Thursday, September 30, 2010

The B-I-B-L-E

Scriptures.  The Holy Bible.  Old Testament.  New Testament. These 66 books that make up the Christian's revered words.  It's to these pages that a Christian conforms his or her life.

Non-Christians, at best, think these are good ancient literary works-- like Homer's Iliad.  For Christians, some believe that every word is inspired by God.  Others believe that most of the scripture applies, but maybe not all of it.  Still others might think that the canonization process (the means by which these books were chosen) were faulty and run by church leaders operating out of massive egos.

This may all be accurate-- but I believe that God selected these books.  I believe that the Word became flesh and lived amongst us (John 1).  I believe that scripture needs to be taken in context and to get a solid context requires much studying.  I also believe that many Christians today just simply don't know much of the Bible.  They rely on others to tell them what to think or what to believe.

I get excited when I talk to a fellow Christian that has a differing take on things than I do.  I actually love to hash out the different points and bring it all back to the standard that we ascribe to.  But all to often, instead of naming chapter and verse, they name some contemporary writer who wrote about this or that verse.

The Bible isn't meant to be read.  It's meant to be studied.  I have no problem with people confronting my position on this or that if they actually can back it with scripture.  I had one church lady come up to me after a screening of "The Imposter" and ask me why I had ruined the movie with the language.  (I had been very careful not to).  I asked what she was referring to.  "Johnny C said 'Crap'."  Well so did you just now I thought.  What I did ask her was "please tell me the scripture and I'll redo the movie."  Her immediate response? "Well, my church wouldn't like hearing that word."  I asked her again to name a scripture.  She didn't.  (Of course I covered this story in a previous blog).

We have a new principle added to our Band of Christian Brother's covenant.  Here's the wording:
I absolutely and completely accept and affirm that the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. And, furthermore I agree to submit to the Scriptures and change my conduct and behavior to conform to them to the best of my ability. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 1:21)

I think the rare thing in today's Christian is the last part "I agree to submit to Scriptures and change my conduct and behavior..."   What???  I have to do something?  I thought it was "come as you are?"  God likes me just the way I am.

Well, that's taken out of context.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Change of Value

Although considered the "three act Nazi", Robert McKee has some really good points about writing and structure in writing.  One of the things he talks about is that Story is Conflict.  I agree.  Without conflict, you have a 90 minute PSA.  (And this is a problem for the Christian Film Nazi's-- because you're not allowed to show conflict, but that's another post).

He talks about scenes or sequences have a change in emotional value for the main characters in it.  In other words, if Jane enters the scene happy, she needs to leave sad.  Or mad.  Or ecstatic.  That moment in the scene where the change from "happy" to "sad" happens is what I call the beat of the scene.

If you main characters leave the scene with the same emotional value they entered, then the scene is exposition, and as most writers know, exposition is to be avoided at all cost.  To exposit necessary plot information, always much more preferred to do it through conflict.

For actors, when I direct, I try to point them to that beat-- that moment there's a change.  When I pick sides for auditions, I pick sides that have a beat.  I want to see that the actor can change their emotional value in an honest way.  Then on the set, we'll talk more indeth about it.  Maybe find the backstory that would drive the emotional change.

For you writers, chart your story.  Take a close look at your main scenes.  Do your lead characters change in emotional value in these scenes?  If not, you might want to adjust or even cut.  Those scenes are probably exposition and you can work in that necessary info through conflict some other way.

On my second movie, I will confess that I took this too far.  In my quest to exclude all exposition, the story was a bit confusing at times.  And the lead characters became ping pong balls hit across the table of emotional value.  So don't go all nazi on the emotional value change.  But do avoid exposition.  It's all a balancing act.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Under the Skin

I've learned that when something bothers me... when a button of mine is pushed... that it is a sure sign that my Ego (Flesh) is involved.  I shared a little about this to someone the other day.  And of course like clockwork, the next day I had a wonderful character building opportunity.

