Monthly Archives: January 2010

Director’s Update

1.25.10

Well here it is Monday…again.  Yup, still here in the great state of California…still waiting for permits to go make a film.  God is still driving and is still not handing over the direction guide, the itinerary or the timetable.  Oh well…so we keep waiting.  I keep working on the shot list…almost done.  I know, how many times have you heard that?  Well this time it is true.  I just picked up a super close rough of the poster one-sheet from Jamie.  To say, “she nailed it”…would be a colossal understatement.  She is truly an amazing artist and we are lucky to have her…and we will have no issue using every creative ounce of energy she has to give.

The image is really cool….it speaks to the film! It tells you that you have to think and act…this will not be a passive viewing experience.  You will have no other choice but to engage.  Jamie captures this same spirit in the image she came up with.  Here is how it happened:  I asked her to be involved.  She agreed.  I gave her some artwork and a ton of ideas and babble.  She made a few passes at what I was referencing and they were cool…but I needed something a little different.  I then asked Jamie just do whatever she want to do…no thoughts from me, no forcing any concept or design element.  Of course, then she came up with this incredible image that IS the film.  Over years of directing and working with animals, I have learned that my best offense is to hire an amazing team and know when to step back and let them do what they do best.  Jamie is an amazing talent with great [and similar] sensibilities to my own.  I had hoped she would hit a home run…and she did.  You guys will be the first [after Matthew and Brent] to see the image I am speaking of.

My idea is to go to a cool printing house in Seattle that does almost all of the printing for the posters that I collect [http://www.mondotees.com/ ] called D&L printing and have them make a run of 50 or 100 that Jamie would sign and number and we could sell.  They would become highly prized collectors items after people see her work and she becomes even more famous than she is now!!!  So, if I can get the powers that be to do that and we make some of these, would you guys be interested in purchasing?  I am a poster collector [read nut!] and have probably close to 300 posters…and I can tell you that this image is right up there with the best of what I have…and what I have seen but can’t afford!!  So, if this would be interesting to any of you, drop us a note and let us know.  I will preview the image here in a week or two…so stay tuned.

So back to Monday…I am doing day job stuff today.  Abe has emailed a couple of thoughts this morning.  We are still researching the idea of shooting this film in whole or part on 35mm 2 perf.  I guess he has set up a screening of tests at Kodak for next week.  That is cool.  Format is so important to the overall feel of the film.  If the format is wrong, then the texture can’t come through.  That is a problem.  Texture, the feel of the final product is crucial.  I want people to have a reaction to the film.  I want them motivated to action by what they have just seen.  If they can’t feel it, feel India, feel the heat or the wind or the texture of the country…that will hinder them having a full experience in the theater.  Abe gets that and is still researching…Film is film…film is still the best for texture and depth…unless you have money, then digital can get close to that…[see David Fincher’s last film, or maybe even last two films] …but since we don’t have a ton of money, we have to start as close to the feel that we want as possible.

Let’s see…what else?  Not much else with the film…so let me use this moment to share a little personal info about what I did all weekend.  I recently got married [just over a year ago now] to an amazing woman.  She truly is.  Way too good for me.  Anyway, we were struggling a little bit in our new marriage and one of my wife’s friends suggested we take this 4-day course called MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP.  I know!  I had the same reaction.  No thanks!    Not for me.  But of course we ended up committing to go.

THE LINE I ACTUALLY WROTE NEXT HAS BEEN EDITED BY MY WIFE FOR CONTENT…:)

So, we end up heading down to Irvine for Thursday thru Sunday.  When we get there Thursday morning, we have to fill out some papers…one of them is, “what annoys me about my wife”…Yahoo!  Now, “I can tell someone who will hear me and listen”…is what I am thinking.  Oh was I in for a wake up call!  The next page is a long list of rules for the weekend as well as a list of things we agree to.  One of them says that we will not get violent with the staff or something to that effect!!!  WHAT!  I walk over to my wife, who clearly can tell I have no desire to be here already and seeing my reaction sure does not help.  I tell her this better not be a ton of crazy people yelling at each other…all she can do is smile.  Not sure why I thought she would be able to determine that or how she would have any idea what it was we were about to walk into… but I did hold her responsible.  Then to make it worse, it seemed like every other couple filling out this paperwork, looked like they actually hated their spouse!  Not just a mild disregard…but an all out “get away from me…I can’t stand to be next to you” hatred or disdain.  So…I am thinking this is going to suck.

