Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Writing Experiences//New Methods

Hey all you CCMers! (past, present, and future.)

Nathan here, (graduated CCM August 2008) and I just wanted to share a recent experience with you all for a few reasons: 1) It might be beneficial to you , and, 2) You might have some feed back that is beneficial to me! 'Cause thats what this blog is all about right?

So, if you've been following my twitter or rapidly updating facebook status (via twitter) then you know that last week I wrote a movie script for a start up company in Michigan called Atlas Films. Go ahead, google them, but like I said they're start up and in the process of getting scripts for their first couple of movies so you probably won't find much. Anyways, I sent them my resume as a writer and they took a look at the volume of stuff I was able to handle, told me that since I didn't have a movie under my belt they couldn't pay me in advance for a script but if I turned in a script to them and they decided to take it off my hands it'd be worth at least $3,000, maybe up to $7,000. So I was like, sure! Why not right? I figure, worst case scenario I'll learn a lot about myself, my writing, and I'll always be able to say, "Yes, I can and have written a full length movie script." And then best case scenario, they buy my script and I come on board with them to make a movie I wrote! So yeah, I did it.

After talking with Doug yesterday I told him I'd write a blog up about my writing experience and tell you guys how I pumped out a 99 page rough draft in five days. Here is the rundown of days:

Monday: Established premise. Revisited some characters I had taken notes on in an old journal. Freewrite for 33 pages. (I downloaded the Dark Knight script a week or so before, studied how it was formatted and did my best to stick as close to Final Draft formatting with Word.)

Tuesday: Brianfart day. I had killer writing block. I didn't write a page that day. I went to a friend's house and we stayed up really late talking the story over and I started making some note card "story blocks". <--talk more about that later.

I went home and got out a huge stack of note cards. I revisited my premise, streamlined my characters based on my freewrite, added a few needed characters, and then wrote appoximately 25 what I'll call "story blocks" with bulletpointed story beats/scenes. One story block per note card. Around 6pm I started re-writing the script and hit the sack around 6:30am with 51 pages finished.

Thursday: After about six hours sleep I popped out of bed, jumped on the computer with coffee in hand and wrote from about 12:00pm to 6:30am all over again. 91 pages total at this point.

Friday: Not so much sleep this time, work up a few hours later and started my one and only shot at a readthrough/edit. So from like 10:30am-10:00pm I re-read/re-wrote/edited my script, finishing with 99 pages and a few notes for expansion along the way that I didn't have time to do. At approximately 10pm I sent the script off to the email I had been given.

Brutal? Yeah, you bet! But I still remember thinking even as I wrote it, "Wow, I'm writing more and probably better content than I ever wrote at CCM! How is this happening?" Well, I knew the answer but it was just hard to believe because I'd never tried my "story block" method before and as soon as I used it (out of desperation I might add) something clicked in my brain and I was able to knock out an enormous task in a fairly ridiculous time frame...sound familiar CCM?

Anways, the main purpose of this post is to tell you guys about "story blocking". That's my name for it so if it has an official name that I don't know feel free to correct me. Oh, and just by way of disclaimer this may not work for everyone. It worked really well for me but that's all I can really vouch for it.

So! Here we go. Story Blocking: mapping out an entire story using note cards.

Growing up reading books, comic books, and listening to crazy music that always has some clever title for each chapter or section of the story it was telling, it made sense to me to think ahead in the story and name large chunks of it with one phrase that might include several story beats and even more scenes. Sometimes the story block was more vivid in my mind and needed less note card description and sometimes I needed to map out specifically front and back with bulletpoints guiding me through the scene to make sure it was going to work and accomplish what it needed to accomplish. Below is an example:

In this way I was able to name a block of the story, "Prom Plans" and then knock out that section of the script, beat by beat, scene by scene, with important details noted. Sometimes a good line would come to me and I'd write it or an abreviation of that line down as a bullet point since I knew in my head where I wanted it to go and what I wanted it to accomplish. I guess the real important thing about "method" is that it WORKS! If something doens't work for you don't do it. If something does work, then screw what your "supposed" to do and do your thing.

*Quick tangent: Every great writer and artist has learned the rules and then uniquely broke them to let loose their genius. So yes, learn all the rules you can...but when it comes down to GETTING SOMETHING DONE, do what you have to.

By the time I was finished with my story blocking I had about 25 usable story blocks...

And a whole pile of blocks I was able to re-word, re-work, or cut out to make the story work better...

All in all, my movie was this big...


1) We don't edit linearly so why should we assume to write and think linearly when it comes to a story? Story blocking allows you to take the initial inspiration for a story, craft that block, craft another block that you think might work well with the first one...and then later realize that you need to put about 5-10 blocks of story in-between those. But what you haven't done is gotten caught up on "the next detail" and therefore stopped your overall story from developing. Huge time saver!

2) Allows you to see what works, what doesn't work, what has to happen, and what can be cut before you ever sit down in front of a blank document.

3) You never have to worry about where you're going. It's like google maps for your story. All your twists and turns are mapped out ahead of time and you just have to write your way through them. Or imagine it like this: You've made a mold and now you have to fill it up with words. All the boundaries are set in place, do whatever you want in the middle, just fill up the mold.

4) With well crafted note-card-story-blocks you could architect an entire story or stories and then pass them off to someone else to write. A CCM producer's dream ;) Oh, and p.s. I later found out that this is what Christopher Nolan did, passing off an enormous stack of note cards to his brother Jonathan Nolan to pen The Dark Knight. So I'm reassured to find out that this isn't some half-baked thing that worked on a fluke. These guys arguably made the best movie this year using this method to collaborate.

5) It's fun!

I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you guys about all-nighters but I will say that knowing where you going in a script when it's 3am is a lot more fun than not knowing where your going in a script at 3am and staring blankly at your screen, frustrated and tired, a deadline bearing down on you.

Well, that about sums up this ginormous post. Hit me up with comments yo!


Oh! and before people ask: If the script gets picked up and I do a final draft, yes of course you can read it. If not then I'm going to chalk this whole thing up as a great learning experience and tuck that bad boy away.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

CCM Grad in Mumbai during Terrorist Attacks

CCM Grad - Season Caldwell (August '07) has been answering the calling on her life NON-STOP since graduating from CCM.

Even before she completed her time at CCM... Season seemed to be rooted, as a Director of Photography, in international missions and story telling. During her time as a CCMer she traveled to: South Africa, Scotland, England, Netherlands, and Guatemala. (Not to mention countless locations all over the United States.)

Season is an AWESOME D.P.!!

I'm so proud of her. She is both talented & skilled AND she is a great spiritual leader!!

For the past several months she has been working with a missions organization in Mumbai, India... coming and going between the states and India. As timing would have it... Season WAS in Mumbai during the recent terrorist attacks. I might add that makes it "God's Timing."

Within an hour of the beginning of the attacks I caught drift of what was going on. First through TWITTER then I began following the news.

Gail and I immediately thought of Season and began praying for her and all those working with her. I tried to get a hold of her... but several hours went by before we heard anything.

Eventually we knew had not been hurt during the initial attack. She had been outside of the city and was making her way back .

What follows is an account of her journey.

These are the sights and sounds of coming face to face with terrorism:


Journal Entry
Mumbai Terror Attacks
Season Caldwell

Written November 27, 2008 at 11:08 pm in Bandra, Mumbai…
Maharashtra, India.

Thinking of the events of last night, beginning around 9pm yesterday
evening, Wednesday, Nov. 26th.

Yesterday is certainly a day I will remember. Several people have
asked me to journal about it, so this is my account of the events of my
day (only from my knowledge and perspective. I was not at the
locations at the time of attack).

My day on Wednesday began very early, awaking at 3:30am and
heading out at 4 am. It was a long day and a long drive ahead, as we
were visiting and documenting some of our organizations water well
projects south of Mumbai. I was present in order to capture footage of
all that we saw, good and bad, need and fulfillment. After something
like 9 hours in the car with a few stops on the way, we began to reach
our water projects. We went from site to site, getting the necessary
footage and still pictures for documentation, talking with people in
various villages. Everything was going pretty well.