Yes, something someone did got under my skin.  Sure, I'd like to say he "pushed my buttons."  But in actuality, no one has that power.  You can't make me mad.  My wife can't make me mad.  My kids can't make me mad.  Only my "maker" can "make" me do anything and He made me with free will to choose.  So yup, I choose to be mad or angry or offended.

Next time you feel the urge to blurt out "you make me so mad!" remember that you're allotting to them a special power.  You give them power over your life.  It's not healthy.  It's dysfunctional.

When you feel that issue or that moment start to get under your skin, see it as a red flag that there's a flesh issue inside yourself.  I certainly see it in me in that situation yesterday.  It's a wonderful growth opportunity.

Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rising Stars Oct. 22

It's official. We're getting a theatrical release-- albeit a small one. We are very grateful for the chance and hope that fans in these three cities will show up and sell it out. Screen Media, the distributor is using these three cities as a test to see if they'll roll it out bigger.

Here's the link:
For the exclusive trailer direct link:

The three cities are: Tulsa, Nashville and Grand Rapids. They wanted to do mid size markets, more conservative in demographics. It's all very calculated by a big team of people. You'd like the conference calls-- very educational. You've got the viral marketing team, the theater booking person, the radio specialist, the publicist and publicity expert.  Of course Andrew the producer, me and the people at Screen Media.

I hope if you're near or in these cities, you'll pack it out starting October 22.  We really need you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Actor Demos

We had a fun time shooting demos a week ago.  Here are some of the scenes.  Also-- several have approached me about doing them again and I might.  You need to contact me and tell me your interested.  Yes it costs $350, which is cheaper than some headshots.  But what we do is high quality, looking like it's ripped from an indie film.  You judge for yourself.  If you'd like to contact me, email

Amber Sutphin is new to dramatic film acting, but does an outstanding job. Sometimes I worry about stage actors making the transition to film. But Amber is aptly coached by Nancy Chartier in Dallas and the combo of the two is dynamic as seen here. Ron Gonzalez always takes pride in his cinematography and does a nice fireplace gag in this shot.

Here's Stephen Arruda.  He's an angry Shepherd.

And Luis Gonzalez did a wonderful death scene.  I'd like to see the rest of the movie.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Writers--

Yes, I know I run a film production company (Serendipitous Films).  But suddenly, I've popped up on yours and a lot of your friends radars.  I don't know why all of a sudden.  But please, I've got four or five of my own scripts I'm working on getting into production.  I'm sure yours is great, but I'm not really geared to turn towards working on yours.  Some things you have to do yourself (which is what I recommend-- you want your movie produced-- go do it yourself!  For help, Greenlight Yourself is a good source.)

So, I know you have to send out query after query, but I'm not going to have time right now to even read the email, let alone the synopsis.  Even if I did have time I generally don't read scripts (unless you're hiring me to critique) because of our litigious environment.  You know what I mean-- you send your script out to me... I happen to have an idea similar or something similar that I'm working on, and I make mine.  Then you see it and file a suit.  It's why nobody takes unsolicited scripts anymore.

And one word on critiques-- I don't really do them as a favor anymore.  Friends or acquaintances would ask, and I would give the standard-- nine out of ten people ask me but really are wanting my affirmation, not critique.  And inevitably, every single one responds with a yes, I want critique!  I had one Christian filmmaker scorch me after I gave her constructive feedback.

So now, I will gladly give you a critique, but I will charge.  The whole point is to make the work better-- it won't get any better if all I do is tell you ow great it is.

