Thursday, January 28, 2010

Music Currently

Music is important to me-- and sometimes it's been unhealthy. There was a time, as a teenager, I would say music was my best friend. It was the only person I could talk to. Sad, yes.

Anyway, I did want to talk about what current music I'm listening to. And if you have some tunes rolling around in your head, let us know as well.

I've discovered FireFlight. I really like this Christian Rock band. They have a really good sound. Also been listening to Red lately. And Seventh Day Slumber's It Is Well, is an awesome worship album.

Songs that I've been playing over and over this month of January include some of the new cuts from Rising Stars-- The Refund Desk song really rocks-- live what Ben Reynolds and Jason Germain are doing. We also got Lauren Ashley Carter to sing a song for the soundtrack and it's incredible. I wish I could share that with the world, but alas, not yet. Everyone talks about how expressive Lauren's eyes are, but what's really standing out to me, is how expressive her voice is. Matches the eyes.

Wrapped in Your Arms by FireFlight. Red's Start Again-- my twelve year old son wanted this one and I see why. I pulled my old Burlap to Cashmere album out and have been listening to some tunes off it.

So what about you?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My First Business Plan

The year was 1999. I knew that I was getting closer to launching out on my own to make my first feature film "The Keyman." I was at 40,000 feet over the Atlantic headed for Spain.

The guy I was seated next to looked like a businessman type. I had a very rough draft of my first business plan and I asked him if he wanted to read it and give notes. He looked through it and gave me some of the best concise advice I'd ever had.

"First," he started, "I invest based on what the idea is and on the people who are to make the idea work." He went on to tell me that the rest was fluff, mostly necessary but fluff nonetheless. He wanted to know clearly what the idea was and who was doing it.

On that flight I came up with what I began to call the three "R's." And these have led off every business plan I've done.

Right Idea
Right Team
Return on Investment

My Executive Summary begins here. Now as I pitched investors over the years, I've added, adjusted and changed some of the info. Probably the biggest addition to the guy on the plane-- comparable picture reports and financial projections. And for that information, FilmProfit has been a great source.

I'll go into all this, including providing you samples from my business plan in the workbook for the "Greenlight Yourself: course. Were prepping workbooks now for Saturday's class in Fort Worth, so if you plan on attending and haven't registered, please hurry and do so.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seminar Update

A week ago I was worried about the Acting seminar for next Sunday. Since a couple who signed up were coming from out of town, I decided to just lift the minimum and have it even if there were only four or five. I also lowered the price to $35 (form $50). Now suddenly, we are starting to get a strong attendance. Not sure why the sudden interest. Don't know if it was the price drop or just word of mouth, but I'm glad we'll have a bunch coming.

The Greenlight Yourself is looking good as well. I'm asking everyone to make sure they register for this one in advance-- I'm making workbooks for each attendee. For Acting: A Director's POV, it's not as critical to pre-register.

We still have room in both semianrs, so I hope you can make it. For more info and registration, go to

Stories from the Farm

There was a land where there were only sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. And a shepherd. The sheep bristled with self importance. Everything seemed to be about them. There were nice sheep. Dumb sheep. Smart sheep. Lazy sheep. Really all kinds.

The wolves also came in a variety of flavors. There were the ravenous ones that would grab a sheep by it's throat and not let go until it had consumed it. And there were nice wolves who spoke kindly to the sheep until it too was devoured. And of course the wolves who dressed up like sheep.

The sheepdogs were few and far between. Ever vigilant, the sheepdog had to watch out for sheep, many of whom didn't want to be watched out for-- who thought themselves smarter than most others-- and also keep a lookout for the wolves. The sheepdogs had to nip at the heels of the sheep to keep them in line and take their constant bleating. The sheepdogs were a small lonely group.

The sheepdog's job was difficult. There were times that sheep acted like wolves and times the wolves acted like sheep. And the real interesting masquerade-- when the sheep or wolves acted like sheepdogs.

As the days wore on, there became fewer and fewer sheepdogs. And the number of wolves masquerading as sheep and sheepdogs increased. The sheepdog continued their lonely travail because soon, the knew the Shepherd would return.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Redux: Pink Slip at the Cheesecake Factory

I'm packing up the powerpoint and heading to North Church in Carrolton for the CMA meeting. One of the most popular posts this blog has had was a year ago with "Pink Slip at the Cheesecake Factory." Here it is, version 2.0.

I went to Nashville last year in February. The National Religious Broadcasters convention. Talked about "The Imposter". Worked on getting buzz going. So what's the most common comment when mentioning a Christian movie?

"Most Christian movies are cheesy."

Well, you're right. Christian movies are where Christian music was 25 years ago. Almost any Christian movie you pick up and watch will be high in the cheese factor. Why?

