Monday, April 16, 2007

Behind the Clouds (Greatful Tuesdays #17)

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you for the face that’s looking at me right now, encouraging me to do what I said I’d do. (Not that giving thanks is hard, it’s just incompatible with apathy — my pastime of choice it seems.)

Thank you for friendship. God, do you feel like we recognize this brilliant design enough? I’m having trouble getting over the remarkablity of it: efficiency that would dazzle an engineer and beauty to render an artist speechless with wonder.

Thank you for the view outside my window right now. It’s mostly dark, but there still light in the sky, making the silhouette of a power line pole look striking. The movement of the clouds is beautiful also.

Thank you that I’ll be seeing The Queen of Arts and England is a few weeks. Thank you for allowing us the relationship we have and for how you have used it to grow me. Now that I think about it, since I’m so people-driven, it makes sense that you would use a person to point out things in my heart you want to change.

Thank you for being Emmanuel enough to even want to change me, to bring the real me, the me that was raised to life with your Son, into focus. Thank you for not being satisfied with a perception of me that is distorted by the blur of sin. Thank you for forgiving me and not listening to me when I resist your healing touch, the hard gift of restoration you bring.

God, humanity is messy. The design I was praising you for earlier is broken here on earth. People rub up against each other, we break. Things hurt badly. We hurt each other without knowing it. Thank you so much for those who are willing to forgive me for the damaging things I do, even without knowing it or asking for forgiveness.

God, I’m grateful for this time too. For the peaceful valley this is. God, people read these thoughts, but they don’t see how the last thing in the world I wanted to do a few minutes ago was sit down at this computer at focus on giving thanks to you.

Is there a moment when beauty cannot be found in your creation, God? The view out the window has changed. It’s dark enough that I don’t know whether or not, in another frame of mind, I would have given it a second thought, but it is still beautiful.

Thank you God, so much for the meal and conversation we were able to have with the guy at Taco Bell the other day. I don’t really like Taco Bell that much, but I like it much better since we were able to share about you with someone we just met. Thank you for orchestrating that time. I would love to meet and talk with him again.

God, thank you for driving lessons this morning and for Jim. Thank you for the gift of learning. It’s embarrassing to be learning such basic thing at this age, but I’m grateful that it’s happening anyway. I know that I need what Jim’s teaching.

God, forgive me for my hard heart, for missing all the things I could be singing your name for. Peel away my blindness, and open my eyes to the colors and light of your world. Thank you for the thousands of other things I haven’t written here, that I could have. Allow me to fall in love with you.

In Jesus’ name,


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Special Screening (Season Two!)

Welcome to Breaking Free, season two of Pirates! (What am I talking about? Click here to find out.) Well, when we last left our pirate friends, the Man in the Sombrero had been vanquished and the treasure found: All seemed well. But little did Johnny and Roger know that they had a whole new season of adventures before them! Seven whole episodes in fact! Our unfortunate pirate friends are about to be plunged into situations they never could have imagined, to encounter more strange and (sometimes) frightening characters then you can count without removing your shoes and socks, and they are going to find out and that things aren't always what they seem...

... and they might just learn some lessons about forgiveness too. That happens a lot, actually.

... Oh yeah, and flashback to their childhood. That happens once or twice too. Oh, and eat strange things. They seem to do that a lot.*

Okay, on to episode one:

Pirates: Breaking Free Episode 1

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Okay, I confess, this is one of the lamer endings for a Pirates! movie. We get better at the cliff-hanger endings later, I promise. Fascinating, behind-the-scenes information: Some might find it interesting to note that we actually had this whole season (roughly) planned out before we began shooting; this meant we could have plot twists! Plot twists are fun! And since we had the season's skeleton in place, we were able to devote our energy to filling in the details of each episode, which proved to be a wonderful way to work.

My favorite part of this episode is (I think) when a black screen and a loud bang end the visual and auditory chaos at the very beginning. Oh, and when we first see the guards, of course. To me it's a little like something from Firefly.

Breaking Free Episode 2

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Oh my! What will become of our pirate friends now? Be sure and stayed tuned...