Carry forth my dear writer friend!  But save the electrons in sending me queries.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting Technical to Actors

Most teaching done for actors is by fellow actors.  That's why I decided to do a couple of seminars-- a director's perspective on the craft of acting.  We recently shot some demos for actors at out studios and I thought about a few technical things I teach in the seminar.  Here are some random things:
Your job is to get as close to theatrical truth as possible.  What makes this hard is the incredibly unnatural atmosphere you must work in to present this truth.
Speaking of which-- on one movie set, a decent actor would complain about this and that.  Don't complain-- the set is a foreign landscape-- it's your job to play through that to present theatrical truth.  Of course things will be tough.  Distracting.  But be a pro.
When your scene mate is getting his coverage, don't talk over his lines-- even if that's the way you did it in the master.  Need the lines clean.  The editor will overlay them so that it seems like you're talking over each other.  But in closeups, you hose your scene mate.
Fighting has to be full speed, no pulling punches.  Otherwise it will look fake.  And BTW, the person who sells a punch being real, is the one receiving it.  The receiver must not react too early or too late.
The best thing you can do is come prepared.  Go past memorization.  Because when you think you've got it memorized, as soon as the director yells action, the pressure of the unnatural landscape will drive the words out of your mind.  Instead of making interesting actor choices, your brain will be focused on simply saying the correct words.  Yuk.

Anyway, just a few random director-to-actor thoughts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rising Stars Update

A year ago, I was beginning the edit of Rising Stars.  Now, we're finally about to see it on the big screen.  Rising Stars has been picked up by Screen Media Ventures and stars Kyle Riabko, Lauren Ashley Carter, Natalie Hall, Leon Thomas III, and Graham Patrick Martin for the kids.

The adults are Fisher Stevens, who just won an Academy Award, Catherine Mary Stewart (remember Last Starfighter?), and Barry Corbin.  We also had the great pleasure of working with Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James who is successfully making the jump into feature films.

This movie is about high school arts finalists-- pitting the top three musical acts and the top three filmmakers against each other for one week of the Finals.  Each musical act is paired with a filmmaker with the quest of making a song and music video to see who will win.

We shot this in August last year at the University of Texas at Arlington.  They were a wonderful host for the shoot.  And thank goodness it wasn't as hot as it was this year.  It was hot enough.  I thought our New York actors were going to die at times.

Screen Media will be releasing the trailer for the movie soon.  The movie will open in late October in a few select cities.  Then if we do well, it will get a wider roll out.  More info on that will follow.

Needless to say, we are very excited about this movie and we hope it does well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When you do it, it hurts my family

Jeff Rodgers and I have been working hard for many years to make films.  The Imposter took a ton of blood, sweat and tears to turn it into a reality.  We have more movie ideas ready to go-- except for a problem.  You see, it's too easy to steal these days.

I provide for my family through these movies.  I'm not looking to get rich and we're still in our first small house we bought seventeen years ago.  We don't have excess.  To make the movies work, we have to have your support.  When you buy a DVD, a portion does go back to us, with which we pay our investors.  And then they'll be glad to invest more to make more movies.

The problem is pirating and incorrect use of license.  When you go to LifeWay and buy the $17 DVD and then show it at your church, it hurts us.  It's against the license and against the law.  Now an entire congregation of people won't need to go to LifeWay to buy the movie-- they've seen an unlicensed exhibition.

If you believe in the message we're telling, please support us.  Buy the DVD for home use.  License through PureFlix cinema the church exhibition version.  Please, please, please, don't steal.

I remember talking to one Christian recording artist who said he thinks 75% of his income has been taken away over the last six years because of pirating.  Fellow disciples, this is wrong and I do not believe God can bless your efforts or your ministry if you're stealing (pirating).

And if you see fellow Believers participating in this, please talk to them, nicely and in order, and ask them to not do that.  Besides the spiritual ramifications of stealing, playing this forward-- more and more talented and gifted Godly artists will have to give up their art because their livelihood was stolen.

You see, I keep hearing about this church or that ministry showing The Imposter.  Then I checked with PureFlix Cinema-- the church/ministries are not getting the exhibition license.

To make a movie requires a lot of money.  A micro budget is several hundred thousand dollars.  A micro marketing/advertising budget is almost a hundred thousand dollars.  The people who invested in The Imposter are honest, hardworking people that I want to do right by-- I want to return their investment.