To top it off, after we filled out everything and were waiting…a woman peeks her head out of the room and yells at the top of her lungs TWO MINUTES!!! Now, I am really miserable…I spent four years in the military and I am not interested in going back. So, we go inside a room with ten or so other couples (the ones who look like they hate each other).  The guy – a bald fellow who looks kind of unhappy – tells us to turn off our phones…NOT SILENCE, THEM TURN THEM OFF!! So the first thing I write in my little journal they gave me is this: “This is my idea of hell.  I do not want to go to hell.”

Cut to the end of the weekend…when hearts, minds and marriages were repaired like God himself came into the room and personally talked with each of us.  Damage was repaired.  Hurts were addressed and healing was started.  This past weekend changed my life and the way I see my wife.  It changed my heart.  It changed the way I listen to her.  It opened my eyes in a powerful way.  Here is my disclaimer:  If any of you know me personally, you will be thinking to yourself right now – “what happened to my friend Jon…the guy who does not endorse anything….the guy who does not open up to anyone…the guy who won’t even wear labels on his clothes…the guy who sits in the back of the room or on the far end of the aisle to avoid people he doesn’t know.”   Well, I am still here.  Only, I have had an eye opening experience that will change my marriage from okay to amazing.  They gave me an incredible set of tools to make this change last a lifetime.  Suffice it to say…Ron and Tina Konkin are wizards and seriously have made a difference in my marriage.  So, if anyone reading this knows anyone who could use a little marriage or personal tune up…these people are the people!  Stop being a baby and call them.  I kid you not, the couples that looked like hated each other when they walked in, left laughing, hugging and holding hands…excited to get home!  Looking forward to the day to day of life and trying out their new found love for each other and using their new found set of tools, compliments of God (via Ron and Tina).  They are Christians, but this course is not a “Christian” course.  It is a life-changing course…and a heck of a lot of fun!!  Clearly, I am recommending it highly for anyone who feels it is relevant.   BTW, Ron and Tina have an amazing story of forgiveness and healing themselves, and are all around great people…plus, like I said, they care and are really fun to be around.

Well once again, I will not go back and edit or re-read this for fear I will edit it down to a few sentences that serve no real purpose.  I will keep you posted on the poster.  Please let us know if you would be interested in one [once you see it of course!] and promise to continue to praying for us…for the permit process, the cast, the crew, the country of India and all of the little children effected by this horrible thing called trafficking.

Be well
J

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Director’s Update

1.20.10

Today we will make a decision.  There is a great story on the DVD extras for the film JAWS where one of the producers, I forget which one – Zanuck or Brown – mentions that the studio kept wanting them to stop shooting and research a different location.  The director [Spielberg], wanted to re-think the shark or something…and assorted other people wanted them to stop and re-group as things were not going as all had hoped.  Here is the meat…the producers said, “No way….KEEP SHOOTING…No matter what.” They feared that if they stopped shooting the studio would pull the money or cancel the project.  Now, that is not quite the same as our issue right now…we have no worry about money being pulled or the project being canceled…but, I still can’t help but feel like we need to keep moving!  Now!  I am ready to shoot.  I am 8 pages away from finishing my notes/shot list, the actors are ready and the crew is ready.  We need to pull the trigger, make a location decision and get on with it….and that we will!  This afternoon we meet via conference call to do just that with our fellow producers, Chris and Denise.  God’s timing is always perfect and we will continue to pray for his wisdom and guidance…but, I do feel He is telling us to move forward and Brent feels the same way.

We have been waiting now for almost two months for the Indian government to process our permit.    They are in no hurry…apparently.  This was supposed to take three weeks….Oh well! Now it is time to push the issue and get an answer.  They can say NO….They truly can.  They have the power to say we cannot make this film there.  What they can’t do is stop something that God wants to happen.  If HE does, it will happen.  If HE doesn’t, then it is because he has something else BETTER in mind.  That has been how we have lived with this project from the beginning.  It is now and has always been God’s project to do with as He alone sees fit.  We are truly trying to be His hands and His feet…not his brain.  We have a limited view of all of this and God can see everything…so, it would be silly for us to try and fill that role or to pretend we can control the permit process.  We cannot….but, we can make choices after praying about them and feeling a certain peace about them…and move forward.  I never re-read these blogs.  If I did I would stop writing all together…but, I can’t help feeling like I just used to two large paragraphs to say a four or five word sentence.  Oh my.

Just keep writing…just keep shooting. Same thing…right?

