Monthly Archives: January 2010

Please Pray

I wanted to give a brief update on what has developed last weekend. Dr. Joseph D’souza was speaking at Friends Church last weekend. Joseph is the leader of OM India – our partner ministry in India and an outspoken advocate of the Dalit people. Through Joseph and OM, our church has committed to build 200 schools for the Dalit children in the next 10 years. That is the main reason why we are making this movie – to help this cause. So, this weekend we’ve had some extended time to discuss the movie and our current situation/frustration with the delays imposed by the Indian government. We’ve talked about a lot of different strategies and ways that we can take the next step. Joseph cannot imagine this movie being made anywhere else but in India. After church last night, Joseph sent me an email that he has approached Udit Raj – the current leader of the Dalit movement in India – for his help. Udit is the National President of the Indian Justice Party (which he started). Udit immediately responded that he will do whatever he can do to help us. Basically, that means that he is taking this project on personally. In fact, his wife, Seema, works in the office next door to the film office – probably not a coincidence!

I sent Udit the script last night. He is reading it and will be contacting me when he is through reading. He has asked that we STOP communication with the film office, India Take One and anyone else besides him and Sam Paul. They will be leading the charge for this cause and don’t want any confusion with too many people getting involved. In his words, this situation is past the time when a production services company can do anything for us in regards to the permit.

So, please pray that Udit can connect with the right people and make things happen. We are still pushing towards our March 1 target for production and we may or may not hit it, but we have more of a chance than ever before with Udit involved. This is a huge praise and something that I never expected to happen. With Udit involved, this movie is likely to get international press even before it is filmed – just like God to move in ways that we could never dream of our make happen on our own. And, one more amazing way that OM has come to our aid.

And today…

I received this email from our friends at OM India. Please read it and let’s be praying!

Udit Raj and Sam Paul made many phone calls to the various offices in Delhi and also visited in person on Friday, re-submitted the script to the concerned people. The Home Ministry officials said that it would take a minimum of two additional weeks to process the script for permission for filming. Udit and Sam told them that this was not acceptable and that they would begin making additional phone calls asking for a faster response time starting Monday.

They then reported back the same information to me and to Joseph and will begin their phone campaign on Monday. Udit does have significant contacts and may be able to use his power to hasten this 2 week time line. Sam Paul has an additional appointment with a higher official on Monday morning in this regard and hopes for a positive result. Please mobilize more prayer and we will see what God does.

Thank you and I will keep you updated!

Brent

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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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Urgent Action needed to bring Kembert home

UPDATE: KEMBERT IS HOME!!!! THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT…You can read more about his story here
_________________________________
Since the earthquake, thousands of children currently living in orphanages in Haiti no longer have a roof over their heads, food to eat or clean water to drink. Many of these children are being adopted by Americans who are simply waiting for administrative paperwork to be processed in Haiti.

Contact your member of Congress and senators and tell them you want humanitarian paroles for children in Haiti being adopted by Americans so that they can come to the United States.

Our friends, Mark and Kristen Howerton, are asking for your help in spreading the word…with the hope of bringing their son Kembert home from Haiti!!!  You can follow the Howerton’s story here and watch them tell their story today  (1/17/10) on CNN @ 3:00pm PST
TAKE ACTION IN 3 EASY STEPS:
1. Spread the word…Share this via Facebook, Twitter, email  or ANY OTHER CREATIVE WAY YOU CAN THINK OF
2. Learn about helping rebuild Heartline Ministries Orphanage where Keembert is currently living here
3. Send the following letter to members of Congress and the Clinton Foundation using the links below:

Here is the link to finding your representatives…
Contacting Congress

Here is the link to the Clinton Foundation:
Clinton Foundation
Here is the letter to send…

I/We are friends of Mark and Kristen Howerton, who are in the process of adopting Kembert Estime, DOB 10-7-06 who was living at the Heartline Ministries/Maranatha Orphanage prior to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

I/We are aware that USCIS has the authority to issue a humanitarian parole for Kembert Estime to travel to the United States to live with Mark and Kristen Howerton pending final adoption processing in Haiti. While granting a humanitarian parole is outside the normal procedures, the United States government has granted them in the past (e.g. Cambodia and Romania).

While I/we realize that the United States seeks to honor the adoption process established in Haiti, I/we feel that Kembert Estime and the country of Haiti would be best served by Keembert Estime being placed with Mark and Kristen Howerton, his future mom/dad. I/We feel that Haitian authorities would agree to this if it was proposed. What better way for the United States to help Haiti than to care for Haiti’s child that is already so loved by this family.

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Haiti

Please consider making a donation to help with the relief effort in Haiti

Here are some amazing organizations that are actively involved…
Bright Hope
World Vision
Giving Children Hope
The Red Cross

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Prayer Gathering

Had an amazing Prayer Gathering last night for Not Today. Over 30 people came together to pray for God’s direction and blessing on the film. Today, one of the people that was at our Prayer Gathering last night sent me this Scripture:

Commit your way to the Lord; trust him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways. Psalm 37:5-7

Let’s pray that the “justice of our cause will shine like the noonday sun!”

Brent

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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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