Saturday, October 31, 2009


On Thursday night, November 12, I'm going to have a writing seminar for three hours in the evening. I'm going to cover some things beyond the normal "how to find an agent." I remember trying to write screenplays in the 90's... I'd get twenty pages in and stop. Then I'd start another script.

I had eight of those. I bought all the standard books... Syd Fields, Robert McKee.. I even bought a "write your screenplay in a year" workbook. That lasted two weeks.

What finally worked for me? Moving forward without looking back. I'd write the twenty pages and then pause-- re-reading them and getting so discouraged. Now I know that writing is in the re-writing. This works well if I've exhaustively outlined. I'm not recommending that you plow forward without much thought yet to the story or it's structure.

So now I've written twelve screenplays-- five of which have now been produced. I feel I'm improving with each one. Always need to be learning and growing, getting better. If I take the attitude I've arrived, then I become unteachable.

These are just some of the things we'll talk about. Click here if you want to come.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sin-- A definition

This post is for my Christian friends. If you aren't a follower of Jesus, then the Bible isn't a standard that you claim to measure your life by-- and that's your choice. But for those that do, here we go.

My mentor, Dr. Mike Riggins defines sin this way:
"Meeting a *real* need in a *wrong* way.

Drinking too much... maybe you're trying to medicate a real pain, but using the wrong medicine. Porn problem-- maybe you have a real need for intimacy that you're going about filling it wrongly. Or the Workaholic who feels of low value unless he's getting accolades at the office. Those "attaboys" might relieve the eating, nagging issue of self doubt for a moment... but it's barely a quick fix.

And the list can go on. I have needs... and sometimes the right way to meet those needs can be a hard long, uphill road, offering many quick turnoffs, that might look good, but in the end they take me back down the hill.

Take the narrow path, because the wide is the one that leads to destruction.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dinner and a Screenplay

New writers, or people with an idea and they just don't know how to put it on paper, come up and ask me all sorts of questions. And people with a screenplay who want to maybe produce it themselves will have a long query list.

So I'm going to have an evening where we all sit down and discuss these issue, questions, and more. It will be laid back, yet very organized with powerpoint and visual aids to illustrate points.

Thursday evening, Nov. 12 from 6pm to 9pm. I'll have some munchies so we won't starve. Cost is on $29. Register here and look for the Screenplay seminar.

Things I might cover (if more advanced writer's sign up, I'll deal with more advanced issues):
* The system for writing that works for me
* Overcome block
* Software I use to Outline, then Write
* The Three Act Structure
* Avoiding Cliches
* Getting your script registered
* Agents?
* Can I make money writing?
* Conflict-- the essence of Story
* Writing characters with different voices
* Avoiding traps

You'll have opportunities to ask questions and I'll craft the evening according to the needs of the attendees. Hope to see you there!

The Upper Room

Normally I don't spin my head around religious trivia, but this has something to do with the script I'm researching so I can begin writing. It's been interesting-- I'm combing through early (first through third century) writings and learning a bunch. (One fact that's very creepy, is that the Catholics have taken what they believe to be body parts of the twelve disciples and they're scattered about at different shrines and churches. For instance, the head of Andrew might reside one place, while his arm another. I apologize my Catholic friends, but I do find that creepy. I'd rather have a relationship with Jesus, the real thing, than the arm of a man who died two thousand years ago.)

Anyway, so I'm researching and found some interesting tidbits. Some have believed that the Upper Room in Jerusalem belonged to young John Mark's mother. I've heard that before and makes for some interesting thoughts-- that Mark was there in the house during the Last Supper.

The other interesting thing is that Barnabus is John Mark's mother's brother-- ie his uncle. Does it stand to reason then that Barnabus was there as well?

We know that Jesus walked around with an entourage. You had the twelve men, handpicked by Jesus. You have the seventy that also followed him. Then you have the 300... In Acts, when they picked a replacement for Judas, the requirement was that the man had to have been with them since the start-- that means there were others than the twelve hanging out all the way through. Barnabus was one. Matthias of course was another.

