Friday, October 29, 2010

Christian Filmmaking Thoughts

I've written a lot about the comparison of Christian films today to Christian music of thirty years ago. When Christian contemporary music (CCM) was born in the late sixties and early seventies, you had a lot of passionate artists (and some more passionate than art skills). But what you didn't see at that infant stage was a preponderance of non-believers in the industry.

That quickly changed as people realized there wuz gold in them thar hills. It's not uncommon today to have non-believers posing as Christian in the music biz. I was in talks a few years ago to work with a "Christian" band in a movie of mine. After spending a couple of days with them and the management team, I was told the story how the manager brought them together-- how he wanted to get another band going and the "Christian" music scene would be the easiest ladder to climb. This was a band that won dove awards.

I've seen Hollywood actors (avowed non-believers) get cast in a Christian film. Then they'll play the role, speaking on Christian tv, being interviewed for Christian media, espousing a "Christian" message. And the Christian audience is eating it up.

But for the frontmen-- the people on camera, I think the culture that CCM has created will permeate here too-- to be the face (like the voice for CCM) of Christian movies, you'll probably have to walk the talk (or talk the talk as some pretenders will).

As this Christian film industry infant grows up, it will become populated by more and more "pretenders." And behind the lens, you probably won't be aware of the pretenders, just like CCM-- the business side of the music industry.

For those purest Christian filmmakers who only drink milk from a Christian cow and only crew your movie with "Christians", you're going to have to deal with some problems. But of course, I think those type of "Christian" filmmakers are fooling themselves. I bet you money, that some of those purporting to be "Christians" are in fact anything but. I'd rather have someone hot or cold than lukewarm anyway.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rising Stars Extended

I'm thrilled to announce that Rising Stars is being extended a week in Tulsa and Grand Rapids. This is a great chance for the movie to grow legs. If you know anyone in those cities, ask them to go see it!

We're also looking at bringing it to the DFW area. More details on that to come.

Thanks for your support everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

News Release for Rising Stars

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rising Stars
Inspirational film shines a new light on the high-profile world of musical talent contests

By Dan Wooding
Exclusive for ASSIST News Service
NEW YORK CITY, NY (ANS) -- In our modern, fame-obsessed voyeuristic culture, high-profile “talent contests” have spawned big television ratings and several new franchise industries. But at what price to those contestants involved?

An advert for the new movie
“One of the afflictions of our current society is the pressure to perform placed on children. This can rob them of their childhood, resulting in them growing into dysfunctional adults,” states Daniel Millican, the writer/director of a new film, “Rising Stars” which releases this month in theatres and deals with the issue of a high-pressure, high-profile television talent contest. “I wanted to tell a story that could combat the competitive pressures placed on adolescents and post-adolescents. I wanted to tell a story where they teamed up to create, not set apart to destroy each other. My goal when I sat down to conceive this story was to create a movie that would entertain and at the same time give a positive message - God created you to be the person you were meant to be, to fulfill his dream for you, not the image of what the world says you should be.”

Writer/Director Daniel Millican
Billed as “a family musical with heart”, "Rising Stars" explores the sacrifices that come with fame in reality television-obsessed culture. Challenged with creating songs and music videos, three musical acts find more than their futures on the line when the competition gets fierce and their lives are caught on tape broadcast to the nation. Egos clash and worlds collide as these teens find how far they will go to win the coveted prize and achieve stardom. To give “Rising Stars” an entertaining edge and the feel of a real talent competition, Millican recruited some of the hottest young performers today, from the stage, screen and music worlds. They include Graham Patrick Martin (The Girl Next Door, Two and a Half Men, The Bill Engvall Show, iCarly, Jonas), Kyle Riabko (90210, Limelight, The National Tour of Spring Awakening, The Broadway Production of Hair), Leon Thomas III (August Rush, Victorious, iCarly) and Jessie Payo, a former member of pop duo Jupiter Rising whose music has been featured on MTV’s The Hills and The City. Jessie's hit song with Jupiter Rising; “Electropop” was one of the popular songs ever on MySpace, receiving over four million plays.
They are joined by veteran actors, Fisher Stevens (The Flamingo Kid, Short Circuit, Hackers, Awake), Barry Corbin (WarGames, Urban Cowboy, No Country For Old Men) and Catherine Mary Stewart (Weekend at Bernie’s, The Girl Next Door) and a dramatic performance by Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling Contemporary Christian recording artist, Rebecca St. James.

