Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Journey Begins

Last night we had an orientation meeting for the Band of Christian Brothers (and Sisters).  For the men, one guy asked if this was like a program he went to-- an intense five day time of accountability, discipleship and such.  I have no idea if it's like what we do.

But one thing I was thinking about today-- I don't know how a five day program can do much.  We're back to the most often quoted line in The Imposter-- God's more interested in me going through a process than zapping me with spiritual morphine.  I would love to be done with jealousy or anger, or laziness in a five day intense program.  But you see, these things are often deep rooted, at least that's my experience.  It takes time.

The ruts for sinful behavior are deep and well worn.  To get that wagon wheel out of them will take a long, hard process.  You pop them out in some emotion-driven meeting, and as soon as the real world rears it's ugly head, the wagon wheel has fallen back into those familiar ruts.

The BOCB is a six month commitment, with a meeting every week.  I know personally, through this type of discipleship, I can work on staying out of the rut-- change my thought process so that I don't fall back into the rut as often or not at all.

Sure, I'd love to "pray and leave this problem at the foot of the cross" as one guy said to me, but that's usually not the reality I see.  Paul had to deal with his flesh until he died.  I'm sure Peter still kept sticking his foot in his mouth in his later years.

Or as one BOCB leader put it last night, coming to Jesus is not the end, it's the beginning of a journey.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Viral Infection

I love some of these viral videos.  What a great marketing idea.  One of the first I noticed was "Beware the Doghouse," which was a JC Penney's creation.  The great thing about this approach is that you don't realize it's basically a commercial.  Just one little tap at the end of a very funny video.  Take a look:

So there's the funny one.  Now, here's a powerful, uplifting video that you have no idea until the final moment it's a commercial.  And by that time, it's totally forgiveable.  I still think about this commercial long, long after I've seen it.

I love these kind of commercials.  Being a filmmaker, I guess when you take the time to tell the story, I feel it's so much stronger.

You know of any other real good ones?  Let me know.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Roller Coaster

Without perseverance, a movie doesn't get made.  I need to hear that.  And probably every other filmmaker as well.  You hear the stories about how Dead Poet's Society was optioned and sent into turnaround for many years.  How it had basically died before being birthed.  Again and again.

I've read about how a Grip in New York City had written a script that he thought would never see the light of day.  And when Gripping wasn't paying the bills, he waited tables.  And served lunch to an agent.  Who said sure, I'll read it.  Then several made offers.  Big offers, in the high six figures for the script.  That's a lot of tip money.  He turned it down, because he really, really wanted to direct.  He stuck to his guns when everyone thought he was crazy.  Eventually, a studio believed enough in the script and ultimately in him, to back the film with him in the director's chair.  That's how Boiler Room got made.

Then there's the classic, Dumb & Dumber.  A producer read the script and laughed out loud reading it.  But for two years, nobody else did in Hollywood.  Studios would call the producer and ask him why he was sending this stuff (but they didn't use the word "stuff.")  His reputation and bank account were hitting lows.  They would resubmit the script with different titles (like Power Tools Are Not Toys) because the readers, young twenty-somethings, would be rotated through and they'd get a fresh chance.

The producer had practically given up.  Had a meeting about something else with another exec and somehow got talking about it.  Exec recalls how he almost peed in his pants reading it-- it was sooo funny.

So they get a new life on the project.  The studio will greenlight a small budget if they can get two actors off this list of 25.  *Every* single one turned it down.  The Mask was coming out... Ace Ventura wasn't there yet.  Jim Carrey could be gotten for a million if they moved fast.  Which they didn't.  The Mask opened and they had to pay higher dollars but they did.  And the movie got made.  With the Farrelly Bros. directing.

Most movies have stories about being dead in the water, perhaps multiple times.  It's happened to me.  I remember attaching Joey Lauren Adams and Farrah Fawcett to A Promise Kept.  Then Joey's manager called my casting director backing out.  And Farrah pulled out of everything that fall.  I thought we had some momentum.  I can remember sitting on the bed, just feeling defeated.  So I emailed Joey wishing her luck.  She emailed me back saying what was I talking about... she was doing the movie.

Making a movie is a big roller coaster.  Sometimes you're hitting the heights.  Sometimes the lows.  Hopefully you can get through the ride and safely into the station.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Film Watching

Watching another low budget indie film.  It was shot here in Dallas a few years ago.  There's a couple of actors who are good (one really good).  Then there's the rest of the cast.  The story idea is very strong-- on paper, I can see why people rallied to this.  However, the writing's a bit on the nose, but that problem alone wouldn't sink it.