Indisputably, we are called by God to walk in Integrity.  Playing home version DVD's in your church for an audience is stealing.  If you continue to do that, I pray that God deals with you like you've dealt with these artists.  If it's by Integrity, so be it.  If not, so be it.

How's this for a nice, warm and fuzzy post?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Mysterious Islands - A Review

Recently, I mentioned to a publicist that I would be interested in reviewing some Christian films.  Right afterwards, I wondered what I had done.  I mean, if I were to review my own films, I could rip some of them pretty well apart.  And a lot of movies young filmmakers send me, especially faith-based, are just downright awful.  And if the production value is severely lacking, sometimes the theology is downright destructive.

So the first movie came in the mail.  It's a documentary called The Mysterious Islands.  First, let it be known I'm not a big fan of docs.  They tend to move slower than I like.  And I've always been a fiction-kind-of-guy.

Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by this film.  I have to put a disclaimer at the end of this post because the FTC mandates, but as you know from my posts, I will shoot straight with you.  The Mysterious Islands, first of all is beautifully shot.  The filmmakers use some of the best cameras available to present a stunning portrait of the Galapagos Islands.  The sound is solid.  The faults are hard to find.

This movie is a documentary, following Darwin's journey 150 years ago, where he came up with his idea for his theory.  Years later, he published his book "On the Origin of the Species."  Coming from a distinct creationist view, the filmmakers do a solid job of presenting the evolutionist side and then shining light on the discrepancy of this "theory."

One of the problems I have with us creationists is that we try to disprove the evolutionist by arguments of faith, not science.  You can't go to an evolutionist and say the world was created in six days because the Bible says so.  He doesn't recognize the authority of your source.

What I like here, is that the filmmakers take the "scientists" of evolutionary theory to task on their own science.  Evolutionist present their theory as fact even though it's never been proven scientifically.  If we evolved, then were are the missing links?  Darwin excitedly wrote that we would find them in a hundred years.  Well, they're not there.

That's just one of the things addressed by this documentary.  I also like the exercise of playing "natural selection" out, if we said evolution was true.  What you discover is some of Darwin's famous "disciples."  Like Adolf Hitler.  The whole theory here is that some man species are less evolved than others.  There's records of people like Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger discussing how it would be unfortunate if the blacks learned how they believed.

The flaws for this film are hard to find.  It's a bit slow for me, but that's the style of documentaries.  The music is absolutely wonderful, but a bit dramatic at times and feels forced.  But that's about it.  These guys know what they're doing and they've crafted a beautiful and stunning story.  I recommend this documentary.

For trailer and more info, click here.

Oh and for you FTC types, here's the disclaimer:
“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top Posts

Interesting to see that the most controversial posts are always the most read.  Seems that we are driven to activity by controversy.  Why else would the news even run stories like the kook pastor of fifty in Florida?  Controversy is chum in the water of us sharks.  Even just a small piece can instigate large fights.

With Blogger, you can install different modules.  I can't find one that lists the top posts-- maybe someone knows where one is.  Over time, I've taken note which of these posts are the most read and here are some links:

From Year One:
Anything with Kerry Livgren gets well read (undermining the controversial theory above).  This was when we posted his testimonial which has gotten very watched on YouTube.  Click Here.

First post on "Chicken Love" was the most read for the first half of 2009.  Click Here.

On the technical side, got a lot of feedback on this post about two camera shooting.  Click Here.

The most read from 2009 where the Confessions from the Audition Room.  Part 1 is here, but you can read the rest in June 2009. 

Cheesy Christian Movies has gotten a lot of reads.  Here's the first post about this.  The more recent one two weeks ago has gotten more hits.

From Year Two:
The post for the first six months that got the most hits is the one about phariseeism.  Called "The Two R's."

And then last post about Tolerance generated quite a bit of activity.  Bottom line on Tolerance-- if you "tolerate" sin in fellow Christians, it's because you want your own sin "tolerated."

