Monthly Archives: October 2009

location scouting

Rasoolpura slum trash heapRasoolpura slum street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We headed off for the day and started at Rasoolpura Slum. We’ll be shooting a bunch of scenes here. It is right by the old Hyderabad airport. OM has had a ministry here for over 15 years. 280 kids cram into this little school each day to learn English and about a God who created them in His image – something totally crazy for a Dalit to consider. Since they’re told from birth that they are worth nothing, less than animals, this thought that they are created in the image of God, is overwhelming to most of them at first. When that thought sinks in, the reality of it is pretty amazing. The kids sang songs and danced for us. Their smiles and joy is contagious!

Hyderabad City Dump

From there, we headed for the dump – yet another one of our intended locations. It seems that no one really knows where the dump is. Our friend from OM didn’t seem to know. Our driver didn’t know. So, we did what you do in India. You pull over and keep asking people until you find people that “know” how to get there. This isn’t always very reliable. We ended up at the central dump in the middle of Hyderabad – not exactly where we were supposed to be, but the theory was good – if we follow a truck from here, we can follow it to the right dump outside of the city. This was good in theory – until we lost the truck.Dump workers Now, if you’ve never driven in India, you may ask, “How can you lose a big, trash truck? We lost the big, trash truck. So, back to pulling over and asking for directions. After about 3 hours (and 33 kilometers, yes 33 kilometers in 3 hours), we found what we were looking for. You could see it from the road below it before we even got to it. The dump proved to be just as compelling as before – if not worse. Steven and Allan were both pretty shocked at the overall experience, I think (PIC 5 & 6). Is it even safe to bring actors here? Will we have to compensate them with “hazard pay?” These kind of questions, totally appropriate for their jobs on this film, hit me. People live here (PIC 7)…and we’re not sure that it is safe to bring actors here to shoot a few scenes in a couple of days! How is that for sobering… Our 3 hours journey home was quiet for a while as we reflected on what we had just seen.

Dump dwellingDump dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Monday, we met up with the other team from Friends Church. It was great to connect with them and to hear about their adventures in Chennai, Bangalore and now Hyderabad. Boys at OM DECWe met up with them at OM and the school there was having a singing and dancing competition. Phil and Tammy Hotsenpiller (our teaching pastor and his wife) were asked to be the judges – not an easy job with so many talented kids! They also had a Science Fair for us to look at – experiments and “hands on” exhibits and all! It was pretty cool. Sand Art #1 We were also given access to a cooking fair – where various students had made their favorite dishes. I was pretty adventurous and the food was really good! Outside, several of the girls had made sand art on the dirt. So many beautiful designs. One of the other ladies from the team and I were asked to judge these designs. This one was our favorite – the student used flowers to accentuate her colors. It was awesome! That school, now three stories high (and still building) is changing lives and giving opportunities to children that only a few years ago, would have had no hope for a better future.

After our time with the other team, we traveled to Pipe Village. I’ve been there several times now, but I wanted Allan and Steven to see it as well. It was pretty quiet this time – most of the kids were still in school at OM and the parents were working at the nearby factory that makes the pipes. There were a few little kids running around and a few grandmothers there who were watching the kids. It was great to see that OM has set up a solar powered light for them. Although it is only one light, it definitely helps and allows them to see at night. It also gives a sense of security as well.

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brent

Hello again fellow travelers on the Not Today film project train. Glad to have you with us. Brent has been in India for the last week. We have this crazy long email chain going back and forth…I have consistently chosen to use a different color to mark my newest thoughts while Brent chooses to stay BLUE. I will let you draw your own conclusions:)

We discuss everything from shooting in continuity, to stage versus real location work, to make-up to second AD’s and camera crew. It is taxing and entertaining but the type of dialogue that is very common between a director and his producer…which I want to take a moment to brag on “my producer” for a minute. Brent has really come into his own on this project. Not sure who if anyone reads this, so I will acquaint you with Brent a bit. He is an amazing talent on stage. We first met when I volunteered to help out at our old church for a Christmas show…which I loved and I heard later he got railed on by the church leadership! Sounds like a church. That particular show was fun, energetic and exciting to watch and even more fun to be a part of the inner workings. That is how we met. Sometime later, I asked Brent if he knew anyone who wrote…I was looking for a writing partner. He said “yes.” I was thrilled. Well the writer he knew turned out to be…well him. So we wrote together. Then we formed a company together. Now I get to watch him teach, learn, lead and follow depending on the situation. My personality is such that I spend most of my time not with people. I wouldn’t say I don’t like them…but, it would be safe to say that sometimes I would rather work with animals. I have been told that at times…I am not very easy to work with. I wouldn’t say that but, I would say that when I work on set, I am very intense and focused. Simply put, Brent allows me to be that type of person, because he is outgoing, personable and so much fun that I don’t have to be any of those things!! He is always looking out for others and taking the higher road when I might prefer to tell someone to take a hike. In fact, he has almost singlehandedly kept this film project on the rails when many others would have said forget it and would have either lead it down the wrong track or let it jump the track all together. We tend to joke that naming our company a scripture verse was probably the worst decision we have ever made…because we actually have to live it when things get nasty!! We have to “walk by faith, NOT BY SIGHT” when I [ especially,] would most times rather go toe to toe and fight it out. Especially if I know we are right…but, Brent will step in and say let’s pray about this and wait and see. He is the calmer of the two of us…and that alone…truth be told, has probably saved this project. Anyway, what was I even saying? Oh yeah, it is great to see him coming into his own as a company owner and producer. He is the one guy I like to argue with because, like family, he can’t tell me to take a hike!

Not sure if any of the above paragraph makes sense and I am way too tired to re read it. So if it doesn’t, sorry. If it does, then…there you go.

Back to the film…we are casting, sending out offers, going over the budget, Brent, Alan and Steven [who I have also grown to love] are in India, like I said, trying to sort out the permits, locations, crew, gear etc…while I am home talking to Cristi about wardrobe, Bev about casting and Abe about lenses and textures. Everyone is busy.

I miss Chris and Denise. I never like it when we don’t connect with them weekly. They are such a huge part of this whole project. Chris texted me today…even that is nice. I can always count on having fun when they are part of the equation.

Wow, this is sort of a mushy blog. Sorry. Just want to make sure that the people who are working so hard to make this film know how much their effort, hard work, skill and attitude is appreciated and valued…Brent, Alan, Steven, Joth, Cristi, Chris and Denise, Stephen Martin, all of our OM friends… and everyone else who continues to pray for God’s blessing on Not Today.

Be well and next time I will include some of that crazy long, multicolored email stream between me here and Brent in India. Just so you can see how sane he is and how completely insane I appear to be!

Until next time.
God Bless
J

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Charminar

After 23 some hours of travel, I arrived in India with Steven and Allan about 4:30am on Thursday morning.  The flights were without incident – always something to be grateful for!  Ramesh, a friend from OM (Operation Mercy), was there to meet us and held up his sign that said OM INDIA on it.  This was awesome because on our scouting trip in February, we missed the sign, looked for him for over an hour and ended up hiring a taxi to drive us into Hyderabad.  So, it was great to connect with him so quickly on our arrival!
Charminar_Hyderabad
After a few hours of rest and a hot shower, we were off to look at a few of the locations again.  We went to Charminar (pictured right) and it was crazy yet again.  The place is buzzing with activity no matter the day or the hour.  The largest mosque in Hyderabad, maybe in India, is in Charminar district.  That being said, it is a highly Muslim area – and interesting being stared at by dark eyes of women through the small opening in their head wraps.  I think the sight of three white guys walking through the market area is a bit unusual.  But, we weren’t the only people there doing film scouting.  Another group of young Indian guys were shooting video down the same street that we hope to film as well.

You also take your life into your hands any time you decide to venture out of your vehicle and walk – especially at a place like Charminar.  I narrowly escaped being hit by at least three auto rickshaws as they carried their fares through the area.  Our local guide/driver told us that a woman had jumped off of Charminar the day before and committed suicide.  Amazing how a structure that was built to commemorate the ending of a plague was the choice for someone to end their life.

After Charminar, we headed around the town, looking at different sites and potential locations for our shoot in January and then back to our hotel.  The three of us to met in the lounge to continue our discussion about budget and schedule.  Steven and Allan are great guys and it is great to have them on the team.  They have so much experience and bring incredible expertise to this film – plus they’re just great to hang out with!  We’ve had many laughs already and have started to create those memories that make for great jokes through the production process – remember when, etc?!

Friday was spent at OM – our ministry partners.  Again, OM stands for Operation Mercy and they have quite a campus.  We were greeted warmly by Beena, one of the administrators at OM.  She has been our host before and it was good to see her again and to introduce her to Steven and Allan.  She was amazing and had our day planned.  We toured the OM compound and it was great to see all that OM is doing.  From their college to train pastors, to their school that educates 450 Dalit children, to the Lydia School that trains women in sewing, to their two churches and on and on, OM is busy impacting their world.  It is so cool to be partnering with them on this film.  Many questions were answered today – housing, production office, security, medical, transportation, locations, finances and banking, etc.  We met with several other OM leaders for lunch and a great discussion.  Dr. D’Souza was unable to join us because his mother has become quite sick and has been hospitalized.  Fortunately, the lump they found was not cancer, but they aren’t taking any chances.  He is spending as much time as he can with his mother.  Please keep her in your prayers.

Our good friend, Sebastian, joined us for lunch, too, with his wife.  He is in charge of all media production from OM.  He’s excited to be a part and to help out however he can.  I’ll be meeting with several girls for the role of Kavya next Tuesday.  They are bringing girls from their surrounding schools into the OM campus to meet with me.  I am very excited about this part of the trip!  They also arranged for us to fly to Calcutta on Wednesday to further scout the locations for the last part of the film.  Our day ended traveling back to our hotel in rush hour traffic – India style!  We met again to discuss the film and the many details that will make or break the production.  More laughs, more memories.  Can I just say that the time change of flying around the world takes its toll in strange and interesting ways?!

After a good night’s rest, today (Saturday), we’re off to the dump and a few slums as well.  Just the thought of going to the dump again makes me not look forward to this trip – and yet thousands of people call this their home.  Another reason to pray that God continues to shine on this film – it can have such an impact.  Pray that all goes well and we continue to find blessing and safety!


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Director’s Update

Tuesday.  Brent leaves for India today with Steven and Alan.  I set him up with a list of things to try and accomplish [scene’s to use for casting, questions for IJM and for Om staff etc].  We had a great meeting last Friday with Brent, Abe, Steven, Alan and Joth.  Spent about 4 hours going over details and discussing the game plan.  Seems there is a bit of a budget issue that Brent is sorting through right now.  I don’t envy him.  I am thrilled to be thinking about directing the film now.  The script is locked, the schedule is being sorted out.  I expressed to Joth and the rest of the guys That I wanted to shoot in continuity once we land in India.  My reasons are simple and seemed to make sense to everyone.  I want to take the characters on this real journey as it might actually happen.  Day by day.  It is not traditional film making but it is how I think I need to make this film.  They get it.

It is interesting to finally be running…we are finally a fully functioning train moving forward.  We are getting into details of the shoot.  Props, stunts, set dressing, security, location managers, producers here and in India…etc.   The goal now is to keep moving forward an to not lose anyone along the way.

We will be starting to cast this coming week.  Bev is finishing up her last show and is about to dive headlong into our project.  I will be a part of that from the first step to save time.  With the holidays fast approaching we need God to once again smile on us and provide the right actors for the job in a short amount of time.  Glad it is His project.
I sent Brent a link to a young actress that my wife had seen perform at the revolve tour this past weekend in Ontario.  She is quit good and would be worth seeing for the roll of Audrey.  He agreed and will forward the info to Bev to bring her in.  In case he didn’t Bev, here is your heads up:)

I feel really good about Alan and Steven.  They are professional, exceptional at what they do and they are fun guys to hang with.  I look forward to spending more time getting to know them and working along side them.  Same goes for all of our crew so far.  There is not one person we have hired who is not sold out to the project and fully committed to make a great film.  That is super exciting.

Spent some time with Stephen and Shannon Martin last night discussing a short film I wrote based loosely on Stephen’s organ donor experience.  I wanted to get their take on it.  Stephen read it offered some suggestions which I implemented then read it again last night and liked it again.  All good.  Shannon is supposed to read it this evening.  Since it is based more on their situation than their experience walking through it, I will be interested in her thoughts.  I needed more drama than they had going through the ordeal so I heightened everything.  I hope it works!  Right now it is called SELAH – which means to weight or measure something.  Not sure I will have the money to shoot it but it has been a good exercise in writing either way.

We should be getting a comp of the poster art this week or next so that is exciting.
I am really looking forward to casting.  Working with passionate and talented actors is one of the things I love about directing.  Especially on this project where so much is at stake.  The goals are huge.  The ramifications are far reaching.  We just need to give our best and let God drive.  That is the daily mantra.  Keeping my hands lightly on the wheel, knowing I am the child play driving while God is the patient father allowing me to feel like I am actually doing something.  I remain grateful for all that we have been through and have encountered on the journey that is this film.  I look forward to seeing how things play out.

Last Monday night we had an amazing prayer meeting.  Thirty or so people showed up and it was pretty great.  If you missed it, check the web site for the next one.  It is great to hear one voice, in the disguise of thirty passionate, caring people,  being lifted up to God seeking his wisdom and asking for his guidance.  It was neat for sure.  I expect more in the future.

Anyway I think that is it for now.  I am sure Brent will be blogging from India and I hope he pesters Alan and Steven to blog a little from their perspective as well.
So, if you remember and have a moment, please pray for them as they travel, and for us as we stay here and start casting.

Until we next speak.
Be well
J

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Global Forum on Human Trafficking

Jessica and I went to the Global Forum on Human Trafficking in Carlsbad.  It was an amazing event – full of information that was both amazing and disturbing.  The fact that we even had a forum on this topic was somewhat discouraging and reminded me, once again, about the evil that lives in this world.

The forum was hosted by North Coast Calvary.  Our friend, Derek DaPena is the High School pastor at that church.  It was great to connect with him again and to spend some time with him during the forum.  We even had the opportunity to grab some lunch at a local restaurant.  He brought his son, Kasen, with him.  Talk about energy and passion for life!  It was awesome!

The event was kicked off by Luis C. de Baca the Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department. He was appointed by President Obama to help combat this rising issue.

Lou C. DeBaca

Not for Sale hosted this event.  Their mission – “The Not For Sale Campaign equips and mobilizes Smart Activists to deploy innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery in their own backyards and across the globe. Together, we can end slavery in our lifetime.”  They really mean that and are diligent in their efforts to accomplish this mission.

We also had the chance to meet Jenise who works with Giving Children Hope and “Giving Children Hope is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty (domestically and abroad) through disaster relief, health and community development, vocational training and advocacy.”  Their annual gala to raise awareness is this Saturday, October 24, 2009, in Buena Park.  David Batstone, founder and director of Not for Sale, is the keynote speaker.

When we were driving home from the forum, I was reminded of the importance of our cause – to free the Dalits in India and put an end to the trafficking of people in this world.  There are other vigilant groups also fighting for this same cause.  As we continue to work together, we will see change.

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We finished the script!

Let’s see…so we finally LOCKED the script!  Yahoo!!!!  After going back and forth and getting some great notes from Chris, Denise, Mark and Brent, the script is finished…at least enough so everyone is happy/comfortable sending it out.  So, now it goes back to Sony and to Bev for casting and to Alan and Steven for a full breakdown and schedule.  I have just started breaking down the script from a director’s perspective.  I will go through it scene by scene in Final Draft [writing software] and make lens choice, shot, blocking notes for Abe.   It will be a lot of me processing the story and the aesthetic I have had in my head for the last year while writing the script.  Now, it all needs to come out.
Here is a screen shot of what that looks like:

Screen shot of script note


Then we will meet, many times and nail down a “look” and texture/feel for the film.  Abe is still testing platforms [RED, SI-2K, etc, etc] and looks.  I will join him in that process now that the writing is finished.  I still want to go with Cooke lenses but beyond that, everything is open for discussion…and there will be a ton of those coming up.

The human trafficking conference is this weekend.  Brent and Jessica are going.  A God thing that it is in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, not too much to report but, I wanted to pass on a quick hello and short update.  More to follow as things heat up. Be well and thanks again for keeping us in your prayers.

Also, our prayer meeting is this coming Monday night.  Check out the website for time and place.

Till next time

J

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Events

Get Involved in the Not Today Movie project…check out our new EVENTS section http://www.nottodaythemovie.com/Events/tabid/97/Default.aspx

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