What does sink it is the horrible production value.  I don't know what the DP was thinking (rumor has it he didn't respect the director so he spent his time trying to co-direct the movie)-- but his work is awful.  You got color balance issues, horrible framing, poor or non-existent lighting.  And it was shot on standard def.  Now I know you've got to work with what you've got-- so we can forgive the lack of lighting instruments... but that doesn't excuse mixing tungsten and daylight or horrible framing.  Looking at this movie, the director shouldn't have respected the DP, not vice versa.

Then there's sound-- or at least the days they had a sound person.  I don't know.  There's a few scenes it honestly sounds like a camera mic at best.

Watching this movie, I get the feeling the filmmakers were other people pretending to be filmmakers.  If you don't have resources, that's fine.  Study, learn, research.  Find out everything you can about your craft.  Because storytelling without money can still be done effectively.  But you have to be professional about it.

Take this same project, with the same budget-- but have the scriptwriter read a few more books about writing on the subtext.  Have the DP focus only on his job.  Get an intern at least to hold a boom mic 100% of the time.  And sweat over the casting of every single role, to get the best possible actor (not just your friends)... and you might have a good little indie film.

But even so, it won't find any real distribution.  Because you need a recognizable name actor for that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Purpose Versus Ego

This principle speaks to the foundation of the way I approach my life.  When I mention purpose, it's more than a Rick Warren slogan or a new program to put on.  It has got to be a way of life with me.  It's my daily struggle.

What is this struggle?  To choose Purpose or to choose Ego.  I equate Ego to what the Apostle Paul calls the Flesh.  In Romans, he clearly writes about the duality of man-- the Spirit and the Flesh.  Purpose is living or walking in the Spirit (Rom 8).  It's choosing to be His servant-- so it's not my "purpose."  It's His.

So daily, hourly, minute by minute, I can choose to walk in Ego.  Or I can choose to walk in His purpose.  What then is Purpose?  I would have to do the math for you and it would loose the meaning.  It's certainly easier at times to identify what's Ego.  When I look after my own needs or wants ahead of my wife or children.  My needs ahead of His.

Now this certianly differs from the conventional "Christian" thinking of today.  You can think about your needs-- that's okay!  It's your "wants" we have to scale back-- control-- minimize.

No.  If you have chosen to be His Disciple, you have died.  You have now been risen to serve Him (see Romans 6).  I get into trouble when I try and control the Ego.  Or minimize.  There's only one answer to the Ego.  Death.  I cannot assauge it, educate or control it.  If I do that, then I walk in the Ego. 

Sure, I have lived my life saying "it's not *that* bad."  At least I'm not an adulterer!  Or a drunk!  A little Ego is the same as a lot of Ego.  Or as Kerry Livgren so aptly said on the set of "The Imposter:"

You have two barrels-- one of fine win, the other sewage.  Take a spoon of fine wine and pour it into the barrel of sewage and you've got... sewage.  Take a spoon of the sewage and put it into the barrel of fine wine and you've got... sewage.

My friends, the Ego is sewage.  A little bit will still ruin the whole barrel.  So determine to kill it.  Daily.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Those Who Can Teach

I got asked to speak a few times after finishing my first feature film "The Keyman."  After the second movie "A Promise Kept," I had developed the "Greenlight Yourself" idea and would use it when invited to speak to the indie film clubs and such.

At that point I posted on the website that a DVD training program for making your own film would be coming out.  Then I shelved that plan.  Why?  I had only done two movies.  I really felt I need a little more on my resume, and more importantly, experiences I could share, before offering to teach people how to do it.

Now after five feature films, I've started doing some seminars in between the projects.  And one thing that amazes me as I look around at other offerings (trying to figure out what to teach that isn't there and what to charge), is the lack of experience in the so called "experts."  I've seen Filmmaking seminars and workshops where the teachers have at best, made a couple of shorts that were in a festival.  Or had finally completed one feature film.

Yeah maybe.  I guess if you can really get some good information from them, then by all means.  I can only go by my own experiences-- when I started down this movie making path, I sat in on everything I could find.  I read all the books.  I sat and listened to the panels at the film festivals.  One of the most helpful seminars I attended was by a guy who had only made shorts (though award winning and very popular), and then had been an executive at a major distributor.