Anyway, these are all interesting tidbits as I start to outline this script.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, I've got two potential new scripts to write, so I'm in the cud chewing mood. This is where I research and just think about different ideas.

One idea is a Christian movie followup to the Imposter (but not a sequel). It would be totally different and be relatively easy to shoot. But it's requiring some heavy research into the life of Jesus.

What I find hard to fathom, is that there are people who make a life, or a book around questions and issues like this:
* Was Jesus crucified on Friday, or was it really Wednesday?
* Was Jesus born on 2 BC or 5 or even 6BC? (You see, Herod died in 4 BC, and Jesus had to have been born before his death).
* Did you know that on AD 30 and AD 33, the 14th of Nisan (Feast of Unleavened Bread for the Jewish), were both on Fridays? NASA confirmed it.

Anyway, let the research continue...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Last Story Before the Weekend

Yes, it's coming down to the wire now for pre-registration on the seminar and workshop. Could still use a few people more for the workshop, but if we don't get them, it'll be a nice group. Same with the seminar. (To pre-register, go to .)

We were on the set, nearing the twelve hour mark and hoping we could make the day and wrap pretty soon. We were working a split so it was around midnight. A few people had come down with a bug and everyone just wanted to go home by this time.

Last scene was a juicy dramatic one, full of conflict between two actors. Lots of emoting had to happen for Actor #2. So we went through the scenes and finally shot the last few setups. We were a little over by that that. "Check the gate" was called.

The "gate" had some problems. After five minutes of problem checking, we determined the last four or five setups were not there. We needed to shoot them again. Actor #2 was very deflated-- and I understand, they had just gone to some difficult emotional places. I pulled the actor aside and tried to speak words of encouragement.

I went back over to the camera to direct the setup. I still had my headphones on and Actor #2 forget the mic was still on. The Actor said to someone "It's never better the second time around. It will never be as good."

Well, the Actor is right. With that attitude, it can't be as good. If the Actor had said "I'm sick and tired, but who knows, maybe we'll get something even better this time," the actor would have been right.

I have had to reshoot stuff before and sometimes, the reshoot is MUCH better. But to surrender and "mail it in" does no one any good. It didn't help the film, didn't help the actor.

And you'd be surprised what other things we hear when we leave the headphones on-- those mic's are usually buried in the actor's clothing and quickly forgotten.

More stories to help your acting career this weekend! Help us out by registering above.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Locking the Edit

Many people will see me and ask "so how's the movie coming?" Sometimes, I don't know how to answer that question. I might launch in to "Well, we went through the last round of edits from the producer, on the verge of locking picture, trying to coordinate a little second unit, sending CGI raw footage on to the computer graphics guy, setting up for the M&E with sound and getting the picture to the composer so he can spot music cues." Sometimes they glaze over, giving me the "you could have said 'pretty good'."

Others might pick a phrase I used and ask me what that means. So today, we examine what it means to "lock the picture."

In the olden days (the first one hundred years of filmmaking), you would cut the original film negative together. Think of it all lined up there, wound around the spool-- the sound people would need to make a spool with just the sound elements on it (called an "optical negative"). So it had better match *exactly* or peoples lips and music could be off. So if you remove even so much as one inch, or a frame of film from your edit, it could make the sound people off. Thus "locking the edit."

Until you lock the edit, sound and music cannot really do anything. So the first big milestone (not the last), is to edit the movie together and get it "locked." No more changes to the picture. Whatsoever. It's all about length of time. It has to remain exactly the same time length. You could change one shot for another if the time was exact, same seconds and frames.

Now, in the digital age, it's still the same. Sound needs an exact timeline to work from. It's slightly easier to make a change but "slightly easier" should not be interpreted in any way as "easy."

Another way to explain is to imagine that the movie is two distinct elements-- the Sound and the Picture. Both need to be the exact length, because they get worked on separately and eventually at the end have to come back together.

