Sunday, March 28, 2010

Masters of Dillusion

There's a couple of big time secular movies that emphasize some pretty solid Biblical principles. One of the principles is that "you can't deceive a grownup person-- they choose to be deceived."

We talked about payoffs yesterday... a person chooses to be deceived because they just want the payoff. Take "Cypher" from "The Matrix." He knew the steak wasn't real, but he didn't like reality. So he wanted back into the deception. Some people just sniff at Truth, and know deep down that they'll have to give up some pet things, like sin, dysfunction, with all the juicy payoffs and decide it's better just not to know Truth.

That's what's so great about "Shutter Island." (Spoiler alert here). Teddy sees Truth and decide it's better not to exist in that world. Delusion has a seemingly much better payoff.

In "The Imposter," James, the leader of the band, deep down knows what Johnny's doing. But to acknowledge it would be to possibly lose everything he's worked for-- his music, the band, the ministry. So James chooses to be deceived, until he decides he can't live this way anymore.

Johnny's wife Tara is the same way. The "don't ask, don't tell" means you can stick your head in the sand and not see what your spouse is doing. This way, there's nothing to confront... seemingly nothing to lose.

My mentor says that confronting is creating. Conflict is destruction. The avoidance of confrontation will always lead to conflict.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Function, Function, what's your Dysfunction?

I have dysfunction. Just like you. Dysfunction is where I walk in Ego for a payoff. Usually that's why a Disciple will have dysfunctions-- there's a payoff. And the key first milestone along the road to killing a dysfunction, is when the desire to change overtakes the desire for payoff.

If I don't work hard, earning revenue for my family, leaving my wife with the burden of bringing home the bacon, it's not until I desire to change that I'll actually do anything long term to fix my laziness. Oh sure, I can call it something spiritual-- it's my ministry and so forth-- but that would mean I pretty much tore I Tim 5:8 out of my Bible.

For the spouse who suffers an abuser-- maybe she gets more out of playing the victim than the effort and energy it would take to make a stand. For the Abuser, who probably was abused, it's not until he hurts so much, that he'll do anything to stop perpetuating that on people around him.

Here's a twist-- be prepared oh ye spouse that has been crying for that hubby or wife to change. If they do start to change and throw off the ungodly ways and dysfunction, you're world will go out of balance. You see, for you to have accepted the dysfunction for so long, you've found ways to get a payoff from their bad behavior too.

I know somebody right now who has looked into the mirror (James 1:22-24) and decided it's just too hard to do what is right in this situation. He has convinced himself that this new plan will work. Problem is, it's the same old plan he's done time and time again. The worst thing that could happen is for his plan to have even a little bit of success.

I know. I've been there done that. And recently, I was on the road to do something horrific. You see, one of my dysfunctions is to play the "hero" so that I'll be valued. I have played the hero at the expense of myself, my family and those around me. Half way down the slippery slope again, I woke up and saw where I was going. It was incredibly hard to stop and it involved some tough confrontation. But man, what I thought would be miserable was in fact, liberating.

You see, that's the kicker-- living in ego (sin, flesh) might seem easier. Lighter. Funner. But actually, it weighs heavy and has serious consequences. It's hard work walking in Purpose. Sometimes I'd rather just quit. But that's where the irony is. Hard work in Purpose equals lighter burden. Light work in Ego equals heavy, heavy burden.

Hmm... maybe that's why He said His yoke is easy, His burden light?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Disc Wars

The technology in my field of choice, being electronics based, is rapidly evolving. For you consumers, if you're wondering what's the deal with DVD's, Blu-ray, and even the old VHS and why they all change, let me tell what's going on.

First, let me predict that Blu-ray will win. I just bought a Blu-ray at Walmart for a low, low price of $98. Why buy a DVD player at that price? I do believe, that Blu-ray will overtake DVD like DVD did to VHS.

Why? Let me give you some tech data... DVD's play standard definition video-- so even if you have a high def 50 inch plasma hanging on your wall, it will still play that DVD as standard def-- they might widen it, but it's still only 720 scan lines big.

Then came along the upgrade in technology and a war broke out (like the Betamax and VHS war of the early eighties). In one corner was HD-DVD and the other, Blu-ray. I guess you know who won.

The cool thing here is that Blu-ray (and HD-DVD which is over now), can give you true high def quality. To put some more math on it... your DVD movie is probably sitting on the disc at maybe 3.8 megabytes. On the Blu-ray, that same movie is maybe 22 megabytes. Seven times the quality difference.

Throughout post on "Rising Stars," I was constantly burning DVD's to check the edit, send to the producers and such. When we finally got done a few weeks ago and burned a Blu-ray... it was amazing.

So, you heard it here, kiss DVD goodbye. It's over. There's no reason to go out and buy another DVD player. Blu-ray plays both. Even the Sony Playstation 3 is a blu-ray player.

