Monthly Archives: March 2010

Director’s Update

3.22.10 Monday
Let’s see. It is Monday as I write this…still no word on the permit. Trust me, I am asking…almost hourly. When I know…you guys will know! Easter is fast approaching…which just means a ton of work and very little family time.

Did you guys catch Matthew [our lead pastor] on TBN the other night? He did a good job and I thought he fit in well with the two hosts. The movie got a brief mention. You can watch it here.

Helped out a friend from the media team with her dog this morning. It brought me straight back to my training days…attention training, no biting. The first thing good ole Cooper did was run up to me and pee all over my shoe and leg. Thanks Cooper. Cute dog. He will be fine with a little manners work.

I got a chance to see two movies over the weekend…Alice in Wonderland and Crazy Heart. I would see Crazy Heart if I had to pick only one of them. Alice was fun but a little “Tim Burton odd” for Shannon. She slept through most of it…not to mention the theater was freezing!!

I still haven’t been able to see any of the footage we shot…I am wondering if there was actually film in the camera!? Maybe Abe, Allan and Steven were messing with me.

3.23.10 Tuesday
Tuesday night at 10:15 and I am trying to talk my stepdaughter through her homework assignment with limited success. Writing assignments are always a great opportunity for me to hang with her and help out. Tonight she is not happy with this assignment…I have to say I don’t blame her…it does seem like a lame assignment.

Today was a crazy day at work…CPR training from 12 till 5. I love that class. It is really a good course with a great teacher. His name is Larry…he is a good teacher and makes great use of our time.

3.24.10 Wednesday.
In our weekly meeting…still no progress to report. Everyone assures me they are doing all they can. I let it go and move on. I am writing a few different short films. I HAVE to shoot something. I need to exercise my creative muscles or I fear they will atrophy and fall off…like a dead limb. I tell Brent this yesterday afternoon…He gets it. I have expended so much energy getting prepared for this shoot…that has now been pushed for many months…I feel spent. Not a good thing, I don’t like feeling drained. I LOVE making movies and the creative process. I thrive on it and when I am out of that environment for too long it wears on me. I actually need that to balance out my life…just the way I am built I guess.

Who knows if I will shoot a short or not but I am writing…or should I say I am dusting off some of my old shorts…even this makes me feel better. Just the act of thinking about a shoot…I just can’t emotionally think about or continue to plan this one any more right now.

So I will, for the moment, move on to something else and see what happens. After all, it is still in God’s hands. I know all of this is for the good of the project…I truly believe that with all my heart…and that truth makes it a little easier to keep from going completely nutty. I know when we do shoot, we will see WHY all of this had to happen. Why this delay was vital to the success of the shoot. That is our God. He is always protecting us and if we are open to it, guiding us…even when we, like little children, try to fight for our own way. He is a good God…he never wavers or fails his people. This will be no different. He never changes. All things work together for His good…all things work together for His good…rinse and repeat… indefinitely…lessons learned on this project will be invaluable to my future. That is something that life has taught me…a reminder to myself. Everyday is a new opportunity to learn, grow and trust in our amazing God…who created the universe…this film is no sweat for him. This permit is a non-issue. There is a reason for this playing out the way it is playing out. I KNOW it. I feel it. I believe it. Then why does it still irritate me!? Doh. People are nuts…wait, maybe it’s just me. Maybe it is that I am nuts…a realization that I am willing to accept…and even embrace. After all, isn’t that how God made me? Which means he will use my nuttiness to his Glory! Cool.

By the way, I am writing this while the team is planning the Easter services. Brent will undoubtedly not be thrilled. Sorry, I have a very small attention span. I get bored easily…or maybe I should say I get distracted easily. Bored is such a negative word…

Anyway, so there you have it. No new news. I will keep you posted on the short film thing…if that happens or not. In the meantime, keep praying for our permit to come through and for the project as a whole.

As always, thanks for all your support and prayers.
J

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Director’s Update

3.17.10

Wednesday morning. I just got to work. Rode this morning with Dave and Dan. A new trail [at least to me] that is a ton of climbing…it is super hard. I know, stop being a baby right? Anyway, iced my elbow, which has really been giving me fits lately and now am ready to dive in at work. Then I get my weekly reminder email from Jessica to blog.

By the way Jessica, how are the boys? Pray for her boys. The both have pneumonia and ear infections…Oh my! Yet, she still finds time to do social media stuff for the movie and send me blog reminders, etc…she is one of the people who consistently helps make things happen…Thanks Jess.

Normally, I look forward to this and would have been jotting down bullet points all week…reminders of what I want to discuss with you guys…then just like that, I remember that I wanted to email Brent, Steven, Allan and Abe to see where we are with the film test footage. I am anxious to see what we shot…

Now back to the blog issue…so anyway, time I have not been making notes or bullet points or even thinking about what I want to discuss.