Then you have Robert McKee.  Though heavy on structure, he's one of the best screenwriter teachers.  I learned tons through his seminar and book.  But even sitting in his seminar after making Keyman, I had one more produced screenplay than he did.  Some people are born to teach.

I met one fellow filmmaker who had made a movie that was pretty bad.  But somehow, a big distributor picked up US video rights.  It bombed and he wondered why he could never get foreign or television.  I talked to my foreign distributor at the time and she told me that the movie was just too bad.

So that filmmaker created a seminar on how to get Distribution, and that's all he does I think.  He probably has some good information.  I mean, look at film schools (outside the biggies).  The people teaching film aren't the ones out there making movies.  And as I've started doing seminars and teaching at UTA last spring, yes, I was a bit worried about the old adage "those who do, do.  those who can't, teach."

But the bottom line is that I really enjoy teaching.  And yes, it's a way to earn a little revenue in between the movies.  And I'd like to keep doing both-- teaching and making movies.  Don't see a lot out there doing both.  So we'll see if I can do it.

So what are your thoughts on all the seminars and workshops out there?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Actor Demo Reels

What do I as a film director look for when viewing an actor's demo reel?  Well first, it needs to be on the shorter side.  A minute is good.  Really.  Not three minutes.  Certainly not five.  It needs to be about the actor-- not about the others in the scene.  The one exception is that if the actor was playing opposite a big time name actor.  Then fine.

I look for roles similar to the one I'm casting.  So the actor's demo probably needs to show a variety of types.  You're a forty year old white male?  Sure, put the detective on there, and a teacher.  But also something way out there-- a drug addict or something out of type.  But it better be good.

And that is probably the biggest thing-- your performance should be awesome.  Don't just include it because you like the way you looked.  What I mean by "awesome" is that your performance is as close to possible to theatrical truth that an actor can get.

Don't have anything?  Then get something shot.  And one thing with a title card front and contact info at end is acceptable if you don't have anything else.  But keep adding to it as you move forward in your experience.

When you get one edited, have a small version you can email.  Then have one bigger you put on vimeo or youtube.  Quality is always good, but if all you're given is a VHS tape, then go with it.  As a director, I don't fault poor quality recording.  On my first film "The Keyman," veteran actor Tom Wright's manager sent me a tape that was made from a vhs to vhs to vhs.  But I didn't care about that-- it was the performance that mattered.

A demo is basically a step up from the headshot and in this YouTube age, it's becoming increasingly important.  Looks like I'm all booked up for this Tuesday's demo shoot I'm doing for some actors, but if you think you need something, contact me and I'll see if we can find enough people to pay the crew.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences.  You expect it between a goat farmer in the mountains of Afghanistan, and a blackberry wielding thirty-something in Dallas.  But I have found you don't have to go far to find significant cultural differences.

Take New York and Fort Worth.  A year ago we were in the midst of shooting Rising Stars.  The producers were from the Big Apple (and I don't mean Steve Jobs).  And a few of the crew came down from NYC having worked with the producers before.  Then we had out Texas crew.  For the most part it was harmonious.  But in working through that environment, I could see how cultural different people from the two areas are.

I am going to paint with the broad brush of generalities-- so in the upcoming conclusions, of course everyone from NYC is not this way and everyone from Texas is not this way.  So just back off!

First, New Yorkers find courtesy to be unnecessary to do business.  While Texans are slow to do business until the weather, the Cowboys, and medical problems with the body are discussed.  So communications from the NYC producers will be short, extremely direct and sometimes hard to take if you're a Texan.  "Wow, he's so rude!"  Meanwhile, the NYC producer is saying "they're so slow and verbose!" 

Texans are laid back, like a steer chewing a cud.  New Yorkers are driven, like a taxi cab down Broadway.   The problems occur when one cultural group makes assumptions about the other that aren't true-- like the NYC bias that the Texas crew isn't as good.  Or the Texas crew assuming the NYC people think they're not as good.

It's not that New Yorkers aren't courteous.  They believe that there's a time for courtesy, and it's just not now, at this moment.

There are loads of similarities of course.  Both groups love to have a good laugh.  Both groups have artistic creativity.  And both groups can come together to make a wonderful movie like "Rising Stars."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fast Times

Things are very busy at the moment.  I am going full throttle-up on finding funding now for "72".  We have a celebrity attached (I'll announce that when it's official) and I'm talking to distributors already.  My hope is to shoot in late October, but I have some ways to go on the funding.

