Having taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Theology and Film at Duke Divinity School, Regent University, and the College of William and Mary, Professor Terry Lindvall worked with editor Dave Garcia (now of Baylor University) to compile a brief visual lecture on a history of prayers in Hollywood Films.
Present CEO of American Film Institute and founder of the Virginia Film Festival, Bob Gazzale, invited Lindvall to showcase his students’ films at the annual University of Virginia film festival. Several of the films, Bird in a Cage (Antonio Zarro, 1986) and Turtle Races (Jim Lincoln, Lisa Swain, 1987), won national Student Academy Awards in the gold and silver categories respectively.
Then, at the 19th Annual Festival in October 2006, regular guest presenter of the Regal Film Workshop and film critic Roger Ebert fell ill. With the theme of Revelations: Finding God at the Movies, festival director Richard Herskowitz asked Lindvall to prepare two workshops, one on “Spectacular Transcendence: African-American Christianity on Film” and the second on “Hollywood, Teach us to Pray." Both presentations sold out.
A subsequent step involved Lindvall approaching his editor at New York University Press, Jennifer Hammer, to query if there might be interest in an academic book on the topic. The positive response brought forth the 2019 publication of God on the Big Screen: A History of Hollywood Prayers from the Silent Era to Today. To support the research and writing, the Louisville Institute awarded a Project Grant.
Then a grant from the Newington-Cropsey Foundation - from Barbara Newington, Anthony Speiser, and Adelia “Dolly” Rasines - enabled a team to produce this documentary feature. Enlisting former students and friends (e.g. WGA writer Steve Sylvester, associate producer and SCAD professor Chris Auer, and producer Vickie Bronaugh) and present colleagues (e.g. director/editor Stu Minnis of Virginia Wesleyan University), the team secured interviews with writers, directors, critics, and theology professors.