Pendragon: Sword of His Father, in 2008. Although it was a low-budget film, its popularity exceeded his expectations.  

“I play this King Arthur character in it. We filmed that in my backyard. But we spent like $80,000,” Burns told Christians Headlines. “... It was this tiny little movie but a big adventure story. And all of a sudden, this movie we made in our backyard in the Midwest is for sale in hundreds of bookstores, and it's in 14 countries and four languages around the world.” 

The reaction to the film, he said, was “crazy.”

“This movie is not super high quality. But for some reason, it's resonating with people,” he said. “And I think that there was such a hunger for families to have something that the kids would actually want to watch, and the families that actually want to sit down and enjoy watching together something that was affirming to the things that you're trying to teach them.

“And now, a dozen years later, I've got almost four kids and one on the way of my own. And we sit down for family movie night, and you're looking for things to watch. So I think there was a recognition from investors, from studios that there was a hunger for these kinds of stories.”

Family-friendly movies, Burns believes, have raised the bar in quality since that 2008 movie thanks to bigger budgets and better talent. 

There remains a hunger for movies the whole family can watch, he added.

“The audience has matured in some ways and has become more demanding of higher quality stuff. So I feel like if I made that movie today, it probably wouldn't do so well because there's more competition, which I think is a good thing. … I'm looking forward to more of these kinds of films from other filmmakers as well that me and my family can watch on our family movie nights.”

Burns previously served as a producer of Lifemark and Overcomer and as an associate producer of War Room, all major faith-based movies.

His newest movie, Birthright Outlaw, explores the themes of forgiveness and redemption. It stars Lucas Black and Sarah Drew and is set in the Old West.

“You have this girl who grew up as the daughter of the leading outlaw in the West,” Burns said. “And she finds herself one day with a child and says, ‘I don't want to do this anymore, there must be something better out there.’ So she runs away from the gang and finds herself in this small town. Our story picks up 10 or 15 years later when her daughter is growing into a young lady, and she's married to this guy, and her past is long behind her. And it's largely hidden. But then the outlaws come back. And that's where the movie opens. And now she has to face the reality of all the things she's done in her past.”

The plot, he said, explores questions such as: What does it take to make yourself new? 

“In Christ,” he said, “we can become new creations.”

Photo Courtesy: Great American Pure Flix/Used with Permission.

Video Courtesy: Pure Flix via YouTube

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Movie Director: There's a 'Hunger' in America for More Family Films