In the meantime, I've gotten a couple of commercial clients and I'm always grateful for that.  So I've been doing some long editing sessions and a lot of green screen work lately.  BTW, for you FCP people, Ron Gonzalez told me to check out dvgarage for the chroma keyer and he's right-- it works great.

I've also finish the "Greenlight Yourself" DVD and that took some long hours to edit.  Finished is over three hours and we covered it heavily with b-roll and graphics to accentuate the points.

Then I've got an acting seminar on Saturday and an audition workshop on Sunday.

Going throttle-up for fund raising on a movie takes a lot of time.  Business plans need to be crafted.  Phone calls to prospects.  Meetings with prospects.  Script polishing.  Talent searching.  And the hardest part is not knowing yet that it's a "go."  This limbo state is one of the hardest times of the filmmaking process.

So here we go.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Humility is a rare thing in my industry.  To make it as a writer/director, you have to push and promote yourself.  You need the "numbers" to show to the Big Dogs who can shovel money your way to make a movie.  But this sounds opposite to what God has told us disciples, right?

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  This well known and oft quoted verse in I Peter speaks to the cornerstone of identity.  What is Humility?

As touched on in "The Imposter," I wear masks.  So do you.  As I pull down the masks, revealing who I really am (my true identity), I draw closer to God.  This is not an easy process and it's certainly painful.  But it's good.  (James 1... consider it all joy when you encounter... and Romans 8:28... all things good...).

Humility is understanding and comprehending my true identity.  When I start to see the various shades of evil of my flesh... I understand part of who I am.  When I start to realize that my spirit, my essence, is fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) by God, I understand who I am.

And it's in understanding these things that true Humility is found.  Not the false "worm pride" humility of "oh look at me and how bad I am."  You see, Humility is simply understanding your true identity.

You see, promoting myself in this industry has less to do with pride or humility.  It has to do with mission.

So as I draw closer to God, He reveals masks that need to come off, and in the process I start to understand a little better who I really am-- the result is more humility.  My readers who profess to be Disciples-- draw close to Him.  Spend time communicating with Him.  Devour and study the Word He has left you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Consumer.  To consume.  To buy and use and then discard.  Our economy grows or dies on our level of consumption.

Over the last one hundred years, research has been fine tuned and advertising has become extremely effective.  The experts are extremely good at what they do-- convince you to buy.

I remember pitching an potential investor for one of the movies and he jumped up and went to his white board and began a twenty minute lecture on advertising (he was very proud of the fact that he had taken several radio stations from obscurity to big market share numbers).  Several times he told me that I wouldn't learn this at Harvard Business School.  Seeing as I wasn't enrolled and wasn't going to be, I had to take his word for it.

What he told me was that he had discovered the one thing people wanted when he built the largest Christian radio station in the country.  While I visualized Jack Palance and Billy Crystal, he continued.  He told me what the one thing was and then gave it to the people and behold-- big numbers!  (Too bad Jesus didn't use some Madison Avenue Advertising strategy... but that's another story).

My mentor defines Manipulation as the coercion to do something the person hadn't intended on doing.  Well, that applies to most advertising.

At the same time, I'm working with a client that deals in the consumer debt industry.  Well no wonder the US consumer is saddled with unsecured debt (ie credit cards)-- the culture here is to buy, buy, buy.  The advertising and marketing has gotten so good, that it's eating the foundation out from under itself.

And the consumer, like a good staph infection, has become resilient to antibiotics, so the Madison Avenue guys keep finding new and better ways to target.  It's amazing-- I've sat in on some conference calls for our upcoming small theatrical release, and there's teams of people dedicated to reaching different market segments.

In the meantime, no wonder it's hard to self-distribute your own movie.  You're competing against an army of advertising and marketing experts who can quickly and efficiently get the word out.

But in all this vast advertising improvement, target marketing, niche marketing, viral marketing... the number one form of advertising is the same today as it was when Jesus walked the earth during his three and a half year ministry.  Word Of Mouth.

So I think about "The Imposter."  We can drop some good money advertising... paying those specialist.  But at the end of the day, the most effective will be you-- if you liked it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Apple of My Eye

Dear Bill Gates and Michael Dell,
I appreciate the low prices.  I really like all the software.  But I have to tell you, I don't like the open architecture that comes with the plethora of software.  Because it's buggy.  And full of viruses from people that shouldn't be allowed to continue existence.