*Trivia note: See if you can spot what Johnny is doing when The Man in the Sombrero pushes him over in episode seven of the first season. It's funny. Really.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Special Screening (Season One)

I'm a part of film team at our church, and, over the past couple of months, we have been able to make a series of videos for our church's kids' club. Since the kid's club is pirate-themed, each week we follow the adventures of two brothers and their life as aspiring pirates. These videos have been on my mind a lot recently, not only because they have occupied more of my time than any video project I've ever done, but because this has been one of the biggest learning experiences -- and pleasures -- of my (admittedly short) life as a filmmaker.

However, despite the large part of my heart that these characters occupy, many of my friends haven't been able to keep up with the episodes. I think this is partially due to the willy-nilly organising of our MySpace page. So I thought I'd make things easier by hosting a little screening of what amounts to a literal mini-series, here on my blog.

Before we start, know that, in presenting these videos here, I am not trying to say they approach any kind of perfection. I am simply sharing part of my life with you. The primary audience for these videos was made up of four-to-eight-year-olds. If you enjoy these films, that's a happy bi-product — though admittedly not one entirely unplanned or unhoped for. With that said, let's begin.

Since this is really about my involvement with the series, let's start where I come in: Season one, episode five. But first a little back story: Two brothers, Johnny and Roger pack up and leave home in search of buried treasure, armed with only their swords and a map. After acquiring a pair of boats and spending a few days on the open sea, they lodge at an inn where their map is stolen. The pirates now are loosing hope of ever finding the treasure. When we catch up with our heroes in episode five, Johnny has fallen sick due to some unwise recreational activities and Roger must face unimaginable horrors to bring him back to good health.

Pirates Episode 5

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Behind the scenes: Up to this point (episode five) I wasn't actually involved with these movies. The cast and crew were three total, and poor Jeremy (Roger) had the hard task of directing from in front of the camera. This was the first movie I had made after my experience of working on a (somewhat) professional film set, and I think that affect my working style. I was more driven and focused than in the past, and, because I had been away from the director's chair for so long, I had a lot of energy. Which made filming this a very fun experience.

For this episode the actor who plays Johnny was sick in real life, and (this shows you how far we are from Hollywood) his mom wouldn't let him film outside. This is why he is in a house for the whole episode. Well, almost the whole episode; we cheated for the flashback footage (which, by the way, is my favorite part of movie).

Okay, on to episode six! (One of my all-time favorites, almost solely because of the two characters it introduces.)

Pirates Episode 6

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Sir Reginald represents my second time doing voice work for one of my own movies (the first being in this film). The magic pig is played admirably by my pig Babe (in a transgender role — not really unusual for the DOA). This episode contains one of the only true cliff hanger endings in this whole series, something we because much more comfortable in the next season.

Okay, go get some snacks or something or take a bathroom break if you need to, 'cause we're about to move on to the last episode of this season.

Pirates Episode 7

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This episode is unique in that it features our first use of sword sound effects (notice the absence in Johnny and Roger's sword fight from episode six) and was edited entirely by Jeremy (not twelve hours after filming wrapped, I was on a plane to Tennessee). Here I begin to shed my fear of doing what other people have already done: The mixed-up-door device in the chase scene here has been used many times before, but the kids watching it still loved it. There's nothing like having a actual, tangible audience in mind to render certain critics (the ones in your head) silent.

As we leaving this special screening, remember what Abraham Lincon once said: "To me, this is humor: People throwing pigs at people. Ladies and gentlemen... that is real comedy."

Thank you for watching. I'll see you here soon for season two.

Monday, April 09, 2007

These are fun to make (I wish I could include more questions, though)...

(I don't know why this big ugly box is here: just scroll down a little bit. Oh, and highlight the word in the search portal then push "enter" when you're done with the quiz to get your results.)

My Quiz


Question #1:



My favorite movie is Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.

Question #2:

I like to draw flowers and animals on my socks.

Question #3:

I have been to about twenty countries.

Question #4:

I respond promptly to all letters and emails.