Monday, July 21, 2014

Interview: Author Chester Branch

Today's post is an interview with Chester Branch, an author and a friend of mine from graduate school, where we both earned our MFA degrees. He has written a couple of books, but today I will be focusing on his book called, Holy Subtext.

I really appreciate him taking the time to do this for me.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey Scott! Let me take this opportunity to say that you’ve been such a source of inspiration for me through the years. Also, congratulations on your success as a family man and a writer.

As for me, I now have a BA in film and theology, MA in Cinema and Television, and an MFA in Screenwriting. I have also recently completed a Doctorate from the Regent School of Business and Leadership -- with a focus on Transmedia Consulting. I currently work as a transmedia producer for, a transmedia consultant for several projects, and a professor of transmedia storytelling at Regent University.

What is the premise of Holy Subtext? 

The premise is that almost every narrative mirrors the grand gospel narrative that follows the path of orphan – wanderer – warrior – martyr.

How did you come about to write it?

I came to write about this while studying meta-narrative trends in cinema.

(Most popular narratives follow this model aka the orphan model.)

What was your purpose in writing this book?

I was drawn to the story behind telling stories – the Grand Gospel Narrative that drives us all. I talk about this more in my book Holy Subtext but my desire is to make as many people aware of this grand gospel message as possible.

Why do you think the use of the “Christ-figure” is so prevalent and powerful in movies?

The Christ-figure taps into the grand gospel narrative that we’re all telling in our everyday experiences.

In your opinion, what movie employs this device most powerfully?

This will vary from person to person but because Rocky speaks to me the loudest, I would have to say Rocky. By the way, it is no mistake that his nick name is Rock (Petra), the first shot in the first movie is of Christ, and that he fights the good fight of faith in the resurrection gym.

Do you believe the “Holy Subtext,” as you term it, is used intentionally in these movies, or is it what the viewer brings to the movie?

It’s both. In Rocky, Stallone says that all of the Holy Subtext was intentional. But subtext involves a two-way conversation where one can be talking about one thing while the hearer thinks they’re talking about something else. Often, a film will communicate meta-narrative signifiers because they are popular, but they will not realize that their popularity stems from what Paul calls creation’s desire for redemption. 

Have you written any other books? And if so, what topics do they cover?

Yes. I speak more about the future of screenwriting in my Amazon bestseller Parables Today.

My eBook Parables Today: A Christian’s Guide to Transmedia Screenwriting has been endorsed by the former President of Walt Disney pictures and the former President of Paramount Pictures. It is also an Amazon best seller. The image above is from my Parables Today Facebook Page

On 10/19/2013, I was ranked as the 4th best selling eBook and the only best selling Christian eBook on Screenwriting and Transmedia.

In your opinion, how should Christians view art, the movies, and Hollywood?

Historically art, the movies and Hollywood were a result of Christianity. The same can be said about Science and Higher Education. Christians should not shy away from any of these things. Instead, they should be part of transforming the way we currently view these areas.

There are people out there that believe certain Christian filmmakers have a difficult time creating “holy subtext.” Many of the films seem to lack any subtext whatsoever. Do you agree with this? If so, why is this the case?

Some Christian artists do have a hard time writing with holy subtext. I would say the reason is because some Christians have been taught to be fearful and guilty. This has caused them to censor their creative nature. God is a God of love. The more we rest in his restoration, the easier it will be for us to create.

Are there any projects you are currently working on now, or in the near future?

I’m consulting several film/TV projects in the Middle East, through the classes that I teach. I’m working on a story generator app for Christian writers. I’m also working with some people in Hong Kong on Transmedia Education – what I consider to be the future of education.

Thanks again Scott taking this time to talk. God Bless!


  1. Fascinating. Can you recommend what I might read for more information about transmedia storytelling?

    1. Great question! I've notified Chester, and hopefully he will stop by and answer this question for you (as he is the best person to do that).

  2. I would suggest the ebook Parables Today and the book Convergence Culture but Parables Today is better :)

    1. Oh, I also talked a little bit about Transmedia with the Christian Film Database late last year