You see, if I wanted to have a sure thing at success, I would create a virus protection company.  And unbeknown to the public at large, I'm sure there would be an executive at my company who would create viruses for surefire job security.  Really MacAfee?  Really Mr. Norton?

I like Jobs.  He thinks differently.  Sometimes he's too crazy.  But it's really hard to inflict a virus on a Mac.  And Macs are cool.  But Macs are expensive.  If it wasn't for that one thing, I would have convinced my friends to buy Apples.

Of course I'm writing this blog on my Dell laptop.  It was tops when I bought it several years ago.  But now the memory's full and the software OS is buggy.  And it's almost time to replace it.  So yes.  I'm coming to you Mr. Jobs.  Goodbye Gates.

I already have a Mac at the office, running my FCP system.  But the PC's are being phased out.  This laptop is the last bastion.  I am concerned about all the programs I use here... like Dreamweaver.  And QuickBooks Pro.  I don't want to buy software I already have.  It's what swung the balance back when I bought this Dell laptop.  Almost went Mac at that point.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Rescuers

Like "The Incredibles," the scene has turned on the rescuers.  Around the Band of Christian Brothers and Sisters, a rescuer is someone who swoops in, because they feel value when they do, to enable someone to continue in a destructive, dysfunctional behavior.  Bad rescuer.  Go away.

One of the costumes I've worn as an imposter, is the hero.  I can rush in and fix this situation that has reached critical.  But that grows tiresome when it was because of my inattentiveness that the situation went awry.  In the Royal Rangers ( a boy scout like organization me and my son do), they have a life saving merit.  The only thing though is that you can't earn the merit if you were the cause for the life threatening situation.  Say you pull your buddy out of a burning tent on a campout... you can't get the merit if you were the one who caused the fire.

So as you can imagine-- rescuing is somewhat a dirty word.

But my wife made a comment today that I'm chewing on.  Jesus was a rescuer.  God rescues.  Peter and John outside the temple didn't have money, but they rescued the paralytic who was begging.  I get so caught up in the "dysfunctional rescuer" that I can get a bit twisted.  In other words, I'm with Peter that day, saying "look at that guy... he needs to just get a job.  Wait... Pete, what'cha doing?  Aw man, if you do that, you'll just enable his 'victim' mentality!"

I have no doubt that Peter walked past lots of people who were in need of rescuing.  But on that day, he said "silver and gold have a none."  What this says is that I'm not God... I'll let Him decide what to do.  I will just be a willing vessel.  There might be times when He impresses on me to take some action.  Other times He might say leave alone.

This requires a little work on my part-- I need to make sure my communication lines with Him are up and working.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Movies

I don't remember if it's a video game or just a recurring nightmare.  You know the one-- you get things stirred up, then you have to keep stirring as hard as you can so that the momentum doesn't die.  

Paperwork is created.  Script is passed the second draft.  We've just attached first name actor.  We're talking to another.  And we've got multiple possible funding sources.  Now to keep the momentum going.  And there's a different energy this time-- with my last movie about to get a theatrical release (albeit a small one).  Can this turn into an easier time funding?  I've always wanted to get to that point.

My goal right now is to raise money for a two picture deal.  The first is a very faith-based "72."  And it's going to be a less expensive-- easier shoot.  We'll do it in three weeks probably in late October if I can get the momentum going.  The second movie is a family film called "Game of Integrity" and it really needs to be shot only in the spring.  (And a lot of this movie is day exteriors).

72 is the story about a group of guys going through the ultimate gut-check weekend.  Sorry actresses-- this one just doesn't have that many women roles.  It should be a lot of fun to shoot.

Game of Integrity, like Rising Stars, centers around high school age kids.

So stir up the pot and let's see if we can get the momentum going!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ownership Issues

A real man "owns it."  That means he doesn't throw others under the bus to escape judgment or blame.  He takes responsibility and when things go awry, he looks and pursues ways to make it right.

A man that owns it doesn't have a long "honey-do" list, because the person who makes the list, owns it.  So a real man makes the lists (sure, he builds it based on what his wife needs). 