Let's first start by defining "cheese." In this context, it means hokey, on the nose (OTN), predictable and the most accurate-- doesn't ring true. Wait a minute! Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, the life..." If He's the truth, why are most Christian movies not ringing with that truth? (Perhaps they're trying to force some noble, or even God message out of their own ego or flesh?) Now that's a good question. I've got some ideas, but I'll save that for another blog entry.

So what is OTN? That's where you actually say what you mean. What's wrong with that? Well, in scriptwriting, it's a rookie mistake. People actually *don't* say what they mean. It's the difference between "text" and "subtext." If I say "sure I'd like to have lunch with you," I could actually really mean, "I really don't want to have lunch with you, but I'm trapped and will look like a bad guy if I turn you down." Hokey, cheesy writing in this scene would be for the character to actually say "I hate you and don't want to have lunch with you." It's much more interesting for him to say something else and just mean that underneath. But then to do that, you'd actually have to have some actors with chops. And that's something you usually don't find in a Christian movie.

So, the bottom line is STORYTELLING. And as more and more people learn the craft, I think you'll see the quality of Christian movies increase. But it will take courage to write stories that aren't OTN, that don't require brain-checking at the door, and might actually make some people uncomfortable. BTW, Jesus was a Master Storyteller.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kids and Cars Last Day

I mentioned the other day you can help the awesome organization "Kids and Cars" by voting for them... we're hoping they get awarded $$$ from Chase. Here's the info:

Click…Vote…Save Lives!

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Help win $1MM by voting for us from Jan. 21-22nd on Facebook at:
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Acting: A Director's POV

Registrations continue for the last weekend of January. "Greenlight Yourself" is doing pretty good. The "Acting: A Director's POV" not so good. So I'm dropping the price to $35 from $50. You can register at

Info: This acting seminar is different than most of the others-- it's
taught by a working film Director. Dan Millican, writer/director of five
feature films, who shoots them here in Texas, talks about what Directors
look for in actors, from the audition to the edit room.

Find out what the Director thinks about in the audition-- what he looks
for. What he doesn't. How you prepare for that role... And how to
perform in the best way to avoid being cut in the edit room.

He finishes the day with an in depth scene study, using the raw footage
with all the takes from a scene in one of his movies.

Sunday, Jan 31 from 9am to 5pm
6125 Airport Freeway, Suite 102, Ft. Worth (Studios 121 building)
Cost was $50, now $35.
Register at

The Best Defense is to Take Offense

I hope you read the blog entry on Identity, because this builds on that. When I find myself getting hurt and offended, it's usually a clear sign my flesh, or Ego (as I call it) is in play. Because I can't see my character flaws as clearly as others can see them, it's important to recognize the signs so I can deal with it.

And by deal with it, I mean kill it.

If somebody hurls an insult my way, if I take offense, then clearly I'm insecure about my Identity and who God made me to be. If somebody violates my rights and I rise up in anger, then obviously I'm clinging to rights which is a trait of a master, not a servant... I have forgotten I have no rights. Except maybe the right to die.

Going down the Offensive Playbook, a business client, maybe abrasive and obnoxious, throws me under the bus, when another vendor let him down... My fleshly instinct is to quickly and vehemently defend myself. Because I'm offended. That has to die. If God defends me, why do I need to pick that up? As the servant here, I'll let the Master handle it.

A family member accuses me of the very crime they're perpetuating. Ewww, that's a hard one. Do I not know who I am? Then it doesn't matter... and also it's not my job to "fix" them. That's slapping back-- trying to make that pain of their punch go away by punching back-- just maybe in a passive-aggressive way. Which is still all Ego.

This doesn't mean shoving these feelings down until way day I explode. It means "diffusing" them so that they don't rule my life. Here's how I diffuse them. In prayer, I identify the flesh in myself. I determine the cause-- for instance, in the client scenario, maybe others were CC'd and so why am I offended? Ahh, because I'm worried about what they think of me... Insecurity. Finding my value and self worth by approval of men, not God. So then the important next step-- remind myself who I am. I am wonderfully and fearfully made by God.

It's not enough to fall into a mantra of "I'm not going to get angry, I'm not going to get angry, "I'm not going to get angry," while my teeth are clinched and my blood pressure skyrockets. But to calmly remember who I really am-- this diffuses the offense.

Hey, the Offender is acting out of their own Ego, probably from mountains of insecurity and feelings of inferiority. Does their opinion even matter here?

In the eternal perspective, not at all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"The Imposter" Message

I've been asked, most recently on the Facebook Imposter Movie group, what is the message of the movie? As I interviewed the actors on the set, what surprised me is how, to each person, the message was different. I'm glad for this.