Back home, unbeknownst to us, or at least to me, my boss, his wife,
and their 8-year old son were in downtown Mumbai… Colaba area.
This is a busy spot for foreigners and Mumbaikers alike, and we have
gone countless times. They were shopping for Christmas presents
until around roughly 7 pm, at which point they did not feel up to
continue in Colaba and got in the family car and began the usual
traffic-jammed drive home. Our family driver parks our car just feet
away from the Taj hotel every time we go to town. This trip would be
no different. The Weehunts were among some of the last people in
Colaba before terrorists arrived. (**it has now been found out that
the terrorists had arrived by this time, went to eat at Leopold’s cafĂ©
and were somehow delayed in starting their attacks. Had they been
on time, my boss’ family could have been right in the midst of the

House = where we live
X = general area of attacks

The distance is about a 30 minute drive without heavy traffic.
Anyways, back to our car in Kolhapur villages, about 7 hours away.
We began our drive home around 6pm, and expected not to reach
home for 6 hours, at least. We stopped for some McDonald’s after a
while. Soon after our stop, calls began coming in to a Mumbaiker
friend and coworker, Mark, and my boss’ eldest daughter (my boss’
family has lived in Mumbai and Texas, back and forth every year, for
about 16 years now). The people on the phone are saying there have
been “gang shootings” at the Taj and other places in town, but we
were very gray on the details. My first thought was only that some
crazy people had gotten hold of a couple guns and started shooting
people. Didn’t seem too much cause for alarm. As more and more
calls began pouring in, we got the idea that this could be a serious

As we continued driving home, something strange happened. Along
the highway, we saw flames ahead. We continued and could now see
it was a Goods Carrier truck up in flames that had collided with a
smaller car. A loud pop burst right as we pulled next to it, and we
pulled over once we had passed it to see if they needed anything. I
pulled out my camera and took a few seconds of footage in reportermode.
Though we knew this was completely unrelated to the attacks
happening in the city, I suddenly realized that things were out of
control. That something I didn’t understand was happening...
Something I may not be able to keep myself safe from. A pretty
frightening feeling struck me at that moment. At this point, things
became spiritual for me. In that car we prayed for peace, for safety of
the innocent... I realized that this city, and so many places like it
around the globe are in the midst of intense spiritual warfare.

The car and truck up in flames on the side of the road. [unrelated to
terrorist attacks]

More phone calls, more news… they are targeting foreigners, they are
firing AK47s at the train station, they are taking hostages in at least 3
locations. We were told not to come home that night. After a long,
rough day of travel and Indian village roads, that is not what we
wanted to hear. For a long while, I suspected that as soon as we
made it to Lonavala, a town 2 hours out of the city, that everything
would be under control and they would let us come home. But that
didn’t happen. Instead, things escalated.

Constant calls, constant checking on friends and family… I had a phone
but didn’t need to use it, as I am a guest of the family I work for here.
I sit and listen and do what I’m told and that is all I can do right now…

We made it to Lonavala, two hours outside of the city where our
ministry has an orphanage (Thank God for a safehouse!). We
confirmed we would stay the night, took showers, talked, Christie took
several more calls, and we were off to sleep, as it was now past 1am
on Nov. 27th. There was nothing we could do but pray and sleep. This
time may have been the height of my fear. I was even feeling a bit
nauseous and restless, having a hard time going to sleep. Even if I
felt fear, I knew we were really quite safe here. I knew all the kids in
our orphanage were right next door with their house parents, sleeping
soundly. Twelve wonderful children that I love so much… Twelve
children that I would protect at all cost. No one could lay a hand on
those kids while I’m around, I thought. I realized that whatever fear I
had for my own safety went away when I thought of those kids. I
would have no problem dying to keep them safe, I thought… and with
that I fell asleep and slept incredibly peacefully that night.

I woke up the next morning, Nov. 27th, Thanksgiving Day. Last year I
was in India on Thanksgiving, and we had gotten stuck in Goa for the
night, 10 hours out Mumbai. I guess I’ve started a tradition of being
stuck away from home on Thanksgiving! It was quite a blessing to be
there at our orphanage on this day, as I got to see all the kids and hug
and squeeze them a little. They didn’t know what had been going on
in the city… All I heard was “Season Didi, my birthday was last month!
Season Didi, will you be here for Christmas?” And that is all I wanted
to hear from them.

I was shocked to find out that things had not been taken care of yet
back in the city. In fact, new things were happening. We awaited the
“ok” to return home to Mumbai. Seeing that the problems seemed to
be confined to areas a bit south of our destination, it was approved for
us to venture quickly home, and we loaded up our stuff in the car. It
seemed that our poor driver had spent the night in the driver’s seat.
We are very blessed to have such good drivers here. We added to our
numbers, taking two of the American teachers from the orphanage
with us to the city, since they had to come to town by the next day
and did not think it was wise to take a public bus under the
circumstances. Five white American girls, one Anglo-Indian man, and
our Indian driver in one car, heading into the “war zone.” Since they
were targeting Westerners, all of us girls took out our shawls and
covered our heads, so as to be a little less obvious. Of course we had
fun with it, taking pictures of us looking so silly.

The youngest daughter of my boss, Hannah, got a text message on
her phone from some government thing that had the license numbers
of 2 police vehicles that had been stolen by the terrorists and
reportedly were heading out of the city. My eyes were peeled for cop
cars, but I didn’t even see one on the way home. Should I have been
disturbed that I didn’t see even one cop car all the way home?

As we got quite close to town, I spotted an army truck full of men in
green camo. One, then another, then a weapons truck, then at least
five more trucks full of soldiers. We saw them taking the road into
town, and we continued straight. I was very glad not to be heading
the same direction as these trucks.

We arrived home very shortly after and I realized how fast our driver
had been going the whole way. We were home in record time! He
must have been a bit frightened. We quickly unloaded our things and
walked up the 7 flights of stairs to our flat. I walked in that door
almost exactly 24 hours ago and I haven’t set foot out yet, and I won’t
until tonight only to go up to the roof terrace for Hannah’s 18th
birthday party celebration. We had to cancel the lighting and music,
as it’s not a good time or place to cause a big scene.
We are constantly watching the news and checking in with people,
updating facebooks for our family and friends back home. It’s still not
over! We pray for those still being held hostage, for those still hiding
in their hotel rooms, for the wounded. We hear of a friend saving the
Maternity Ward of the Hospital after coming face-to-face with some of
the terrorists and then locking the bullet-proof doors on the floor
above. New stories are always coming in, some happy, many sad. At
one point, my boss was phoned by a good friend who takes care of
children living in the Red Light District of Bombay. He had been
hearing shots where he was. As we prayed for them, I could hardly
keep it together and tears began to fill my eyes. Surely more than
anyone, this man and these children deserved safety.

Even now as I’m writing this “account” 38 hours and 22 minutes after
it all started, new firing is being reported at both hotels (the Taj and
the Oberoi) and the Nariman house. The footage on TV is showing
cops and/or special forces crouched and hiding behind cars and fences,
and windows are blown out of cars and the buildings. We are all
shocked this is still going on and wishing to know what we should do.
Still this fear of the unknown is inside of me. If I knew it would stop
at this, I would be okay… but we live in a part of town that has many
foreigners, so we just don’t know what might happen next. Too many
unanswered questions… mobile phones that were used by hostages in
the Taj are being found in towns hours away from where they were
used last night… a bomb was discovered in the train station just
minutes before it was set to go off... there were supposedly 5 bombs
placed in city taxies, but only one went off… where are the other 4?
And police don’t carry guns here? What?! It’s just chaos.

December 2, 2008
It has all been over for 3 or 4 days now, so we headed in to town
today to survey the scene and interview friends who run shops that we
frequent. Through all these events, through having conversations with
Indians here, and spending time to think on my own, I have realized a
few things.

1. Fear is the terrorists’ greatest weapon. It keeps people in
burning rooms. They hope chaos and confusion will also spread
fear. We should not give in to this fear. The Word says that
“The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the

2. Terrorists who have been planning attacks are set in their minds
to kill. They do not care to discern between grown men and
children (terrorists reportedly gunned down a woman holding a
baby, then shot the baby). Also, they go out ready to die in the

3. We may fear the unknown in scary times, but that is when we
must cling to what we do know, that Our God will never leave
us… No terrorist is any challenge to God. Our battle is spiritual,
not natural.