You see, I find myself getting into trouble when I start trying to do things because I'm seeking my wife's approval.  It has taken me a long time (and is still taking me) to realize I need to seek approval from a much higher source (and I don't mean Obama.)  It's a sure sign my ego's in play when I find myself doing things to get by from my wife.  That's not owning it.

I had two similar issues happen on a movie set once-- a big mistake happened by person A and then Person B did something similar.  Person A is eligible for re-hire.  She realized the mistake and owned it.  She dedicated herself to making it as right as she could.  Person B moaned and said I must hate her now.  And that if she was Japanese I'd probably require hari-kari.  And then she did nothing to make the mistake right.  Person B is not eligible for re-hire.

You see, a person who doesn't own it is destined to continue making the same mistake.  I remember this as I work around the house.  I'm not doing these things to please my wife, although certainly I hope that's one of the outcomes.  I do these things because it's the right thing to do before God... to be a steward of what He's given me.

I forget this too often.  It's time for me to own it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Conferences, Speaking Engaements and Workshops

The Arts Conference at CFNI went great.  Now we look ahead.  I'll be speaking in Dallas at a PROAct actors meeting on August 16.  THen we'll be doing the seminar on August 21-22, two weeks from today.

It's time for me to get focused on that a little more.  I'll be creating email flyers for the event and sending them out through local talent agencies.  IN the past, we've gotten great response for this seminar.

The plan is for a half day seminar on acting, totally from a director's pov.  I talk about what we look for in audition and on the set.  I talk about the things we praise you for in post and the things you did we curse in post, then cut you out.  Armed with this knowledge, I think you can have a better chance of surviving the cut.

On Sunday, we're going to have an all day workshop on Auditioning.  But instead of only giving you the do's and don'ts, I'm going to take you to the other side of the table. Everyone will audition, but also everyone will rotate through to Reader, Producer and so forth.  I we'll discuss the audition we just saw and you'll see what we talk about.  Again, armed with this knowledge, you can have a much better shot of landing the role.

FOr the seminar alone on Saturday, it's only $29 and you can pick morning or afternoon.  If you want to do the workshop, it's $150, limited to the first 12, and includes attending the seminar the day before.

More info at .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Band of Brothers

Ambrose used it to describe a Army Company's exploits in World War II.  It's an oft quoted source and for good reason.  Shakespeare captured in these verses a sense of fraternity that is difficult to describe.  In the book "Band of Brothers," Ambrose talks about the Easy Company from the 506th of the 101st Airborne Division.  He used that Shakespearean reference because it described the bond these soldiers had.

Some of you know I'm involved in a "Band of Christian Brothers" and it's an intense time of discipleship require a lot of discipline, transparency, humility and honesty.  Going through the fight with these guys has resulted in a better walk with God, being a better husband and father.

I pulled the original verse up and I just love the whole concept.  Historically, King Henry was in France at Agincourt.  He was outnumbered 5 to 1 and his guys were deadmeat tired, while the French were fresh.  It looked like it would be a slaughter.  And it was, but the complete opposite.

In one of the classic underdog stories of all time, Henry's forces slaughtered the French.  How did they do it?  By artillery.  The English utilized the long bow.  Henry sit up his archers in the woods surrounding the battlefield.  It had rained so the field was one big mud pit.  This equalized a lot-- the French cavalry became very bogged down.  As did the soldiers themselves.  The English archers had their way.

But the night before the battle, it looked like suicide.  So here it is-- from Bill Shakespeare:

O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super Size Me

I don't think anyone needs to read the Bible.  I mean, why do all that hard work when you can go purchase the latest pop-Christianity non-fiction off the shelf at Lifeway?  It's great-- I don't have to do the math-- it's all done for me right there in those pages.  And there's plenty of "Word" in them-- they quote Bible verses and passages.  Then I can argue with friends about what the Greek says in this passage or that, because an NFL Coach wrote about it and already did the research!  Piece of cake.  Or french fries.

Awhile back, I wrote a blog about the importance of not just reading your Bible, but studying it.  And that directive is for me as much for anyone else.  I am amazed that when I've done some interviews, the interviewer is surprised that I know this verse or that verse.  What I don't understand is Disciples (or those that claim they are) who's only foray into the Word is on Sunday Morning for the verse of the sermon.  Or even worse, they read a verse in a John Eldredge book.  When has non-fiction contemporary apologists become the main feeding source for Christians?

