The Harper Abbott band is back together! After taking a year off, I jumped back in to the 168 film project again this year with my good friends and Harper Abbott collaborators Christopher Wiegand and Meredith Adams. After a crazy memorial weekend dodging snakes and alligators we emerged with a brand new short film: Riva. Based on Mark 5:34, Riva tells the story of a homeless woman who, led by a mysterious compass, embarks on a perilous journey to find healing for her broken hands.
Now Hannah commanded the word of the microsoft to open saying "Arise, go and present to me a blank slate for me to create devotions that are pleasing to the Lord." But the word refused to arise and fled from the presence of Hannah. But Hannah hurled a mighty tempest upon the office so that the laptop threatened to break up. The other programs were afraid and each cried out to their own god. Then Hannah called down fire upon the laptop in the form of an angel from IT. And the other programs cried out in fear saying "Oh Hannah, let us not perish for this programs life. Lay not on us innocent blood, for you oh Hannah, have done as it pleases you." And Hannah had mercy on the other programs and ordered the the angel from IT to smite only the word of the microsoft from the laptop saying "I really need to get some work done, so can you please hurry up." So the angel of IT removed all traces of the word of the microsoft, and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the angel of the IT declared "fear not, for what was lost is now found and what was destroyed will now be rebuilt." And behold the angel of IT restored a new word of the microsoft, and there was much rejoicing. And the angel of IT declared the laptop good, saying "Behold, click and the word of the microsoft will be opened." And many devotions were written that day that were pleasing to the Lord.
All this week in San Antonio the SAICFF film academy is being held. I am not there personally, but I have been keeping an eye out on some of the live blogging coming out of the festival. There have been some great nuggets of wisdom, but for me the nugget that has stood out to me so far has been Steven Kendricks comments about pursuing excellence. You can follow the conference blog live at http://www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/default.aspx
Pursue a Vision Worthy of God
If there is one common thread throughout the Christian film industry from both consumers and film makers it's that Christian movies suck. Part of the problem that I see is that Christian film makers are scared to travel into new territory, worried that the gatekeepers who deliver their sanitized fare to the bleached masses will condemn their "edgy" film to some blacklisted purgatory. The result being that we get a whole bunch of recycled story types. We'll call the the Christian Movie Cliche.
The End Times Persecution Film
Sometime in the near future Christianity has become outlawed in the United States forcing the church underground. When some secret Christians are discovered and their parents/pastor are captured by the government they are forced to flee and hid out in the woods/ghetto/storm drain behind the directors house. There is always a "weak" one in the group who is not a "real" Christian but who gets saved as a result of their crisis. Bonus points if one of the Government soldiers gets saved too.
The Fantasy Allegory
the Lord of the Rings and Narnia films are great. You and your friends running around in the forest with your Renaissance fair costumes whacking each other with toy swords while the "director" chases you with his flip camera is not.
More to come...
This just popped up in my inbox this morning...
I am pleased to announce that STATIC has been nominated for the following awards in the Experience Studios Short Film Contest:
BEST ACTRESS (Morgan Alana Taylor)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Check this weeks On the Page podcast to hear myself and my writing partner Jason talking about writing for the faith-based market. Episode 239
This past month I was reading about the backlash over a filler found in most ground beef called "lean finely textured beef" or "pink slime". The stuff is basically made from the electronically separated bits of the cow carcass that are treated with ammonium gas to kill the germs. What is left is technically ground beef, but is not the most appetizing. If you don't believe me then take a look here
While I was driving home from work yesterday it suddenly occurred to me that Christian movies are just like pink slime.
1 - They both have been sanitized. I'm not sure where it happens in the film making process, but it seems that at some point every Christian film is washed in that cloud of ammonium gas. The result is something clean, sanitized and safe for the whole family to eat.
2 - They both don't look very appetizing - So you're at the multiplex on a Friday night with $10 burning in your pocket. Quick what do you go see? Fireproof or Eagle Eye? Courageous or Moneyball? October Baby or The Hunger Games? Hollywood knows how to sell the sizzle on their steak.
3 - They both suffer from bad public perception. "It's 100% beef" cry the pink slime manufacturers. Sure, but it looks gross. "It's a great movie for the entire family" yeah it may be 100% movie but that doesn't mean I want to consume it.
Great restaurants normally boil down to one thing, how good is the food. Serve up a big plate of pink slime enough times and your are out of business. The same way people don't go to a restaurant to eat an inferior meal, people don't want to go to the movies to watch an inferior film. People want to be entertained, to get lost in a story and its characters.
The best way to reach people with your film is to make it with excellence and integrity. Quality does still matter, and all that starts with a great story and not with a big steaming bowl of pink slime.
Just got back from a great long weekend in L.A. where we screened our short film "Static" at the 168 Hour Film festival. The film was very well received and our lead actress Morgan took home the award for best actress. I worked in a few extra days while out there to take in some meetings and networking events. It was interesting to hear the perspective from those those working inside the industry and hear their frustrations on the state of the industry. A few interesting points:
- The various networks and cable channels are still reducing the number of scripted shows. A movie channel that used to produce 30 of their own films are now only producing 12.
- The studio model of hiring writers to write and develop scripts is dying a slow death. If you are hoping to break in by writing studio films you are chasing an illusion.
The good news is that the opportunity to self produce and self distribute has never been better. Now is the time to make an independent feature, TV series, web show. Get something up online and get it noticed. It's like the wild west, no one knows the rules for new media because the market changes so quickly.
Writing spec scripts and trying to sell them to Hollywood is a waste of your time. If you want to be in the film industry then it's
A week from now I fly out to L.A. to premiere our new short film "Static" at the 168 film festival. We have been nominated for 10 awards at the festival including best picture. I also head this week that three other of my films have been accepted into festivals. "The Code" is an official selection at Houston Worldfest and "Clip" and "Delivered" are both official selections at the Bare Bones film festival in Oklahoma. That's four films at three different festivals all within three weeks of each other. When it rains it pours...
I am a screenwriter and a story teller. Jesus related to the culture of the day through simple stories that illustrated God's kingdom principles. My passion is to follow his example.