Let’s see….what else?  Don Harper listened to all of Jonathan’s songs and really liked them…as I hoped he would.  We will be meeting with him to figure out a plan for the score.  My goal is to not have a soundtrack AND a score…but, to have one living, breathing, 2 plus hour entity that moves, pushes, demands and compels people to go with us…and to take this journey with Ezekiel.  After all, that is WHY we are making this film.  To try, in some small way, to make our world a little bit better for those people who have seen way too much of the bad side of humanity.  This is our opportunity to show them some of the good…God’s grace lived out, not just talked about.  They have been talked to death literally…some of them. I am of the mind frame that we as Christians should not talk nearly as much…instead, we should be what we profess.  I am sure that is Biblical…though I could not tell you where in the Bible it is found.  Brent could though, so ask him next time you see him.

Jamie continues to work on the poster mock up.  She has accepted a position and will be traveling with us to India…which makes me happy beyond words.  Her spirit, skill and particular artistic  aesthetic will be a tremendous benefit to this project.  She brings an amazing depth of talent and is fun to be around to boot.  That is a “good hire” as they say…not sure who says that actually.  Bev continues to be helpful in ways beyond her job description.  She sent Brent an email regarding a possible alternate location for filming the other day…that is the type of person God has brought to help with this project.  Abe continues to research camera/format options – we are still discussing the RED camera, 35MM 2 perf [used on old spaghetti westerns and American Graffiti – very cool format], Canon D5/D7 or is it 5D/7D – I always get them confused – which are still cameras that shoot HD video …anyway, he is doing that while working other jobs making a living!  Steven and Alan continue to try to figure out ways to give me what I want/need as far as gear and people go.  Etc..Etc…Etc…I love all of these guys.  They are truly gifts from God and we are incredibly lucky and blessed to have the crew we have.  People who care so much about making this an amazing film.

I will, as always, report back about our meeting today.  I ask you to continue praying for the film, the permits, the actors, the locations, the cameras, the graphics etc.  And speaking of prayer, I got an email from Bali, our prayer coordinator, earlier this week.  Seems the prayer people [an odd way to address them.  We need a name for them, any suggestions?]…put all of our names in a hat and drew names to pick individual prayer partners for each crew member…Bali drew me!  Lucky for me…she has a direct line to God I am certain.  I told my wife and she was also thrilled.  It is so great to know that people who care about this project and want it to succeed, are so willing to give of their time to pray for the film, to petition God for grace and good favor on this project.  These people do not get paid, do not get recognized…but, are still willing to be involved.  I feel a pressure to live up to being worthy of their time…even though I never can.   So, instead I will be immensely grateful and feel lucky to have covering against the enemy who so clearly has been trying to derail this project.  One day, in a few years from now, long after the film has come out and the smoke has cleared…come and find me and ask me about the last year of writing this film.  I will tell you a story of God’s infinite grace and wisdom shown through various people, in the midst of Satan’s blatant attempts to derail this project almost weekly.  God is driving and that is a good thing because, if I was at the wheel…anyone see the Roger Corman produced film “Death Race 2000?”  I would have amassed more points than anyone in history.

Be well and please don’t hold it against me if this blog amounts to a mess of incomprehensible babble… Blame Jessica.

I will leave you with this: don’t stop shooting…writing…praying…and trusting God that He, in fact, DOES know you better than anyone else and DOES have your best interest in mind…ALWAYS.   Something I have to constantly remind myself of and, even though I know it to be true…still struggle daily to live it.

Oh my word.  What was this blog about?

J

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Human Trafficking Awareness Day

1.11.10

So, here we are two weeks past when I was supposed to be in India preparing to shoot….we were supposed to start shooting tomorrow….we are not.  Clearly…I am still here in the OC.  So are Brent, Abe, Joth, Alan, Steven etc…  We just got word from our source in India that the government has finished their evaluation of our script and intends to reject it.  Now, the process actually begins.  How much do they object to?  How many changes will it require to satisfy a government who has no intention of letting us make a film that they perceive to be bad for them.  Of course on this philosophical difference we disagree.  The Caste system is bad news.  Being “untouchable” is bad news.  I’ve seen it first had and it is bad.  Through and through, Brent said his prayer is that God would blind the eyes of the government…today, God chose another route that He has yet to identify to any of us.  So, once again we do our daily work…try to problem solve, find solutions, work with actors, rehearse, get the musicians together, have the artist painting and the designers designing, have the money people manage the money…but most of all we wait…and we pray.

We should find out their specific objections in a week or two…then we will know exactly what we are dealing with.  Like Brent always says, none of this is a surprise to God.  So…we work hard, stay focused, pray and plan as best we can.  As far as the cast goes…we promised that we let you guys know whom we ended up going with…and we will, once we have them locked in.  This delay has caused a trickle down effect…most of our cast needs to be here and available for “pilot season” which is typically February and March.  When we chose our cast, that was not an issue, but with this delay it may become an issue.  So, until we are sure of who is in…we will refrain from giving you that information…we are saving you from the pain we feel as we think about the possibility of losing one or more of these talented actors…even with knowing full well that this is not a surprise to God, it is still a trying time…so we are saving you guys from that feeling.  You’re welcome.:)  That is what good stewards/parents do…right?