A scene from the film, Rising Stars
©2010 Screen Media Films
A recent study by Penn State University showed that the effects of high-stake public competitions can often have lasting debilitating effects on young people.... in particular, those individuals who give their best efforts after years of practice and performing...but still do not win the coveted ‘prize’. High-profile “talent contest” programming, have become in the end, glorified popularity contests. The participants are expected to rise to an unrealistic goal that causes them to pursue a tentative ideal and not the overall betterment of themselves. In most cases, the research shows, this high-stress competition most-often leaves young people with a lower self-worth of themselves than they had before the competition. In a competitive society, it is easy to assume that competition will build a strong sense of self. Noted behavioral researchers, David and Roger Johnson concluded in an extensive study on the effects of competition on young adults and children, that cooperative learning/teamwork situations, compared with competitive and individualistic situations, promote higher levels of self- esteem and healthier processes for deriving conclusions about one’s self-worth.
They indicate that “cooperativeness” is related to emotional maturity, well-adjusted social relations, a strong personal identity, and a basic trust in and optimism about other people. That is the message of “Rising Stars”.
Director, Daniel Millican is no stranger to exploring complex ethical and moral themes in his films. Following a successful career in commercials and music videos, Millican made the leap to features in 2000. With his first film, the critically-acclaimed, The Keyman: Finding Redemption, Millican explored the issues of regret and abandonment on and the destructive power of unforgiveness. Next came A Promise Kept, a look at the compromises often found in today’s cutthroat corporate environment and The Imposter, a modern day interpretation of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
“Romans 12 says, “‘And let not your behavior be like that of this world, but be changed and made new in mind, so that by experience you may have knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God’” asserts, Millican. I wanted to make a film that shows the joy and the possibilities of being the person you were created to be”.
For more information, go to:

Dan Wooding, 69, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 46 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC., and now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California and which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Wooding is also a regular contributor to The Weekend Stand on the Crawford Broadcasting Network, and a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 192 countries. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Election Night

I'm no politician, but I'm starting to have a better understanding for election eve and the actual election day.  The work has been done.  There's not a whole lot that he can do.  The ballots are what they're going to be.

So tomorrow, after four feature films, this fifth one is getting a real theatrical release.  It's been a real learning experience listening in our weekly teleconferences on all the things that go into it.  You've got viral marketing people, publicity, theaters and of course the distributor.  Tomorrow, we'll see how people respond.  Will they go and buy tickets in Nashville, Tulsa and Grand Rapids?  If they do, then we roll out bigger.  If they don't, it will be a short lived theatrical and we'll see how DVD does.

The trick here is time.  The stakes are high-- the distributor is putting out a lot of money.  So their patience won't be long.  This is standard in the industry.  Take the tv show shot in Dallas "Lone Star."  Critically acclaimed, but the network didn't give it much chance after the first two episodes failed to get the numbers.  Had they stuck with it, Lone Star could have done well.  But the stakes are just too high for network executives to gamble.

For instance, Arrested Development was critically acclaimed.  But like Lone Star, the numbers weren't there.  The network was going to cancel after one season but stuck with.  And then a third season.  But it never found a strong audience.

I think "Rising Stars" will have a good audience.  It's a very entertaining movie with a strong message about the dangers of competition.  The Survivor-generation is learning all about "me-first" social politics-- where to get ahead you have to beat your competition.  Rising Stars sends the message that you have a choice-- you can destroy in a dog-eat-dog manner, or you can come together and create.

