A New Movie About Christian Worship Band Hillsong United
by Moriah Dee, contributing writer
If you grew up in the church, you have probably heard the name Hillsong. Hillsong is a quickly growing global church that started in Australia 30 years ago. The church now has over 30 locations around the world, two of which have just started this year. Many Christians across the globe have probably heard something about the lead pastor Brian Houston, and even more Christians have heard of the world famous worship band that came out of this global house. Hillsong United was started by Pastor Brian Houston’s son Joel Houston in 1998 and has become one of the most well-known Christian worship bands around the world. Their shows are often compared to rock shows, and their tours sell out venues around the world.
This September a movie about the band is going to be released in theaters worldwide. The trend in documentaries about musicians is not new, but HILLSONG: LET HOPE RISE will be the first one centered on a worship band. If you ask any of the members of United, however, they will tell you that they did not go going looking for this opportunity, but that it came to them.
The idea to make a movie about the church and specifically United was presented to Pastor Brian Houston late in 2013 by a group of Hollywood producers. After seeing a United concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Matt Weaver, who was not a believer at the time, was so impacted by the music that he came up with the idea for the movie. He said he wanted to show the world the music that impacted his life so much. The initial response from the church to the idea was a general, “Who would want to see a movie about us?” It’s this humility that the church and the band are built upon. During the first part of 2014, Hillsong United was followed around by cameras as they began the process of writing and producing a new album.
If you ask anyone who is close to the members of United, they will tell you about their humility. With everything that they do, the goal of the band is to point people toward the ultimate artist, God. They have the same goal for the upcoming movie. In the trailer for the movie Joel Houston talks about his process for writing songs. “I just want to hear from heaven.” He says the goal was never to be cool or popular, but to write songs that were inspired by God and point people to God.
“I hope you like our songs. We think they’re pretty cool,” is the way that Joel Houston introduced the new album Empires at their live debut last month in Los Angeles. In the small club setting you would never have guessed that this group of 11 believers have sold over 16 million albums worldwide. That’s because for this band that’s not their focus. It’s about Jesus, not albums.
The movie was directed by Michael John Warren, who is known for Jay-Z’s FADE TO BLACK. The fact that the movie was produced and directed by non-Christians in Hollywood might worry some people, but the reviews of everyone who has seen the movie have been very positive. Last month during the staff retreat at the church in Australia the staff was able to see a special screening of the movie. On her instagram account, Hillsong’s creative director Cass Langton said of the movie, “I cannot wait to take people to see LET HOPE RISE when it comes out!” She also exclaimed that they, “captured and told the story well.”
The movie is set to be released in theaters September 30 of this year.