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
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
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.
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