So tomorrow, the ballots will be cast and on through the weekend.  There will be a conference call on Monday to see where the numbers are.  And based on that, the movie's release will grow hopefully. 

One last ditch appeal to voters-- if you know anyone in Nashville, Grand Rapids or Tulsa-- please tell them to go see Rising Stars this weekend.  Don't wait.

Click on these links for the info for each city:
Grand Rapids

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Recently I was speaking at a meeting of Christians in media.  The room probably had 100 to 150 people in it.  I asked how many had already purchased The Imposter, thinking that a couple would raise their hands and I'd hand out a couple CD soundtracks.  What I didn't expect was no hands raised.

Now, I'm not necessarily pushing just for Imposter, but as a whole, we indie filmmakers need your help.  If you absolutely disagree or don't like the premise, then fine.  But as the Geiko gecko keeps asking, what's stopping the rest of you?

We need your help.  The best way is to go down to the local Christian bookstore and snap up the copy of Imposter on the shelves.  Or order from an online source like our friends at For us to be able to make more and better Christian movies, we need everyone to get their own copy.

So I'm asking-- can you go and purchase a DVD of The Imposter?  They also make great gifts-- the holidays aren't that far away.  Buy a couple to give away.  It has a great message of taking off the masks and masquerades we Christians wear.

Another way to help would be to talk to your pastor about screening the movie at your church.  But don't just buy the home DVD-- license the movie for public exhibition.  PureFlix has set up a great way to do this-- go here to the website, and they even have a way for the pastor to watch the movie first.

We need your help.  Please support indie films and please support The Imposter.

Monday, October 18, 2010


A little boy can tell you all about his toy ball.  How it flies through the air.  How it carries passengers.  How it's long and narrow.  Before too long, you're scratching your head asking him to describe this ball.  He says it has wings and a propeller.  You know.  A ball.

It's critical to have common definitions when talking with people.  If someone says they love their spouse, it could be that they're really talking about "chicken love." (search this blog for "chicken love" for definition). 

For instance, recently someone took umbrage about my "success."  I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I read that one.  He saw me as someone who is extremely successful.  His reason why was because I've made some movies.  I've written them, directed and seen them distributed... ergo I'm successful.

I do not define success by worldly accomplishment... or if you'd rather-- temporal accomplishments.  The only time in the Bible Jesus talked about "success" was when he said "well done thou good and faithful servant."  Success is defined by how faithful to what He's asked me to do I am.  I can be extremely successful and never had made one movie.  I can not be successful and have millions coming in from the latest blockbuster.

I know that wanting to make a movie burns inside you.  You can't rest until you do it.  It's what you think about and dream about.  But please don't make the mistake thinking that someone who's done it is "successful."  All a person is who made a movie is a person who made a movie.

Obedience and follow through-- that's what success is.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Actor Demo Reels

I've had some more actors ask about this, so we've scheduled a shoot day for Tuesday, Oct 26.  We will start in the afternoon and go into the evening.  I hope to have about 6 actors or so and we're halfway there, so I need three more to register.  ( )

In this day, demo reels are increasingly playing a critical role in the actor getting an agent or manager, landing that audition, or just getting their face out there.  The Catch-22 is that actors need experience to have good demo reel material, and they need a good demo reel to get experience.  That's why I started doing this-- so we can bust the door down on that Catch-22.

When you sign up, I'll contact you to discuss what type of scene you need.  I'll custom write a half page or so script, that is monlogue-ish in nature.  The whole idea is that from what we shoot, you can pull a 20 second outstanding moment.

The cost is $350 (which isn't much more than a good headshot).  We use the money to pay for the professional crew and the equipment.  We use high def cameras, with prime lenses to give that rich cinematic feel.  When we're done shooting, I color and sound design the clip and get it to you usually within 48 hours.