Hello Blu-ray.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My son

My son is soon to be officially a teenager. For the past six years or so, I've been discipling, primarily through the Royal Rangers program... a faith-based scout-like organization.

Of course, it's the responsibility of every father that professes to follow Jesus to disciple his children. But back when he was five, I didn't quite understand that. As I took charge of reaching and teaching him, my relationship with him dramatically changed. I remember early on, I'd ask him to do something, and he'd fight back, drag his feet, try to prove he wasn't who I thought he was.

Today, he is growing into a man. The Ranger program is a great vehicle for working with him. Early on, we established that almost every day, we work on something together. Regardless of the program, it's the time spent with him that means everything. In the beginning, I remember taking him to the Arlington police center and checking out the 911 call center and the jail. We went on some day camps, like Granbury's dinosaur park. Later, the work got more challenging, but by now he'd established a stronger work ethic. It served him well through some of the harder merits, like the Gold Bible merit-- he worked on that for parts of four years.

He's getting real close to earning his Gold Medal of Achievement, which is the Ranger's equivalent to the Eagle Scout. The hardest merit left to conquer is the Bachelor's merit. And one thing he has to do for it, is set a goal to purchase something, have a savings plan for it and a way to earn money towards it.

He decided he wanted an iPad. An interesting fad that has started is "survival bracelets." These are cool, hip bracelets braided from paracord. You get stuck on a deserted island, you can take it apart and lash together shelter, make snares, or build a raft to get off (for the really, really long bracelets). So we worked together on setting up a website for people to order these hip, cool, stylish yet practical bracelets. (If you want to check it out, click here,

Then, this past week, he got another opportunity for awesome growth (and me too). While on a camping trip with some family, he was given the permission and responsibility of driving a four wheeler. Which he then accidentally ran up along side a car, scratching the paint and taking off the side mirror. I'm going to pay half. And he's going to pay the other half. So between jobs I hire him for around the house, and "cobra stitched survival bracelets", through hard work, he'll learn some cool responsibility.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Cancer. The word carries an incredible heaviness... a connotation of life-changing, hard-work ahead, dread.

Cancer refers to cells out of control. They've mutated and they destroy and attack the healthy cells around them. Sometimes they form tumors. Sometimes not (like in Leukemia).

I've never had cancer. No one in my immediate family has had cancer. I know people who have died from the disease. I know people who have survived.

A couple years ago, when confronted with deep-rooted, ego (flesh) issues, my mentor likened it to cancer. I wanted the quick fix... cut it out, chop it off, push the magic button... but that's not usually God's way. Apostle Paul wrote about having the thorn in his flesh-- clearly it was something that God did not remove, even through Paul's impassioned pleas. It was God's purpose for Paul to have that thorn. In God's opinion, it was best for Paul to have that thorn.

And just as clearly, Paul recognized and understood that he would have the ego (flesh) to deal with until the day he died. He wrote about crucifying the flesh daily.

The ego is cancer. It's something every single one of us lives with. A lot of it I can't see in myself, but it might be obvious to others. Some of it lurks deep in tissue and only when certain stresses or situations arise does it rear it's ugly head. But as with all cancer, it needs to die. I can't control this cancer. I can't teach the cancerous cells to be good cells. Or at least not-so-bad cells. Can't be done.

So my life will be one of spiritual chemo treatments until I die. Since everyone has this disease, treatment is a choice. Many choose to not have treatment. Many choose to not even listen to the diagnoses... it's denial.

But a few decide to undergo treatment. And these few, these Christians, these true Believers, disciples of Jesus, are and always will be a work in progress.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Easy Bake Ovens

I was talking to my friend, songwriter for "Rising Stars" Ben Reynolds. We were discussing how in God's perspective, people bristle with self importance. I brought up how I've seen, time and time again, Christian artists say they're going to take a city in His name, or an industry, or a million people. Because God had told them to.

You see, I think God just wants us to obey. From what I read in the Bible, it doesn't fit his character to ask me to win a million souls with my movie. He can make a sunset that could do that. I won't even get into the evanglical power (or lack thereof) of a film to "disciple" people. I believe film a powerful tool, but nonetheless, just a tool.

Anyway, so Ben and I are talking about this and Ben pulls out an analogy that was simply marvelous. He talked about how he sometimes felt maybe he was a little three year old in God's kitchen. And he's telling God how important his little cake he's making on the easy-bake is. God just chuckles as He cooks the real meal.

Yes, I've been totally wrapped up in my own work (and again, let's call this the Narcissist's Gospel). God chuckles at my bristling with self importance. But you know, it doesn't all hinge on me or my works. And what an arrogant position for me to be in, thinking that.

To obey is better than sacrifice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Child Acting: A Director's POV

As I've started to do the occasional seminar and workshop, I've gotten quite a few requests from parents about their child actor. And by child I mean any minor from zero to sixteen or seventeen.

