Here are two great links for authors and screenplay writers to follow in creating meaningful stories. Each enforces itself with the visual as well, though in varying forms, so take your pick of preference:
Just before summer started, I observed a boy of 8-9 years of age searching for a prize so energetically that I had to stop my typical hurried walk from my car to the office and watch.
The sun cast a yellow glow that day, and the shadows were long. There, on the edge of an empty parking lot, a young boy had removed himself from the passenger seat of his parent’s car and was stalking a small creature. His actions were nervous and full of life, extraneous, and swelling as he approached the tiny target. There was no little movement, for the rise of a leg also caused his head to bend back and his arms to fly outward. Steps progressed, and then, as he neared his target, he magically shrunk and was extremely still. Only two small hands protruded from what had become an orb, and these would joust forward, then halt and retreat, joust, then halt and retreat. This occurred several times. The boy’s head then turned toward the vehicle nervously, seeking maternal encouragement. A few words came from inside. Silent. Fidgety. Then, with all the speed he could muster, the boy struck – both hands straight down onto the dew-moistened earth, hands covering where his prize once rested. Silent. Still. Anticipation rose as our lad scooped his hands together, shot his torso from the ground, and looked for his new little captive.
Jumping up and down, running around the car, arms went every which way. How could he have missed? He must win, he must!
Just then, the target came back into view from several feet away, and the process was repeated. Big steps, small orb,… This time, as his hands struck and then rose from the earth the animal remained within a gentle grasp. The celebration started as the boy hurried with his prize to the driver’s side of the white auto. The door flung open and this wild creature became a member of the family, for it was about to make the journey in a plastic looking case. The boy’s fingers now free, he jumped and danced with arms flailing – the touchdown dance moved several times around the vehicle. Ecstatic! This continued for several minutes. Finally, our young man wiped his hands on his pant legs and jumped into the seat from where he started. The car started and continued its journey the rest of the way to school.
Funny thing, I saw this story happen nearly three months ago, and I thought I must write about it. As a director, it was a great observation of childhood behavior with strong motivation. Time passed and I forgot. This morning I was pleasantly surprised as the story repeated itself when I pulled my car to a stop about a 100 yards from the same boy, now a bit taller, on the edge of a distant parking lot.
I ran inside, and here I sit recollecting my thoughts. I couldn’t let the story pass me once again! Now you, as a reader, have been able to participate in this brief occurrence. At the same time, I also bring this story with a challenge… What prize are you seeking? I’m too old, or too busy, or ______ (fill in the blank)! It’s strange how we admire the energy of a child in a case such as the story above, but isn’t it so true that in our adult lives we seem to have given up living when we settle for merely existing at a level of mediocrity and not pursuing those things that God has built us to do? What’s the risk? What are the rewards? Is the journey worth it?
Personally, I don’t want to settle, and though it’s hard to keep from doing so because there are so many who have succumbed to “hum-drum,” I very much want to be alive – being willing to maybe look a little foolish with youthful enthusiasm as I seek for the prize and claim what’s in store. Don’t give up on your God-given dreams.
Every year, thousands head to Los Angeles, CA with the hopes of becoming icons for the film industry. Those that are in the mix will you tell you it’s certainly not as easy as one would think. Overnight success is a rarity, and very few find the gleaming lights of public notoriety and stardom. If one wants to navigate properly through the maze of connections he or she can find help from those who have already found some success in the business.
Enter, Hollywood Connect. Hollywood Connect (HC) exists to “[equip] creative artists and professionals to thrive personally and professionally in the arts, media, and entertainment industries” (HC website). HC hosted a well-attended Q&A with Mr. Mark Atteberry recently, and in this gathering, Shun Lee Fong led discussion and then fielded several questions from the audience to get Mark’s responses. I took notes feverishly and thought to share the wisdom – with Mark’s approval, of course. Read more…
I was fortunate to work with fellow creatives at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida to create an eye-catching backdrop for a recent conference, specifically, handling the lighting aspect. Jonathan Malm (twitter: @jonathanmalm) posted a great article regarding the project on his website, Church Stage Design Ideas.
I ran across a great podcast/audio blog post on JohnAugust.com regarding cutting pages in the screenwriting process and thought to take notes on it for those who prefer the reader’s digest version.
Most screenwriters spend their days creating multiple pages, adding them up until they find out that they have so much more to tell beyond their typical/average 120 page (feature-length) allotment. Likewise, for television, guidelines are tighter, since time constraints for each episode are impassable. Obviously, the tempo is important, Read more…
It was an honor to work with a California team this year on the 168 Film Project as Executive Producer. Beyond this, I was able to fill in behind the scenes taking both photo an video, editing, and managing special FX. Here’s a brief overview of our week.
ARRIVAL: Producer Christopher Shawn Shaw met me at LAX, & from there we headed North to stay in Simi Valley, which would be our home base for 5 nights (until Tuesday morning). Prior to this point, Thor Ramsey and Torry Martin wrote our script and most legwork had been done on securing our locations and actors, etc.