This blog is different…I am spent. I am tired, frustrated, irritated and borderline angry that we still have not made this film. “God’s timing is perfect”, I keep telling myself…and internally, I wonder if we are wasting God’s time! Maybe he wanted us to shoot way back in September and it is US running into a door he keeps opening…too silly to aim straight and walk inside. Not very logical probably, but nonetheless my thoughts…my inner dialogue. This process is wearing on me. I am a film writer and director. I don’t “wait” well. The film permit has yet to come through!!?? Seriously!!!! This was supposed to be a three week process that is now in it’s fifth month…yes, I said FIFTH month!! Are you kidding me!?

So, what do I say? Do I say all is well and we are hanging out or am I honest with you guys and say this process is at times insane, infuriating and annoying? Making a movie is not a pleasant experience. I have heard filmmakers speak about this for years on end…now I get it! It is sort of like when I used to work with exotic cats [leopards, tigers etc] and had always heard people say that cat – fill in the blank – is as “fast as lightening.” Huh? What does that mean? It sounds pretty cool but truly how fast is lightening? How can they measure how fast it is? Who measures it? Anyway, I never understood what that phrase meant until the day I was walking my spotted leopard…I jump him up on his box and back away across the 20-foot enclosure. I never took my eyes off of him and I NEVER saw him leave his box. The next thing I know, he is running up my body…mouth open. In that moment, I understood what that phrase meant. This is similar….NOW I get it!!

So what do I write about and what do we do from here? I, as always, tell you guys my heart and we continue to pray and trust God…leaning on the fact that He makes all things work together for good.

I am ready to go. The fun part of making a movie is being on set. That is where it gets nuts. The creative energy of a good crew working on a project they believe in and embrace…is like nothing I have ever found anywhere else.

When everyone is clicking and the work is solid…that is the fun part. The waiting, the budget, the arguments, the negotiating contracts and then re-negotiating contracts and the “misunderstanding” are the frustrating part. Right now the frustrating part is way ahead of the creative fun part – probably by a margin of 85% annoying/frustrating to 15% creative fun. I am confident that will change once we get our permit!

I did speak to the guy who might be providing some of the clothes for us. His name is Danny and he is a great guy. Check out his clothing line: here Cool stuff and he has agreed to outfit the guys if we can find stuff that works. Very cool of him.

We did a re-write for the Indian government of the script as agreed upon. That went pretty quickly…well, about 5 to 6 hours of straight writing. Not too awful. Now we wait. Do you guys get tired of hearing about all of the waiting? I get tired of writing about all the waiting. Sorry this is so short, but like I said, right now there is not much happening except that we are waiting on the permit. There is that word again. Maybe we should call the movie “Waiting for Not Today” or to make it more Indy film cool “The Waiting for Not Today.” Yes, just adding the word THE makes all the difference.

You guys are amazing for staying with us, for showing up at the prayer meetings and for continually supporting and praying for the project. For that I am grateful. Thanks again.

Until next week…when hopefully I will actually have some news to report…Have a great week and keep praying for the project and if you could be so kind as to slip the crew, the cast, Brent and me into your prayer time that would be awesome. I will leave you with this: God is driving. He always has been. Even in the face of serious doubt, anger, reservations, bad judgment and all sorts of other distractions. God is guiding this project and at the end of the day…we refuse to have it any other way. Like we could if we wanted to! This is God’s idea, His story, His plan, His timing, His script, His crew, His cast….He chose them.

He has graciously steered me clear of my own invention and my own desire and my own ego probably…knowing that at the end of the day the only thing any of us will be able to say is that God made this project happen. I can see that now. If I look hard enough at the past almost year and a half, I can see Him protecting me and my family…and some things still make me mad and make no sense. But I trust Him and move forward.

He will get the glory because HE made it happen…the way He wanted it to Happen… Period. Of that, I am certain.

Be well.

J

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Director’s Update

3.4.10 Thursday
Got home to find my Mondo poster waiting for me!! Martin Ansin’s The Wolfman is awesome. That guy is an amazing artist. I do love my posters. He did the Phantom of the Opera poster and a poster for a Stanley Kubrick exhibit that is pretty cool as well. He lives in Uruguay. Nuts. I am also reading a book by Luc Besson about the making of The Fifth Element. It is a great book that details his experiences making the film. I have had it for years, but have only now found the time to read it.

3.5.10 Friday
I had the joy of meeting Abe, Steven, Allan and Rachel at Panavision for our camera test. We tested film stocks to see how they react with little to no light and with being pushed a stop or two one way or the other. Cool. This is what we have been waiting to do…get some film in a camera!!! I met up with Abe at around noon. He is, as always, excited to be working on this project and always greets me with a warm hug. He is such a cool guy and so amazingly talented. Every time I see him and talk with him about this project or see some of his work [check this video he shot…super fun and cool. I always walk away thanking God for bringing him to us. He will make this film look amazingly cool and I have complete confidence in him. We spend a few hours at Panavision.