So, for now this is the update….Delayed because of permit issues….No new date for shooting has been set. Thanks again for your prayers.  This is a film worth making or it wouldn’t be so hard to get it made…and make no mistake we WILL get this film made and it will be a tool for God to use to being attention to a cause that has long taken solace that it is not on the national stage.  This issue thrives in the darkness.  Our intent, the reason we wrote this film, was to drag this issue out into the light using an international stage…to strip away the darkness and the vagueness and give this cause, this issue, this atrocity a face and a name.  Kavya is her name, you will all see her face very soon and you will, God willing, be moved to act, not simply to watch and say “oh how unfortunate for them.”  This is all of us.  If we sit back and let this happen, we are all responsible for the Kavya’s of the world.  Like Ezekiel learns, this is everyone’s problem.

Today is Human trafficking awareness day.  Since you are following this film, I am assuming you are somewhat aware of this issue.  The question that remains, is what are you prepared to do about it?  We wrote a movie and will fight against whatever needs to be fought against in order to get it made…and by the grace of God… people will see it and lives will be changed.  What will your contribution be?  How will you let your voice be heard?  There is no right answer.  Only by doing nothing…do we collectively fail.  So let’s do whatever we can…each of us…and make a difference in our world Today.

God is driving.  He is also writing and demanding and engaging and insisting that we, his children change our world for the better.  So let’s do just that.  Jonathan said it perfectly in the song he wrote called “The Solution” that we will use for the end credits sequence.  He wrote, “what if God is on his knees, begging you and me…won’t you be the solution?”  I will leave you with that question to ponder.

Be well and thanks for praying and reading and partnering with us as we take this journey.
J

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Director’s Update

1.4.10

Just hung up the phone with Shari, the amazing woman who will be playing Sarah in the film.  She is smart and has a warm spirit and presence that will be great for the film on a multitude of levels.  Her being involved is a gift, one of many from our wonderful casting director Bev.  Shari and Bev are friends.  Originally, Bev had her come in to read for one of the prayer warriors.  But when I met Shari, I realized she was perfect as Sarah.  I remember she read for a prayer warrior and I could not stop watching her.  I wanted her to do more, so I hesitantly asked Bev if we could ask her to come back in and read for Sarah.  My hesitancy came from thinking we were throwing her in unprepared…as we had not set her up to read for that role.  But Bev, being wonderful and probably seeing in my eyes that I really liked this actress, asked Shari.  She came back in a few minutes later and made me cry.  She was so tender and sincere.  I found it hard to take my eyes off of her….which, for me as a director is super important.  Can I watch this person on a huge screen for any amount of time…is I question I ask myself when I see an actor.  The answer, of course, was emphatically YES!!  I was sold…I called Brent, who I think was in Florida with his daughter at her cheer competition and told him I could cast the Sarah character that day!!  He was surprised to say the least.  He wanted to meet her, so we set up another meet and greet.  I did not have to see her act again.  She was amazing and perfect for the role and I knew that without a doubt.  Brent asked to see her read and it just so happened that Chris and Denise were in town and able to swing by.  They watched in awe…with tears in their eyes, as Shari played out the two scenes.  Done deal.  Shari so connects to this material and is such a great talent that she does not act it…she lives it.  Everyone agreed that she was amazing, so we called her and offered her the role.  She cried on the phone and was so excited…Perfect!  So back to today, I wanted to talk to her about expanding one of her scenes or writing her a new scene.  She is all for it and we will meet some time this week or next to work on it.  I really can’t wait for you guys to meet her.  She is cool.

I also just got a note from Chris that the India people are supposed to hear something back tonight.  God willing we will be able to sort out our schedule and continue moving forward.  Pray for good news.  God is leading…it is all perspective right?  “Good news” is relative to your mindset when you hear it…or at least it should be.  Trust and Pray.  God is leading the way.  Hey that rhymes.    Cool.

Anyway back to work on my shot list.

Oh yeah, we had a cool tech scout last night with Abe, Joth, Alan, Steven, Eddie and Todd and Jamie was there to see the map wall and show Abe the puppet.  She is super cool.  I will have more stories about her later.  She is designing the poster and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  Anyway, great to see everyone and have them see the three orange county locations.  They are all amazing and all donated by people in our congregation or friends of people.  Janet Chandler is another one of those unsung warriors working behind the scenes for the film.  She set up the scout and met us at each house to assist in any way she could.

