Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why buy the DVD?

Some of the most frequently asked questions deal with copyright and licensing issues, in the guise of "Can I show the movie to my youth group?" and questions like that.

In college, like every other poor college student, I hated buying albums (CD's were just coming out at that point). But I'd put them on my own mix cassettes and wanted them any way, so no pirate Dan there.

Then software rolled out as the personal PC took root. $50 for that game??? Are you kidding me? So a group of us would get together and buy a game and share it, copying the manuals etc. Until I got convicted.

Software, music, movies-- I do believe it's stealing to make a copy and give it to another person. Especially when it's labeled that all over.

So what is right before God and Country and the Laws of this land? A movie DVD has a "license" on it. You're not actually purchasing a "movie" as much as purchasing the permission to display it. I'll say it another way-- when you buy the DVD, you're not buying the movie-- technically, you do not won the movie, you own the right to play it in the location and manner deemed by the license.

Home DVD generally means that you may display the movie in your home, before friends and family. There might be a number limit... that I'm not sure about.

If you're going to show it to a youth group, up at the church, you will need a public exhibition license (for Imposter, it would be here).

Now, whether or not you think it's right/wrong to use a home DVD for showing to your group at church, please keep this in mind. I take I Tim 5:8 very seriously-- I am trying to provide, through this filmmaking, for my family. I am not a wealthy person at all. The revenue that comes in from the movie gets split between PureFlix and their partners and us. Most of what we receive will go back to the investors who have believed in this project for the last few years.

Yes, this movie ministers, but filmmaking is my "tentmaking" and is how I support my family. There's not a church somewhere putting me on staff so I can make the movies. I need your help.

My hope is to be able to do the next movie. Your buying the DVD helps us. So for those few who have asked-- this is the answer to the licensing question. I do ask that you walk in integrity.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What a Value!

"The Imposter" is out on the shelves of the Christian bookstores starting today. I hope you buy your own copy. If this movie can do well, we certainly hope to do more.

Sales pitch over, now I want to talk about a deeper message in the movie-- Getting Value Via Others. One of the (many) things I struggle with day to day in my flesh (Ego), is doing things so that others will value me. This might look like going on a mission trip because I want people to think I'm spiritual. Or making a movie so people will not only accept me, but think me valuable.

The danger here is that I give power over me to those people I seek Value. I become, in essence, a slave to that dysfunctional cycle. And it speaks to the deeper root, that to seek Value from others means that I don't have enough-- that I compensate for a self lack of value by seeking it in others.

It goes right against what God says in Psalms 139 about my value.

It's not the task that determines Ego or Purpose. In other words, volunteering at church every night the doors are open can be Purpose or it can be Ego. If it's Ego, it's precisely what the Pharisees do... Religion without relationship with God. And you can do a seemingly "un-spiritual" task and it be from Purpose. (Just look at Jesus-- he called one Gentile woman a dog).

Oh what a place to be! Where I don't seek value accreditation from man. Time to read Psalms 139 once again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The Original Sin-- most people say it's pride-- that Lucifer had pride, and that was first. But I'm going to put forth that the Original Sin is Comparison. Lucifer said he wanted to be *like* God.

So what's wrong with comparison? It can show you were you are. It can reveal your areas you need to work on. I'm not talking about looking at the Apostle Paul's life and realizing you've got some sin to work on. What I'm talking about is the stinking thinking that goes something like this: Man, Spielberg made his first movie when he was 21! Why haven't I?

And I could go on and on with thoughts like that. Jesus talks about the Pharisee that compares himself with the down and out man and thanks God he's not like him.

The problem with comparison is that it's a Lose situation, no matter what. There will always be a better filmmaker, a better singer, a better guitar player, a more beautiful person, a stronger person, a smarter person. You cannot win.

Comparison of this sort basically says "I'm inadequate," which goes directly against what God says. Only Dan Millican can make the films that Dan Millican can. Doesn't matter if there are better, more talented, more lucky. The only perspective is obedience to what He's called me to do.

