Monthly Archives: September 2009

Stephen

Got an email from No Budget Film school a few days ago and finally had the time to go through it.  I landed on an article about the Blair Witch tenth anniversary.   I know what you are thinking right now…a bit off topic right?  Well, granted the film is not exactly a Christian film or even family friendly or in my opinion even that great, but it was hugely successful and was made for basically NO MONEY.  Those facts alone make it worth studying.  I have started blogging again on a semi regular basis [I guess] and have enjoyed sharing my thoughts, frustrations and irritations with who ever reads this but, now I am going to ask something of you guys.  This film is important to you or, in our paralyzing busy world you would not be making time to read this and or care.  So, unless the only ones reading this our family, I want to get you guys involved.  Actively involved.  I want to engage you creatively.  I want to hear how this issue effects or has effected your life.  How it has changed you.  I know it has changed me as witnessed by the fact that it brings tears to my eyes every time I think about one more child being abused.

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Today is Wednesday…we had an all day staff retreat on Monday.  I am not a big fan of these retreats…getting all touchy feely is not my thing…that being said, Stephen (One of the Composers for the movie …http://www.nottodaythemovie.com/CastCrew/tabid/78/Default.aspx) spoke and we got some cool video and photos of his amazing scar!!

StephenMartin

Now that is right up my alley!!  Great way to end the day.  Also I will share some of our speaker’s thoughts as they struck me enough to write them down.  This one is pretty cool: Our speaker, Lance Witt recounted this…I think he said it was something someone shared with him or that he read, either way:  “I have learned to ignore both; the standing ovation and the harsh criticism.  Only the conductor knows if I played my part well.”   And he later posed this question…again, I think someone had posed it to him:  What kind of old man do I want to be?  That and – What kind of a legacy will I leave behind?  Those two sentiments left me wondering…pondering the man that I am, the stepfather that I am, the husband that I am…wow, now that is heavy!

I hope that with all of us banded together that this film can be our legacy.  That we can move and touch and ignite a fire under people who are just waiting for the “war cry” as Rich from Sony put it.  I want this to be that cry.  A cry for all those who have been silenced by the evil that men do.  I will do my best to do my part.

Got a call from Chris this morning.  Rare in that he usually talks to Brent.  I was thrilled to hear from him.  He really likes the script and is as eager as I am to get on with making this film.  The last one we need to hear from is Mark.  That is supposed to happen today.  If it does we will start casting immediately and send the script back to Sony straightaway.  More things to pray about for sure.

By the way, anyone reading this who is not on our prayer list please send us an email (info@nottodaythemovie.com) and we will make sure to get your info.
Also, one last thing.  One of the guys in our church – Nathan, stopped me after the service this weekend and told me to check out a site: www.thedoorpost.com – and to check out a film – The Butterfly Circus.  Very cool site [particularly if you are a film maker] and super well done short film [for anyone who likes good stories that are really well made] Check it out.
Be well and as always, thanks for reading.
J

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A week in the life of our Director…

A week in the life of our Director…

Monday, I went for my usual mountain bike ride to get the morning started.  I always say a prayer.  Thanks for another day, for the time to ride etc…and on Monday I added this: please continue to write YOUR story as I am out of ideas and need to finish the re-write by tomorrow.
I left it at that and took off on my ride.  About half way up the first really awful hill I started getting flooded with ideas for how to make the changes that were requested and how to bridge story points etc.  My mind was firing super fast…one idea after another after another.  Answered prayers always leave me speechless, and in this instance breathless as I pedaled so hard to get home I actually caught up with a few rider friends who had started before I did.  God continues to guide his project and I am betting that as long as we continue to hold it loosely he will be sure to keep it on track.

Our aim is to finish the script by the end of this week and start casting next week.  Our amazing crew is still on board. I could go on and on about our crew…they have waited patiently for us to get things together…
There is Beverly who let us use her office the other day for our make shift script meeting.  She has been with us for a while now, patiently waiting with a smile…and Heather who is willing to change her travel plans for the Olympics to work on the film.  There is Abe who is in Africa at the moment but, still has time to send me an email about a video shoot next month.  My point here is to say that we have been blessed with some great talented people who really have a heart to tell this story and that is an answer to prayer.