So we started in Corona Del Mar at an amazing house over looking the bay, then moved to Anaheim Hills to “Audrey’s house” and then to Yorba Linda for Sarah’s house.  A great night of talking shots, lighting, etc. Abe set up stuff with his guys, let them start working out issues and finding solutions.  I get the sense from Abe, that sometimes I am asking him for things that we can’t afford but…he never says that, I can see his mind turning and his spirit is so great,  that he tries to sort out HOW to make it happen within the budget we have.  He is a problem solver through and through.  He never says to me he can’t do something.  He throws out alternatives and is always thinking about how to maximize.  Again, God has blessed us with some amazing talented folks.  We are lucky.  I realize that and am thankful every day.

Also, just heard from Jonathan and he is emailing me a link to the new song demos shortly!!!!!!!!!!!  YEEHAW!  I love this guy and his songs will blow you guys away.  No kidding, they are a standalone entity that will raise the film to another level.  Good music is a must.  Think about the films you like…a lot of them probably are driven by either a great score or an amazing soundtrack.  God has so blessed us with such talent…that we will undoubtedly have both!!

Hey the date is 1.5.10 – kind of cool.

Had a conference call with Chris and Denise…always good to talk to them.  We will hopefully find out some news from the India government late this evening or early tomorrow morning.  News we need.    All is well with them.  Brent stuck around after the call and I played him some of Jonathan’s songs.  They are super powerful for sure.  He liked them a lot.

1.6.10 Wednesday

Bike ride at “way too early, cold and dark” AM this morning!  But, good for the body.  Then to breakfast meeting with Brent, Dave and Stephen…a good group.  Still no word from Chris regarding our India permit deal.  So we keep waiting.  And keep praying.

More shot list work today.  I will lay in the music from Jonathan for placement and try to get that document finished.  It is closing in on 200 pages.  That is with the 114 script pages…so not too bad…the more info the better for myself and the guys…to be continued.

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2010 Director’s Update

Happy New Year!  The last few weeks have been extremely interesting…we plan, only to have those plans fall apart…then have God reveal why they may have fallen apart.   Faith 101.  Relax and let God lead…easier said than done for sure but we are learning!

So here it is January 3rd…and I am in my office at church instead of on my 5th or 6th day in India.  We are waiting on our permit approval from the Indian government.  India is on their own time schedule…who knew they would take an entire month off…which would end up delaying our shoot?   Oh well.

The cast is in place…at least all of the American cast.  There is an official announcement coming soon.  I am guessing that we will announce the cast this coming weekend when Brent and Matthew share about the film in our weekend services. (Don’t worry we will announce it to our faithful online supporters too!)  It is a great cast for sure.  They all seem incredibly excited to be involved…I will try to use this extra time to give them “homework.”  I had originally wanted a week of rehearsal, but we don’t have money for that in the budget…maybe one more way God is providing?

I got a poster mock up from Jamie that is staggering in its beauty and coolness.  I will see it in person [I have only seen photos] this afternoon.  It is colorful and captures the theme of the film… in a really cool style.

Also, Jonathan finished recording demos for all the songs over the holiday break!  I can’t tell you how excited I am about these songs and his involvement in the project.  He will send me the song files tomorrow.   Here are the working titles of the songs – some written specifically for the film:

1. Son Of Cain (Ezekiel’s Cry)
2. Kavya’s Eyes (The Streets Of Hyderabad)
3. I’m In Awe
4. Breathe On Me
5. Not Today
6. The Salvation Of One
7. The Solution (A Prayer For The Dalits)
8. Eyes Of Grace
9. Let The Beauty Out

These songs were written before I had a chance to meet with Jonathan!  I am in awe by how perfectly these songs track the spiritual journey of Ezekiel, our lead character.  They will provide a depth of emotion that is not written.  When Jonathan first played them for me in his front room a few weeks back, the hair on my neck stood up and my eyes filled with tears.  I hope you have the same experience when you hear them.

So, tomorrow night we get back to work…starting with a tech scout of the three Orange County locations:  Ezekiel’s dad’s house, Ezekiel’s mom’s house and Audrey’s house [Ezekiel’s girlfriend].  Abe will be there and some of his team that I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting.  We will walk through and discuss shots, lenses, colors and lighting.  Jamie will be there to discuss the wall map (one of the main images in the film).  Exciting stuff!

I wish you all a great new year and again want to say thanks for following us…for praying for us…for partnering with us to make this film.  Your support is felt everyday.

Sincerely,
J

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