Friday, September 10, 2010


In light of the Terry Jones stunt (not the Monty Python but the pastor in Florida), it's time, fellow Disciples, to talk about tolerance.  BTW, I don't condone Terry Jones-- Jesus doesn't need a publicity stunt.  Having said that, I just read this on a Christian recording star's website regarding the out of balance Jones:
Jesus was all about tolerance and respect of fellow human beings
 I'm sorry-- what Bible is she reading???  Sure, I can easily go to the Old Testament and point to a God who was all about intolerance when it came to sin. How He caused the ground to swallow them up.  How He brought plagues, war and famine on them.  But, you say, that's "old testament."

God didn't order Joshua to burn their books.  He only ordered Joshua to kill them all-- including the children, kittens, puppies, and the sheep and goats.  Kill them all.  Oh yeah, still old testament.  And you say that God has changed.

Okay, let's go New Testament on you.  Where was Jesus's tolerance for the rich young ruler?  Why didn't He let the dude just come along?  Why did He require clearly too much from the poor rich young ruler?

How tolerant was God on Ananias and Sapphira for simply lying?  Yeah, they dropped dead.  Where's the love?  Where's the tolerance?  Where's the respect?  Oh but Jesus "was all about respect..."  So that's why he called the gentile woman a "dog?"  He didn't respect the pharisees.  Paul talks in I Cor 5 about throwing out people from the church.  Where's the respect?  The love?  The tolerance?

There's a new religion that's been founded.  It's the Religion of Tolerance.  It's hip.  It's cool.  But it ain't God or Jesus.

So the question here, Ms. Recording Star, is why you so quickly discount the character of God?  Why espouse such inaccuracies?  Is it because you want and desire tolerance in your own life for your sins?  You don't want to be held accountable for your selfish, narcissistic choices that have left a path of destruction in your life?  I would add that it harms and damages the one's you love... but for the Narcissist, there's only one you love.   I know, because I've seen you at the Narcissists Anonymous meetings.  But you didn't stay for your pin.

You give a pass to others because really you're giving a pass to yourself?  I know I do.

Ahh, no wonder you're the new poster child for "Tolerance."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Actor Demo Reels Part 2

Director of Photography Ron Gonzalez and
Director Daniel Millican setup for an
actor demo reel shoot.
I was talking with a local talent agent.  She was saying that many of the local actors just don't have quality moments for their demo reels.  And in this age of technology, more and more casting people and directors are using demos to decide whether to audition someone.  We also discussed how hard it is sometimes to get scenes from production companies.  An actor does a movie and forever can't get a copy to put pieces into a reel.

So we talked some more and I realized what she was saying was very accurate-- as a director, I'm looking at demos.  And if in the one minute of the demo, it's mostly background/extra type scenes, it doesn't really do the actor any good-- if anything, it hurts.

This led to a discussion about providing a service to actors-- shooting short little "moments" that can be easily placed into a demo reel.  At first I thought about pulling from scripts I've already written, then I decided it'd be better to write something specific for each actor.

The next trick was figuring out how to price it.  It is extremely important that these look rich and high in production value.  I'm going to need to pay a crew.  So I figured a budget for the shoot and divided it out, coming to a figure of $350 per actor, with four actors minimum to make it work.  This is less than some headshots.  What the actor walks away with is a high def, cinematic quality quicktime for web and a higher resolution quicktime for the editor making the reel.

The response has been pretty good.  I've done two sessions and about to do a third (had several that couldn't make it to the last one).  We're shooting on Tuesday, Sept 14.  I still have room for one or two more as of the writing of this blog.  Registration/Info/Samples at .

I need to know pretty quick because I write original material for each actor and you also need to have time to prepare and memorize your lines.