Here's a video that explains more:

Shooting Actor Demos from Daniel Millican on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Giving Spirit

More blessed is He who is the Giver than the receiver.  I've got a feeling I'm going to be chewing on this for the next season.  Don't know if I'll share it all here in the blog, but this is some life-changing stuff for me.

In the beginning, God.  He made the world.  He gave it life.  He gave life to man.  God = Giver.  In Him I live and move and have my being.  I am a Receiver.

Here's where I get twisted.  You see, with five feature films accomplished, I've thought that one of my "gifts" was the ability to get it done-- the ability to make it happen.  I look back at the times I've said that and cringe.  What arrogance.  I'm saying that I can GIVE a project life.  Make it happen.  That I'm the Giver.

Well, that means I'm saying I'm a god.  If I were a farmer, I can plant, water, prune, etc.  But the "making it happen" is totally up to God.  He's the Giver.

Eve, in the garden, thought it'd be great to be a Giver too.  So she took mankind's first steps away from the Giver.  You see, Evil isn't the opposite of God.  It's the absence of God.  The more you walk away from Him, the more you walk down Evil's path.  It's human nature to be Evil... the nature that came from the Fall-- from the choice Adam and Eve made that fateful day.

It's easy as a film director to start to have a mindset that I'm a Giver.  But that's delusion when I walk in that mindset.  I can't give anything.  I can work hard, but the results aren't up to me.  Though I try so hard to get movies sold and seats sold in theaters, CD's sold online.  It's not mine to control. 

Unless I want to be a god.  But when I do, I move away from Him.  I can't be a god and walk in His presence.  This is actually incredibly freeing.  I've been sweating bigtime some things in my life-- but now I don't have to sweat.  The Giver will give or not.  But He promised me He'd provide for me. 

So during this hard time, I ask "what does He want me to learn through this?" 

I'll probably share more about this as I walk through it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Swan Song-- The Middle Class of Music

Goodbye middle class.

Like many other young church-goers, I dreamed of being a Christian Super Star singer/songwriter/recording artist.  Now I know I'm the only one, because the rest of you dreamed of just servin' the Lord in whatever capacity (oh please let it be music stardom, oh please, oh please).

Of course I was motivated to learn guitar and piano to just worship Him.  I never thought about what I would say to the audience right before this song or that song.  I never dreamed about what my album cover would look like.  Or what I'd title my first album (btw, it was going to be called "Sold Out" and have like a ticket stub for art).

Those were the heady teenage years... and maybe into the twenties.  So for you few out there who have dreams of Christian music stardom, let me paint the picture of the times we live in.  The "middle class" of music artistry is going away.  All that will be left are the million units sold performers and the 50 units sold performers.  The solid 100K selling artists will go the way of the dinosaur.

You see, the music industry as a whole is not doing very well.  In fact, it's sick and dying in its current form.  A recording artist friend of mine used to move 80K of his CD's.  Last one out didn't even break 10K.  His music is just as good.  And these kinds of drops are across the board to other artists and genres.  Yes, the Great Recession can be blamed, but this was happening before that.  Piracy is the big problem.  People just don't want to buy a song when they can get it for free from their friend.

So let's play the tape forward.  When a CD is bought, maybe a teeny bit goes to the artist.  Much more goes to the label, where they have to pay for offices, executives, the A&R guy, the publicity company, the marketing people, the ads, the cost of the units themselves, the graphic artist doing the layout of the CD and booklet... and on and on.

What we're seeing is labels go under and shut their doors.  Or layoff significant numbers of people.  When they do get behind a musical act or artist, it's going to be someone they know can sell some product-- otherwise, they're going out of business.

Now is one of the hardest times to make it as a Christian recording artist.  And it will only get harder.  There will be millions of really good CD's that are home grown and sold one at a time.  There will be a few that become viral sensations.  I just don't think you'll see the solid base hits and doubles.  It will be homeruns or strikeouts.

Don't even get me started on movies.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Movie Review - The Way Home

The Way Home, distributed by big company Lion's Gate, has just hit the Christian stores.  Starring Dean Cain, this movie ups the ante for Christian storytellers.