So what is the message as I see it? I don't want to give too much away, and I also don't want to influence your take when you watch it. I'll answer the question with broad strokes, but I'd also love to hear from those who have seen it what they think the message of the movie is.

I believe that to draw close to Jesus is to increasingly understand and comprehend exactly who my true identity is. In the first chapter of James, the author writes that the double minded man, unstable in all his ways, looks at the mirror and forgets what he looks like.

There is Truth. And there is my reality based on my own experiences. Which isn't necessarily Truth. But I might have convinced myself it's Truth.

To put it into the movie's terms-- Johnny C, at the beginning of the movie, sincerely believes that he's a Christian. He grew up in church. Walked down the aisle as a teen, cried and got goosebumps, and thought he got his ticket to heaven, or fire insurance, or whatever you want to call it. Is this his reality? Yes. Is it Truth? No.

Also, Johnny believes he is a good father and a decent husband. Now to those looking in, it's clear and obvious he's not. But Johnny doesn't see objectively. BTW, neither do I on some glaring, personal character issues. And neither do you.

So Johnny, fed by the stardom of his status as lead singer for a hot Christian band, is miles away in his reality from what the truth is. (Which we would call "delusion.")

So I believe that we are all some distance away from marrying our own "reality" with God's Truth. As I pull off a mask, throw away a costume (like the "dad of the year" one I wore for a time, while living selfishly for myself at their expense), I turn closer to Jesus.

The Truth? Found in God's Word. Ps. 139, God says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Romans tells me that there's the flesh and the spirit. The flesh is bad. It cannot be educated, made to smell better, or tolerated. That part of me must be killed. And the guy that wrote most of the New Testament spoke about having to die daily to the flesh. But the spirit is the handiwork of God. I am specially made and created by Him. (And so not to get a "better than thou" mentality), I am made special, just like every single one of you.

This is one message of the movie.


Lately, I've discovered the joy of teaching. I've done a few seminars on acting and filmmaking. And yesterday, I finished teaching my first university class. And I'll be speaking at the Christian Media Association this Saturday in Dallas. What I've been teaching is simply the things I've learned on the filmmaking journey...

I knew I wanted to make movies, so I wrote down some goals on a five year plan. Then I worked on hitting the milestones necessary in the plan. It took a little longer than the five years but that didn't matter.

I read every book I could find that offered any assistance on how to get a movie funded, made and sold. I attended seminars. In fact, the best information I got for fundraising, came from a seminar I attended. I also have continued learning from, of all places, DVD commentaries from the filmmakers.

If you are wanting to make a movie. Or act in a movie. If you are wanting to get your movie distributed. Then learn everything you can. There are some really good books. Go to SXSW and attend the panels. Great info there. Or a film fest in your area.

And you're welcome to come to "Greenlight Yourself" that I teach. Next up is Fort Worth on January 30th. Then Feb 27 in South Florida. I also have a class for actors, all from a director's point of view on Jan 31 in Fort Worth. Register at .

One question i get is "I can't make it that date, are you going to offer it again?" I don't know. I'm a working filmmaker. When I get into a movie, it's usually all consuming. The only time I can do any seminars is between movies.

I look forward to seeing some of you at one of these meetings or seminars. We have a lot of fun in learning.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kids and Cars

Ever since I made the movie "The Keyman" and those who have seen it understand the connection, I have worked with a non-profit called "Kids and Cars." THey have a chance to get $100,000 through a contest and I'm encouraging everyone to go vote for them. Only takes a moment. Here's the rundown:

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Facebook users are needed to vote from January 15-January 22nd, 2010. There’s only 4 days (96 hours) left to vote. The charity that receives the largest number of votes will be awarded a $1MM grant and the 5 runners-up will each receive a $100K grant. It’s easy. It’s quick. And best of all, IT’S FREE!!! In order to help, virtually any Facebook user can vote for us; which literally takes 30 seconds. is also asking for assistance in passing the message along. Here are few ways you can help:
Ask friends, family, colleagues, church family, groups, organizations, etc… to vote and spread the word!
Pass out flyers, put flyers on vehicles, and ask local businesses to pass out flyers!
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Post the link to vote as your status on Facebook, on your friend’s wall, etc…

For more information on how you can help win one of these grants please contact Amber Rollins, (913) 327-0013 or

Today, you could save a child’s life with just one click! Thanks a million!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


It was a good night at the Dallas Screenwriter's Association meeting last evening. A large group assembled to hear from the panel which included Director of Photography Ron Gonzalez, Producers Sally Helppie and Chad Gundersen, and myself.

The questions were good, pointed and focused. The questions that drew the biggest interest concerned getting a script produced. And there's two distinct ways this happens. Somebody produces your script, or you produce your script.