Abe brought two friends, Sunil [he is actually doing the translation for the film from Telegu back to English phonetically for our actor] and David, a friend from another shoot. These two will be our Ezekiel and Bhupinder stand-ins. These guys hang with us from 2 till about 9PM. Wow! They are great all day and I try to make sure they know how grateful I am. They were such a gift! To stand in front of a camera…not doing anything…for hours on end!? An important element of this test was to see skin tones and textures and how the different film stocks react to the different skin tones [David is Caucasian and Sunil is Indian]. It is super important for Abe to sort this out now so we can order the stock that we need.

It is cool to see our camera for the first time. It is a tank! It is very sturdy and pretty big. The frame, when looking at the monitor, is super small. It is funny to see so much extra space outside of the guidelines. With 2 perf, we have a very small frame to work with…in a good way. Now we just need to fill that frame with information, color and emotion…no problem. We have a great cast, a great DP and India is a great set!!

After a few hours at Panavision, we load up and head off into downtown LA! Steven and Allan take their leave at this point. By the way, they are great fun to hang with. I know I say that every time I see them…but it is true. We laugh a lot and that is what a tense crazy film set needs.

Anyway, off to who knows where…we end up on Ventura blvd. Abe pulls the camera out of my Element and off we go. He has David and Sunil walking down the Ventura Blvd at 5 pm on a Friday. Excellent!:) I love this. No permit, no worries. Just shoot what we need until the police tell us we can’t or we get everything…now that is the film making I am used to.

3.8.10 Monday
At work early. God willing we will be leaving here for India very soon. Again that is OUR plan, and we are fully open to God having another plan. We are not at all open to waiting without reason or twiddling our thumbs. It is time to go make this film…to go change our world through this medium…to go out into the world and again, God willing, put a face to this horrific issue that is slavery, sexual and otherwise and the Dalits of India. That is our mission…that is why we wrote this film. To make a noise…to bring light to a wrong and speak out about our brothers and sisters in India who are beaten and broken.

On a side note, did anyone watch the Oscars? It was pretty cool to see a woman win Best Director. First time it has happened and she certainly deserved it for this film. I actually worked with her [Kathryn Bigelow] on a film called Point Break with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. We had a pit bull…if anyone has seen the movie; there is a scene where Swayze’s character is being chased by Reeves character. They race down alleys and through houses. When Keanu races through one house, just as he clears the back door, he is hit chest level with a pit bull! Yes seriously. A pit bull is launched at his face. In the film he catches the dog and actually drop kicks it. What!? You might be saying, which is exactly what I thought when I heard that as well. Anyway, that was the scene as changed by the director on the day of the shoot. Mind you we had prepped an entirely different “action” [what the animal is set to do based on the script] for a few weeks before showing up on the set… a normal but annoying occurrence. Anyway, so here is the way we did that. I stood at the back door on a little platform that the construction guys built off the porch. I, depending on the take, would either throw the pit bull at Keanu or catch Keanu and the pit bull as my boss threw the dog at him. So picture this…we are set on the back porch…I am holding a 60 or so pound pit bull or waiting to catch an actor and not fall off the platform. Kathryn would yell action and Keanu would race through the house. We would get a count down on a walkie-talkie and then 3…2…1…throw the dog!!!! So either I would throw and hope for the best or catch and try not to fall. I specifically remember one take where I was catching the actor and Steve; my boss threw the dog so hard that it actually knocked Keanu off the porch and into me. I did save him from falling off the end of the platform…He was grateful. By the way, the dog loved this whole “getting thrown” at someone. He was barking and carrying on. He thought this was the greatest game ever invented…he was a super fun dog. Anyway that was one of my days on set…with a now Academy Award winning director. She was very nice by the way.

3.9.10 Tuesday
Last night Brent and I met and made some progress…we finally pulled the trigger on hiring a company to work with in India! Yee Haw. We are going with a company founded by a famous comedian in India. They will get us a permit and facilitate our production needs while shooting in India. That is very good news. Now, we can start to set dates and square things away. The prayer meeting last night was pretty cool as well. About the same number of people show up each month and almost the same faces as well. There are a few seriously committed and devoted people praying for this film…Bali, JP, Selvina and James…Brent’s folks…they are two amazingly special people who I am sure have no idea what to make of me owning a company with their son!! Brent and I are so different but yet complement each other. Brent’s dad Bill is a pillar of strength and has been an amazing advisor to Brent and I throughout this process. Bill and Gayle never stop praying, guiding and advising. They are incredibly special people whom I value and appreciate! Just another reminder that this is God’s project and Brent and I are grateful that He elected to use us to tell His story.