4. Terrorism could happen anywhere at anytime. It would be
wishful thinking to say that there are no terrorists left in this
city. The truth is, they could be anywhere. If God has called us
to go somewhere, fear should not be the thing that stops us. A
Peacemaker has no work left to do in an already peaceful place.
(My sister, her husband, and another co-worker of mine are
flying in to Mumbai tomorrow, Dec 6th. We haven’t changed our
trip plans!)

5. There were so many men involved in planning and executing this
attack (reported to likely be Al-Quaeda), and they devised
intricately, studying hotel maps and roads, the fastest way from
here to there, etc. What great lengths these men have gone to
cause evil and darkness… it begs the question to me, are we
going to great enough lengths to bring good and light?

This is Leo’s six days after the attacks… My absolute favorite food in
India is upstairs in this restaurant. We shortly interviewed one of the
managers. There were at least 3 bullet holes in the upstairs windows
we would sit by.

Gordon House first floor is All Stir Fry restaurant, just a very short
walking distance from the Taj hotel. A restaurant we frequent and had
just visited about a week prior to attacks. When we returned to eat on
Dec 2nd, we were the only ones there besides the full staff (not usual
at all), and a manager told us that they had had 30 dinner guests on
the night of the attack, all of whom were forced to stay the night

In front of Metro Cinema, there was a drive-by attack by terrorists who
had stolen police vehicles. Across the street from this theater is my
Indian home church, Metro Church. Footage from this part of the
attack is quite disturbing, as an AK47 takes down a whole line of

Above is the Taj hotel 6 days after the attacks. It doesn’t look so
messy here, but it burnt for over 24 hours.

One of the windows burnt out in the old wing of the Taj.

Memorials at the Taj.

memorials at the Taj.

Memorials at the Taj.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

CCM Professional Encounter to Hollywood - About to get Underway!

CCM is embarking on what is sure to be an amazing part of growing this production company and internship!!

Beginning tomorrow... CCM goes west!

Keep up with the Professional Encounter as it unfolds on a blog published to share the heart of the CCM'ers as they learn, grow and experience immersion into the world of real film & television production!

Check it out:

The CCM Professional Encounter Blog

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rediscovering - SEAWIND!!!

It come out of the recesses of my mind.
The memories.
The music.

Actually it was triggered by a conversation with one of my best friends in the world: Alex Palermo. We were room mates in college... we shared a love for God and a love for music. (Him... songwriter/keys. Me... trumpet/drums.)

We were really into Jazz.

One of our favorite groups was SEAWIND. Rock solid on every front.
They a message. They sent The Message.

They may be old school... but their music still stands!!!

I don't know of anyone TODAY who is doing what they did THEN.

Enjoy some SEAWIND right here...

I can't share vinyl (yes, I still have those) over the web... But I can share the vibe:

Jazz artists with The Message. Man I miss these guys.

Ah yeah...

Keep it coming... Great times... Great vibe


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 7

And... that's a WRAP!

When the night is over... and the broadcast has faded to black... it's a job well done!!

Long hours... butterflies in the stomach (oh... but God was in control the entire time... so those nerves were just the edge everybody needed to stay sharp! Nothing more)... professional growth that is off the chart... and, a program ready for the world to see!!

May God use it all for His glory!!

It's hard to fully explain what happens during these CCM productions. So much goes down in such a short, but concentrated period of time.

The thing that amazes me the most (every time!) is just how much each PROFESSIONAL on the CCM team gains by doing this. (That's right... in my eyes each CCMer is not an intern... they are a PROFESSIONAL) The learn, perform, and grow like any professional I have every worked with out in Hollywood!

It shouldn't work the way it does. (a team full of inexperienced folks)
It shouldn't result in a REAL, PROFESSIONAL, BROADCAST-ABLE 15 hours of event. BUT IT DOES!! It does because we are blessed... It does because all of the CCMers are willing, flexible, teachable, and dedicated.

Oh... they relax at the end of the night too!
Check it out: (And meet some more of the team)

So that's it from Hamilton!!

Keep checking back here for the exact broadcast dates in December.
I'll let you know the times as soon as I get them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 6

And now...

Another clip of what will actually be shown on air!

A peek into what went into making the short films that appear on the screens on the tour!

CCM delivered well over 100 elements for ATF this year.
Everything from Worship Backgrounds that play on 5 screens... to Message Support gfx crafted in 3D and 2D (also across 5 screens)... to an Event gfx package... to videos that play during the breaks... to videos that play in the workshops... AND short films and parodies that play during the event.

One of our standouts was produced by one of the great production teams we have at CCM... it's called THE LETTER.

Check out this clip that shows a portion of the message from Sat AM and THE LETTER

Check back tomorrow for the wrap up of The Chronicles of Hamilton!!

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 5

In 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

And... "we're ON"

All the rehearsals were over.
Everyone was in their places. (Many of them bundled up, standing over the ice of a hockey rink)

It was TIME.

Hundreds of hours of preparation in post.
Thousands of hours of practice and honing of skills at camera, audio... and many other skills.

It was TIME for it to come together!

Everyone had a job to do.

The grips assigned to the Hand Held cameras.
The assists assigned to the Dolly camera.
The production assistants assigned to tying up any loose ends.
The production manager making sure everything was working in concert.

It was TIME for the thousands in Copps Coliseum to be reached.
BUT... it was also time for MILLIONS to be reached outside of the building and Canada!

7pm on Friday Night.
The open rolled...

To understand the full Center for Creative Media experience at a moment like this is to realize that there is no classroom that could ever replace REALLY DOING THIS!!

You can explain what a P.A. does. You can read about what an A.D. does. You can be quizzed about Grips and Gaffers. But to really get it... You have to do it!!

Oh yeah... student projects usually don't come loaded with thousands of people in a live audience, the pressure of delivering when the director is calling the shots through a headset WHEN MILLIONS ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING, with the requirement that what you are producing actually meets broadcast technical spec, or with an actual broadcast credit complete with actual work that you PERSONALLY did.

No one would ever staff the broadcast of a live event with a bunch of "green-horns." That would be crazy!! But that is exactly what CCM does... and through God... IT WORKS!! Remember... some of the "staff" that worked this event just came to CCM last August. And today... they are carrying major responsibility and bringing their art to the WORLD!

One of the moments that the entire team can now say they have done is: the production of a multi-cam live concert... From camera shots to audio mix.

Check out this excerpt from worship being led by UNHINDERED

STAY TUNED: In the next post... see Center for Creative Media's latest Short Film "The Letter" (Scene: War complete with special efx and explosions)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 4

So much for travel to Hamilton and getting settled in at Copps Coliseum...

It was finally time to get to work!

To pull off the broadcast of the event... we would need a TV truck capable doing all we required. Here was the set-up:

We had 6 cameras (+ another 6 floaters) covering all the angles we would need.
1 Hand Held on stage right
1 Jib in audience stage right
1 Dolly Camera behind the first seat break
2 Stationary Cameras at Front of House
1 Camera in the upper loge for Host Live shots and Event Wide Shots

The floaters were assigned to get audience shots and "perspective (audience and stage in the same shot) shots" to added in editing later in Multi-Cam Grouping mode.

1 Director
1 Technical Director
1 Asst. Director
1 GFX Operator
Video 1&2
Audio 1&2
1 EVS Operator
1 Tape Op
2 Tape Managers (also doing electronic video record)
2 PA's
1 Floor Manager

2 Field Producers
2 ENG Audio Ops

We also did our own FULL audio mix (96 channels) of the entire event.

CCMers manned key roles... many of them never having done live television before in their lives. (AND... they did a GREAT job!!)

The hours leading up to the event were filled with practice, check and re-checks of the gear, team meetings explaining what needed to be done, and PRAYER!

Keep in mind... we had 15 to 16 hours of event to cover. A marathon to be sure.