So we're nearing "picture lock" on the current movie. Once that's done, it goes to sound, music, coloring and computer effects. Then it all comes back together in a few months for the final version.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Seminar

A few people have asked about the Seminar versus the Workshop. First, to clarify, if someone takes the Sunday workshop, it includes the Saturday seminar for the same price. So if you sign up for the Workshop for $150, it includes both days.

If you want to just attend the seminar, it's $40 online and $50 at the door. And we've announced the location:

Serendipitous Films
6125 Airport Freeway, Suite 102
Fort Worth, TX

It's at the front of the Studios 121 facility.

The Seminar will differ greatly from the Workshop. I am going to cover a bunch of topics for the seminar-- we might watch some video, see some powerpoint and go through the whole process for acting in a feature film. The Workshop will be all about the audition. The workshoppers will get an original script this week to prepare their audition with.

And again-- this seminar/workshop differs from a lot of the others because it's all coming from a feature film director's POV.

Register at .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rewarding Customer Loyalty

I am amazed in some consumer marketplaces, that loyalty is gone. For instance, in the tv/cable service world, it pays to stay a long, loyal customer-- pays them, the service provider. One day I saw a heck of a deal offered by my dish company for new customers. I called and it took a long time and several call centers to get a similar offer.

Now, I don't even think that will work. It pays to switch services. Here are some of the industries that reward new customers while hoping the old ones stay on the books long enough and hope they don't pay attention:
cell phone
utility provider (at least in Texas)
credit cards

I'm sure there are others... But what if Direct TV actually hired an executive that worked on real customer retention programs? Or any of the other big corporations?

I'm just saying...

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Idea

Back in early May, I was driving one morning and an idea came to me for a followup to a movie like "The Imposter." The idea could be very interesting and would be easily shot (very few locations or company movies).

Before I could start writing the idea down, I got a call-- an idea I had pitched back in December to a producer in NYC just got the greenlight. A script was needed immediately. Thus began a whirlwind of one of the fastest movies I've written and directed. We are almost at the point of locking the edit.

So now I can begin to finally think about other things.

I've been asked where I come up with an idea, or how do I get started writing a script. The answer is different for every single person. When I started screenwriting, I bought all the books-- even a system for "Write your screenplay in a year" which had you doing backstory until about month 6. For my impatient personality, this didn't mesh. But I do believe it works from others.

For me, it's Outlining. I love outlining. I can see the structure, the form and can easily move things around. Or delete them and add others. I can outline at the beginning-- or if I hit a wall, I can skip to the end of the second act or wherever.

You can outline in any good word processing program. I've been using StoryView by Movie Magic. I like the timeline view. I also like the fact I can export to the scriptwriting software with all my scene headings and action for the scene in place.

With an exhaustive outline, the actual first draft can be written in as short as a week (but maybe I did spend weeks and weeks outlining).

Anyway, that's how I do it. So I'm going to open Storyview now and save the title as "72."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Surviving the Edit

I'm going to assume for a moment, dear actor, that you got the training, found the agent, got the audition, called for the call-backs, landed the role, showed up on set, performed beautifully and got that check in the mail.

Here's something that isn't discussed much-- Surviving the Edit.

So the movie comes out and your role is cut way down or even left totally on the cutting room floor. Why? Well, first, you could simply be the victim of having a role and part that doesn't move the story along and the director, editor and producers finally realized that in the edit room. Or cuts had to be made for timing-- gotta keep that edit down in minutes.

Or maybe, because of some performance and mechanical issues, you drove the editor and director crazy in the edit room and they had to cut some stuff. There are times, especially with day player parts, where continuity problems can become a big headache and the obvious solution is with scissors.

You see, maybe you blocked it one way in the master, then you did it totally different in the coverage. I can't stress enough the importance of walking at the same point, sitting at the same time, lifting the glass in the right hand, on every take. Experiment before shooting.

There are a bunch of other reasons why you might get cut down in the edit room and we'll talk about them in the Dallas area on Saturday Oct 24 at the Seminar. Also have a few slots left for the Audition Workshop on Sunday, Oct 25. You can register at .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meisner, Method, et al.