Only you can do what God's called you to do. Psalms 139 says that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. So are you. I'm special. Just like every one else.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Super Tuesday

Well, the time is finally on us-- the release of "The Imposter." It's been a long road for this fourth movie of Serendipitous Films. We set out to make a movie for the church-- for people professing to be "Christians."

We've been doing interviews and radio and such. I get asked what the message is... what it was like to work with Kevin, Jeff and Kerry... Why I chose to make a movie like this.

This movie is not like the Christian movie's I've seen. We have endeavored to keep it real... and in the reviews, it appears we succeeded. When I wrote the story, I wondered if church goers would be turned off by the fact it doesn't all tie up nicely into a bow, but the consensus I'm getting is that people are finding this refreshing.

I wrote in the voice over at the beginning that God's more interested in our hero going through a process than zapping him with spiritual morphine. I believe that God can stretch forth his sovereign hand and touch, heal or dispense a supernatural measure of skill... but more often, He wants to see me work through. THat the end result isn't what's important to Him but that I went through the process... that I did the math.

The DVD comes out this Tuesday. I hope you get a copy. And if you do, let me know what you thought of the movie. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nothing Like that (lack of) Perspective

First of all, I won't even get into an eschatology debate (go ahead and look it up if you don't know). All those Christians arguing pre-trib, mid trib, post trib rapture.

For you non-Christians reading, what this means is that most Christians agree scripture talks about a return of Jesus. Matt 24, Luke 22, 1 Thessalonians and a bunch of stuff in Revelations all point to His return. Jesus and the author of Revelation also point to some very hard times-- the period of tribulation.

The popular view in Christendom is that we get "raptured" away before these hard times-- in other words, the "pre-trib rapture" believers are the ones that keep all those books and movies going. (Don't know how they explain away Jesus's own words of there being hard times for Believers, that because of them the time will be cut short, not out, see Matt 24). But anyway, that's not what this blog entry is about.

No it's about the money some self-avowed atheists are making because a few Christians (you know the ones, be harmless as doves and wise as serpents, oh wait, they hate snakes). Seems that they've come up with a great plan. In the event of rapture-- they'll come and take care of your pets when you're gone. because despite all the arguments about pre-trib to post trib, clearly Jesus won't be carrying an armful of your puppies.

So for $110, you can rest assured in the event you're caught up in the air, Rover will be well cared for by a un-Believer. And here's the crazy thing-- they've already gotten like a hundred takers. C'mon brother or sister, really? Really?

Personally, I think it'd be wonderful if Christians started living like they really believed Jesus was coming back.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Working on a Short Idea

I'm writing some original scenes for the demo shoot for actors coming up this next Friday. What's important to me is to see a turn... and find the whole performance believable. So if I have a Detective enter angry, he needs to leave fearful. Or happy and leave ecstatic. Or sad and leave hopeful.

Then, the "beat" that happens when that value turn happens, is the key moment to catch on the camera. SO something is said or something happens to turn the Detective from angry to fearful. He comes in the room in control-- maybe it's an interrogation. He's moving right along until the whimpy subject actually confesses something, mentioning the detectives daughter's first name. That would be the beat.

And he doesn't immediately go to "fearful." He's got to not believe it at first. The anger continues as he works the subject trying to achieve a confirmation that he's lying. But the lie doesn't come. So now what does he do?

Put a ticking clock on it and it ratchets up the stakes. His daughter's life is in jeopardy, but he might not be in time.

So this is how I approach helping my local fellow actors who need some qood quality dramatic work. We could still use a couple more. Register at . We're shooting this Friday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Letter to a Christian

Dear Friend,
I understand why you can't follow through-- actually, let me rephrase-- won't follow through. The definition of a Disciple is one who follows through. But follow through is extremely difficult.

At times it's incredibly uncomfortable. I mean heck, you realize you're not doing something and it will adversely affect your loved ones, so you get fired up to change. But that lasts only as long as the emotion.