So on March 27, I'm going to have a workshop for both the child/teen and the parent to go over this business from the director's point of view. We will cover some basics like agents and managers, quick tips for acting for children, we'll workshop a little bit of scene work, cover auditions-- all of this coming from a different perspective-- The Director's.

If you're interested, click here for more details and registration.

I've worked with children in every movie I've directed. I've auditioned a ton. And I have stories of things that went right and things that can be improved. And for every child actor, there's a parent right there-- and that's why I'd like both to attend... I want to talk to the parents as well about this business.

Hope you can come.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Perfect 10

There is a fine line between seeking perfection and being a perfectionist. One is a Disciple's mandate-- the other a dysfunctional attitude that wreaks havoc. It is important to separate the two terms.

Seeking perfection is to give no wiggle room for sin, or ego (flesh). The greatest commandment is to Love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I don't know where "a little me-time" fits into that equation.

Let their be no doubt-- though seeking perfection, in this life I cannot attain it. However, this fact does not mean I stop the pursuit. And for the "all or nothing" disciple, this can be a major trip up.

Now, the dysfunctional attitude of Perfectionism is to find my Value in perfection. And consequently, to find others value in how they measure up to my definition of perfect. It's by achieving perfection that I feel good about myself-- and I bet you can already see the problem here-- it's a vicious cycle-- one where you can never reach the goal.

So as a Disciple, I'm committed to seeking perfection and I'm committed to killing perfectionism in my own flesh. I believe these are two totally different things.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Post, Old Post

For many decades, the "post path" of a film remained essentially unchanged. For those reading who aren't movie makers, what this means is that there was an established system for how a film got finished from the moment they yelled "wrap" to when it was released on the silver screen or later on DVD.

A movie was shot on actual film. The negative was transferred to a cutable source-- either another piece of film or later onto tape. These were cut and assembled into the official edit. Then the original negative was conformed to this edit.

Then the original negative was transferred, film to film, to an "interpositive (IP)." The reasoning here is that, at most, you don't want to run that original negative through the projector more than four or five times max. Each time through introduces hair, dirt and scratches.

The IP was colored and then an "internegative (IN)" was struck, so that release prints to all the theaters could be made.

The sound had it's own road through the post path. After the edit was "locked", sound was designed, re-recorded and effects added. Separately, music was worked on. Eventually sound and music came together in the "mix" and then that mix was shot out to film, on what is called "optical negative." This film was synced with the original negative so that when the IP was made, it might have sound.

With the advent of home video, these masters for the videos were made from the IP.

So now, we enter the digital age. Even a few years ago, Hollywood was resisting change, insisting us filmmakers deliver the sound and picture elements on old school technology. However, it's starting to change. When we delivered our sound elements to Sony for "Striking Range", they wanted DA-88 tapes. We talked them in to the Pro Tool session files, so instead of tape, we delivered data DVD's.

Now, instead of an IP, you have what's called a "Digital Intermediate" (DI). The Di has replaced the IP. You edit on high quality digital files, then at your best, raw high quality, you color that assembled edit and you have your DI-- from whence all the masters can be made, whether it's back out to 35mm film for theaters, or a digital file for digital projection, or high def tape if they want that. But even better is just delivering the DI to the distributor.

Sound is still the same. They work on it and marry up with music and then the "stems" are sent to the computer to match up with the DI. In the case of "Rising Stars," Johnny Marshall, our sound designer is working on delivering the 5.1 and the left/right (LT/RT) mix for the morning. It will be the moment when the clean, great sound is brought together with the beautifully colored picture.

Needless to say, we're excited. Class dismissed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You are the One!

Youth groups across the globe are telling their young audience that "they are the ones that God is going to use, like never before, to reach this world." On that outside, that sounds noble. Sounds like Godly ambition. Sounds familiar.

Yup, heard it in my generation. And the problem with this message is that it perpetuates the "me-centered Gospel", or the Narcissists Gospel. Why? Because *you* are the one, *you* are special and can go where no one else has gone.

Sure my youth pastor readers, encourage and exhort. But encourage them to "obey" and be "faithful" to whatever the Master asks. And sometimes, the Master doesn't ask for you to fill the biggest football stadium in the world to preach to thousands, to impact the globe in His name.

Sometimes the Master asks for you to clean your room. Or obey your parents. Or actually spend time listening and learning to hear His voice.

I know some youth walking around with this "arrogance." You see, they've been hammered that "they are special." So they don't have to actually work at being a Disciple. They don't have to pray. Read the Bible. They just have to sing/preach/minister/lead.

I interviewed Steve Camp back in the 80's and he said this. "What the Christian music scene needs is no more people who can sing or play. It needs people who know their Bible more than they know their keyboard."

Yes, the youth pastor is correct-- you *can* be the one. Just like everyone else, young and old, can be the one. Remember, you're special. Just like everyone else. Ps. 139.