DAY 1: Leaving about 7:30 am Friday, February 17, we headed to Redlands, CA, about a two-hour trek. Me, I always enjoy the mountains – a huge contrast from Florida – so the terrain helped the trip to go more quickly than I would have thought. At this point, I assumed an additional role for most of the production days – chauffeur to Mr. Shaw. This allowed him a little less stress as he thought through each shoot. As a producer, it’s critical to keep your director’s mind fresh.
I’m not sure exactly how I came across Jon Reid’s blog, and I find his statements sometimes challenging, repulsive and crude, or sometimes even both at the same time. He seems to be a muckraker of sorts in the matter of Christianity, and I think every generation needs one or two. It helps us to see where we are and challenges our thinking so that we can further solidify our stance. Those who fear such things (setting aside new converts to Christianity) likely prefer to be blind, segregated, and likely unwilling to consider change for the good anyway.
Leaving that topic, I saw the video on his page that really spoke to me, cuz I’m a creative. I like to do things off the cuff. I like freedom to dream and to make dreams happen – to experiment with just about anything that you put in front of me. I don’t like numbers unless they are calculations for the use of keyframes in Adobe After Effects. And while I enjoy order, I like to bend it a bit. Yeah, I am the right-brained guy who comes up with the occasional off-the-wall statement in a staff meeting when discussion gets too dry (ho-hum), but I can also turn a basic concept or spark of thought into something that people will talk about for a long time after.
Here’s where I think that Jon is on the money: Read more…
Most anyone who produces anything (books, videos, toys, cars) can tell you the three major forces that are constantly tugging at each other: Cost, Time, and Quality. Essentially, you can pick two of these items, but the third will be pulled from the sum of the other two. For instance, if I choose to do a quickly done project with high quality, I should expect to pay more for it. Similarly, choosing to go on a reduced budget within a short timeframe, I should expect to find a sacrifice in quality. The opposite is true if I choose a high budget and a longer production time – quality will certainly go up.
For some time I’ve prided myself in the fact that I’ve been able to still provide quality in spite of a lack of time or funding in most of the productions that I’ve been asked to produce. However, in taking a closer look at the three pulls, they do little to recognize the intrinsic value of the artist(s) involved in the project. Let me explain. Read more…
A few months ago, Sony followed three film students from the United Kingdom as they competed for the best edit of a trailer for the film, “Priest.” Of these, Mr. Joshua Sanger stands triumphant. You can see details and read my critique of each of their edits in the competition here. Just recently, I learned that Joshua is about set for his awaited venture to Sony Studios where he will be fortunate to meet top execs and to observe daily activities at the studio. For many young filmmakers, this is a dream come-true, or maybe better, a dream getting ready to begin. Even though I won’t be there, I took some time to think about items that I would do if I were Joshua. Here are my thoughts (in both serious and entertaining ventures)…
Questions to ask:
- Economy has had an impact on filmmaking over the last few years. How has that affected your decision-making process? What criteria do you consider to determine if a film will be successful in theaters?
- What are the top qualities you look for in up-and-coming producers and directors? Are there any personality traits you’ve seen that stand out?
- How were you (speaking to execs) able to find your way through the ranks to get to your position? Was it chance timing, planned effort, or others with vision that helped you through?
- To the budding filmmaker who thinks he/she has what it takes, what is one piece of advice you would give them to follow if they are going to be successful?
- What is Sony’s vision/goal for creating entertainment? Is a sense of vision important? How does your vision impact day-to-day activities for both yourself and employees?
- What do you do that separates you from other film studios, and how is that niche maintained?
- What is your favorite film to go out in the past 3 years?
- What future films are in the works that you are really looking forward to seeing in the theaters?
Things to Do:
- Walk of stars (of course!)
- In-depth tour of Sony Studios and production work (a free-be this time).
- Hollywood & Beverly Hills Tour
- Try a couple west coast fast food locations: In and Out Burger and Jack-in-a-Box and review your experience.
- I’d really entertain spending some time with some everyday employees, too, since they are the backbone of the company. Consider having a pizza party with a group of grips or spending some time with some editors to find out how they’ve gotten to where they are.
- If you really get bored, then find some time to shoot and then edit yourself into a scene from the upcoming ‘Amazing Spiderman,’ climbing a wall or something.
Challenges (on a not-so-serious note, but might still be worth trying):
- Rent an exotic sports car and cruise down Mulholland Drive. Consider a call to Top Gear (USA or UK) or Jay Leno to see if they can match your time through the bends. Otherwise, maybe you can challenge Will Smith, but he has to wear a suite from a Men in Black film.
- Try to find and pull a yellow brick from stage 27.
- Measure Stage 15 with toothpicks. How many would be used around its perimeter? (Stage 15 happens to be the second largest sound stage in the world. It was used
- Climb to the top of the Sony Studios water tower and repel back to the ground.
- Attempt to find an open office and move your stuff into it. After you’ve done that, find me one and set it up for my arrival.