What I like about this film, compared to many other Christian movies is that it rings true.  And with good reason-- the story is based on true life.  Back in 2000, father Randy Simpkins (played by Cain) is helping his wife pack the car for vacation.  Being a distracted father and husband came easily for Simpkins and it doesn't take long for their two-year old son Joe to disappear from the driveway of their rural house.

With lots of danger in the form of woods, wells, lakes and rivers, the search for Joe quickly escalates until the entire community is helping out.  The two plots in this movie are Simpkins and his strained relationship with God and his family-- and the other plot is the community, especially an old man, Ed Walker, who won't give up looking for the lost toddler.

Dean Cain puts in a wonderful performance.  He makes Randy so relate-able that I'm quickly drawn in to his predicament.   I do wish some of the other actors had Cain's expertise, but that's okay.  The Way Home pulls at the right heart strings and shows us real Christianity taking place in the face of a crises.  The prayer scenes, so on-the-nose and hokey in other movies is done in a real way.

Children-in-peril movies are extremely difficult-- I ought to know, my first two movies were children-in-peril.  First, you have to get a toddler actor-- and for any of you filmmakers, avoid children and animals.  Often you have to just take what you get. 

Technically, the movie is handled by professionals.  The cinematography is stunning.  The sound is great (in other words, I never noticed bad sound).  The locations are perfect.  The music, though a bit heavy handed in the beginning (uh-oh, something bad's gonna happen now, because here's the heavy, something's bad gonna happen now music), is beautiful.

For all of us complaining about the quality of Christian movies, well here you go.  This is one of the better ones out there.  Perfect for the family on a Friday night-- watch it and then discuss it.  Your family will be stronger for it.

For more information, here's the website with trailer: 

And as always, here's the FTC disclosure:

“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.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Producers

One of the filmmaking questions I get asked is "what does a Producer do?"  Seems this position is almost as mysterious to the film newbies as "Best Boy."  In simplistic terms, a Producer is the individual who gets the film elements all together and oversees the process of making a movie from the idea to the screen.

A Producer doesn't need to work exclusively on one movie.  Most producers in LA have multiple films they've got going.  It helps if they're not all shooting at the same time-- as that's when a movie can urgently call out for the services of the producer.

I was the producer on the first four films I made.  On Rising Stars, I was hired to write and direct, leaving the producing to others.  (And boy that made a difference in directing-- not having to produce at same time).  The lead producer is usually the one with the direct tie to the cash.  The cash is usually represented by the "executive producer."  Sometimes, a producer credit is given out contractually and the person getting the credit actually does nothing.  You'll see this a lot in big Hollywood films-- an A-List actor can only be attached if their producer is given credit.  You might see a bunch of producers in the credits, but there's usually only one that wields the true power.

A lot of people think on a movie that the Director is the top dog.  Nope.  The Producer is where the buck stops and they hire and fire directors.  There's no doubt that the director's chair is a lot more fun than the producer's chair, but the final decision maker is typically the Producer.

Most good producers will hire a solid team and leave them alone to get the movie made-- stepping in when there's only a problem.  You can have insecure producers (just like insecure actors and directors) that want the fun of the set and hang out in video village-- they usually end up second guessing the director and backseat driving.  When this happens, their producer duties fall between the cracks and other problems will arise because they're not getting the producer's attention.

I know of one case where the producer did just this-- was in video village everyday on the set.  Then she wondered later in post production why some contracts weren't signed, why there was an insurance claim or two, and stuff like that.  She wasn't reading the daily production reports and certainly wasn't overseeing the office staff on contracts.  But that stuff happens and a hired director just has to deal with the distraction on set.

Once the film is shooting, the good producer is focused on making sure that the cast and crew have everything they need to tell a wonderful story-- within the allotted money.  They will help secure deals-- looking for ways to increase production value without increasing expenditures.  In the indie world, this boils down to the attribute of resourcefulness-- getting a crane for a fifth of the going rate-- stuff like that.