Follow Through lasts longer than an emotion. And I'm sure that's why so, so many choose to stop. But what's troubling at times, is that you look at how fired up you were and convince yourself the follow through happened. So now you're inoculated-- no chance of catching the real "follow through" disease... because you think you already had it.

And that's another hard thing-- follow through never, ever stops. And there are times it's so hard, you just want to quit... to let up... to relent. But the real Disciples continue on-- through the easier times and through the harder.

I believe that's also a reason Paul wrote what he did at the beginning of Corinthians-- you know, the part about not preaching with clever words and such. If you can manipulate a person's emotions towards Christ, they can be manipulated away as well. Again, that's why a disciple is all about follow through. It's about putting one foot in front of the other, in spite of being weary.

And I understand why you choose not to follow through for this reason-- the more you continue to follow through, the lonelier it gets. Because fewer and fewer people have actually put that foot in front of the other. But you can have 4,000 friends on Facebook and truly be alone. You can walk with God alone and never be lonely.

But if you do choose to follow through-- the rewards are incredible. I hope you do choose to follow through with what He's written and told you to do. Success is not counting the number of souls you saved. It's in obedience (faithfulness) to what He's asked you to do. That's all.

If you follow through, it will be more than lip service. There will be tangible fruit from your actions. It's unavoidable. But if there's no fruit, then you can tell me that you've followed through until your blue in the face, but it doesn't make it reality.

The word "covenant" is about follow through. About doing what you say you're going to do. God takes covenant very seriously. And I know that our American culture teaches you to pass the buck-- don't own it, because you'll get struck down. So blame anyone else you can. But don't confuse throwing people under the bus with follow through.

You ask questions and you get answers. Very few of the answers you actually pursue with little more than faint lip service. I think God will ask you to do one small thing and see what you do. Then He'll ask more. And more. Like the parable of the talents. I hope you won't bury it, but will follow through to find a multiplication principle in play.

Because as a Disciple, someone who follows through, His yoke is easy, His burden light. And when you pretend, it takes a lot, a lot of work. Kinda like the irony of the lazy man who works so hard to get away with laziness.

So show don't tell. Show fruit. Less talk and empty promises. More follow through.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Your call time is..."

“As a Director, I often take a look at an actor’s demo, even more so than the headshot, to determine if I want to see them or not.”

So the Demo, which we'll call a moving "headshot" is critical for you actors. As I was casting my most recent movie, “Rising Stars” last summer, I realized that many of our local, Texas actors have very little quality screen time for their demo reel.

Friday, February 19, we're going to workshop actors that want some solid demo material. We'll shoot and original scene, then edit it. You'll have a high quality, high def quicktime. Registration at

This is an all day workshop-- in the morning we shoot scenes with you. In the afternoon, you sit in on editing to learn what helps on the set so you stand a better chance of not being left on the cutting room floor. When we're done, you'll have a high-def short 60 second or less scene, shot professionally, you can use on your actor's demo reel.

If you would just like to audit the course, costs is $50.

In the afternoon, the participants will be able to sit in on the editing, learning what the editor and director decide and why—hopefully gleaning tips on how to avoid the cutting room floor.

Upon registering, each participant consults with me and an original short scene is selected to be prepared. All scenes will be shot in the morning, which is why the workshop has a very limited number. The cost is $350, which provides for professional crew and equipment.

When it’s all done, you will have a very polished high def quicktime to add to your demo reel. If you cannot afford to do the full demo, people can audit for $50.
We really need people to register as early as possible to best prepare for the shoot on Friday, so we request that you register before this Friday, Feb 12. We do not know when this will be offered again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wish You Were Here

I'm sitting here listening to the final mixes on the Ben Reynolds and Jason Germain songs for "Rising Stars." I wish you guys could hear what I'm hearing. This music is incredible. Not only have we struck gold with the Reynolds/Germain combination, put that with the young, incredible talent brought together for the ones in the movie. Wow.