Obviously, I'm of the latter camp. Getting a script produced is a very hard endeavor. But even more so when you depend on other people to get it done. Let's examine method A, getting someone to produce your script.

Everything begins with a finished script, so make sure that's ready to go. And Sally made an excellent point last night-- don't just have one, but have several. More than once, she said, she's meet with a screenwriter, liked their style, but not that particular script.

Then, you need an agent or someone to represent you. This is a must. Due to tort, no one wants to read an unsolicited script. We return them unopened. We delete the email. So if you want someone to make your script into a movie, it begins with someone pushing it to the producers.

The next successful step usually involves a producer optioning your script. What this means is that they'll give you a little bit of money now, so that they can have the rights to the script for whatever option period, and the option spells out the purchase price if it were to go into production.

As the deal moves along, the script enters production and you get the purchase price check in the mail. And the IMDB credit. Fame and Fortune.

Then there's method B-- DIY. The key to success (success defined as just getting your movie made) in this method centers on your ability to secure the funding for the movie. You need to know how to raise money. There's a lot of legal stuff for securities and you do this wrong and you could end up in a federal prison, so don't take it lightly. For me, I hired a knowledgeable attorney and got the entities setup and he taught me how to do the paperwork and what the investors needed to sign, etc.

The hard part here is finding the investors. In the "Greenlight Yourself" seminar (Jan 30, for info/registration), I not only cover this, I have you practice pitching to investors. You do need to learn some sales skills. Once you have raised the money, then you hire people that can help you in every step-- be it other producers, production manager, even a director if you don't plan on doing that part yourself.

The it's off to the races and you're making your movie. Now for distribution, it's a whole 'nuther story, and yes, we cover that as well in the seminar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State of the Christian Film Industry

In honor of the upcoming State of the Union, which will preempt someone's favorite tv show (and I don't know which), I want to discuss the Christian Film Industry.

In 1972, I was still coloring with crayons. But my family bought 2nd Chapter of Acts and Barry McGwire's "To The Bride" double album. The seventies were an interesting time for the new Christian Contemporary Music industry. It was conceived in the Jesus Movement of the late Sixties when all those hippies/musician's got saved. Chuck Girard and Love Song (our second album). Keith Green. And so on.

By 1980, it was getting big. Christian album sales surpassed Jazz as a genre. People took notice. Up to this point, there was a lot of passion to make music, but sometimes lacked know-how. Christian music had a reputation of being second fiddle (pun intended) to it's secular big brother. The music, sometimes, was awfully produced, with lyrics that would make some people cringe. And there were some that stood out.

By the 90's, you had dcTalk, Newsboys and others who took the quality up... Emmy's were won. Secular people again, took notice. By the new millennium, Christian music rivaled the quality of secular music for the most part.

This issue of quality always goes back to money. In 1980, a sale of a Christian album was not going to be anywhere near the mark of a secualr album. So record companies knew they would get a nice return by pouring in money to make it better in the secular market. For the Christian sales, you had to keep it pennies to the dollar in hopes of making a living.

So how does all this relate to the Christian Film industry? Christian movies are where Christian rock music was in 1980. The market isn't there... yet. So people who bankroll these expensive endeavors just cannot afford to open their wallets very big. Sure, there are exceptions. Amy Grant in 1980. Sherwood Pictures in 2010. But for everyone else, it is the time for maximum creativity and resourcefulness. Learning how do do something on a nickel, when the others do it on a dollar, stretches the artist. They either create something really cool and unusual, or they just don't get it done and it looks like a nickel. And, unfortunately, the latter is more common.

Yes, there was once a Christian movie industry. In the 1970's and into the 80's, youth groups would order a 16mm print of a Billy Graham Evangelical Association movie or the like, and show it at a lock in. I still remember seeing an awesome movie in 1985 that way. But with the growth of video cassettes, somehow, the Christian movie industry just couldn't get it done. Sure, there were some who tried.

Two years ago, as I thought about making "The Imposter," I walked through the aisles of LifeWay. The DVD racks were consumed with mostly concert and comedy videos. The few movies were either the Christian Romance stuff (Janette Oak), or Facing the Giants (and the re-release of Flywheel). And there were a couple of classics like Charlton Heston's Ten Commandments and stuff like that.

Today, there is still very little in the way of movies on the shelves at the Christian book stores. But there's more than two years ago. Now you can start to see a few pop up. My prediction is that it will get a lot more crowded. I believe people will start getting Christian movies-- but it will take a little time.

Right now, Christian movie distributors are having to fight this horrible quality reputation. And make no mistake about it, there is a lot of horrible quality Christian Films out there (search the archives of this blog for Pink Slip at the Cheesecake Factory). I hear the modern day film pharisees cry out, "but Dan, you're forgetting God's hand on my film and the power of grace!" Grace, btw, is the chance to do it again and make it right.