Tips for Actor Demo Reels:
  • No longer than 1 minute
  • Have 4 or 5 different clips
  • Keep it mostly on you, not other actors in the scene
  • Better to show big fish/small pond, than little fish/big pond.  In other words, I would rather want to see a juicy scene from a micro budget movie than you as a featured extra in a Hollywood film.
  • Negotiate getting a copy of the movie when you sign up for the role

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Album Review

I've been a Newsboys fan since the early-mid nineties, when I cut together a video for our church and the youth pastor wanted to use Shine in the background.  Since then, I've listened to everything.  And when you hear their late eighties stuff, you can be very thankful for the influence of Steve Taylor on producing.

I think the last album, In the Hands of God got overshadowed by the sudden departure of Peter Furler.  Hands was one of the better Newsboy's offerings in awhile.  I have three 5-star songs in my iTunes library as well as a couple 4-stars.  I can whole-heartily recommend buying the entire album at that point.  Which was no problem because Amazon offered it for $5 to jumpstart their mp3 service.  Plus, it featured two songs by Taylor, who hadn't produced for some time.

So a few days ago, I get a new email offer from Amazon. This time I can buy the new album with Michael Tait for $5.  Count me in.  Over the Labor Day weekend, I turned on the iPod and took a listen.  And you need to know I like Michael and it's never easy to step in like this to a band that has a very distinctive sound.

The lead singer probably has the most influence on a band's sound in my opinion.  Because of that, I couldn't decide if I was listening to new dcTalk stuff or some different band altogether.  There are some catchy tunes and I certainly love the familiar vocalizations of Tait.  There's not a single song written by Furler.  I thought maybe the founder might hang out in the background, but his creative touch is missing with the exception of Build Us Back). 

On Your Knees is a nice power ballad.  And I loved the cover of Mighty To Save.  But I'm sucker for rock renditions of any of these worship songs.   The cover of Jesus Freak sounds very similar to the original.  Would have loved to hear something more distinctive. Still, it's too soon.  Let's see if this band can find a new identity.  I'll certainly be listening.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just Say No

Contrary to popular perception, Hollywood actually doesn't like to say the word "no."  New York has no problem with it, but out in La-La Land, "no" is to be avoided at all costs.

Too many horror stories have been told about the guy who said "no" to Rocky.  Or said no to Dead Poets Society.  Or said no to the next big thing.  Or actor.  You don't want to be that guy who said "no."

So when young filmmakers rush up excited that this or that Hollywood company is willing to consider their project, I try not to step on their enthusiasm.  I've talked to a big Hollywood distributor (one of the majors) about 72 recently.  They didn't tell me no.  They gave me a definite maybe.  They'd like to see it when it's done.  This is par for the course-- it's what I was expecting.  Sure I hoped they swoop in, dropping tons of money. 

So when do they say no?  When you're all done, they will graciously "pass."  They still don't say no, they just say they're "passing."  Passing is the new no.

One of the problems with not saying "no" (there's a double negative finally), is that you don't take a stand.  Right or wrong, I'm going to own this choice.  There's no ownership in LA.  If you own it and it turns out to be a wrong choice, you're out of a job or a career.  And the number one rule is to look out for number one.  (See the post the other day on Lions versus Servants.)

So, don't expect a "no" from Hollywood.  And don't expect a yes either.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cheesy Christian Movies-- A Different Look

Yes, Christian movies have a reputation for being cheesy.  On another blog, we've had an interesting debate that started with the premise that maybe they're cheesy because they lack budget.  (For the definition of "cheesy", read this.)

Let's work from a substitution model.  Take another art form-- canvas oil painting.  Let's say a Christian enjoys the museum and looks at the paintings done by all these incredible artists over the centuries.  They go home and say "Well heck (remember, the Christian doesn't say 'hell'), I can do that!"  And so he grabs a crayon, or some tempura, spreads out the butcher paper, and without as much as watching one instructional YouTube video, he makes his masterpiece.

He gathers his friends from the church group to gaze at this beautiful thing... and like the emperor's clothes, they all nod and pat him on the back and say something religious like "well, God's certainly given you a passion brother!"