In the beginning, the cavemen were bored around the camp fire, so they told stories and acted them out. Greeks called them "Thespians," then a Russian named Stanislavski happened on the scene. Whew, went through some major history there in a couple of sentences.

Stanislavski brought "realism" to the stage and preached that the actor needed "live the part" during the performance (not to be confused with "the Method" where you live the part everywhere). Lee Strasbourg and Stella Adler taught from Stanislavski's position and trained many of the famous film and tv actors of the US. In Stanislavski's practice, the actor relives similar memories to invoke the needed emotion. Meisner, Strasbourg, the Method, all have roots in Stanislavski's work.

And it's important to note, that these techniques have constantly been reworked and continue to evolve. The Method, commonly attributed to the teachings of Strasborg, also rely heavily on "substitution." Finding that memory and bringing it up in the scene. The Method has developed quite a reputation for actors such as Daniel Day Lewis, Dustin Hoffman, and Christian Bale, who throw themselves into a role, in front of the camera as well as behind.

Sanford Meisner took it a slightly different direction. His goal was to get the actor to live truthfully in an imaginary setting. The focus was not on the lines, but on the subtext below the lines. In this regard, the line itself doesn't matter as long as the actor is truthful to the subtext, the meaning is conveyed.

This is a quick rundown of some of the most popular theories of acting. And I want to note that Sean Patrick Flannery told me about Method actors-- if it hurts, why do it? It's call 'acting' for a reason." I always found that funny.

BTW, none of this has anything to do with the Acting Seminar on Oct 24 and Workshop on Oct 25. All you actors get plenty of training in this stuff. I want to deal with acting from the director's perspective. for more info or to register,
click here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's On-- Acting: A Director's POV

We went official yesterday and put up a registration website (click here).

Here's the details:
Why-- Because I would like to help local talent land more roles in films.
How-- We'll focus on what this director looks for and possibly what other directors look for.
What-- A Seminar on Saturday ($40), then a Workshop on Sunday (limited to 12) for $150. To make it clear, you can come to the Seminar and not the workshop (it would be $40 online). You can come to the Workshop, which the $150 includes the Seminar on Saturday. So the $150 is a two day price.
Where-- TBD, but in the Dallas Fort Worth area. If this does well, we'll take it to other cities.
When-- October 24-25.

If you're a seasoned actor or if you're wanting to get started, it's for you. In the day and a half since we posted, the Workshop is almost sold out, so if you want to do that, you might hurry over to .

See you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Repost: Carry On Wayward Son

I'm glad to hear Kerry's recovering from his stroke in September. We will continue to pray for him, Vicci and his family. On Facebook, we have posted the link to the music video "Carry On Wayward Son". Just go to Facebook and search "The Imposter Movie" group. The following is a repost from early in the year. The COWS song leads off our soundtrack which is now available.

So how did Kerry Livgren become a part of the movie "The Imposter?" For those that don't know, Kerry was an integral part of the super-group Kansas. He wrote the classics Carry On Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind.

I've always been a fan of Christian rock and enjoyed the work of an all girl band called Rachel Rachel back in the early 90's. They did a cover of COWS and a music video to go with it.

A few months before shooting Imposter, I was cleaning out some VHS tapes and saw one where I had recorded a Christian music video show. I had saved it because of the COWS video. In it, the girls rock out and Kerry comes on stage during the solo. I had been racking my brain for who to play the role of the Mentor in the movie and wanted an older Christian rock icon. I thought Kerry would be perfect.

I did a search on the internet and came up with his manager Dutch Dehnert's email address. After firing off an message, the reply was pretty quick. Dutch would pass the info along, but don't get my hopes up.

Long story short, Kerry wasn't too keen at first, but agreed to read the script. And his wife Vicci read the script. And he decided to do it and the movie was so much better for his participation.