Case in point.  A friend has been wrestling with some issues.  We talk for awhile.  Come to find out, the issues were brought out by a book.  So instead of tearing into the Bible and studying-- researching the original Greek, reading the verse and the context around it, and all the things Disciples (who have discipline), she relies solely on what this one person's interpretation.  She had started by claiming that she was reading the Bible.  When in actuality, she read the verse, printed in this book, completely out of context and pushed with the agenda of the writer.

For me, as a Disciple, I find it a daily struggle-- in my laziness, I'd much rather have people just tell me what God is saying.  I don't want to do the work myself.  I look to my mentor, my wife, my pastor for the shortcut, for them to do the math for me.  It's wrong.  I'll say it again, my Disciple friend, it's WRONG.

Do the work.  Get into the Word and out of the Zondervan book of the month club.  There's nothing wrong with Eldredge, Beth Moore or Crabb or even Warren (that pained me to write) writing a book.  What's wrong is when I or you use the book as a substitute for studying the Bible.

For those Disciples who study the whole Bible, they begin to get a more accurate feel for the character of God.  It's harder to be led astray.  It's easier to find some life answers.  For those who diet on the fast food of modern day apologetics, you'll spiritual die.  Even if you "super-size" your order.  One guy, with devastation all over his life, was reading five different books.  Here was a man eating jumbo orders of fast food and couldn't see why his body was dying.

The same goes for my movies, or this blog.  If the only Romans you're devouring is what I wrote about, you'll starve to death.

The Word.  It's not just for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Social Network Marketing

I was in my twenties, newly married, and played guitar for worship.  So the associate pastor who had a Thursday night Bible Study for Young Singles, at his house invited me to be one of the leaders.  It was an incredible time.  We had some evenings where a hundred people gathered in this normal sized suburban house.

But as the months rolled on, a schism appeared.  There were two main camps-- the 18 to 22 year olds, and a new influx of the recently divorced and mid thirties type singles.  It had started with the younger group and they felt invaded by these old guys.  So they started leaving.  In droves.  From once what was 100 people, it got down to a handful of divorced older singles.  Then it was finally canceled.  And the time period wasn't that long from 100 to canceled.

So naturally, you might think I'm taking this towards the Corinthian conversation about body schisms and such-- but no, let's talk technology.  (Love a good non sequitar).

The hot thing in business right now is "social network marketing."  I visited a smart business that's jumping into this arena with both feet.  They're building and hiring.  They're signing clients left and right.  They have cubicles of people whose job it will be to surf facebook, myspace and all those to push the clients product, company or services.  See where I'm going yet?  No?

The young people are hanging out at the house.  The older people are starting to come.  The older people are the Business aspect of social networking.  It will be good for a short period of time here, before facebook gets inundated with business stuff-- or even worse-- it loses it's "cool" factor with this generation.  Look at MySpace.

Facebook is strong right now.  But June saw the largest decrease in members they've ever had.  Rightly so, Business sees these social networks as a gold mine for selling their wares.  And when the people leave facebook, they'll go to the next big thing, and business will be hot on their trails.

Is this the end of facebook?  Of course not.  But watch as the young people stop showing up because the older divorced types are coming.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Director to Actor

I get asked to speak here and there and to teach what I've learned in the movie business.  A year ago, with the experience of "Rising Stars," I talked to some local actors.  Why do producers bring in a lot of NYC and LA actors into North Texas to shoot movies?

Well, the Texan in me rises up and says that's not right!  But then I see the facts-- I've done it.  Why do directors and producers seek out experienced out of town actors?

I'm not even going to the "name factor."  Yes, us producers and directors need name recognition in our cast.  Nothing you local actors can do about that.

Instead of immediately going to a thought pattern that they're biased, consider some factors.  Experienced actors hit their marks more than inexperienced actors.  Experienced actors need fewer takes.  Experienced actors have more tools in their acting toolbox to pull from.  But if you're a local actor, you can get training.  And you can find experience.

So as I thought about what to say to local actors, I looked around.  There are TONS of seminars and workshops, but almost all of them are Actors to Actors.  I couldn't really find anything from a working Director to Actors.  Sitting on the set of Rising Stars, I remember talking to a NYC actor about how the auditions went from my side of the table.  She talked about her side.  It was really interesting.  And even more interesting was that few actors knew what we thought and talked about on the other side of that audition table.

So I decided to teach a seminar on Acting from the Director's point of view.  And, like last year, I'm teaming that up with an Audition Workshop where you'll get in depth and personal on what goes on on the other side of that table.