One day, hopefully soon, you'll get to hear this. You'll hear Kyle Riabko putting it all out there vocally. You'll hear the incredible delight that is the combo of Leon Thomas III and Jesse Payo. And you'll hear the wonderful singing of Natalie Hall. And as an added bonus on the CD soundtrack, you'll hear a song by lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter, where you'll discover her eyes aren't the only things incredibly expressive.

Listening to the music... Wishing you were here. Soon.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Imposter: Your Words

I remember early in college working for a restaurant chain. I wish I had the exact study or numbers, but customer referral boiled down to this: Something like 8 out of 10 people who have a bad experience will tell others, and only 2 out of 10 who have a good experience will tell others. This runs true in my industry.

It's always very encouraging to get word back from someone that "The Imposter" has touched them or their group. Here's a message I received from the last church that bought the church license before PureFlix Entertainment took over:
Well, last night we showed The Imposter movie and the youth loved it!! And the parents that came loved it too. We also had another youth group join us and they enjoyed it so much that they asked for the poster we had by the door for their youth room at church. I also got to talk to some of them about Kerry's testimony, because even though only 13 they have heard of Kansas. lol... I praise God and pray he blesses you with even more great movie ideas.

Of course, not all words are complimentary, and that's fine too. I've gotten pretty used to be critiqued in public-- I've done five films now and I've read some very scathing stuff. I've read personal attacks on me. Some of the critique is right on. Some is downright silly. Some people love Kevin's Max's acting. Some don't. It's the same with Tom Hanks. Some people will post something like "Werst Movie Evar!". Some will talk about how much it has meant to them personally.

I'm hoping that as the movie hits the shelves on Feb 23 we start to hear more stories. If you've seen it, feel free to drop me a note. Here's some of the comments from IMDB (which please leave a USER COMMENT review):
Haven't seen too many Christian films that I wouldn't call: 1) heavy-handed, or 2) downright cheesy, but this is one of them.

"The Imposter" isn't really an evangelistic film for the non-believer, but instead asks an important question for "Christian" media, especially music, shining the light of Christ to the world, or is it simply reflecting what the world is already doing and just slapping the label "Christian" on it so it will appeal to a certain demographic? Are we really walking as Christ believers or are we just going through the motions, pretending to be something we're not? Production values are first rate. Filmmaker Daniel Millican shows a definite flair for directing music videos. In fact, I would have loved to see more videos interspersed through the whole production, especially the second act, which is the only part of the movie that seemed to bog down a bit for me.

Although the caliber of acting is usually a real shortcoming in most independent Christian films I've seen, "The Imposter" pleasantly surprised me again. Kevin Max is able to carry the film as Johnny C, the prodigal lead singer for the Christian band 'Grand Design.' Of course, being a big-time Kansas fan in high school, the real thrill for me was getting to see former band member Kerry Livgren in the film. I would have bought the film just for the new rendition of "Carry On My Wayward Son" at the end credits. Talk about a tingly feeling going up and down my leg!

And this one:
Normally I'm not a critical thinker when it comes to movies. I just like them or I don't. However, The Imposter caused be to think critically about film making and I found the film to be an amazing finished product.

Also, I really appreciated the challenge and message the film communicated. "Be real with yourself and those around you and that Jesus is the only way you will be able to be "real" at all." And yet this "realness" challenge comes across as so real, sometimes painful and leaves you with the unknown future. Real indeed.

I hope as many church members as possible watch the movie with their church, with leadership expecting to have hearts broken by God's Spirit and lives set on His path, through the movie's message. This is what I personally experienced.

For this movie, some of the more harsher critiques come from people outside the target group. I had one guy who visited the set and I got to talk to him some. I think I was too intense in our meeting, because later, his comments after seeing the movie just didn't make sense. When you start to hear the same comment from multiple sources, even I can spot patterns. But this guy's stuff came from left field. I think he thought the movie was made for a secular audience or something. And personally, I think this movie challenges people-- and if you're running from the issue this movie deals with, chances are, you're not going to like it.