So with Kerry attached, I began to dream. Wouldn't it be great if Kerry re-did the song with Kevin Max singing? I didn't think I would be able to talk Kerry in to it, and at first he wasn't big on the idea (He said he'd like to remake some of his songs-- COWS is not one of them). But then I got a CD in the mail with a return address Kansas. That was the day before shooting started. I popped it into the truck's CD and cranked it up. It had no vocals yet, but it was awesome.

The day after the last day of shooting, Kevin laid down some demo vocal tracks. A few months later, we paid for some studio time and Kevin laid them down for real. I had shot some music video segments on the set and during the summer edited the music video.

*When* we release the soundtrack, I'm sure that will be one of the songs. I might release the COWS video soon as well.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Status Update-- The Imposter

We have been working hard on getting the Imposter out there to churches. Right now, that's the only way to see the movie. We're talking to several distributors (having turned down a couple as well, not wanting to necessarily just feed the beast in Hollywood). Our home DVD will come out in early 2010 and we already have the awesome soundtrack ready to go.

Churches have been using the movie as an outreach and some as a fundraiser, including selling the CD's at the event. It is our hope and prayer that the movie can be a great storytelling tool for the church. I hope that masks can come off and people will choose to be true Disciples of Jesus.

You can help us out by asking your church to get the movie. We need this wonderful story to get out there. For the trailer and lots of other videos, you can go to the website.

Also, big shout out to the Assembly of God for posting a nice article about us. You can read it here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stories from the Set, Vol 1

I talked to a couple of people in the acting biz I trust about the upcoming seminar and what would be needed and beneficial. As I talked and told some examples from history on sets, I was reminded to make sure I used plenty of those when I speak.

So here's a quick one. I was shooting a commercial. It was a Western theme with cowboys and horses. We shot in January around a campfire. Just so happened it was the coldest night of the year. One of the cowboys we cast brought his own director's chair, with his name stitched on it. It was a small shoot. Crew of four I think. Cast of 6. But this guy quickly earned the nickname "Hollywood" on the set that night. He was a prima donna.

He name dropped whenever he could about this actor and that actor from his days (maybe a week) out west in LA. And he wasn't that good to back it up. If you're going to be a prima donna, then you'd better have the awesome, incredible talent to back it up. Of course, that's the catch-22-- most PD's are hacks that visualize themselves as MJ on the Hardcourt.

Is a director's chair bad? No. But when it's this small and we just aren't doing chairs, it's sticks out like a sore thumb. Join the team and get yourself a little dirty.

So why does someone name drop and try to convince everyone around him he's Greatness? Because he's compensating. Which means, deep down, he doesn't think he's great or even good. If he were, he wouldn't worry about selling it to all the others. So now I can look and instead of being angry or put out, I feel just sad for him.

The one guy playing the Native American had the flu or something. He shouldn't been out there. But he was. And he worked hard.

BTW, I remember it was so cold that I picked up a 2K Junior, that was still on and held it with my bare hands to try to get a little warm. It was about a break even point. And the extension cords were frozen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Acting: A Director's POV - Getting Closer

As I've jumped into answering all the questions actors (especially local talent) have been asking, I've decided to move forward with a Seminar and a Workshop. And I'm going to do it fairly quickly.

So for all you actors in the North Texas area (or if you want to travel), I'm going to have a Seminar on Saturday October 24 and a Workshop on Sunday October 25. Someone suggested I work with a handful of actors, thus the Workshop idea. And another person asked about seeing some editing, so I'll include that for the Workshop. We'll limit the workshop to 12 so that we can really dive in.

Another suggestion was to pre-send a script and give the workshoppers a role. So based on who signs up, I'll send some scripts out and I'll pick a scene to shoot. On Sunday, we'll shoot the scene and then let the actors see a little editing. Later, I'll send them high resolution Quicktimes they can use for review or for demo.

For the Seminar on Saturday, it will be much wider and predominately a lecture format with Q&A scheduled. We will cover questions about how to get in to acting, how to land more work, how to be a better actor, how to give yourself a better chance at auditions and many others, all told from this director's point of view.