Lets see anything else??? We should get the film test footage back soon. I will keep you posted. I included some photos from the film test, as well as some video footage that I shot with my phone.

Be well and as always thanks for praying and reading.

J

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Director’s Update

2.24.10 Wednesday at 8:30pm

Just got great news from Brent, while out looking at a location where our friend, the bear (Nate Sousa) is getting married!! I agreed to shoot his wedding for him and needed to see the location…anyway Brent rang and said he got a very positive email from our guy in India. The email said he was working with the partner of a very famous actor in India and that he thought shooting the film in India would not be a problem!! This goes well with a conversation that Matthew had with Dr. D’souza regarding the same matter. He told Matthew that Udit Raj was meeting with the film commission people this week, and no one in the higher up ministries has a problem with our script! They see no reason why we should not be able to shoot the film in India. All great news and truly an answer to prayer…as Steven told us that if we had to move the location to Sri Lanka, we would not be able to afford to shoot the movie on film. Film is the only option now in my mind so that doesn’t work for me at all. So all in all, a great day as far as movement toward a resolution goes. Thank you Lord.

2.26.10 Friday morning 11:30am

Well, it has been a crazy 20 hours or so. I woke up in the middle of the night Thursday with the worst pain I have even felt!! I tried to endure it, but I felt like I actually might be dying…so I woke up Shannon and she immediately guessed it was a Kidney issue. She is so smart but that is another story….anyway that began a very long and painful 8 hours that entailed two trips to the emergency room via ambulance, some serious pain a couple of iv’s and multiple prescriptions for pain meds! Turns out a 4mm kidney stone can wreak havoc on ones body. I had always heard about kidney stones being likened to delivering a baby for a man. The one thing Shannon and I were most grateful for during this time, was that I was home here in the OC and not in India!! We had some great friends and family step up and watch the kids…we are so thankful for them! Seems odd, but Jessica tells me this brings us closer together…and you will be more interested in following the filmmaking journey if you connect with me on some level…if that is the case, then I will happily share my medical woes with whoever wants to read about them!

3.1.10 Monday

This past week has seen a lot of movement. No pun intended. Seems our permit is closer than ever thanks to a famous Comedian in India who wants to be involved. As I look back, this wait has only strengthened the project. The wait brought us to shoot on film, brought us to discover new locations that are much more cinematic – thanks Steven – the wait has given me much more time to pull apart every detail of the script and make sure it is where I want it to be. The wait has given Jessica much more time to strengthen our social media platform….see God does make all things work together for good.

So, I watched the Canada versus USA hockey game at Ron and Tina’s house yesterday…Wow! What an amazing game. Ron was sweating after USA tied it up with 24 seconds remaining, but Canada prevailed in the end. Ron and Tina… are two incredibly spectacular people who could use all of us to pray for them. They have some health struggles…a miracle [which we are all fully expecting and praying for, would be pretty cool right about now…so go to their website, check them out, send a note of encouragement… through our site here and we will be sure to pass it on to them. They could use it and would appreciate it for sure.

BTW I am now, thanks to Jessica, trying to twitter [tweet?] whatever the term is on a regular basis. So, if you want to learn some seriously random and useless info about me…what I might be doing…silly photos etc…that is the place!:)

Just got back from the doctors office…seems I have two more stones still in my kidney. Oh joy. The doctor assures me these will be nothing like the first one as they are smaller and should come with little to no pain…on what scale I wonder is he measuring the “pain??” I will let you guys know for sure. See this is WHY you read these blogs week after week right?

3.2.10 Tuesday

Just finished a meeting and lunch with Allan and Steven and Brent. It is always great to see those guys. I always bring up Steven’s father , being a student of film directors, and today was no different. We talked about him seeing a cut of the film Downhill Racer at George Lucas’ [yes THAT George Lucas] house before going skiing one year for his birthday! I love spending time with these guys. Steven always has incredibly stories about his father and growing up on film sets. We are still trying to sort out permit issues…I know, what a shock!!

Wednesday 3.3.10

Also talked to Abe about film test on Friday. Seems like it can work out after some tap dancing around the money issue and some creative work by Brent and me. We are good allies and great partners. He knows when I ask for something it is because I NEED it not because it is a toy or I want it. So he gets it for me. Period.

My wife Shannon, is more amazing than words when it comes to this project and not being able to plan our lives beyond two week stretches [that is how long we know it takes us to get our business visa’s once we get our permit] . I am guessing Elaine is doing the same thing on Brent’s end. Lucky for us we have pretty spectacular wives who are stunningly beautiful too!

So I will now forward this off to Jessica and Brent to proof and see what ends up staying and what ends up being cut. I tease them both… that when this is over I will want to publish my original blogs so people can see the difference. Jessica, I hope you are saving all of them!!:)

Thanks as always for reading and praying and remember God’s timing is perfect and He makes all things work together for our good.

J

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