So, Brent has the script now and will read it tonight and get back to me tomorrow morning…if all is well then we will send it out…once again!

It is now Wednesday morning.  Just finished going over Brent’s very few notes.  The script is done!!  Hopefully everyone will like.   I have been imagining the story…casting Kavya and Bhupinder, Sarah and Ezekiel…we need a ton of prayer for casting as it will be pivotal to the success of the project.  Most directors say that casting is a good half of their job.  I completely agree.

Wait, now it is Thursday afternoon…my how time flies.  Anyway, we just posted a bit of the interview I shot with Kamlesh.  She is the little girl who was burned so badly.  Hopefully that will give you some context to my crying like a baby:)  This vid was shot in Delhi [if I remember correctly] on a day that was super hot [in the 90’s at least with about 80% humidity!  We were staying at a “resort” that at first did not want to let Kamlesh and her father and village leader onto the property but finally relented and then did not want to give us water for them [they would have “had” to break the glasses after the Dalits drank from them] so instead they allowed us to buy bottled water from them…at three times the normal price.  I tried to operate a hand held camera and monitor the tripod shot and not pass out.  That should explain the poor vid quality.  At the end of the interview it started to rain on all the gear, I grabbed the camera’s up and rushed under cover with the rest of the group.  I had been feeling bad for about the last half hour of the shoot and so said my goodbyes to the group, went into the hotel and spent the next two and a half days in my room sick.  I drank who knows how many homemade gatorade [lime squeezed into a bottled water bottle with salt and a bit of sugar] bottles and was finally able to finish the trip.  Not a great way to end a trip for sure…but for me I was coming home.  But for Kamlesh, she was just starting her journey to reconstructive surgery [I think that is what they said she would need since her arm was scared and bent.  They would have to straighten it and start over.  The woman interviewing her was from the Dalit Freedom Network and she managed to raise the money for Kamlesh to be taken to a real hospital and get looked after properly.
Anyway…

Until next time.
J

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Kamlesh Video

Here is an eye-opening video of Kamlesh, the little girl I mentioned in my last post. In the clip, you can see how terribly uncomfortable she is…scratching and itching the entire time we sat out in the 90 plus degree heat with probably 75 to 80% humidity.


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Meeting with Sony

I hope you guys liked the sneak peek of the poster mock up.  I will try and post more exclusive content soon.

Yesterday was a crazy long day.  Met Brent at Church at 10 to drive to LAX.  Picked up Chris and Denise and went to Sony.  We ate at the commissary there.  Chris and Denise are always a breath of fresh air.  We get along with them as if we have known them forever…they are really nice smart fun people.  I told them they need to be doing a blog as well…so Jessica can you get them all set up? By the way Jessica runs all our “grassroots” marketing/media I guess is what they call it.  She takes care of our twitter, facebook and website…as well as keeping up on all things human trafficking.  She is another spectacular and extremely valued member of our team
Sorry, where was I?  Oh yeah, back at Sony…We ate lunch and caught up.  The commissary at Sony is in this huge open lobby space that is like a very large indoor courtyard [is there such a thing as an indoor courtyard?].  You can see the walkways 8 stories up where all the offices are but, what I really like is that they have all this movie “stuff” on display.  I should tell you I LOVE MOVIE STUFF!  I just do.  Props and posters and storyboards and renderings and costumes…I just love it.  So, while everyone else got food, I wandered the lobby checking out the Spiderman costume and the black villain’s costume [what was his name?] and Doc Oc’s tentacles.  Very cool stuff.

So we eat and wait for Matthew, our lead pastor to arrive.  He just finished a first pass on a book he is writing.  I don’t want to say too much about it because I am not sure I am supposed to be mentioning it [you guys may be getting inside info again…so what if it is inadvertently?].  Once he arrives we all head up to meet with Steve O, Rich P and Joshua N. on the 7th floor @ Sony Pictures

What a great meeting.  Steve stayed for about 30 minutes and Rich and Joshua gave us a full hour.  Matthew started us off by laying out the story of his trip to India where God laid it on his heart to build schools and get actively involved in the plight of the Dalit people.  Next, Brent pitched the story.  I did a ton of listening until asked specific questions.  Chris drove the meeting – excellently I might add.  As a side note, I want to say that it was easy to see that these Sony guys clearly have a ton of respect for the Chris and Denise and what they bring to the table.   Rich and Steve both had some caste system based questions and then Steve asked some budget and technical questions, before agreeing to read for the second time the script and then he politely excused himself.  That is a ton of personal time for a VP at a major studio to spend with us.  I hope he knew that we are extremely grateful.

Once Steve left, Joshua and Chris continued to ask great questions about India, the caste system and how we intended to pull off this project in a relevant way.  Then Rich said something that really struck a chord with all of us…he said high school and college aged students need a “war cry,” something they can get passionate and “angry” about. He fells like this project could be that!  Wow, what an amazing thought! What a God thing it would be if we could all band together and create something…a motion picture that ignites a fire under people who are begging to be lit up for God and for a cause!  That thought carries so much weight and so much responsibility…glad you guys are all on the team with us!  Make no mistake it will take ALL OF US to make this film…to start the “war cry” and to educate and free the Dalits and save children from human trafficking.  Okay, okay, I know but this is super exciting stuff!

Joshua was great in that meeting as well.  He knew about the Dalits and the caste system [though he did say to Brent after that the reason he knew was because he had seen our documentary!] regardless, he was and will be a valuable team member if Sony comes on board…and even if they don’t… he showed great passion for this subject and really seemed to get what we are trying to accomplish.  Just a great meeting all around!

Next, Chris, Denise, Brent and I headed over to Beverly’s office [our casting director] to go through the script one more time!!  Oh joy!  By this point, everyone knows I am tired of writing…but, we have “one more” pass to go – at least that is what they are telling me.  We got there at about 3pm I am guessing and left at 7pm.  It was a crazy, fun and tedious 4 hours…only made bearable for me by the people in the room!  They all have such a passion for this story and have great notes [even if I don’t always agree] they are well thought out and make sense…so we argue back and forth until someone relents, and then move on…1 page at a time.    We laughed almost until we cried at times and got another full set of notes hammered out!  Now, I will spend the weekend writing…trying to get a pass to Brent by Monday…who will then get it to Chris and Denise by Tuesday…God willing.  After eating almost the entire basket of treats  Beverly had in her conference room, we passed on our thanks to her for being so flexible and allowing us the use of her office space and headed back to the airport to drop Chris and Denise off…another amazing day with people that truly feel like family!

Now to some personal items that I want to share…people bat around the word hero pretty regularly in our society.  I rarely see what they are talking about.  It just seems too easy…like if everyone that is labeled a “hero” truly is then what do you call someone who honestly does something completely selfless and so far beyond the realms of what could ever be asked at great risk to themselves, without a moments hesitation?  Well whatever it is you call them, that is what we should all be calling Stephen [our great friend and one of our composers].  You see, he recently donated part of his liver to his young nephew and most likely saved the boys life.   The word hero seems so watered down…but since that word is all I know, that is what I will labeled Stephen’s selfless act and I will be even more proud to call him a great friend and frequent collaborator.

Also I may or may not have mentioned this but my grandmother had hip replacement surgery last week.  She is in a great deal of pain at the moment but seems to be on the road to recovery.   I am actually heading down to San Diego after I finish writing this to visit with her and my mother.

Hope you are well and thanks again…as always, for taking some time out of your day to plug in with us.
It is appreciated.
J

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Producer’s Update

It has been an interesting summer.  I guess that is the best way to say it.  So much has happened and yet it feels as if nothing has been accomplished.  For an achiever like me, that is hard to deal with.  And yet, I don’t think we could be where we are today without the experience of this summer.

I found this great quote by one of my favorite authors, A. W. Tozer (he actually officiated the wedding ceremony for my grandparents, by the way).  He said, “It is as if God were saying, ‘What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace.  I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret.  Trust Me, and be not afraid.’” That quote has helped me make it through some pretty dark hours.  There were many times when I didn’t think this movie was going to happen.  To be honest, there were many times when I didn’t want it to happen because it seemed like the source of all kinds of conflict and discouragement.  But, in those moments, and they were low moments, I would read that quote and be reminded that I will not always see God moving, but I could, and should, still trust Him.

Personally, this has been one of the greatest and most stretching endeavors of my life.  In a previous position at another church, we wrote, designed, produced and executed an original stage production on the Passion week of Christ’s life – from concept to reality – in just 8 short weeks.  That was no small or stress-free task.  The 9-month process we’ve been through with NOT TODAY has been far more intense, far more gut wrenching, far more frustrating.  Even during those times, however, we have had to go back, again and again, to the reason why we started down this road to begin with.  That reason – to raise awareness about what is happening to the Dalit people group of India.  I remember one day, probably in July, I was driving and felt God say to me, “This film will be the most difficult film you will ever make.”  If you stop and think about it, we are creating something that will bring attention to modern day slavery, to human trafficking and ultimately, to an area of the world that Satan has in his control.  This will not be easy, but nothing worth anything ever is easy, right?!

That said, we are in a new day, a new phase, with a renewed energy for NOT TODAY.  God has brought together His team for this film.  We are learning how to work better and better together.  It can be difficult to bring creative minds together and find consensus and yet, it is happening.  There is give and take.  There is progress.

The script should be completed in the next week or so and then on to casting.  We have set principal photography dates  for early 2010.  In October, I leave for India to do a final scout, begin the permit process, secure housing, do preliminary casting for our Indian cast and a myriad of other things.  We’ll be there for 8 days – a lot to accomplish in a short time.  I mentioned casting, we will have a little over 2 months to cast this film.  That is not a lot of time to cast a film.  I met with Bev Holloway, our Casting Director, this week and we began (again) to put our strategy for casting together.  Of course, everything hangs on the script.

So, I’m back to the beginning of this blog – and will leave you with my life verse (pretty ironic, huh?!).  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  That makes it pretty simple.  Why do we make it so difficult?

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Kamlesh

I just walked in from hanging with some great guys over at Saddleback. Steve K hosts a step father’s breakfast once every three months and he asked me to come talk about the film. I reluctantly agreed. My reluctance is not based on anything other than the fact that I am much more comfortable behind the scenes…anyway, so I drive down there for the 7:30 breakfast. Why is everything so early? Not that 7:30 is that early but it sure feels early on a Saturday morning. Steve’s wife Deanna has been a super good friend to my wife Shannon for a while now and I am now getting to know Steve. He is a great guy and super good leader…class instructor, small groups, breakfasts…I am guessing he is a good leader at whatever type of event he is asked or feels lead to lead. The breakfast was small and intimate and with some great guys.
I shared about the film project and Chris and Denise and Brent and the church etc…all is well until I start telling the story of little Kamlesh. The 6 or 7 year old little girl who I shot an interview with on one of my trips to India. She and her pregnant mother were walking down a path to use the restroom in their village and 4 high school/college age kids who were uppercaste didn’t like it so they threw Kamlesh into a smoldering fire [they burn their brush etc]. When her mother tried to help her they beat her unconscious. As I was telling this, I was taken with emotion and right there in front of these guys I had only just met a few minutes earlier, I started to cry like a little baby! I remember thinking to myself THIS IS WHY I DON’T SPEAK IN PUBLIC! So to Steve and the guys, I apologize for being a baby. The emotion surprised me and I never did finish my story…so I will here and hope they find their way to this blog and get an answer to the question asked.

So the kids beat the mom unconscious and so Kamlesh can’t get out of the fire until she is burned over 60% of her body! Then when she is finally rescued she is taken to the local authorities who, because of her caste make her wait with third degree burns over 60% of her body, for 5 hours while they try to figure out what to do with her! Finally they decide she should go to the doctor. She does and they try to help but her father who is an illiterate farmer, can’t afford the medicine top put on her wounds to keep them moist so when I met her she is scared so badly that all she can do is itch her arms and legs. Since her father could not afford the medicine needed her arm healed in a bent at the elbow position. When I see her, she can’t straighten her arm. The scaring is horrible and she can only sit and fuss with it, itching both arms and her leg. We are told the authorities did nothing to the “kids” who thought it a good idea to beat up a 6 or 7 year old and her pregnant mother because Kamlesh is an untouchable so she doesn’t really matter. So the answer to the question that was asked is that most of the time especially when a Dalit is involved the authorities do nothing. Also most of the Dalits can not read and so have no idea what the police “report” if one is even brought out, says. Which is why most police just ignore the issues.

I called my wife on the way home and told her that I cried like a baby.., of course she said that was only because I have a ton of vested interest in these abused and beaten people…especially the kids. She is right about that. I feel compelled that we need to help these kids…kids like Kamlesh and Kavya who otherwise don’t have much of a chance.

I hope Steve can get his guys to read this so they can hear what I could not articulate earlier this morning. A good morning…besides me being a little girl and all… I think/hope we got some new fans over at a big church that is full of resources that God can and does use daily…if we were to team up and pool our talents and resources…imagine what we could do…like that Casting Crown’s song says…”what if the armies of the Lord, got up and dusted off their sword…”
Anyway…
Be well.
J

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Script Update from our Director…

Just finished yet another draft of the screen play. This one was interesting in that it was supposed to be a pairing down of the script after a five hour story conference with Clayman, The Buenos and Myself and Brent. I was to go away for a week or so and make a pass to see how many pages our cuts would equal. The notes were good, effective and thought out…but here’s the thing, I sat down to write, spent many hours and made ALL the changes, took every suggestion tweaked almost every scene, bar none and now I sit, finished like I said, having just forwarded the draft to Brent, and am wondering how everyone will take the news that not only did the script NOT shrink in pages but in fact grew by three pages!! I wrote Brent yesterday when I was on page 98 and told him that it was not me…I truly want a shorter script to shoot. That would make my life as a director much easier, it really would, but the characters seem to have so much more to say about this then I do. They dictate, I just write what they want to say. So now I wait, the characters wait as well, silent and eager to hear what everyone will think. I pray for good news but am ready to hear “this script needs to be 105 pages” once more and I will probably answer, once more, that I am trying!

Yesterday was Monday, Labor Day. I had a few hours to contemplate the script and am feeling pretty good about it. I will wait to see what the notes back are of course but overall I feel pretty good…the length does not bother me. I think of our producers are comfortable with it – I know I can shoot it – then we go with it as is.

We have a big meeting coming up with a head of the faith division of a major studio. They have already read an earlier draft of the script and really like it. Our goal is to hand him a locked final draft when we sit down for dinner on the 17th of this month. Doable for sure. We shall see. Like I said, will try to report in much more regularly now that contracts and details have been ironed out. I wil also report things here that are not common knowledge [casting details, shoot schedules etc…] so if you are interested, the web site and these blogs are the place to stay plugged in.
Speaking of being plugged in and getting exclusive info… we have a mock up poster that I will share very soon with only you guys here so until then, here is a little bit about our graphic artist. He is a good dude and an old friend of mine. His name is Dan Hamilton. Check out his work at: http://web.mac.com/adhamiltonjr/iWeb/Site/A.D.%20Hamilton.html
While we are on the subject… if any of you are film poster fans in general [I LOVE them. I have probably close to 2 hundred:)] check out these two guys work: Tyler Stout – http://tstout.com/welcome – and Tom Whelan – http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/06/26/cool-stuff-tom-whalens-poster-art/
They are amazingly cool. Anyway, stay tuned and I hope you had a great Labor day.
J

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