I'm going to try and get some sponsors so I'm not positive on the location yet. Probably won't provide lunch on Saturday, but probably will on Sunday's smaller workshop. The Workshop is more expensive than the Seminar. But I do want the twelve that sign up for the workshop to attend the seminar-- that way we won't have to cover certain things on Sunday and can get right to it. Seminar will be $40 pre-registration ($50 at the door) and the Workshop will be $150.

If I get a lot of demand for the Workshop, I might add the Monday for another group of 12. And we'll see how this goes. Maybe we can do it again later on.

I really believe that the local talent can be competitive with LA and NYC. I'd like to share some things with the talent base here in and around Texas that will give them an edge. I hope you'll want to attend.

FIlm vs HD -- impact on acting

There is much debate on film versus HD in shooting a feature these days. But one thing I've never come across is how the difference can effect the actors. I have directed three 35mm and two HD features.

Film can be very expensive. Cost is measured by the foot of film. First it cost anywhere from $.16 to $.50 a foot to purchase (new stock on the higher side, short ends and re-cans on the lower). Then you have to process the film. Then you have to transfer it to video. On one feature, I calculated the real cost as $1 per foot, all in.

We had a long steadicam shot, a "one-er" as we call it, and it went on for seven takes. Each take chewed up 300 to 400 feet of film. So just in film alone, the cost for that little bit of shooting, in the middle of a long day, was around $2,500.

With those kind of stakes, film directors will rehearse and rehearse, only rolling camera when it's for sure down. Also, there will be a much quicker pace on calling the roll, the slate and the action. Each frame of film costs a lot of money. Don't want to waste it with stammering on the mark of the slate.

Then there's HD. Some goes to tape, but more and more, it's being recorded to hard drives. If you over-shoot, oh bummer, go buy another $200 hard drive for the week's worth of shooting. I know, you're thinking what about backups? Okay, another $200 for a week.

As you can see, the director on a HD shoot can well afford to shoot rehearsals. Let the camera roll. This presents unique challenges for the actors (and later the editor who is swimming in a sea of footage).

If you're shooting the rehearsal, things change. You decide to walk a little further, sit down a little earlier, pick up the bottle a little later. These are some little things you work out in the rehearsal. Later, in post, the editor will be pulling his hair out because on the Master shot (done first), you sat down before a specific line, but then on the close-ups, you didn't sit until much later.

And this is not on you. The director has got to realize that if he's going to shoot the rehearsal, but later changes blocking, it can hose the earlier shots. He needs to make sure he gets a real master in the can.

For me, I like to shoot the rehearsal. By this point, we've already had a "blocking rehearsal" (before lights were set, etc). So when an actor sits or stands has been established. And I find that the first take very often has some magic, that a director might spend another six or seven takes trying to just recapture what he saw in the rehearsal.

So when you arrive on set, if it's a film shoot, prepare for lots of rehearsing without the cameras rolling. Know that there will be a quick call and people will seem even more pressured for every frame advancing through the camera.

For a HD shoot, it's slightly more relaxed, but you need to settle on your choices as an actor early, often without extensive rehearsal. With both, have fun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

H1N1 is still a swine

I find it humorous that you hear increasingly less about the "swine flu." Instead, it's known by the clinical nomenclature "H1N1." From what I've read, the pork industry has taken an undeserved beating, and the media is trying to help.

You don't catch the swine flu from eating bacon. The swine flu is passed through droplets after an infected person (not a pig), coughs or sneezes. But I think the "Droplet Flu" just doesn't have the same punch. Besides, that would be every flu.

Back in the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918, it was called the "Spanish Flu," mainly because the US didn't want people to know it originated with our servicemen who spread the disease going overseas for World War 1. Spanish Flu kept most people in the dark to the true origination.

Now that the panic of the spring has died down, the disease has actually spread more rapidly. But after the over-reaction of the spring, most people don't fear it as much.

I went to the pediatrician's office yesterday with my little girl who presented with a fever and a cough. The nurse was haggard and shook her head and talked about the record number of patients the four doctors at the practice had seen that day. I was just amazed we got in.

My daughter tested positive for H1N1 and we immediately took action-- not out of panic, but because it's the right thing to do. Regardless, the quicker she can get on something like tamiflu, early on in the infection, the lesser the flu will hit her. And we've done enough homework on the issue and know that tamiflu isn't a cure-- it merely helps lessen the symptoms. H1N1 is a virus and will run it's course.

Anyone can call it over reaction, but we went ahead and separated her from the family. I set up the master bedroom, told her it would be like camping, or a hotel and to grab clothes, books, toys and such. I'm the only one with contact to her and yes, I wear an N95 mask as a precaution. I don't care if I catch the flu, but I don't want to spread it to the rest of my family.

Her fever is low and she seems fine but for the cough and sneezing. I'm hoping for a quick time of it.

Romans 8:28 reminds us followers of Jesus that "all things work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose." I know there's purpose here. At the least we've gotten to learn how to handle a pandemic at the family level.

In the meantime, we'll hunker down and pass the sanitizer.

Here's a helpful link for homecare of someone with the flu: click here

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Everyone's a Critic

I'm on both sides of the aisle on this issue. I give and I receive. So let's talk about receiving since it's not more blessed.

Anytime you put your writing... your art out there for people to view, there will be those who criticize the work. If anyone tells you they're immune, they're lying. They might be able to handle it better, but it is never easy.

My personal take is that when criticism bothers me, it's a clear indication my Ego (flesh) is involved. And I can't make the flesh feel better. I've got to find the root and kill it. For instance, on an early movie I did, I had a reviewer not only rip the movie, but attacked me pretty hard. I puffed up looking for a fight. But why did his words bother me? Because there's some truth there. There were some big problems in the movie. Once I can embrace the truth, I can learn and improve.

If somebody makes outlandish claims (in others words, far from truth), it is more likely to not bother me. And I can even laugh. But the hook is where a barb buries deep, and finds some truth down there to catch. never the whole truth, but enough to sting.

Also, I can allow the critics to get under my skin when I was expecting one thing and got another. For instance, there was a guy who did something for a movie of mine, then later I found out he wrote movie reviews. I thought for sure he'd understand what we were doing. Boy was I wrong. If I didn't have the expectations, his review wouldn't have bothered me at all. i would have definitely laughed it off. And later I could.

Now, not everything is to laugh off. I've gotten hard critique that is good. It's something I can work on. That's not fun. But I also get critique from someone who just doesn't get it. And in the end, obviously I wasn't making the movie for him.

The more I chase Purpose, the less Ego I have and the more I can use criticism as a tool and not feel it as a weapon.

Now let's get to the "giving" part. I often have people ask me to critique their work. And nine times out of ten, this person is really looking for affirmation, not constructive criticism. Even when I remind them of this and they give me the "oh I want the truth, I want to grow and improve," I've still seen bridges set on fire.

For instance, a new filmmaker, from the Christian filmmakers arena, sent me his movie and asked me for some critique. I watched the movie-- I really try to do the old "sandwich" approach and give them something good, then something to work on, and finish with something else good. We were real thin on bread there. I gave what I could and limited the "workings" and still this person was extremely offended. They had shot on standard definition, mixing tungsten and daylight, with some severe framerate problems. I don't know, maybe I needed to have told him, "looks great, go get 'em tiger." But he had told me to be honest so I can grow stuff.

So usually I am reluctant to offer criticism and save it for those who really seek it. And that list is very short. My wife and I both write-- I can count on her for honest critique that will help me become a better artist and vice versa. My last script had two, count 'em, two pages that didn't have red ink on them when she was through. And the script was much stronger for it and the producer had very few notes. My assistant Courtney knows my stand, and she has sought real criticism so I give her that (and it's hard to call her "assistant" nowadays, she's really coming into her own). And I can count on my hand the rest that truly seek to improve (because it is human nature to seek approval for art, which is a very vulnerable position).

When I worked at McDonalds in high school, they called the right attitude "green and growing." If I think I've arrived, I become unteachable. And I got a long road still ahead of me.