So if you were the head of a Christian movie distributor, and you look around, most of the movies that you can pick up to try and sell to retailers and such are pretty bad.

Now some interesting things about the Christian market-- they're very forgiving of production value (quality) if the story's there (like "Flywheel"). However, if you try to make an edgy point, or something that might not be tasty to ingest theologically, you've got some problems. You see, to feed your family and make the house payment, you've got to move numbers of units. So Christian filmmakers will have to make the choice thousands of pastors have to make-- you'll get more sales at a cotton candy stand than a vegetable stand.

Today, the Christian Music industry is clearly a business dominated by a lot of people that I'm not sure are true Disciples of Jesus. Yes, the quality of the music is better. But I'm not so sure that it's Purpose. Will the Christian Movie industry follow Music's lead? Will the films get better quality-wise, only to fall into the morass of candy-coated stories, the entertain and maybe give a few moments of chill bumps, but burn up in the fire of real life?

Will the "art" be created by a bunch of spiritual "Imposters" who tell you what you want to hear so that you'll hit the "order now" button? Hmmmm.

Yes, "The Imposter" hits stores on February 23. I know that God cares for me and will provide for me and my family. yes I do hope this is one way and that people buy it. But I will not change the message to make it more palatable for the sake of sales.

And yes, sometimes I ask God to give me a gentle message maybe this time to share in film. Regardless, my success will not be defined by moving thousands and thousands of DVD units. My success will be defined by my faithfulness to what He asks me to do.

If I ever boast about numbers-- that I have "x number of readers on this blog" or that we've sold 100,000 units of "The Imposter," then it's a sign that I'm walking in the flesh (or Ego). Doesn't mean that I don't look at the numbers-- it might be God's way of providing. But the difference is the word "boast." Which means I find my value in these numbers. I find my success in these numbers. That is flesh. That is Ego. It's why I believe God punished David severely for taking a census.

The Christian Movie industry is new and exciting, filled with possibilities and challenges. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring. Look for more movie choices... some of them really awful, a few really good. Look for the industry/business types creating copycats of anything that made money (Fireproof taught Sony the value of cross media-- creating a book, CD and so forth).

And if God has given you a story to tell, then go tell it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reminder-- FIlmmaking and Actor classes

We're taking registrations for the "Greenlight Yourself" filmmaking class for January 30 at . Then on Sunday 31, we're having the "Acting: A Director's POV" seminar. For more info on either or both, click on that link above and check it out.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mountain Climbing Comparissons

For those who have read this blog on any kind of a regular basis, know that I often equate filmmaking with climbing a mountain. Not that I would ever really climb a mountain-- but something about Everest intrigues me. The last few years I've read lots of books and surfed lots of information, and watched all the documentaries and reality shows on climbing the worlds tallest mountain.

But the analogy is apt. Here's a list of why Climbing Everest is like making a Movie:
* The climb is made in the preparation, just like a film is made in prep.
* Tools are very important, but nothing matches pure determination and passion.
* Without the proper tools, you can fall to your death.
* You need climbing guides and partners who know their stuff, or they may get you killed as well.
* Most crashes/fatalities occur on the way down (post production/distribution/deliverables surprise people)
* A good route gives you the best chance to succeed-- a bad route often cannot be done.
* Sometimes, when the storm is blowing, you're snowblind, you've got to dig deep just to take step after step.
* When you get to the top, it's a beautiful site, but also you'll be surprised at all the garbage left there.
* When you're climbing, especially in the latter stages, you think "I'll never do this again." Only to find later, in the comfort of your house, you're planning that next climb.
* You can be a jerk to all those climbing with you, and it may even get you to the top, but it usually comes back to get you and it's a miserable way to live.
* Training is crucial... before you ever set foot on the mountain, you need to have climbed lesser mountains and trained with gear and people you'll be using.
* Sometimes, the sky clears, and the path opens up and you have a magical ascent. Other times, the conditions are horrible and it takes everything you've got just to take another step. Sometimes, those two polar opposite conditions happen on the same climb.
* A lot of Egos are bigger than Everest.
* Some people climb without clear purpose or mission.
* Some people climb with ego-driven purpose or mission and the bodies lay in their paths.
* Some people climb because they think it's all so cool.
* You have to raise the money for the climb.
* Sometimes, even total idiots make it to the top.
* Setting up Base Camp is the same as setting up the Production Office during prep.

I'm sure I can keep adding more and more, but I think you begin to get the point. For you filmmakers, there will be times that it's hard to get your breath, every step is painful and difficult, and you wonder why in the world you're doing this. It's at this point that you need your passion. If you don't have it, you'll fail here. If you have passion, it will be the juice that keeps your feet moving, one painful step after another.