Now stop right there, I know what you're going to say next.  "Well Dan, don't you believe in the power of God.  I mean, He put the Master in 'Masterpiece.'  Don't you think He gives gifts to His children?"  Yes I do.  Sometimes He chooses to zap someone.  But more often than not, He's MUCH more concerned about the artist than the art.  He wants to take the artist through a process.  Yet the artist places WAAAAAY too much emphasis on the art.

Have I lost you?  Goes back to us Christian Filmmakers who love to say "My movie is going to reach the lost!  Praise His name!"  My friend, if you think your art is that important, you've lost some grip on reality.  He can make a sunset that can touch man's heart more than your movie.  The movie is nothing more than a tool.  He didn't gives us that Great Commission to "reach the lost."  He gave the Great Commission to "make disciples."  And quite frankly, a movie is a poor substitute for discipling.  I can see Paul now-- "Hey Tim, no need to hang with me-- just watch my movie!"

Or to put it in a better way (my composer friend Ben Reynolds came up with this one)... it's like the three year old baking in his mother's kitchen (you're the three year old in this allegory, God's the mother) on his Easy-Bake Oven.  He makes this attrocious brownie-like substance and when it goes "ding" pulls it out.  Mom tastes it and smiles to the little tike.  "Great job!"  But here, the tike thinks the cake is going to fetch a bazillion dollars at the upcoming church bake sale.

I know several of these Christian Filmmakers.  They have drifted away from Truth-- which means they're operating in some degree of delusion.  And you wonder why their movies are "cheesy?"  It has nothing to do with budget.  Give our artist above oil paints instead of tempura... nice, stretched canvas instead of butcher paper, and I can tell you what the result will be.  Short of Zappage from God.

My filmmaking friends that say they're disciples of Jesus-- please listen.  Storytelling is an ART.  It takes training.  Education.  Apprenticeship.  Skill.  Gifting.  Inspiration.  And of course passion.  You might have one of these.  Or two.  So what are you waiting for?  Go start getting the rest.  Or you'd better fast and pray for some major Zappage.  Otherwise, you're just adding to the plethora of cheese.  (I sooo wanted to use that word today.  Not cheese.  Plethora).

I don't' believe you can do this and embrace the Christian Nazi Film Festival.  (The CNFF).  And if you think I'm making it up-- I'm not.  Of course they don't call themselves this.  I have a filmmaking friend who did a modern prodigal son and showed five or so blurry seconds of a table with beer bottles on it and him sitting behind with some other people.  They wanted him to take it out.  They wanted him to forsake Truth.  Of course, the Pharisees wanted Jesus to forsake Truth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beware of Lions

Gene Roddenberry had it wrong.  In his vision for the future, man inherently were good.  Sure there were the odd few "evil" people out there, but in the end, the basic goodness of mankind would win the day.  As a philosophy or religion, it's called "humanism."

Man is inherently evil.  That's why Roddenberry fails.  That's why the democratic party fails.  They assume mankind's basic goodness.  Time and time again, it's been proven the rule-- not the exception... that mankind, at his basic core, is selfish and self serving.  He's a lion, looking to feed himself.  Sure there are nice lions, but int he end, a lion will be a lion.

At the core of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached about is a servant mentality-- being a servant to God, not mankind.  The killing of that internal lion.  The Apostle Paul writes that that lion has to be killed everyday.  For those who call themselves Christians, if you disagree with the above premise that man is inherently evil, I offer Romans 7:19.  Paul writes "I practice the evil I do not want to do."  That's present tense.  And it's coming late int he life of the guy who wrote a lot of the New Testament.

So it's a Lion versus Servant smackdown.  At least for the Disciple.  Those who don't follow and serve Jesus, really don't have that internal conflict.  The fight to kill the lion.  Everyday.

It's a daily choice.  Sometimes minute by minute.  Live for lion.  Or live for the servant.