So yes, this movie is for the person who claims to be a "Christian." I made it for you. I did not make it to be evangelical in the common sense of the word today.

I even thought about trying to delete "bad" reviews, but decided not to. If a person who is an obvious Imposter trashes the movie, then that tells me we're on the right track. So even if you don't like the movie, I hope you post your comments... even unfiltered.

Here's another one from IMDB:
It seems to me there are two main points to this movie...

First, this isn't really a movie to lead the unbeliever to Christ, it's more about pointing out to Christians perhaps the maim problem we often run into in trying reach out to the world, ourselves. We are all called to be Christ-like, but we all fall short and wind up being "Imposters" at some point.

Secondly, as the film points out, heavy handedly and repeatedly, the point at which the sinner comes to Christ is NOT the end of the journey, it's just the beginning. Many painful trials await.

I am to old school to be familiar with Kevin Max. He does a good job with the new version of "Carry on Wayward Son", and his acting is okay.

Kerry Livgren is way more my speed. He does a solid job as the "Proff", though the character isn't to much of a stretch from the man himself as I perceive him.

All in all I'd call it a decent DVD sermon with some random music videos thrown in, the one at the credits being the best. (Guess what? I'm old school biased!)

Nice to get all perspectives. The first quote above is coming from an audience of 13 year olds. The last comment from someone familiar with Kansas-- who's heyday was late seventies.

Please let us know what you think.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Easy Does It

Certainly, when looking at the path to the top of Everest, you want to look for the easiest road. When I take on a task, I look for the easiest way to get the task done. But at which point do I switch over to a hard way? What if the desired result requires harder work?

I believe our Great Entitlement Society preaches the Easy Road. And just so you don't yell "amen!" and agree with me, when I say "them" I mean "me" and "you." When approaching a movie, I would love for the budget money to just rain from the sky and all I have to do is get a large bucket.

And I can Christianize it-- wouldn't God want to rain these dollars on such a noble endeavor? After all, I'm spreading His word right? I believe God is more interested in me going through the process of that mountain climb than seeing the view from the summit.

I'm teaching a "Professional Practices" class for film students at UTA this spring. The current assignment is to find a mentor and interview them. A few have asked me for leads. In one case, the area of study is a little more hard to open, bit all the others, it's not that hard.

Some students have emailed, wanting to give me names and numbers they can call to see if the person will grant an interview. In one case, someone asked me if I knew any editors, especially in their part of town. I told them to google it.

Making a movie is hard work and not everyone will make it easy. It's better to learn some hard work. And, although it might be a surprise to the Entitlement Group, hard work is extremely rewarding. Take it from a self-admitted lazy person-- hard work does pay off, in leaps and bounds.

Actually, I'll even make this point-- it can be a LOT OF WORK, to be lazy.

So here's to all those who take the hard road.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Biggest Points

This past weekend, we did a "Greenlight Yourself" and a "Acting: a Director's POV" seminar. This was the second time to teach both classes, and they were well attended. It was interesting that the groups were different than before, especially the acting one.

Greenlight had a group very interested in getting their films off the ground. We had one person who had just completed a feature, and the rest had yet to take the plunge. That was fairly consistent with the first class. This class came with some very specific questions and it was great to be able to address them.

The biggest questions all center around fundraising and distribution. Though this class didn't have as many questions about the fundraising.

For the Acting class, the first time, almost all the attendees were represented by agents and had some experience, looking to better their chances in the audition and such. The class this weekend was predominately un-represented, so the questions were more rudimentary in nature.

One thing that came out of the Acting class was the need for more and better demo reel material. So several asked if I would schedule a "Shoot/Edit/Demo" workshop, which I have done for Friday, Feb 19. (

I really enjoy teaching and we've gotten some great feedback. I've also created a Facebook Group for the seminars to keep people better updated as to what classes are being offered. Click here to join that.

We've had some people request a Director's class for learning how to direct and some specialized acting classes, like stunts and how to take squibs, etc. Let me know if you'd like to see anything. Thanks to everyone who attended!