If you'd like to learn more about this, I'm giving a seminar on how to get climbing in a movie on Saturday Jan 30. Go to for more info.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Speaking at CMA Saturday Jan 23

Here's what the CMA sent out, hope you can come:

Dan Millican, Producer, Director & Writer - CMA Speaker Saturday Jan 23 at 10 AM

Dallas’s own Dan Millican is an award winning producer, director and writer. He is the founder of Serendiptous Films whose films have been featured on Showtime and Lifetime. His new Christian film,”The Imposter” will be released nationally on DVD February, 2010.

CMA Dallas Chapter Meetings at North Church: 1615 West Beltline Rd, Carrollton, TX (1 mile west of I-35) CMA Meetings are free.

Dan Millican's Bio:
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Millican went on to win over 30 prestigious international awards for his writing, directing, editing, film production, television, music videos, commercials and corporate films.

Making the transition between Commercials and Music Videos to features in 2000, in his first film The Keyman: Finding Redemption, Millican explored the issues of regret and abandonment on the streets and the destructive power of unforgiveness. That movie starred Adam Baldwin and is being released worldwide by Artistview Entertainment out of LA. Veteran Los Angeles actor Tom Wright was chosen to play the role of a homeless man. Wright has gone on to have a role in every one of Millican's films since then.

Millican's sophomore project was the film A Promise Kept starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Joey Lauren Adams, Jeff Speakman and Mimi Rogers (The Gunman for US video). Worldwide sales were strong and the movie was released on video in the summer of 2004. Lifetime Movie Network premiered the film on television in January of 2005.

Followed by Striking Range, which is drawn from Millican's experiences working in the corporate environment. In addition to Lou Diamond Phillips, the movie also stars Yancy Butler, Glenn Moreshower and Jeff Speakman.

The Imposter is Millican's fourth film and his first to be targeted for the Christian audience (although Christian themes are woven through all his movies). The movie's main character, Johnny C, played by Max, is a Christian rock star for a popular band called Grand_Design. The plot mirrors the prodigal son story from the Bible with a few significant twists.

"Rising Stars" is the fifth film by Millican and stars Barry Corbin, Catherine Mary Stewart, Christian recording star Rebecca St. James and Fisher Stevens.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Assistance with Assistants

Wanted: Looking for a person with a problem-solving attitude.

Through the years, I've had an assistant off and on. I usually pay minimum wage to $10 an hour, so it's not something you'll make a living at. So traditionally, it's been filled by college students looking to supplement their communications/film degree while attending school.

It's usually part time with extremely flexible hours. And sometimes, it will be a week or two with no hours, and other times can see many hours in a week. Depends on how much stuff Serendipitous has going on and how much stuff the assistant has going on.

I look at the position as more of an apprenticeship. I invest more than the low pay-- I invest a lot of time teaching and training what I know. In the past, I haven't ever posted anything-- it's been a referral by someone I knew in the industry of some student... or a friend of a friend had a college student needing work... Or in the case of Courtney, her roommate was my assistant and Courtney wanted to help too. Eventually, when the roommate left, Courtney stepped in. She took a lot of initiative. Otherwise, it might not have ever happened.

So if you're interested, send me a message (please no calling). Tell me what you would expect if you were to help me.

The ideal candidate would be someone with great organizational skills, a desire to work in the film business, willing to do the dirty jobs (be it fetching a diet coke or shuttling actors from the set). Knowledge of camera/editing and such not critical. In fact, the biggest need right now is for organizing the office, doing our 1099's and stuff like that.

What I will probably end up doing is hiring a couple of you for this and that and then see where it goes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Imposter Street Date

Well, I had heard we were releasing February 23. Then there was a chance we'd delay the release to early summer, so I was a little hesitant to announce. But we are officially on track to hit the streets with the DVD's of "The Imposter."

For those new to this blog, "The Imposter" is a faith-based film, made for the Christian, church-going audience. I feel non-Believers will enjoy the movie as well, especially since this one flies in the face of the traditional "Christian" movie.

Johnny C (played by Kevin Max of dcTalk) is the lead singer for the hottest Christian rock band. But unfortunately, what he sings about at night before thousands, isn't what he lives when off the stage. He's been hiding a drug problem and not hiding so well a womanizing problem. And this doesn't set too well with his long suffering wife who finally gets the courage to practice some tough love and takes their daughter back to her parents.

James (played by Jeff Deyo), is the leader of the band and he can't turn a blind eye any longer either and has some tough choices to make. After losing everything, Johnny C has a gut check time-- does he determine to be a true Believer, no matter who is watching, or does he continue to play the game? Johnny is mentored by mysterious "Proff" played by the legendary Kerry Livgren of Kansas fame.