If shooting starts going over budget, then the producer has to step in and help find a solution.  Is the DP taking way to long to light every setup?  Is the director insisting on too many takes?  Is the lead actor consistently late to the set?  There will be warnings, department head meetings, then finally more severe action might need to take place-- like replacing a DP, or even a director.  (And in a recent case of good foresight-- the producers saw a huge prima donna complex with the lead actor and went ahead and fired him the first day of production so that they could get someone with a better attitude).

At the end of the day, the producer is the one responsible.  If footage is missing, the producer will stand before the executive producer to explain why it happened on the producer's watch.  Yes, the producer might toss people under the bus, but the good one will own it and say he didn't have the proper system in place, but does now and here's what we did to fix the problem.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Depth of Field

Okay Filmmakers, let's talk camera.  Yes, I know many of us don't have any budget to speak of and you have to either shoot with whatever camcorder drops in your lap or choose not to shoot at all.  So what can you do?

The biggest problem with cameras, is not necessarily the resolution, which is where everyone focuses (pardon the pun).  Most prosumer cameras have enough for your quirky no-budget indie film.  If you have a few dollars, don't upgrade to a higher quality camera-- instead, spend it on getting better glass (lenses). 

For instance, I just got finished watching a small budget indie movie recently and it was shot with a decent prosumer HD camcorder.  There was a shot in a school hallway and four class rooms down, you could still read the pep rally sign hanging on the back wall.  That's a HUGE depth of field-- one that screams "home movie" instead of "cinema."

And the camera they use does have a third party platform for putting cinematic lenses in front of it.  Makes a huge difference.  I'm talking about the Letus or Redrock adapters.  Of course, they do cause you to lose some f stops (especially the Red Rock), but it pays off in the look of your movie.

For "The Imposter," I had the budgetary choice of upgrading my camera, or having two lower resolution cameras, but with prime lenses.  I chose the two camera option.  I don't regret that.  (For the newest film "Rising Star", coming out in theaters on October 22, we used to Reds).

Okay, so what do you do if you have no money and a consumer camcorder?  I bet you could beg or borrow to at least upgrade to something like the HVX200-- you can't throw a rock without hitting someone who owns one.  Except most HVX 200 users are selling there's to get the 5D or 7D from Canon.  Even better if you borrow one of these.  I shot with a 7D recently and I'll blog about that soon.

Okay, so you've struck out and all you've got is this lowly camcorder.  What can you do to get a more cinematic look with it?  You need to narrow the depth of field.  Depth of Field is affected by several factors.  One of the easiest is the f stop (a wider, or more open aperture will shallow your depth of field).  So use an ND (neutral density) filter inside and light so that you can get that iris as open as possible.  There are other factors for shallowing your depth of field, but that's enough to get started.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Blogs from September

The most read for September was discussing why Christian movies are cheesy (click here to read it).  This entry was written after I had read some discussions about this on the web.  One person claimed that Christian movies were cheesy because they lacked the budget.  This is absolutely inaccurate.

Usually, the cheese factor begins with the script.  The Christian screenwriter is faced with some tough obstacles that secular screenwriters don't have to worry about.  The Christian story is usually an internal conflict-- and a lot of church-people shy away from external conflict (because we all know there's no conflict in the church).  And too often, the writer resorts to on the nose dialogue to reveal that internal conflict.  Also, the Christian screenwriter's audience is very opinionated when it comes to doctrine and exactly what message you are trying to get across... so the Christian film, if it wants any kind of numbers for an audience, will have to keep the subject matter in a safe environment.  These are just a few of the obstacles.