Here's a peek behind the scenes of the event from CCM's perspective:

And... Dolly Cam operator Wesley Trost shows us his rig:


Preview clips of the event!! Not seen before!
(Event is schedule to air on GodTV in Dec. Dates TBD)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stayed Tuned for MORE Hamilton

Check in tomorrow for behind the scenes footage of the ATF production team and a look at the dolly camera we used during broadcast in Hamilton!

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 3

After a long bus ride... CCM arrives at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.

Any good production person makes sure they get to know their surroundings and the specific areas where they will have to work.

1st stop: Where to EAT!!

A huge blessing of putting on the Acquire the Fire tour is that we are served by people who are as passionate about empowering this generation as we are. And, at just about every event we are blown away by people who serve us by FEEDING us.

That blessing is even bigger after spending hours (days!) on a bus.

Check out what CCMer Caleb Lennie (a Canadian I might add) says about finally arriving in Hamilton.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 2

The journey and the bonding continue as the team crosses North of the Border

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 1

The Hamilton, Ontario ATF was absolutely outstanding!
Truly an amazing heart changing weekend!

To really understand things from the PRODUCTION TEAM point of view is to understand the whole experience was a several day excursion for the CCM Team.

A team of 42 people on site worked to bring the event to a broadcast ready state.
CCMers manned all 12 of the cameras (including the Jib and the Dolly), all of the field audio, made all of the GFX, produced all of the event videos & short films, managed all of the tape use & labeling, digital video capture, blue tooth content distribution, and produced interviews with Jeremy Camp, Everyday Sunday, Manna Fest, and Unhindered.

Over the next couple of days... I'll be posting portions of the experience so all of you can feel and see what CCMers actually do. (Many of the videos come from CCMer Ben Fig... a 1st year August Intern... you'll experience things through his eyes.)

So... let's start at the beginning of trip... on a bus.

The team climbed on board in the parking of the CCM Studios and headed north.

Here was their take on things on Night #1

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rockin' Canada!!!

Well, it's Hamilton ATF Week!!

This tour stop is definitely one of the rowdiest... kickin' stops on the tour... for sure!!

Those Canadians are LOUD... INTENSE... and READY for an amazing weekend!
I'm pretty sure when "Oh Canada" is sung it may be louder than Jeremy Camp's most rockin' song.

The CCM team is on an intense mission this week... prep the entire event for Broadcast on GodTV (Channel 365 on DirectTV)

It's going to be one exciting week for CCM.
At team of about 45 will be headed north of the border beginning on Tues AM.
The bus pulls out of CCM for a journey that will take the better part of 2 days.
After rolling down the road past the truck stops in the USA... the sleeper will cruise past Tim Horton's and Swiss Chalet on the Canadian side of the border. Eventually CCM will arrive at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Thurs AM will find ATF loading in, and CCM running cables and prepping rigs for a total of 12 cameras. We'll also be loading in prepared Graphics and Videos made especially for the broadcast. The whole operation will be run out of a truck that normally does live coverage of major concerts and sporting events. (So, we'll be right in their wheelhouse.)

By the time the event kicks off on Friday night @ 7p Eastern... a team of 45 folks (that's only the broadcast team) will be in place! CCMers will be running the cameras (including Jib and Dolly), manning Live-Shot Inserts, Interviewing band members from Unhindered, Everyday Sunday, Nevertheless... and maybe even Jeremy Camp (confirmation pending), Capturing interviews all over the arena, and working the other areas like: Video, Video-Tape, Audio, Chyron, Production Assistants and Floor Manager.

Keep checking back Thurs, Fri & Sat... I'll post photos and videos giving you a view into what we'll be doing.

Oh yeah... throw a jacket on for us... the event will be held in an arena that a Hockey Team calls home. Meaning we're actually on tiles laid over ice. CHILLY!! (It's ok... nothing a few cups of Tim Horton's can't cure...EH?)

Here we come Canada!!!

Macbook Pro 17" Users Beware

Every Apple product I've every used has been top notch.

Professionally... Personally... Apple is THE way to go.

Unfortunately I've run across a very odd circumstance...

For the past 3.5 to 4 years I've been using a Macbook Pro 17".
I had one for two years... and thing ran like beast. Really a great machine.

Last Fall I got a new Macbook and things were going pretty well til about 2 months ago.
My Screen went black.
The fan stopped working... and when the machine went to sleep... it didn't really go to sleep... resulting in a firey hot Macbook!
The drive would spin.
Occasionally the computer would re-boot giving the friendly Mac chime.
I tried connecting my Macbook with my cinema display... NOTHING.

So I took it to an approved repair place.
Diagnosis: Bad Logic Board.
Solution: Replacement under warranty.

All my data remained because there was no problem with the hard-drive. (Whew!)

Ok... things were looking good.
The machine was working through the launch of the tour just fine... which was a good thing because I had hundreds of videos to view and approve!

Then last Thurs... WHAM... same situation.
I thought: There is no way the logic board blew again.
But... the symptoms were exactly the same.

This time a trip to the Genius Bar was in order.
The GENIUS quickly surmised... LOGIC BOARD.

Now here's the deal:
Apparently NVIDIA announced within the last month that there was a problem with the GFX card on some of the 17" Macbooks. (Turns out that announcement came about 2 weeks after my last Logic Board was replaced).

The GENIUS told me that specifically the 3000 series was affected. (Guess you can tell that by the serial #... not sure of the specifics on that however)

So if you are a 17" Macbook owner... and you experience the same symptoms above... a trip to the Apple emergency room will be in order.

Still waiting to see if Logic Board replacement #2 will do the job. Actually, more like praying it will!

From what a friend who used to be a GENIUS (can you be a former Genius???) tells me if it blows a 3rd time... NEW Macbook coming my way.

Man... New would be good... but the hassle would be not so good.

I'll keep you updated...

Forge on Mac users!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My wife and I had the ultimate experience going to the movie FIREPROOF.

It was a very intimate and EXCLUSIVE time for us... as we watched Sherwood Pictures latest release. We were the only two people in the 70mm Dolby HUGE theater. (Of course we went on a Monday evening @ 10pm in Tyler, Texas... probably had something to do with the empty seats.)

The debate over this movie in artistic circles populated by Christian professionals is very interesting. Lot's of good conversation and points being made.

Here is some of what I've found:

Rotten Tomatoes is presently giving the movie a SPLAT at 46%.
ROTTEN REVIEWS coming from: The L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, Boston Globe, and Entertainment Weekly.
POSITIVE REVIEWS coming from: The NY Times, Daily Variety, and Christianity Today

Definitely not a total THUMBS DOWN by reviewers (across secular and Christian lines).

The Christian community has mostly embraced FIREPROOF to the tune of somewhere around $13.7 mil in just 8 days. That breaks through the seemingly insurmountable $10mil ceiling (for Christian/Faith-based movies)... maybe for good.

Focus on the Family's PLUGGED IN ONLINE give this insight on FIREPROOF:


The church congregation in Georgia that faced down giants has turned its attention away from football and toward firemen in the save-your-marriage-or-die-trying film Fireproof...

...Writer/director Alex Kendrick and his writer/producer brother, Stephen, aren't under any illusions that this small-budget movie will turn Hollywood on its head. Stephen told Plugged In Online, "When people butcher our films on Rotten Tomatoes and say, 'This isn't Oscar-winning material,' we say, 'We know!' We're just people who are working with what we have at a small church in Georgia. It's truly a loaves and fishes story."

What they do want is for their earnest project to turn your marriage upside down.

You might notice that some of the lines in Fireproof feel a little wooden. And you might notice that the script indulges more dialogue (most of it spiritual) than you're used to hearing in movies about firemen. But the honest truth is that you don't really care by the time the credits roll, because you're too busy feeling your own feelings and thinking your own thoughts about your own relationships. This is the kind of movie that succeeds, sometimes despite itself, because it does a superlative job of digging into serious issues that so deeply affect so many of us every day.

The first time I saw this film I was alone in a cramped and cold projection booth, scribbling notes as fast as my fingers would fly. The second time, though, I was with my bride of 14 years, and I was in no mood to write a movie review. All I wanted to do was hold her hand. And when the last scene faded from the screen, I could do nothing less than turn to her and whisper, "If you ever wanted to leave me, I would try to make it so hard for you! I would do everything he just did and so much more to keep you by my side." She breathed in response, "I would never leave you." I spent the rest of the day thanking God that I was so fortunate as to never have to doubt her.

Others who are right now in the middle of ugly emotions driven by marital neglect, apathy and want, will surely be compelled by Fireproof to skip such emotional promises and tender bonding and instead break out the survival gear right away, putting into practice some of the principles they've just seen brought to life. That, I believe, would make the Kendrick brothers far happier than any golden statue ever could. It'd make our Savior happier, too.

Full review of FIREPROOF available at Plugged in Online

On the flip side... some in the Christian community are voicing artistic concerns:

From // Warren Cole Smith

Full disclosure: I saw only the first 20 minutes of Fireproof. If this causes you to dismiss my assessment of the movie as a cinematic disaster, then you can stop reading right now. I will say in my defense, however, that in those 20 minutes I saw enough bad acting, heard enough bad dialogue, was assaulted by enough amateur lighting set-ups, and was distracted by enough bad directing to give me full confidence in my thinking.

I realize, of course, that for many of my evangelical brethren, it takes more than bad acting, bad dialogue, bad directing, etc., to make a bad movie. It also takes bad intentions, and even I admit that the amateur Fireproof team intended to make a good movie.

And because they made a bad movie doesn’t make them bad people. Neither does it mean they eventually will not make a good one. Director and writer Alex Kendrick plans to make a film every two years, and he is clearly learning a few things about movie making. Fireproof, which stars one “pro” actor, Kirk Cameron, is much better than his previous effort, Facing The Giants, which was an improvement over his first film, Flywheel. Who knows? Kendrick and his brother Stephen, his co-writer and producer of the first two films, are both young. If they keep making this much progress, perhaps the next movie—or the one after that—will be the one they and those who have stuck by them can be proud of.

Let’s be plain: The Kendricks’ movies are apprentice efforts, and there’s nothing wrong with that—all great artists and craftsmen go through an apprentice stage. But for an apprentice to graduate into true mastery, someone must give him honest feedback, and it appears no one in the evangelical community is willing to do that. Some of the most prominent movie reviewers in the Christian world acknowledged the film’s shortcomings but said—inexplicably—that they didn’t matter. Among rank-and-file Christians, any criticism of the movie is met with vitriol, such as the hate I was met with on an online discussion group. You would have thought I had nominated Osama bin Laden for the Nobel Peace Prize.

We do the Kendrick brothers no favors when we grant them a “pass” based on good intentions. I learned this lesson as a writer many years ago. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but (I assure you) I am much better than I was last year, and I am much, much better than I was a decade ago. I improved because of tough feedback from teachers, mentors, and—sometimes—critics...

...If we truly want to encourage the Kendricks, let’s say: “Congratulations. Making a movie, even a bad one, is no easy task. This one is an honorable ‘next step’ in the process, but is it really your best?”

If the Kendrick brothers have any artistic integrity at all, they will not be discouraged by such feedback, and—in the end—they might one day make that great Christian movie we all have longed to see.

Full article by Warren Cole Smith (including comments to his thoughts) available at

At this point in time... I'll say this: FIREPROOF would not and should not be made by all film makers. It is the Kendrick's movie. We each need to make the movies we are passionate about and believe in. We need to tell the stories we are compelled to portray.

My conclusion:
I believe to the bottom of my soul that movies made with stories, characters and values that appeal to the Christian audience have a place in the commercially competitive marketplace. Just ask Spike Lee... Fireproof beat out his latest release "Miracle at St. Anna" head to head on their box-office opening weekend... in fact, Fireproof has out-grossed St. Anna out-right.

May God use each one of the storytellers He has CALLED to tell the tales He has laid on each heart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The TOUR is finally launched.

ATF is in St. Louis this weekend. City #3.

It's been a whirlwind of a past 6 weeks.

I love what I do. I really do.

But... A breather has definitely been in order.

RE-Entry into "regular" life began last weekend.

Took the family to a lake house.

We all had such a good time.









It was so AWESOME.

The 4-Wheeling was probably my favorite part. (other than sleeping)
Dodging cows and wild boar.
I know... I know... it was a VERY Texan/Southern way of spending the weekend.
So be it.
(BTW... pass the BBQ!)

To everyone in CCM: I AM PROUD OF YOU!!!

You have done, and continue to do an AMAZING job!

I'm blessed to work with some very talented and skilled people. Pros who will be impacting the world of film and television for decades to come... for sure.

Next up:
TELEVISING the Hamilton ATF.
We normally go live for that event... but this year we will be taping the event "AS LIVE" for broadcast on God-TV in December. (Schedule conflicts are bumping us a few weeks later)

There will be about 40 people in the crew bringing the event to the viewing audience. (30 CCMers and about 10 other pros scattered in the mix)

The Hamilton event is always amazing!!!
A real rockin' and rolling crowd!

As soon as we have a definite air-date... I'll post so you can all see the event.

As for CCMers... Get ready folks... in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ATF Amherst - Behind the Scenes Photos


I'm sitting in the Mullin's Center this morning at UMass.

I really enjoy this venue and this event.

It means FALL and it means the start of the tour.

This year... we're going to subject the audience to 5... count 'em 5 video screens. (Yes it does feel a little like Spinal Tap: "... but these go up to 11!!"

You know the old saying: Less is More

Uh-uh... it's now officially: More is More!!!

That said... we are building something for the Saturday night portion of our event that I'm praying will be amazing and memorable.

On the final night of the event we will be taking the audience on a visceral experience of Jesus' final moments. We have created... based on a script written by Chad Arnold... a 5-Screen multimedia version of the crucifixion and the moments leading up to it.

Our graphics guru, Greg Williams, has designed this 30 min multi-screen "movie" in After Effects using original sketches, live action, and graphic design. And... it's been crafted to an audio bed that was mixed prior to one visual frame being created.

In about 5 hours... we get to run the presentation in the arena... with actors (yes, there is a live drama part of the presentation as well) for the very first time. I'm pretty excited about it!

We've all seen many a "passion" or "Easter presentation" at church over the years. Many of them are well intentioned and do present the story. But, rarely are these videos or dramatic presentations memorable.

It is my prayer that what our team has built will transcend the informational and enter the realm of the experiential... in a deeply searing way.

The Garden of Gesthemene, Golgotha, Pilot's court, the Tomb... all appear across the 5-Screens in larger than life fashion with music, SFX, and actors who have given performances that have effected me even in their raw untreated form.

The audience tallies it's vote this Saturday.

For my part... it's been in the backroom long enough... I can't to see what all of you think.

Thanks to all of the team who are pouring it out to make this unique presentation come to life!

See you on the road...

Friday, September 19, 2008


Some people punch a time clock.
Some people live according to a regimented daily calendar.

I knew a long time ago... that WASN'T going to be me.

I am PROJECT driven.

The program goes on the air tomorrow night at 9pm.
The story hits at 11:07p
We're LIVE in 5 mins.
The Film must be ready for duplication tomorrow.

I really thrive in a project driven lifestyle.

Twists. Turns. Surprises. Flexibility.
No day is ever the same.

This next week... there WILL be the launch of our new nation-wide tour.
Lot's of things we can't see right now will take place.
New challenges will emerge every day.
It will be a thrill (or a chill) but it will not be boring. I can tell you that for sure.
When the doors open... the event WILL begin.

And... I really like working with the team who is putting this all together.
Collaborating with Chad Arnold always results in good things... Sam Hasz and the ATF Team (including friend Rex Albers) are pouring in their all... and the CCM Team has been in high-gear for weeks and weeks. (Everyone is doing a great job... Special shout outs though to: Beth Powell, Andrew Hummel, Bertha Vera [girl... you are coming into your own!!!], Simon Stutts, Greg Williams, AARON VANDENBROUCKE!, Jason White, Eric Mackintosh, Jared Haskell, Kirk Fletcher, Michael Gallardo, Brandon Eckhardt, Katherine Haller [your fingerprints are all over this event!], Liz Saffold, Emily Kelly, Nicole McKeen, Selah Starhsen, Alex Haynes, Nathan Hammer, Tom Duval, Idalia Saravia, Camille Cole, Jonathan Villanueva, Adam Overfelt, Ari Burt, Cody Greely, Gwen Vehlow [scary voice!], Ben Figuerido, Randy Lilly, Sam Lathrop, Kel, Alex Persels, Tabby Russell, Alex Clark [Behind the scenes "do all things" man!]... and casting, wardrobe workhorse: Caitlin Holt. [Apologies to anyone not named here... full credits to roll at another time. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you]

The process, community, team-work effort in a unified effort to tell great stories that honor the living God is an amazing experience!

Keep it up team!!

It's almost time for EVERYONE to see what we've been working on for the past several months!!

Project (if you call launching a major tour a "project") Driven Life beats 9-5 Life any day of the week!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Final Rehearsals

Going through the Sat Night Session right now.

I'm praying and believing that this session will be UNREAL!!!

The focus will be on us as believers carrying the Cross.

For 30 mins or better... the attendees will be experiencing the crucifixion through a 30 min presentation of live action mixed with animation. The way it's playing out on screen is breathtaking. Even in it's rough form... our team has created scenes that are rocking me emotionally.

I can't wait for this whole presentation to come to life in a week.

Praying for God to make this whole effort something that will be riveting and life changing.

I'm already so proud of our team.
This is life nothing we've ever done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"It's Wednesday... I need a Video for this Sunday!!"

Ok... You've just left Wednesday night service and the Sr. Pastor cornered you, made small talk, then said: "I've got this great idea for the coolest video... that I need...THIS WEEKEND!!!"

Who said deadlines and the budget two-step were things only Hollywood Types had to deal with??!!

Impossible demands... unrestrained vision... brilliant ideas... a decent computer loaded with Final Cut Studio... a production team made up of lay people and usually at least 1 teen who shows incredible promise, and little to no time... now those are the tools of today's Ministry Media Miracle-worker.

The last minute video request is not unique.
We may not look forward to these 11th hour white-knucklers... but we know they're coming.

There are some ways to set yourself up for a WIN when face to face with this "opportunity for blessing."

My best advice is to THINK SIMPLE and remember that PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Step 1 -- Resist the urge to be Speilberg. If you are making a deadline barn-burner... odds are you are not making the next special effects laden action adventure flick. Keep it simple. (Make it look good... through good lighting and great photographic composition... NOTE: Almost nothing is more annoying than a video that looks like it was thrown together or was shot by Uncle Fred. These types of videos are what I refer to as Christian Cheeseball.)

Step 2 -- Good Stories Rule! Churches are home to some of the best untold stories. They're called: Testimonies! Almost everyone can remember these stories when they hear them. The really good ones stick with you. You never forget them. THEY ARE STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE THAT CONNECT WITH THE HEARTS & MINDS OF OTHER PEOPLE.

Good testimonies work.
They matter to the people who hear them.
They provoke response.
And, they are sitting in your church... right now.

So... in a pinch. Consider putting together a meaningful and on-point testimony. (And try to lead your Sr. Pastor that direction once you can relate the story to him in a very exciting and compelling way... verbally)

But, don't settle for JUST recording the testimony.
There's little impact in taping someone telling their story in past tense.

Here's what you need:
-- A great story-teller. (Find someone who can vividly describe their experiences and emotions) The trick here will be to find someone who can "walk and chew gum" on camera who speaks into the topic of your last minute production. But... be encouraged! The odds are if you don't know the right person, someone YOU know is likely to know someone that is walking around with right story just waiting to be brought to life.

-- Story Telling Elements. Add to the mandatory interview other items: Photos, Home Video, Music, Journals, etc... that become the critical pieces to making someone's life come alive on the screen. (Always ask people you interview for these items at the time you interview them.)

-- Finally.. if you're working with others (staff & crew)... you need to get them to buy into your vision. Bring them with you.

You WILL need to shoot & edit your piece... But, if you start with a GREAT story and someone who can articulate it... you have the possibility of a quick turn-around deeply impacting piece.

Get to know the stories of people in your church, by getting to KNOW them. God knows, :), when you'll need to ask someone if you can bring their story to life.

Don't let those last minute requests suck the wind out of you!

Find the right story about someone who will makes the point you need this coming Sunday!!

Producing a Nation-Wide Arena Tour

This time of year is exciting.

We are 9 days away from the debut of the Acquire the Fire Tour.

In the Center for Creative Media world... we are in throws of delivering hundreds of assets that will make up all of the media side of ATF.

We are making several short-films at one time.
Composing music.
Creating mass quantities of Motion Graphics.
Building Sound Effects (SFX)
Editing around the clock.
Shooting night and day.

And you know what... this is what we live to do!!

It is our calling.

We're about to enter the REAL world and leave the theoretical one.
This is where the good ideas become awesome live moments.
The audience gives its instant feedback.
Clearly the product of our teamwork and collaboration becomes a hit or a miss.

First stop, Amherst, Mass!!

Can't wait.... time to get on the road.

UNHINDERED (the most amazing break-through worship band out there) will be engaging 1000's in unbelievable worship. If you haven't experienced these guys you need to get to an ATF near you and plug in. Check them out at or get free downloads of their music at

KUTLESS is the headlining band at the first event. (One of these days I'm going to have to blog about being stuck in Jamaica with these guys during a hurricane!)

And... we'll be bringing a new technology we've never had before: BLUETOOTH content distribution to individual attendees! We will be sending Ringtones, Pictures and Movie to anyone with a Bluetooth capable phone. Letting people take home some of the event with them is something we're very excited about. (CCM is developing the content for this and entrepreneuring the use of this technology.)

So here we come!!
Lift the curtain.
Roll the new film & videos.
And bring on the lives we know God will change through the course of one weekend.

Check out the tour schedule for ATF.
And find out when we're coming near you.

Let the events begin...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The LOTTERY Ticket vs. Hard Work

The entertainment industry is NOT mysterious.

It doesn't require hocus-pocus to figure it out.

Knowing people helps... The saying "it's who you know" CAN really be true. And... often is.

In my estimation though.... there are 2 main ways to get into and stay working in FILM & TELEVISION:

1. The Lottery Ticket
2. Hard Word

Everyone wants the Lottery Ticket. Who wouldn't want that???
(Ok... I know the Lottery Ticket thing is on my mind lately... but, the analogy makes a lot of sense!)

Make a video... post it on You Tube... and get discovered.
Do it yourself. Upload fast. Broadcast to the world.
Super simple... and if the right person sees it... You could hit it big!!! (Or, at least be featured in a Weezer video!)
(Frankly this is no different than people being discovered on the Vaudeville stage, or a director spotting his new "star" at the five and dime, or a record exec discovering his newest big release at a small club in Liverpool... this is just this era's newest way to be discovered.)

Or... you could enter your Indie film in a film festival and WIN!! Followed by a distribution deal or a studio backing your next film.

Either way would be a form of winning THE LOTTERY TICKET.

The other way to make it is...


Start at the bottom and work your way up... and on the way, grow, learn, get poured into by other pros, and get paid for working in "the biz." (instead of waiting tables or flipping burgers).

Making it in FILM & TELEVISION must include talent & skill... but longevity will also require dependability, follow-thru, consistency, and availability. And oh yeah... the ability to problem-solve and have common sense.

For instance... START BY THINKING SIMPLE! (Otherwise known as the K.I.S.S. principle: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID)

Perfect example...

In 1986 I was working at NBC.
The day the Space Shuttle blew up... I was still working an entry-level job in Burbank. (I graduated college in 1984)

As the whirlwind of covering this tragedy unfolded, one of the producers ran through the office demanding,"get Chuck Yeager... NOW."

So, what's a young aspiring producer/director supposed to do??? Find Chuck Yeager!!

Now what???

Step 1: Who is Chuck Yeager?
The fact that I grew up during the Space Race, and the 80's were the days of THE RIGHT STUFF and AC/DELCO BATTERY commercials I automatically knew who Yeager was. Today... it would take a simple Google Search to figure that out.

Step 2: How do I reach Chuck Yeager?

What do we know?
Post Google search we know that he was a test pilot, and the first man to break the sound barrier. We also know he was pursued to be one of the first astronauts, and he was a spokesman for AC/DELCO Batteries.

Do we call NASA (that would be fruitless because he never was an astronaut).
Do we call AC/DELCO (he hasn't been a spokesman for them for more than a quarter century... so that doesn't pan out.)
Do we call the Air Force (he's been retired for many years... and they're not sure who would be in direct contact with him any more.)

So we could run down the road of pushing the Air Force to do more. We could contact book authors or film makers who have written or made movies about Yeager. We could even call his publisher... Other journalists who have written about him. This list could go on...


We could read more of our Google Search.

If that pile of research had been available to me in 1986 (instead I had a stack of Lexis/Nexis research) I would have read that he lived in Grass Valley, Calif. (Don't know where he lives now... but, he lived there then.)

So then what?

Remember... Keep It Simple...

Call 411!!!

I called information... asked for a number for Chuck Yeager in Grass Valley... and guess what.. He was LISTED!!!

I dialed the #, and the man on the other end of the phone answers: "YEAGER!"
It was actually Chuck Yeager!!! He answered his own phone and he was listed.

(These days... an on-line search might dig-up a publicly listed # for him.)

One of those other longer and more complicated paths might have worked... but the quick and easy one resulted in finding the man we were looking for! And... I was seen as resourceful, problem-solving, efficient and dependable!!! I had come through!

While Film/Television is hard... it doesn't have to be complicated.
It also isn't brain surgery.

Work Hard.
Think things through.

You can make it.
Even if you never get the Lottery Ticket.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Overnight Success

New film makers have just descended on CCM (The Center for Creative Media).

They have big dreams and huge vision.

It's exciting and inspirational to look into their eyes... the horizon is large and the possibilities loom larger.

For them, the next 2 years are going to be jam-packed with experience, learning, and discovered skills.

But... right now 2 years probably looks like an eternity.
In reality... the time will go by like a BLINK.

It's funny how we see things... based on our perceptions.

For instance... the concept of the OVERNIGHT SUCCESS.
Rarely are those successes anything close to OVERNIGHT.

OVERNIGHT is a designation usually bestowed on someone by the press.
The media has never heard of them, and they seem to come out of nowhere.
When the truth is most OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES are the product of many years of training, practice and hard work.

The challenge is though... everyone wants OVERNIGHT SUCCESS.
Who wouldn't embrace being an instant hit?
The problem is there are very few instant hits.

Compare the odds of becoming an instant hit with buying lottery tickets.
Millions of lottery tickets are sold while only 1 or 2 tickets wind up being the BIG WINNER. Not much skill involved here though right?? It's all a gamble.

Making it in the film/television biz isn't so much of a gamble as it is an exercise in talent and perseverance. But that doesn't change the odds of becoming the HUGE HIT. It just puts you a little bit more in control. Don't miss the point: While not a gamble... becoming the HUGE HIT is a long shot.

It CAN happen.
And it DOES happen.

But it IS possible to be an amazing film maker & story-teller and make huge impact while not being the OVERNIGHT SUCCESS or HUGE HIT.

Most professionals who have worked in "the biz" for decades are not living off of the money they earned from getting paid giant money for 1, 2 or 3 gigs. Instead they live off money they have earned by working many different projects consecutively and consistently. [Oh... sometimes we get paid LOTS of money... and it is possible to make A LOT of money for all the projects you work on] Stringing together an entire career of impact and amazing work is possible even if you never become a HUGE HIT.

In short:

Becoming a HUGE HIT is possible. And will be realized by some.
Becoming an OVERNIGHT SUCCESS 15 years into a lifetime career can happen.

But the best recipe is:

Work hard.
Compound TALENT with SKILL.
Be a great STORY TELLER.
Stay working!!
Consistent work = Ongoing opportunities.

Those items added together = a long successful career as a story teller.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

AMAZING Technology defeats Ham-Handed Dumbness

If you've ever dumped a drink on your laptop or dropped your cell phone in the toilet... You have to check out this new product that will crossout your clumsiness forever. I have no idea where to get this yet... but I must have it!!

Watch these videos... you won't believe it:

Golden Shellback Waterproof Coating from on Vimeo.

If you think this is a hoax... then they pulled the wool over NBC's eyes as well.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mike's Latest Music Video

Hey guys,
This was my first directing/ producing/ editing project after CCM. It's an HD music video for performer, Terry Did'Em Feat, featuring Mahogany Jones and Sharnette Ray.

Two quick disclaimers 1) I did not have complete creative control, so the story was kind of laid out for me already. 2) any scenes remeniscent of "Does Anybody Hear Her?" were not my idea!!!

That being said, I managed to pull this off on budget for only $5,000, and I'm pretty proud of the quality we were able to produce for such a small amount. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Ultimate Plea to "Holy"wood!

No commentary needed.

Let's get to work.

(props to Mark Joseph for the photo find)

Katie's in Africa - David's Headed to Mexico

It seems like every Missions Trip I've ever been on.... that I get blessed more than any blessing I go to pour out. God is amazing that way. I'm supposed to go and bless yet I wind up blessed.

The only thing that is proving to be even more blessing is to watch my children GO!

Almost the entire family has been to the missions field with us. We WANT our children to GO and serve.

Lea has served in several countries including Sri Lanka (post Tsunami).
Her heart was broken and God did an amazing work in her.

David is leaving for Matamoras, Mexico today.
He will be building houses in a very poor and impoverished part of the country.
At 14... this should be an amazing God experience for him. That is our prayer.

Katie is in Zambia right now!!!
She is about 2.5 weeks into a 2 MONTH trip that will include ministry in So. Africa.
Much of her trip will be spent coming alongside AIDS/HIV patients. In Zambia she is working mostly in orphanages with kids who have lost their parents to the deadly disease.

We got this picture of her in action this week.

We are deeply moved that God would use her and are thankful for her willing heart.

We have established a blog to post info about Katie and her trip as we receive it. You can follow her AFRICA ADVENTURE by clicking here.

Word of advise to parents: SEND THEM!!!
God will use your kids in amazing ways!

Friday, June 27, 2008

For HIS Glory

I'm not a big miracle guy. But I know they happen.

In fact... my background is more non-charismatic than charismatic.

(Frankly... the whole dividing line between these two "camps" makes me ill anyway)

That said... I HAVE seen miracles.
Real. Live. Miracles.

But you know what... I've only seem them happen when THEY BRING GOD GLORY.

On the occasions that I have seen miracles... they have been overseas.

You see... I believe God could do a miracle on Wall St. or Lombard St.
BUT... It rarely happens here in the states because for the most part a miracle here would not necessarily bring Him glory. Skeptics would question the occurrence, others would explain it away, still others would flat deny anything supernatural happened at all.

Whereas, even in a small village in Africa or Vanuatu... a genuine miracle could/would point directly to God (bringing Him glory). People in those places are not as jaded. People there have fewer reasons to believe that it MUST be something other that God.

In the end, I believe, God is interested in drawing us closer to Him. And, miracles done before those who won't recognize the source do not achieve that.

1 Corinthians 1
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

If you are skeptical that miracles can happen... Go on a Missions Trip, and see what you observe.

If you find that miracles happen routinely... examine what effect they have on the observers. Do they bring God glory? If not, what lasting purpose does the miracle have?

God loves us.
And He gives us the ability to CHOOSE to love Him in return.
He wants us to be intentional about our actions and choices.
He is intentional about His actions and choices. He is purposeful.

That said... Are we that purposeful about giving Him the glory?
Are we mindful that everything we produce/direct/make should bring Him glory?
He is WORTHY of all our praise!

If God doesn't waste or isn't frivolous with His actions... isn't that and example for us?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

CCM Grad wins an EMMY!!!!

And the winner is: DAVID FRY!

Last night David became the FIRST CCM Grad ever to win an Emmy Award.

David graduated in Aug. 2006 (which means he achieved this notable feat in less than 2 years since he graduated!!!)

He walk away with the famed award at the The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences - Northwest Regional Chapter, 45th annual Emmy Awards.

His award is for:

Advanced Media - Arts/Entertainment
KSTW-TV, “Spectrum Dance”; Howard Shack, Producer; David Fry,


May God continue to use us all, wherever He would have us be!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Most Amazing Skate Video... Ever???

My eyes do not believe what I see.
I've not been a fan of skate videos... but this one stopped me in my tracks.

Directed by Spike Jonze
BTW... my apologies... this one is definitely a FILM!

In Production....

The last few days have been incredibly busy and exciting. Our team has been scripting and shooting 9 different pieces at one time! I'm so proud of the people I work with. Some have become seasoned veterans (at the ripe age of 20!!!). And some are digging in exploring territory where they have never gone before. Over the weekend we had a crew of 20+ and a cast of nearly 100 at a shoot for a new "epic" set of ATF promo videos. We're really excited about what amounts to a series of "short films." They're loaded with special effects (3D & Pyrotechnic). We're shooting with the Steadi-Cam and our 24'Jib. Our actors are getting the chance to step-it up in some leading roles. All that while script revisions continue to swirl... [talk about a real world experience!!]

And... let's not forget that we've been working on another pair of videos involving SKYDIVING!!! Wow! In one day our team went up for 4 jumps... shooting aerial formations... special effects backplates involving the skydivers... and multiple landings. We worked with a team of skydiving specialists outside of Dallas who were seasoned film/television people. Their wisdom and confidence rubbed off on our entire CCM Team who both had a tremendous professional experience and grew all at the same time. [Our folks can now put on their resumes & reels that they've worked on an aerial shoot and staged skydiving scenes!!]

On top of all of that Drew Thomas (my DP favorite from L.A.) has been here pouring into our shooters and being an active part of this whole process. Man... we've spent a lot of years doing a lot of projects together! Good times.... Better friend!

Long Days.
Short Nights.
HUGE opportunities for CCMers to step into positions that they have been pursuing or dreaming about.

It doesn't get much better than this!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Anatomy of the Disney - Pixar Partnership

Great insight into this power partnership!!

The Power of the Pre-Nup
Read the story

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Art of The Hustle Part I

Some days I thank God for designing us in such a way that we crave the things we need even though we as Christians spend so much time trying to resist our cravings, and that in the end God is much more "human" than statue.

Sometimes I thank God that He gives me the gifts and abilities that I need to follow my path, but not many that I don't so that I don't become too prideful. Then I thank Him that I am so humble, -probably more humble than you.

Today, I'm thanking God for the art of the hustle.

Doug asked me a little while back to start posting on his blog, and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to it. This will be more for the CCMers out there in good 'ol Garden Valley more than anyone else, but my random guess is that is probably mostly who reads Doug's blog anyway.

I've only been out here in L.A. since mid February, but I've gotten a pretty good crash course in trying to carve out a path out here. Of course, there have been both ups and downs. So, if I'm able to pass on any little hint of wisdom that can give any of you an edge who plan on coming out here yourself, that's what I love to do. I won't go into all of my experiences and everything this time, but especially those of you leaving in August to come out here, I hope you'll contact me and let me share a few things with you first that may help you get a good start. In any event, here's what has been on my mind lately that I want to share this time- the art of the hustle.

It's always been interesting to me how God has brought out latent gifts inside of me only at certain times when I most needed them to follow the path He has me on. At certain times of my I have seen different gifts, that I didn't previously operate in much, suddenly surface in a very natural unplanned (by me) way. When I was in CCM you no doubt did not see me as much of a hustler. I certainly didn't see myself as one anyway. Now when I say "hustle" in this particular context I do not mean a cheat, swindler, or dirty-dealer-of-rotten-deeds. Surely, you must be picturing me wearing a large silky purple hat with an over-sized peacock feather, strolling down the street and swinging my gold chain, possibly stopping here or there to roll a couple of dice, but never never breaking stride as I casually nod to passers-by whom wave their hands at me in approval (all the while whistling "It's Getting Hard Out Here For A Pimp.")

No, no, my dear poppets.

What I mean is you probably never saw me swinging deals, heavily negotiating, or promoting my services. There wasn't a lot of need for me to. I was in an environment that allowed me to work my way up with hard work, dedication, and faithfulness- and that was just fine by me. Since being in LA, however, I have seen a different quality in myself suddenly blossoming. There is no other way for me to explain it other than that God knew that I needed it for this time and so -poof- He drew it out. [Poof is what we in the biz call an SFX- that's a freebee. ;) ] All of this is to say, that I want to point out to you the things I've seen God drawing out in me out here, so that you can hopefully apply them to your own journey in whatever way is useful. So, with that said- let's talk about hustling. I'll break it up over time, so today we'll just hit part A.

A) Self promotion is not a negative thing.

Let me clarify- self promotion of yourself as a person for the purposes of inflating your ego, making someone else jealous, or impressing a member of the opposite gender in order to use and abuse them - is not nice. However, there is a difference between that and promoting yourself professionally.

It would be great if people just dropped their garden hoses, turned in awe and abandonment, and walked in droves through the streets to gaze upon the wild wonder that is your art.

It would also be great if eating the way I like to stopped making me fatter.

Neither is likely to happen.

If you were somehow unaware before, let me make you hip- this is an extremely competitive field we have chosen (or that has been chosen for us.) It sounds dreamily wonderful to think about following your dream ...until you realize that 150,000 other people share your dream and don't believe that you are entitled to exclusive rights to it. -Until you realize that not all 150,000 people are going to get to live that dream. Not even close. (I just picked a number- I'm sure I have no idea how many literal people actually share this dream, but you get the point.)

Shall we dismay? Shall we turn to electrical engineering instead or perhaps food services?
No offense to anyone in either of those industries, but -no. No, we shall not. This is still our dream and we still owe it to ourselves and to God to chase it.

But we do need to become very PRO-ACTIVE in chasing down that dream. First, we do everything we can to BE the best we can as media professionals. Then, we do everything we can to let others know we are the best.

Because, otherwise, here in L.A. where even my parking lot attendant carries his sure-to-win-an-oscar-some-day screenplay in his back pocket, you are not likely to just get noticed because you sent in a couple of applications and a link to your reel on youtube. So, not only do you need to find the work and apply, but you need to somehow stand out from the other 300 applicants who would kill to make this guy's coffee (that one, by-the-way, was NOT an exaggeration - literally 300 applicants in 2 days for a secratary job, and that is the norm.)

You, until you work for a production company, are essentially a freelance (fill-in-the-blank.) That means you are your own company. Your own product. Your job is to find a job, and you are self-employed. (Or, you actually are freelancing, and your job is to find many short-term gigs, ...and you are self-employed.) As a company, if you want to do business, you need to advertise. You need to develop a marketing strategy. You may even need to invest a little bit into an advertising budget as well. As you advertise, you will of course be making people aware of your product and trying to convince them how great it would be for them to buy and why it beats the other guy's product- ie: selling it to them. What is your product? (All together now-) You are. Sell yourself. It's not prideful, it's good business.

Wait, aren't we supposed to put ourselves in the Lord's hands and let Him create our success? Aren't I just being selfishly ambitious if I promote myself instead of waiting for that perfect job to be sent from the heavens, you know- "the Lord's perfect plan for me?"

As a speaker at the church I've been attending said this past week - God is a writer who wrote down some characters, placed them in a setting, and then actually handed them the pen. We are to be co-laborers with Christ, which means we are not spectators, we are participants. The same speaker talked of a friend of his who started a parade in his neighborhood for his children. They went door to door to their neighbors to tell them there would be a parade

...and that they were not allowed to watch it.

But, they were invited to walk in it. No one at all was allowed to watch, but all could participate. That is life and the way God intends life for us. Get in it, rip it up, and trust that God is ripping it up with you as a co-laborer and that His participation takes your participation and turns it into something amazing.

Don't do it alone, but -by all mean- do it!

Next time I'll start talking a little more practically about what that looks like and some things I've learned about how to hustle. Until then, hustlers, keep glorifying God in all you do.

Miss you tons,