I wrote this story for the Church-- this is my fourth movie and the other three I wrote for the secular audience. I wanted to present a more realistic portrayal of faith in action-- something that everyone can relate to. And it is my hope that as you discover your true identity in God that you begin to take off the masks and masquerades of a delusional reality.

And my wife tells me not to get too preachy. That wasn't so bad was it?

For the True Beginner Filmmaker

In the last "Greenlight Yourself" seminar, we had a few who had made some short films, work in the industry in some capacity, then we had a couple who have never made a short, but have been bitten by the bug to go make a movie. This blog's for you.

First, don't despise small beginnings. Everyone starts where you're at-- from Spielberg on down. Look at Robert Rodriguez-- he just want to tell stories. He grabbed the family video recorder and started shooting. And shooting. All for fun. He wasn't trying to make movies for distribution.

Then, he decided to try that. He borrowed a 16mm camera, checked in to a medical lab place that pays you to stay there and take meds like guinea pigs. And yes, they measured his waste, his vitals and everything else. But he got money to go buy the film stock. And he used the shut in time to write the script. BTW, the only non-latino in the movie is the bad guy, and that was a friend Rodriguez met in the clinic.

Rodriguez's plan was to shoot this micro-budget movie and sell it to Mexico. That was it. They were hoping to get maybe $20K and be able to do more. So he and a friend who played the lead, went to a small Mexican town and Rodriguez would grab the locals and shoot the scenes. He didn't have enough stock for multiple takes, so everything mattered. And there was no sound mixer. When Rodriguez filmed the scene, he dropped the camera and picked up a radio shack cassette deck and had them say their lines again. He said it matched amazingly well, because not being professionals, they tended to do it the same everytime.

If you rent or buy the "El Mariachi/Desperado" two movie set, Rodriguez has a great vignette about how to make movies. Plus, it's all in his book "Rebel Without a Crew."

And that's what I recommend for you. Read. Research. Study. Learn. If you come to the Greenlight seminar on Jan 30, I'll give you a list of reading materials. This seminar will give you a strong starting point so that you can get everything lined up to head to the base camp of the filmmaking mountain.

For those already at base camp, I have a lot to share about the routes, the dangers and pitfalls, and stories from the journey up the mountain. The view at times is incredible.

More info at .

Speaking of Speaking...

January and February are suddenly looking real busy. Besides having a "Greenlight Yourself" filmmaking seminar on Saturday, January 30 in Fort Worth, I'll also be speaking at the CMA (Christian Media Association) meeting in Dallas on Saturday, January 23. And I'll be on a panel for the DSA (Dallas Screenwriter's Association) for Friday January 15.

Then on February 20, I'll be giving a seminar, sponsored by the DSA on writing characters.

In addition to that, I might go shoot a commercial/documentary in India. I do hope to land that job-- I've never been to that part of the world and would enjoy the chance to spread my wings (and making a little revenue is always a good thing).

And while all that is going on, I want to try and finish my screenplay "72." Momentum really can't get moving on a movie until the script materializes. When you have something to send around, things can happen. Not so much with just a good idea, although that can happen. It's also harder to protect an idea. Easier to protect a registered screenplay.

Anyway, here's to a hopefully busy month.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Actors are, according to the DSM IV, clinically insane. To be proficient at their craft, they have to force Truth out and walk in a forced delusional state. Now, I do say this somewhat tongue in cheek.

But I do believe, the more we act, the more we have to push reality aside for a flase reality, the more we can drift away from Truth. Our reality becomes a drifting ship away from the island of Truth. Now to me, the ship still looks like it's tied up at the dock, but it can drift and drift far.

I remember early on, in my second movie, I thought it'd be fun to play the bad guy. Well, the bad guy here was a child predator. I only shot one day (actually a very cold night), but I tell you, I couldn't get clean enough in the bath the next morning. I had a full beard and shaved that off. Still wasn't enough. Disturbing thoughts for awhile. I had to really cleanse my brain (for me, reading and chewing on scripture).

For those famous actors who regularly play disturbed characters, if they don't have a compass and an engine running, they really do drift. The entertainment headlines are awash with these derelict vessels of acting humanity. And why we'd let them be the spokespeople for politics and social interests I"ll never know. Remember, they're craaazy.

So for you actors reading this, it's not that I'm saying don't do it. What I am saying is be aware of the psychological dangers and pitfalls of your craft. You spend enough time playing an enabling monster and suddenly find yourself doing that to the people around you. Or you play a sex fiend and suddenly you can't get enough porn. The craft of acting is fire, so be careful playing with it. (Oops, mixed metaphors in this entry).