The second most read post was about Tolerance-- which is the latest religion (you can read it by clicking here).  The church culture of today places real importance on "being nice" to everyone.  There's a mistaken view that being "Christian" is to befriend everyone-- accept everyone.  It's certainly what the American culture is emphasizing today.  But Jesus, who I would think was the first "Christian," did not "accept" everyone.  He asked too much from the Rich Young Ruler.  He called a gentile woman who's crime was that she was too loud in begging for help for her daughter, a dog.  Two early Christians dropped dead for lying.  I Corinthians 5 is heavy duty about not being tolerant in the church.  The Disciple cannot ever be tolerant of sin and still be a Disciple. (Rom 8).

These were the two top posts for September.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I resisted for so long (but of course we know resistance is futile).  I have set up a twitter account and occasionally post something.  If you want to follow, it's @danmillic.


Hi __________,
Thanks for meeting with me today.  I think you'll like our line up of membership levels-- I'm positive we'll find the right one for you.  Looking for fire insurance?  Well look no further!  Simply bow your head, repeat after me, and you're covered!  No monthly premiums (although a few Sundays a month would be nice.  And oh yeah, your tithe would be great too).  We do have a more substantial memberships, but you can take this entry level fire insurance and that's okay.  It's all you need.

End sales pitch here.

Contrary to what seminaries are teaching, Jesus did not create multiple levels of membership into God's Kingdom.  I know of one seminary that teaches Jesus as Savior and also Jesus as Lord.  Like you can have one without the other.  And this is a fundamental problem in the church today.  I do not believe that you can accept Jesus as Savior and not as Lord.  You can't get a basic membership.  You have to get the premium plan.

I know of friends that claim to have the Savior package but clearly by their life and the fruit therein, that's as far as their membership goes.  I think they may have gotten sold a false bill of goods.

Jesus as Lord is heavy duty.  It requires change-- walking away from life in the flesh (ego) and towards a life of Purpose in God.

Next time you hear the two different membership levels preached, remember there's really only one.  Hope you have your card.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Movie Review-- Bringing Up Bobby

1971.  I was five or six and my family went to a coffeehouse fellowship that was a part of the Jesus Movement of the late sixties/early seventies.  What I remember is the music-- we had no "praise and worship" industry.  So three guys with guitars sat in Samsonite folding chairs in an old three story house where they had taken the walls out to create a great room.  The music was not polished.  Some of it cheesy (don't wanna be a goat, no).  But it was earnest.

As I've mentioned before, Christian movies are where Christian music was back in those early days, and Bringing Up Bobby  fits this pattern.  It's a heartfelt look at some family relationships, told in some funny and farcical ways.

James is a mid thirties guy who has raised his younger siblings since their parents died twelve years before.  The only sibling left in the house if fifteen year old Bobby who has identified with the goth side of things.  Finally, the will is read and probated and the two other siblings come back home to slog it out and attempt to get what's due them.

Bottom line, my Christian readers-- we need to support Christian films and I do recommend you buy the DVD.  Sure it has flaws, but it is entertaining and there are solid portions where the story really pulled me in.

There were also times that I was pulled back out.  Comedy is hard.  Very hard.  And there where some funny moments.  But is it a farce ala "Drake and Josh" on Nick?  At times.  Is it quirky like Napolean Dynamite?  Yeah, maybe.  My favorite part of the movie is the sub plot involving Eric, Bobby's goth friend.  My darker side would have enjoyed that as the A plot.  I also appreciate that they didn't tie it up nicely at the end.

On the Production side: The filmmakers used the HVX 200 which is a decent low budget camera.  My only qualm with picture was the "everything in focus" type of lens native to that camcorder.  I'd really would have liked to see this movie shot with primes (the HVX has a couple of third party sources for attaching lenses on the front).

The production sound was very good-- which is often not the case in micro budget films.  The music was outstanding (although I wouldn't have put a music cue over that first door scene).  Most of the acting was solid.  Directing and editing was good.  Wasn't a big fan of the writing-- there are some really good moments and then there are some that simply aren't.

So overall, I think the viewer can take something from this movie and be entertained in the process. I do recommend that you buy the DVD and support Christian filmmaking.