If you just want the seminar, it's Saturday August 21 for three and a half hours.  Pick the morning or the afternoon.  It's only $29. 

If you want the Audition Workshop, it's $150 for the all day Sunday event, but you also get to attend one of the Saturday's seminars-- just let me know if you're coming in the morning or the afternoon.

To register, click here ( I'm going to limit the Workshop, so as soon as the slots are full, I'm going to close it up.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Review of "The Imposter"

I really appreciate the people who not only watch the movie, but take time to write about.  And I really, *really* appreciate the ones that say good things!  Here's what Brian from EncounterThis had to say about the movie:


Two generations now have grown up with a tv perspective on life.  We’ve all been infected with the notion that all problems should be solved within 30 minutes.  That same thought process carries over into the church.  Stay with me on this one.  There is a sense in that no matter where we’ve been and no matter what we’ve done, running down the aisle of the church will bring automatic release and removal of all problems.
Much like tv life, that is not realistic or true.

Our youth group, momentum, watched the movie, Imposter last night.  In the movie Kevin Max from DC Talk plays a Christian rock singer whose life spins out of control because of his addiction to himself.  The movie takes a very untypical approach in his return to his family, friends, and Christ.

There is no climactic, come-down-the-aisle scene.  There is no great reunion between him and his wife.  There is no weeping moment of reconciliation with his friends.  Instead there is a process of brokenness, a path of rebuilding trust, and a deeper change in a broken man’s life.  In the words of the dialog from the movie…
“God is more concerned that our hero go through a process than zapping him with spiritual morphine.”
How refreshing to see a real life approach to a man’s walk with God.  How genuine to see family and friends be slow to restore trust.  How honest to see a man wrestle with himself and humility.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Two Camera Man

The last couple of features, I've become spoiled-- I've been using an A and B camera team on the movies.  For those who don't know how television and movies are shot, here's some standard practices.

For "film style" shoots, that usually refers to a single camera.  Everything is lit for that camera.  Sound prepares for that camera.  When you add a second camera to a film style shoot, it's usually more of the same.  Only you light for them both.  That's why when you bring in a second camera on a film style shoot, it's best to shoot in the same direction.  In other words, one's a medium shot and the others a close up.  If you shoot crossways-- for instance, two people talking to each other, one camera holds one person, the other camera the other-- this creates some big problems.  You have to light both-- and your lights for one might be in the way for the other shot.  Sound now has to get pristine recording-- which might require a second boom op.  All these things come in to play.

Generally, when shooting film style with two cameras, I shoot the same direction.  But there have been times I've had to shoot crossways.  On "The Imposter," we were shooting an exterior scene and the sun was setting.  If we didn't get them both right then, it would not match.  We had seconds to decide and we act to act fast.  Fortunately, it didn't require more than bounces on lighting and we close mic'd the actors (and later had to ADR anyway because it was on the side of a busy road).

For television, you have "film style" and "sitcom" style.  The show "Scrubs" has done a great job of showing both.  For a sitcom, they broke some major rules by deciding to shoot the show "film style."  So the lighting is more dramatic and they use one or two cameras.  Then for one show, they went "sitcom" and you can really see the difference.  A sitcom is lit flat with as many as five cameras.  The lighting has to be flat and even, or shadows will creep into one or more of the cameras.  When a sitcom is shot, they'll roll maybe twice through the show, with some pickups for flubs, then edit the five cameras together to get the finished result.  "Film style," you'll shoot one little shot until you have it perfect.

So in tv land, you might see as many as 12 pages a day shot.  For films it gets lower (the bigger budgets might average 2 or 3 pages).  For some tv shows, they still might shoot film style, but they move really fast.  Especially the dramas like "24," and "The Shield."  Think "movie" but at an incredible pace.  To accomplish this, the crews are a well oiled machine, and actors are dead on 95% of the time.  You just can't afford, neither time or money, to routinely get to take four or five.  Show runners will talk about how they were thrilled but concerned to land some famous movie director for an episode.  They are afraid a movie director doesn't know how to make a 12 page day when they're used to 3 page days. 

Anyway, I always had multiple cameras on stunt days.  But on "Striking Range," I started using a second camera.  By "The Imposter," I used a second camera almost the whole time.  The same for "Rising Stars."  It gives me more coverage and saves time.  I can make my days while getting plenty of coverage.