In the meantime, today I added the seminar on Acting: A Director's POV to the schedule for January 30. Info and registration is at . Come if you can, you crazy person.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Greenlight Stories

One potential filmmaker had a script. It was very personal to him. Covered a lot of things about his growing up. But it included some pretty pricey stunts and some major military action,, requiring vehicles, planes and such. Budget-- minimum $5 million.

Can this be done? Absolutely. Likely? No, not with the guy pitching it as script/plus him as the lead. Have first time filmmakers received $5 million to go out and make their first movie? Yes-- Bottle Rocket, Boiler Room and others. But they are clearly the exception. And this filmmaker in question is still waiting to get the money.

But another guy who put together a neat little $200,000 movie got it shot this year. Now he lacks talent and his movie will be lucky to see the light of day, but he wrote it for a genre market that forgives much on bad production value.

The point is-- you have a choice to make. Either you think you can realistically raise a bigger budget (maybe you have something in your back pocket, like your best friend, an A list actor, is willing to star) so you work on that, or you do a film for lower budget that you can get moving on.

I know one producer who says a movie shouldn't be made for less than 2 or 3 million. I hope that works him for him. Because that would mean a lot of us never make a movie. And some really good, even great movies have been made for less than $2 million.

So look around. What resources are there? Can you get it all pulled together? No? Then find or write a project that can be and save your epic for after you hit it big.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Greenlighting Yourself

Several years ago, after speaking to different groups, I figured out that a majority of the questions asked by filmmakers and beginning filmmakers had to do with getting started—greenlighting their own film themselves.

In this do-it-yourself society, I think this is great. It’s the path I’ve taken. When I was getting started, I knew that it would be easier to make the movie myself than to get a Hollywood studio to not only greenlight, but keep me at the helm. Just wasn’t going to happen. So Greenlight Yourself was born.

Since then, I have written/produced/directed four feature films with varying degrees of success (and I’ve written/directed a fifth that other producers hired me for). I’ve learned a ton of things—pitfalls to avoid, shortcuts, helpful hints and factors that can minimize risk while giving you the best chance to succeed.

I played around with the idea of doing a seminar after my second film way back when, but decided to wait. Now, I have a lot more info to share. I’ve done the first class back in December and had some people tell me they wanted to come but couldn’t make that particular Saturday. So I’m going to offer the class again, Saturday January 30, 9am in Fort Worth at Serendipitous Films. Cost will be the same-- $99 for the day, which includes a workbook containing samples of budgets, breakdowns, and business plans, plus much more.

Here’s what students said the first time around:
"Well organized, loved the workbook."
"I would absolutely recommend this seminar to any aspiring, first time filmmaker who's looking to kickstart their career."
"Excellent. Very informative and detailed."
“Loved the small size of the group, great to see other people’s models.”
“Dan gives a complete picture of filmmaking.”

To register, go to We need a minimum of 8 for the class to make. If we don’t get that, you’ll get a full refund.

We’ll cover setting up the legal entities, fundraising, business plans, the script, the 6 phases of filmmaking, distribution and deliverables, plus a whole lot more.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Love That Kills

I drove by a woman out on her ATV out in West Texas. I was told that she really loves animals. That she had a deer feeder because she loves to have them come by. Then was told that she put the deer feeder near a busy farm road where they drive 2000 miles an hour. Yes, much road kill. She loves the animals and her love kills.

Reminds me of the Greenies who buy only organic. Organic beef is raised very ugly. No medication is given to the cows, so they are extremely susceptible to disease.

And farming. When you grow organic crops, you plant the seed and then the bugs take over. If you use organic pesticide, you end up making a lot more trips through your fields. And the produce yields are way lower than non-organic. One farmer we interviewed said that they make five times the trips through the fields growing organic. That's five times the diesel and five times the greenhouse gas emissions. But it's organic. I could be wrong here, but organic sounds a little stupid for helping the environment. Kind of like putting up a deer feeder next to my house near the highway-- because I love the little animals.

Of course, I could take the whole thing away from Being Green to being philosophical. It was almost a year ago I wrote here in this blog about Chicken Love, but to save you time from surfing through the archives, "Chicken Love" is where you love something because of how it makes you feel. As in "I love chicken" or "I love pizza."

I believe this kind of "love" is the predominant love displayed in this world and in this culture. It pervades society and the church. It is a narcissistic, me-first love, that does kill.

I know a woman who spends her cash on bailing out her twenty-something son from jail. The rest of the family has toughened up and quit enabling his destructive behavior. But mom can't give it up. And she covers it in a religious quilt.

The real kind of love is love that seeks the other's highest good and purpose. This guy isn't going to straighten up by buying him the liquor, paying off the girl with the baby now, or any of the other "loving" things. You see, her love is killing her son. Just the opposite of what she thinks she's doing. Like the lady with the deer feeder.