DeVon Franklin (with Tom Vandehy). The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success. HarperOne, 2017. See here to buy the book.
DeVon Franklin is a producer. I think I watched an interview of him a while back, since I remember seeing an interview of a Hollywood producer who observed the seventh-day Sabbath. That stood out to me, on account of my seventh-day Sabbatarian background. Franklin’s wife is actress Meagan Good. She has a lengthy IMdB, but where I remember her is from the 1997 movie Eve’s Bayou and an episode of Touched by an Angel entitled “The Pact.”
This book is about professional success: finding and pursuing one’s path to serving God through one’s profession, as one uses his or her talents. Because of Franklin’s Hollywood background, Hollywood is the focus in this book. Franklin candidly shares his ups and downs, his successes and mistakes. He supports his insights with anecdotes, both personal and about others, and also with biblical stories. His biblical support for his insights flow smoothly, without coming across as artificial.
As a person with Asperger’s, I wonder if I will achieve professional success. Networking is difficult for me, and it is significant in terms of going anywhere professionally. Much to my surprise, though, I actually liked this book. What impressed me was how sensible and attainable Franklin’s suggestions are, even for me. There are things that people can do in solitude to prepare themselves for what they believe is God’s calling, such as research and following those who have reached professional success. People can serve others, even in small ways, and those can be learning opportunities. They can keep on working, despite setbacks, disappointment, negative feedback, and obscurity. And what makes a person unique can be what allows that person to make a fresh, original contribution.
And what if one reaches success? Franklin discusses how to navigate that success humbly, for believing one’s own press is not only misguided but also can hinder one from making future contributions that are fresh and original.
Franklin talks about the importance of taking bold risks rather than playing things safe, and he offers advice about how to discern whether that is God’s will. Franklin also provides advice about questions to ask when one is seeking to determine whether to move on to something else (i.e., another job, another career).
Much of the book was common sense, yet it was worth reading. Franklin comes across as a friendly coach, and his advice was realistic, practical, constructive, motivating, and reasonable. His anecdotes about how Hollywood works were interesting, for it does not always work as one might think. In terms of critique, what Franklin says about Hollywood being a place of integrity (though Franklin occasionally acknowledges examples of the opposite) is somewhat challenged by the scandals of sexual harassment and misconduct that have been uncovered in Hollywood. Franklin is likely correct that people in Hollywood want to work with those they can trust, people with integrity, and yet he should have acknowledged more the bad side of Hollywood.
An interesting observation, and I am noting it because it is interesting, not to be critical: my understanding is that Franklin is a Seventh-Day Adventist, yet he helped make the movie Heaven Is For Real. Seventh-Day Adventists do not believe in the immortality of the soul but rather maintain that the dead are unconscious until the resurrection. In Heaven Is For Real, however, a child goes to heaven and sees his dead grandfather. Perhaps this issue would have been too academic, technical, or distracting for Franklin to address in this book, but it does raise the question of where the line should be when one makes movies that conflict with one’s beliefs (assuming Franklin accepts soul sleep).
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest.