Monthly Archives: December 2009

Happy New Year

I’m sitting in Park City, UT and looking out the window of this 7,300 sq. ft. house that some friends of ours were given to use for a week. Our families (8 kids between us) made the long, 10-hour drive from LA on Monday of this week.  The drive was long, but completely worth it when we got here.  It has snowed every day so far, but mixed with the snow falling are moments of brilliant sun and “catch your breath” views from the panoramic windows of this house.   Oh, and did I mention that there is an 8-seat, 120″ HD Blue Ray theater?!  We’ve made good use of that – besides the fact that Blockbuster in LA gave me 9 Blue Ray movies with NO disks in them!  Who knew that XBox could look so amazing – the characters on screen are nearly the same size as the boys playing the games!  

This trip is kind of nostalgic for me.  Last year, we were able to come here as well.  It was at this house that I started writing for Not Today.  Jon and I would email back and forth and discuss direction for characters, specific scene elements, etc.  It was here that Not Today began to take shape for me – where it became a reality.  So, to be back here again and to be weeks away from starting principal photography is pretty amazing.  What a year.

This has been a year that I won’t forget.  I’d like to say that it has been mostly good, but in reality, it has been mostly difficult.  I guess I was a bit “Pollyanna” to think that getting this film made would be a smooth process.  Oh, was I wrong!  I have never had so much frustration, mixed with hope and determination, mixed with discouragement and unmet expectations, mixed with joy and new relationships – and the list goes on and on.  

My son just yelled, “I’m going snow surfing after waffles!”  Ah, to be a kid again!  

There is a little cottontail rabbit outside of the window as I write this.  I think it is trying to find something to eat under a foot or more of snow.  Life is a challenge for each of us, I guess.  No one gets a free pass on the difficult stuff.  I can’t imagine making this movie without God’s hand on it.  Truly, that has been the only thing that has kept Jon and me focused on what we set out to accomplish.  We know that this film really isn’t our film.  It was given to us and we are only stewards of it – placed here at this time by God.  For some reason (unknown to us for sure) he entrusted Not Today to us.  He wants to tell this story – to let the world know about His children that are being abused and exploited.  That is extremely humbling and sobering to me.

So, in spite of obstacles and set backs, we move forward.  Right now, we’re dealing with the Indian government.  Evidently, we have quite a challenge in front of us to get this film made.  Ever since Slumdog Millionaire, they are very cautious and overly protective of what is filmed in their country.  So, we are being delayed and our permit is still pending.  We could use your help to pray for this process – it will be God that makes this come together.  And it will – in His time.  

So, as I sit here I still have many of the same questions as a year ago.  Some of them have been answered – we have a great crew and an amazing cast (who we hope to tell you all about in the next week or so)!  Those are huge answers to prayer.  God is with us – it’s just that He moves in His timing and in His way.  We trust in that completely.  We keep moving forward with determination – like the rabbit in his ongoing quest for food – In the times of confusion and struggle – that is the ONLY thing that keeps us focused and determined to finish what God led us to begin.

Thanks for journeying with us.

Happy New Year – here’s to an unforgettable and life-changing 2010!

Brent

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the Not Today movie followers. Be well and have a great day!

J

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Music, Poster and Happy Holidays!

This film is taking a toll on me already.  It has been over a year for Brent and me.  God blessed me with this story in October of last year, if I remember correctly, and now I am sitting in my room…family is downstairs and a few days from Christmas.  I am listening to a demo of a new Jonathan Jackson song, one of five written for the film and working on my shot list document that at the moment is 158 pages.  That is script with notes.  Jonathan wrote these songs and played all five of them for me on Friday.  Wow, is all I can say.  He is such an amazing talent and the songs are incredible.  You guys are in for a treat.  Our hope is to make a concept album companion piece to the film.  All original songs, 5 of them written specifically for the film.  They have informed my shot list…the way I am designing some of the shots.   Very exciting indeed! If you get a chance, check out Jonathan’s band Enation at http://www.enationmusic.com – you will not be disappointed!

Something happened this past week that makes me wonder if I am completely nuts or if something was misinterpreted that I wrote here a week or so ago.  Most of you probably missed it, as it was pulled and changed quickly.  I think someone read into my words and saw them as negative, when I only meant them as a compliment.  I was also trying to point out the silliness that an actor is forced to deal with…Narrow-sighted directors who pigeonhole people based on looks or one “bad day.”  Sucks, but it is true.  Like I said – and I think this part survived – an actor’s life is rough…and that is a huge understatement.  I was trying to be complimentary and besides, we actually cast this person…only affirming how talented I think they are!!  Anyway, enough on that.  Drama is inevitable but, very draining.

There is also drama in the poster world…a whole other story.  But the poster world may have a good ending as someone else is going to take a stab at the one sheet.  Jamie also brought in a great first pass on the puppet for the film.  This prop plays huge in the movie and needs to be just right!  Jamie has such a great spirit and is so talented…a theme with this project.  God has blessed us with such amazing people to work with.

Anyway, so I am going to keep this blog relatively short…while I continue to pray about what I am writing here and it’s worth…how to continue….If to continue.   But I can tell you all…the music is amazing, the cast is looking excellent and the puppet is cool!  The main things that actually matter are coming together nicely.

Jonathan has such an amazing spirit and is one of the most talented people I have ever been around.  He is the type of person that I got into the business of filmmaking to work alongside of.  He is inspiring to say the least.  Like I told him, he is a gift of God.

Anyway, I will let the others decide when to announce the cast, when I can use full names and tell you people to check out these talented individuals and support them!  That way I won’t get into any more trouble in the perilous world of blogging…Who knew?!

Be well, have a great Christmas and please accept our sincere thanks for being a part of the Not Today family.  Your prayers do not go unfelt or unappreciated.  Best wishes for health and happiness.
J

PS.  Sorry this is a little disjointed.  So am I right now. It was started days ago and then I jotted things down here and there so it reads probably like I think…odd[ly?].

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Casting Process

Monday 12.14.09

I am furiously trying to get my shot list finished…at least a first pass.  This is like shooting the film for me.  It is like my first cut and it is taking me a while.  The created film language for each character has to track and change as their arcs change.  Sounds easy enough until the characters collide in the story and the film language for each of them mashes into a mess!  I am making headway and am happy with the way the film is “looking” in my head.  Only 70 more pages to go!  Yikes!

We will be finalizing our main character today.  Just waiting for Brent to return home from Florida [congrats to Maddie!] and get to a computer.  I will then be happy to let you all know who our Ezekiel and Audrey are!!  God has been so good to this project.  Bev has been wonderful.  She recommended we give this particular actor (Cody) one last shot, as she knew he had a heart for the material.  He came in a few times.  Bev always says that we do not want to move forward, unless we have seen everyone and gotten the best actor for the role.  Of course, I agree completely! So, I drove to LA last Friday and met with this actor (Cody) and an actress (Sarah).  But first, she suggested I get on the phone with this Cody and let him know exactly what I was looking for.  Lucky for us, he agreed to chat and last Thursday night we spoke for about ten minutes.  He was very polite and cordial.  A nice guy for sure.  I expressed to him that I thought we had not given him a fair shot at the chem reads.  Let me take a moment to mention…Everyone has bad days.  All actors are to be commended, in my opinion, as I could never do what they do…nor would I want to!   Anyway back to Cody…when I told him that…He mentioned that he had not prepared a second scene, as he did not think we would do it at the chem reads. He let me know that I had already seen him give a hundred percent.   He also mentioned that the script really got to him and it stayed with him…the second scene is emotionally tough and complicated to play.  It does stay with you.  I agreed with him and told him I had been there four times and it does affect you.  Inside, I was thinking that his struggle with the material was a good thing…He would not just be acting, he would be feeling it deeply and living it out.  Exactly what is needed for whoever plays Ezekiel! But, my heart sank a little as, as much as that was exciting to hear, I still needed to see him go further.  Bev thought he could go further.  I hoped he could and wanted to give him a another shot…so, I asked if he would be interested in coming in one last time and reading against another actress.  He sort of reiterated that I had seen him give a hundred percent…BUT, he loved the project and would do whatever I asked of him. Excellent!  That was the answer I was looking for.  I then told him what I needed to see from him…I needed him to go all the way to broken.  He needed to take this character to the edge of himself.   We ended the conversation by saying we would let our “people” sort out the details, but that we would meet again the following day.  By the way, he also said the next day – Saturday – he would be leaving for his hometown for Christmas.  Again, God working right before our eyes, in tangible and active ways!  Super cool to see.  So, I called Bev and said he agreed and she set it up.  I finished up work here at the church and went home and watched Cody’s first and second reads again and again…he had all the beats, the moments and every woman who saw him was gaga over him…my wife included!  I knew he had the look we were aiming for, a great personality, and loves the material…all amazing things and great assets…now, I just needed to see him go all the way with the character.

Brent just called me.  He just got back and watched the tape of Cody and Sarah.  He loved them.  We will offer them both the roles.  So, by the time this blog goes to Jessica she will probably be able to remove all the “guy” and “girl” references and say their actual names…if the details can be worked out by then.    My only request was to be able to tell the Cody that he got the part.

Anyway, where was I?  Anyone who takes the time to read this mess of a blog knows by now that I have an incredibly short attention span and tend to wander.  It is just my brain.  I get bored easily.  Oh yeah, more posters on sale tomorrow!!  One of my favorite artists – Tyler Stout look him up, he is awesome, has some new work out

I called and left a message for Cody.  Have not heard back yet.  Still working on my shot list…all day.  It HAS to be right.

Tuesday – 12.15.09

Meet Brent at the church for a drive to Bev’s for another day of casting.  We made offers to five principals:
Ezekiel
Audrey
Bill
Eli
Z
I am lucky enough to speak with Cody and tell him we chose him for Ezekiel this morning.  He is super excited.  I give him some homework, wish him a Merry Christmas and tell him I look forward to seeing him in India.  Then we go into Bev’s.  Once again I have to say how fun it is to see her and Jessica.  They are quickly becoming two of my favorite people.  We look at an actor the second time, for the super complicated and extremely important role of Bhupinder.   I spoke with him by phone last night and told him what I was looking for.  He came prepared for sure today!  Thank the good Lord.  He sure has had his hand on this casting process.  Bev even suggested today that the credit should read: casting by God and Bev!!  It is so great to be surrounded by people who get that this is first and foremost God’s film…always has been from the day he gave me the story.  Brent and I have made a point to hold this project loosely from day one and I firmly believe that He is blessing it as a result…from the actors chosen, to the crew God has brought together…a team we would never have dreamed of.  So today, we saw the Bhupinder actor who was very strong and will be offered the role.  He made great changes and took the notes well.  I know I can work with him.  Then we saw an amazing actress for the role of Sarah (Shari).  She is a friend of Bev’s I have seen before.  Bev brought her in for one of the Bible study ladies…she was so beautiful inside and out that I asked if she could read the Sarah role.  She did and blew me away.  I told Brent I would be happy to offer her the role immediately.  Brent wanted to meet her…Chris and Denise also stopped by to meet her…everyone loved her so much and we called her right after she left to offer her the role.  She cried and thanked us!  Welcome Shari!!  You truly are Sarah and I couldn’t be happier.  I can’t wait to get to do what I love to do…work with amazing talented actors that love the Lord!

After an amazing morning, we headed off to Christmas shop Brent’s youngest.  His kids are so cool.  I have practically watched them grow up.  Sophia is going to be very happy Christmas morning…I can tell you that!  Then home.  I rushed home, threw on my bike clothes and headed out for a ride…I raced the sun as it was setting and had to trudge through mud and water…but I made it, finishing the ride in the dark.  Now, I will eat dinner with my wife…then get back to work on the shot list!  It has been a wild ride…now I can focus on my shot list and India…oh yeah and I get to meet with Jonathan about music tomorrow!!!  Something I absolutely love.  He is the musical voice of Ezekiel.  His music will be the soundtrack to Ezekiel’s spiritual journey.    We will meet tomorrow so I can spot the music for him, at least give him an idea of what I am thinking, so he can work on it while I am in India.  He is always a bright spot and I am such a music guy.  Music is such a huge part of this film…score and now, after having met Jonathan and heard his music, songs will be a major contributor to the end result that you will eventually see on your local film screen…God willing anyway!

Thanks to all of you Friends Church of Yorba Linda members who came out for the day of casting at the church!  It was so cool to see the support and passion you guys have for the film.  You are all a vital part!  Whether you are in the movie or not, your prayers will drive it and we can feel them…so, thanks and keep praying for the film!!!  God is listening.

Thanks again to all who read this.  You guys are why I make time to share our journey.  Be sure to respond with any questions you might have, Jessica sends us everything you guys write.  I will happily answer whatever I can.

Thanks and God Bless.
Until next time.
J

PS.  More Tyler stout posters on sale!!!  I had to pick up one of each.  They are really cool.
Which reminds me, I talked with Dan our poster artist and he assures me our poster mock up is coming in the next day or two.  I can’t wait to see what he has come up with!  I know it will be cool.  Keep checking back as the plan is to make a super small limited edition signed and numbered run of the first posters.  Probably there will only be 50 or maybe 100.  Stay tuned if you are a poster nut like I am, this will be one you will want to have for sure!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Director’s Update

Wednesday in our weekly meeting…which is why I am writing this now.  I try to pay attention…but sometimes it is hard.  Anyway, I am still in the middle of making my shot list.  The document that is me making the movie before I actually make the movie.  It is what I will use to explain my plan to my director of photography and to my first AD who runs the set and is responsible for managing the shoot days.  Abe and Joth respectively.  They need as much information as I can give them to do their jobs to the highest level possible.

Casting is still an issue.  It was announced that we have John Schneider as the step father, LUKE.  That is cool.  He will be great.  The other cast is not set but needs to be sorted out soon.  We are trying to come to a decision… A mutual decision would be great but, at this point probably not mandatory.  Hopefully, we will all be able to agree and move forward.  We have a few good choices for the lead guy Ezekiel and a solid choice for the lead girl, Audrey.  WE are still looking for the Indian character Bhupinder. He is huge in the story and needs to be an amazing actor.  We thought we had him cast a week or so ago but the actor we all loved pulled out.  Apparently he was of a different faith that precluded him from doing the film.  My only question was how he didn’t know that before he came in!:)  Oh well.  God is still driving for sure. Only He knows the cast for his film.  I am excitedly awaiting Him to reveal it to us as I know he knows so far beyond us who are right for these parts.  Exciting times…and very typically movie making…nothing happens for months then everything HAS to happen in weeks or even days.  It always gets done.

I am also still super excited about the music end of the project.  This guy is pretty amazing and talented and soon I will stop being so cryptic as I really want all of you to go buy his music and support his band.  He loves the project and is probably going to be a major player in the music of Not Today.

Nothing else going on this week.  Next week, we get onto reading Sarah’s and hunting for Bhupinder’s!  Should be fun.  I like seeing Bev and the girls.  They are a lot of fun and really good at what they do…even if I am sure Bev thinks I am nuts on occasion!  I hope Jessica has some more New Moon stories to tell.

I will end with this, Monday night we had the most amazing time of prayer for the film!  Not a ton of people but you could really feel God in the room.  It was really neat to see some familiar faces and some new ones kneeling before God for this project.  It makes me really focused as one of God’s stewards of this film.  That was my last prayer meeting before I leave and it sure was powerful!  Glad both mine and Brent’s wives could be there.  Shannon and Elaine add so much and have put up with so much and tolerate so much as me and Brent give a significant part of our lives and there’s for this project.  They are taxed with taking care of the kids while we are both away, running the daily tasks of living while we write or direct or produce. Not glamorous but they make it so we can do what we do and I know Brent would agree that they are amazing and should be thanked by anyone who runs in to either of them for their sacrifice and commitment to seeing this film get made.  So if you see them, just say thanks!

Anyway that is about it for today.  Gotta get back to work on my shot list!

Be well

J

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Casting and Call Backs…

So far, this week has been pretty productive…and crazy, busy and irritating all at the same time:)

Let’s see, where to begin.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I was sick the holiday weekend and I am still feeling less than stellar as I write this.  That crazy cold…or swine flu:) who knows.  Just snotty and loopy!  Not a good way to exist for sure.  I spent the weekend at a small lake near Solvang called Zaca Lake.  No TV, no cell phone, just lights and a fireplace in the room Shannon and I went for a bike ride, saw a momma black bear and her cub walking down the road on our way to the lake one day.  Pretty neat.  Got some more work done on my shot list document as well…so that was good.  Not amazing because, like I said, I was sick the whole time.

Monday we have a super long but productive production meeting all day – 10:30 till 8 pm at one of the production people’s houses in LA.  A very nice location as it was outside on the deck that comes with the penthouse.  Very nice indeed.  On the way, Brent and I finally got to drive together for a change.  Usually our schedules don’t allow us to, so this was a nice change.  Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, on the way I missed a call from a super talented actor that I wanted to consider for the lead character.   I believe I told you guys about my meeting with him a week or so ago?  I am sure I did.  Anyway, this was the call I was waiting for.  He had taken some time to pray about the role and the feasibility of being able to go to India etc… I had also spent a fair amount of time praying about his involvement and was at peace with whatever his decision might be.  Have you ever met someone with whom you immediately feel at ease with?  This is that guy.  He has such a great spirit about him…another reason I wanted him in the film…anyway he explained that he could not take the role.  Yes, I was bummed, as I explained to him…but ultimately knew that God is casting his film.  After explaining that he was unable to be in the film, he went on to say that he has a brother who, as he said “is cut from the same cloth.”  Of course my ears perked up.  He explained that his brother and him were in a band together (I happened to be listening to their music right then!) He also mentioned that his brother was a talented actor.  He went on to say that he had talked to his brother about the film and the role and his brother was interested.  I agreed to check him out and again, we agreed to see what God might have in mind.  I googled his brother when we got to our meeting.  Good actor, turns out he had done a film with a director friend of mine.  I like him.  Same look as his brother…Soft and sincere… sharing many of the same characteristics I first admired in his brother.   So, cut to this morning.  He sends us his audition tape, which I love and so it turns out we are going to fly him in for tomorrow’s chem reads!   Cool.  Again, it is so exciting to see what God will make out of what seems like chaos.

So, back to Monday.  The production meeting was with most of the keys.  Joth runs the meeting and we go page by page to make sure everyone has what they need and everyone knows what I am wanting to do or will be expecting on the day.  A good meeting.  Wears me out to the bone.  I am glad Brent is driving.  I also need to take another moment and say it is really cool to watch Brent become a “producer” before my eyes.  I never doubted he was one…but he did.  Now no one can.  He is making this film happen.  The team he has assembled is amazing and certainly God blessed so far.  He has dealt with personalities…mine being the most “unique” is probably a way he might describe it and he has made things happen some purely for the reason that I asked for them and they would make me feel better.  He is doing a brilliant job!

Tuesday is spent all day at Bev’s.  A treat for me to be back dealing with actors and seeing Bev, Jessica and Brett [one of the readers for today].  All fun to hang with.  Brent joined us about an hour after we started.  It is a super productive day, where we easily whittled down the choices to five of each character.  All solid choices for sure.  I just have to stop and say right now I would never be an actor!!  Not for me.  Tuesday was for call backs.  So, most of the people we saw had previously read for us.  Some did even better than they had before and some of my first and second choices are not even in the running anymore.  Acting is a funny game…you have to be on way more than you get to be off.  Everyone that came in was well prepared and extremely pleasant.  So, thanks to all the fine actors who we have seen over the last few weeks.  They all were fun to see, truly a testament to Bev, her company and the way she runs her sessions.

Yesterday…yesterday was spent at work, catching up from all the days out…sick and casting and doing movie stuff.  Like I said, a busy time.  My wife is being super understanding…to which I am most grateful.  She is pretty amazing.  So…

Today is a huge day.  Casting makes the film.  If we cast right, then I am a guide on set.  If we cast wrong, then I can be anything I want on set as it will not really matter!  We will cast right because we will wait on God, we will listen to his prompting and will feel completely comfortable and at peace before we go one more step…God will guide as he has done every step of the way so far.  A true gift.  Please pray that today brings all the actors safely to the stage and that God is there with us.  I know He will be.

Thanks again
Until next time…hopefully we have our leads cast!
Be well.
J

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized