'By the Book' TV Show Delivers Laughs and Some Depth – A Review

 On Friday Oct. 6th, the 168 family attended a Live Taping of "By the Book." The new CBS show is based on a non-fiction book by AJ Jacobs called, “The Year of Living Biblically.”  Following is a review of the show from a faith and family values perspective.

Series co-stars include: Jay R. Ferguson, Camryn Manheim, David Krumholtz, Ian Gomez, Tony Rock and Lindsey Kraft

The “Living Biblically” author wrote the book as he was trying his own social experiment/publicity stunt; to live in accordance with the Bible's teachings as close as possible for an entire year, while working at Esquire Magazine.  Jacobs is famous as a writer for “Celebrity Deathmatch” (1999-2002) and My Life As an Experiment (2011).  

Is "By the Book" the next big biblical show? Has Hollywood has got religion?  No, but there were things to like about it.

According to Deadline.com, after the November 2016 presidential election, broadcast networks vowed (both publicly and privately) to better reflect the lives and values of people in the Heartland (formerly "Fly Over States").  

The two hottest themes this pilot season were military dramas and religious projects, they said.  What?

If this is their olive branch to reach out to disgruntled conservative values viewers, they have a ways to go to understand their audience.  Making shows for just half the people means you make half the profits.  Until recently that was enough and the Fly Over states did not matter much to Hollywood.  That is changing.


I wonder how many jokes there are? Maybe there are 20 types of jokes and the others are all variations.  Georges Polti says there are only 36 dramatic situations.  Hopefully there are more jokes than there are dramatic situations. The world needs to laugh.

And laugh we did. A live taping is a fascinating, educational experience.  But, live TV has a formula and this show definitely follows suit.

I kept getting the feeling I’d heard much of this material before in other sit-coms. I recognized some of the usual suspects behind the camera, vets of Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls and The Odd Couple.  Director Andy Ackerman has directed 72 TV shows including Seinfeld (1994-1998), The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006-2010) and Wings (1991-1994).

Notably absent from the show was a scene in a church. Their main problem solving set is THE BAR, where Chip, the rabbi and the priest meet.  The conclusions about our society are inescapable; a biblical show without a church.

Yes, there were off color jokes I could live without.  As the crew worked, I remember being happy that they were going to do another take of one bit with a particularly unfortunate sexual reference in it. On the new take, I heard them voice a different joke on the front end, but the same unfortunate reference was left in number two.

They did not leave themselves the option to easily run the scene without the crude sexual quip. Thus, they negated the family audience, why?!

Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson) and Lesile Curry (Lindsey Kraft) have a sweet relationship, but she is not quite sure about this new “Biblical Stuff.” Their routine includes the natural, healthy questioning of God by non-believers, i.e., “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

And, a la “Liar, Liar" with Jim Carrey, Leslie really, really likes the fact that now, post Bible, Chip refuses to tell a lie. 

Some of the funniest jokes come from this, as he has to own up to his “white lies.” Yes, I think your your feet are cute, “if you are a Hobbit.” Thus, the show tackles another deep question; is it ok and in fact smart to tell white lies in our society?

It got really interesting when they set up the premise of the show and question of adultery. The priest said, “You can’t live biblically.”

“I’m going to try,” said Chip.

“But you’d have to stone adulterers.”

Later, Chip sees his office coworker out on a date (not with his wife). I won’t give you the spoiler, but one of the encouraging things about this show is it that it does point to biblical truths.  From the adultery implied, lessons are learned and positive directions are hinted at.

Obviously, the show isn’t deep enough to delve into the new covenant and proclaim forgiveness to all, including adulterers, through Jesus Christ.  That’s your job as a Christian. But the show does provide opportunities for discussion.

One of our guests was quite disturbed and saddened by the jokes and the timbre of the show (especially the crude sexual exploits of the warmup comedian, who entertains the audience during the downtime).

“Have you watched network TV lately,” I asked her?  This is the best we may get from secular producers until we demand better or better yet, until we produce the shows ourselves with a Christian worldview.

And that my friends, is why we exist as 168 Film. And you should support us in this effort here. www.168film.com/donate

On a technical note: I noticed that this show is different from other sitcoms in its reliance on background actors. They really give you your money’s worth as far as these folks are concerned. It's a really packed and happening bar set. 

The warm-up comedian made what was easily his funniest joke of the night with our very own Tea McKay (168 Film’s Best Actress of 2016 and Star of “Unbridled”).  Unfortunately, I cannot show you, because they don’t allow cameras in the tapings.

She had worn a lovely black and white checkered shirt, which was quite similar in coloring to the wardrobe of a guy named Bob, who had been up earlier to try to win one of the prizes they offer to audience members.  

The warm-up was riffing on the fact that they had the same shirts and here she was, but Bob had disappeared, ergo he has obviously become a woman.

In summary, I went in with low expectations, hoping for the best and planning to cheer them on.  It was better than expected.

Is it going to enlighten people to the truth of the Bible? No, but it will make them think, using the Bible as a reference, and this is far better subject matter than many of the vapid scenarios out there in TV land. 

I for one am glad the show is on the air. 

I encourage you to check it out and more importantly to contact CBS to tell them how you feel about the show.  Through your correspondence, the show can be steered to, as they have stated is their goal, “better reflect the lives and values of people in the Heartland.”


Worldly Team Tackles… the Bible!?

According to Deadline dot com, after the November 2016 presidential election, broadcast networks vowed (both publicly and privately) to better reflect the lives and values of people in the Heartland (formerly "Flyover States").  The two hottest themes this pilot season were military dramas and religious projects, they said.

Series co-stars include:
Camryn Manheim, David Krumholtz, Ian Gomez, Tony Rock and Lindsey Kraft

Some of the superstars of the secular world (vets of Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls and yes Celebrity Deathmatch) have united to bring you love and devotion to…. Wait for it…
Wait some more…     THE BIBLE (FANFARE HERE).  

For example, take the new TV show called “By the Book,” based on a non-fiction book by AJ Jacobs called, “The Year of Living Biblically.  Friday Oct. 6th, the 168 family will attend a live taping of the show “By the Book.”

Reserve your spot
here (Deadline Thursday, Oct. 5 at 10 AM).

I have to wonder if this is a sign that Hollywood has got religion or have they just run out of ideas. We are going in with low expectations, either way, we cheer them on!

Veterans of Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls and Celebrity Deathmatch have turned theologian, chapter and verse. Here are our unlikely heroes.

Producer Patricia Fass Palmer has produced 43 shows on tv including 132 episodes of Gilmore Girls from 2001–2007, 38 episodes of the The Odd Couple Reboot and 63 episodes of One Day at a Time Reboot 2015–2017 (as producer or UPM).

Director Andy Ackerman has directed 72 TV shows including Seinfeld (1994-1998), The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006-2010) and Wings (1991-1994).

AJ Jacobs wrote the non-fiction-ish book, in which he tries to live in accordance with the Bible's teachings as close as possible for an entire year while working at Esquire.  Jacobs is famous for Celebrity Deathmatch (1999-2002) and My Life As an Experiment (2011).  Writer Sophia Lear has wrtten many episodes of New Girl (TV Series) – Writer (executive story editor) ( 22 episodes, 2016–2017). Writer Patrick Walsh is famous for producing and writing on 2 Broke Girls (2011-2017) | Rob & Big (2007-2008) | Outsourced (2010-2011).

Jacobs’ book, “The Year of Living Biblically” is about a man’s quest to attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. This leads him to immerse himself in prayer, tend sheep in the Israeli desert and tell the absolute truth in all situations—much to his wife’s chagrin.

Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. He wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.


Egyptian Coptic Christian Reaches Outside the Church with 168 Film

In light of the recent terrorist attacks on Christians in Egypt, we are encouraged and excited by on of the entries to the 168 Film Project. Here is a bit about him. Pray for the safety of the Copts.

I'm originally from Egypt and grew up a Coptic Orthodox Christian (the main Christian group in Egypt). My family immigrated from Egypt to Canada in 1991.

The culture I grew up in didn't encourage breaking with traditional thought and service. Even when the Coptic Church got into media they only concentrated on making programs that reached out to the Coptic Community. However, I've always wanted to reach out to people outside the Church. Seems to me that this is one of the main things God called out the Church to do. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature".

I stumbled on 168 Film by a complete accident.

In 2013, I had written a webseries, and I reached out to the acting community in Vancouver, BC. I didn't expect the great interest for the project. Forty actors jump-started the project and I got a new beginning. 

In 2015, my 168 film won best special effects.

And now in 2017, I decided to enter the non-speed category, to have time for a challenging VFX heavy project. This is by far the most ambitious project I've been involved in. It has a fully CGI character in it. This is the first time we do a film with a CGI character and I believe it's something that has not been done for a 168 project before (at least from what I've seen). I need a lot of prayers to be able to complete the job we set out to do.

Being a no-budget film-maker, I decided to really rely on free software for editing and 3D work, namely Blender. This is something I believe should encourage others who are set back by how expensive tools are. There are now free tools that can do a great job.

For me it's not about winning the grand prize (although that would be nice), it's not about working with famous celebrities (again that would be nice), it's about doing what God wants us to do, preach the Gospel. 

For all of us can see ourselves in the parable of the Sower. We are in Christ who went out to Sow, and some seed fell on the way side, other fell on stony places, while others fell among thorns, but others fell on the good ground. The sower's job, our job, is to sow the seed on all types of ground. It's God who gives the increase.

So if you guys have a prayer group, please add me and my group in your prayers. Hopefully God uses these small projects for his glory.

Finally, I'd like to thank you for the work you do on 168 Film. For me it's a great feeling to know that our films get viewed in front of many people.


AppleStolic Inc Revolutionizes Pie Conundrum with The Flapple

AppleStolic Revolutionizes the Apple!

April 1: To combat the ever encroaching pressures of time, children and even clumsiness, food giant AppleStolic has engineered a homemaker’s dream, a tastier, more nutritious, flat-bottomed apple that won’t roll away by accident, attrition or other factors.

“We have invested in research, love and development to provide a kitchen celebration for home makers,” said Giovanni Emo, AppleStolic spokesperson. “This is pie month and this is a whole bushel of upgrades for the common fruit known as the 'apple,' complete just in time for pie month!"

In Climate Change Severe (CCS) arenas like Southern California, a rolling apple causes major issues in the kitchen and even the family car if taken on a trip and left unsecured,” said Emo.

The problem (exacerbated by global warming) is acute, specifically around the San Andreas Fault or other diatomaceous earth-allergic zones due to shifting tectonic plates deep within the earth’s crust.

“More importantly,” said Emo, “The other crust, the pie crust, is breathtakingly cared for by AppleStolic with our new ‘Wheatless Flakester Pie Holster,’ (TM) which of course has a flat bottom and zero gluten! Kenny Homeaker, your dream home has no more heartaches with AppleStolic , it’s a la mode!”

A contest to name the newcomer on the apple scene is open for entries. You are encouraged to try your luck at "Apple Monikering." "The competition is firm, crisp and flavorful," warned Emo.

"Front runner names are 'Flatsap,' 'Apple Jaggers' (and the Non-Rolling Stones), 'Flatland,' 'Flatulista Now,' 'the Flapple' and "Steve 'Flat Bottom' Jobs Apple Variety," in honor of the late Apple Visionary, who, oddly enough and incidentally really loved apple pie.” Email entries to FlatBottomBoys@AppleStolic.com


The Great Indoors Studio Taping Review

The Great Indoors 

We attended the CBS studio taping on Nov. 16th, 2016 of "The Great Indoors," starring Joel McHale  (Community).  I found it  a great way to network and meet up and coming stars, both in the audience and on the show floor.  I got to meet a very generous McHale, who was extremely pleasant and accessible.

It was a great learning experience.  The clockwork precision of the crew and its four cameras with four monitors each was something to behold. It was interesting to watch the director as he changed the script and worked with the Actor's for certain parts of the performance.  I asked our host if they changed the script on an improv basis or if they had decided in advance different versions to see which got the most laughs.

The way shows are set up, the studio audience watches a very technical performance usually with 2-3 takes per shot and so they use a warm up comedian (Roger Lundblade) to keep the audience engaged, excited and laughing and cheering a lot. The live studio audience is the best way to get a performance out of the actors as well as provide a laugh track for the final version of the show.

This particular show engages wild animals as part of their storyline. These animals were taped in advance and thus the show has pre-taped "Roll Ins" which we watch  while the actors wait for their next cues.

It was interesting to see how the drama is being built. The hero of the story is a very flawed character who still loves the woman who works with. She is engaged to another, but yet she has invited Jack to come back to work with her at the magazine.

The show relies too heavily on millennial jokes, however the writing is excellent and provided a lot of laughs throughout the taping.

I found that there was a lot of laughs and joviality from the crew, probably because they're getting paid very well vs. indie features.

During the audience warm up in between takes, they held a competition for talent in the audience. A couple of singers performed for the other side of the audience. Another guy did a pretty credible "Robot."

I actually ended up singing a couple of verses from Joan Jett's, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," which netted our side three points, LOL, that was good for a melty, Snickers and a smashed Rice Krispie treat. 


Interview with Bear Clifton, Winner of the Write of Passage Screenwriting Competition 2016

Winning Writer 2016

Bear Clifton

Bear Clifton - (Azuza, CA) is our Write of Passage Winning Writer for 2016.  That means he wrote the best 12-page screenplay in one week (168 hours) with an advisor called a Development Executive (DE).  Katarzyna Kochany (Somewhere in Canada) is the winning DE.  Both are interviewed below. 

Prizes include $1,000 cash ($750 to the writer, $250 to the DE), introductions to Hollywood Pros, including Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken" and “When Calls The Heart”).

Any WP script may be produced for the 168 Film Festival's Write of Passage Spotlight.  Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made.  To inquire about the license for a WP Script, write us at writeofpassage@168project.com.

Some quotes from this interview:

“I’ve been a pastor the last 25 years, up until this summer when I decided to do something wild and crazy.”  -- Bear Clifton

God has put inside each of us a yearning to know the love and acceptance of our dads, which ultimately is meant to draw us to himself.-- Bear Clifton

"Ultimately, I write best by writing. You don’t wait for the juices to flow. You make them flow." 
-- Bear Clifton

It has been interesting to watch the US election campaign with so many Americans threatening to move to Canada if their candidate isn’t elected. Around the same time, many Canadian creators have been threatening to move to the US.  There is a lot of fear that recent regulatory changes will make it next to impossible for Canadian writers, directors and actors to find steady work in Canada. So while Americans are applying for Canadian work visas, Canadians are applying for US work visas.   
-- D.E. Katarzyna Kochany (Canadian)

Writer Bear Clifton is first up (BC) and then D.E. Katarzyna Kochany (KK).  The interviewer is John David Ware (JDW). We asked some probing questions and got probing answers.

JDW: Tell us about yourself.  What do you do for work?

BC: I’ve been a pastor the last 25 years, up until this summer when I decided to do something wild and crazy. This past July, my wife and I sold our house, I stepped down from the church in Connecticut which I have led for the last 20 years and we moved to LA, without jobs, and without a forwarding address so that we could be near our daughter and only child Hannah. And so that I could take most of the next year to write full time. I’ve preached walking by faith my whole life. God finally decided to call me out on it.

JDW: That is crazy. How’s it going so far?

BC: We’re three months into our little adventure. I’m about to finish up a book I’ve been working on like forever.

JDW: How did you learn about WP &168?

BC: Through a Bible study of Christian artists called Tinseltown that meets at both Fox and CBS studios.  

JDW: Yes, we like Tinseltown.  The founder/leader, Gary Swanson is on our board. That study started in my apartment with Gary, Franklin B. Dog (my dearly deceased pitt bull and me!).  What was your inspiration for this year’s best screenplay, “Turbo Jam Boosters?”

BC: I grew up in a pretty big family. I was the oldest of 4 kids, and we were always messing around with each other. Scientific experimentation, psychological warfare, you know all the normal stuff.

JDW: How did this year’s theme hit you?

BC: I loved it. You’re tapping into one of the deepest parts of our humanity. God has put inside each of us a yearning to know the love and acceptance of our dads, which ultimately is meant to draw us to himself. The entire show “Lost” was built around father-wounds. And movies like “Field of Dreams” – I’ve seen that like a thousand times by now, and still to this day when Kevin Costner calls out to his father at the end, “Dad, wanna have a catch?” I become a blubbering mess.

JDW: Hope you don’t mind, I’m taking this off my bucket list “Watch Field of Dreams with Bear.”  Here’s the theme and verse assigned to all writers this year:
2016 Theme and Verse: “The Love of the Father” Few are blessed with a childhood that resembles a Norman Rockwell painting, yet our view of Almighty God is indelibly colored by our experiences with dear old dad. WP VERSE: Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (NKJV)

JDW: How do you see the verse in your story?    

BC: Well, that’s the lesson that 12-year old Josh needs to learn. That the reason Dad tightens the screws on him is because he loves him.

JDW: This story is a lot of fun.  Where did it come from?

BC: My original story was actually going to be a serious drama about Josh’s father who messes up with money and gets into a real crisis. The interaction with his son Josh was going to be a flash-forward at the end of the story. But, suddenly I had this scene come into mind of Josh playing “Star Trek” in a tree house with his buds. And the next thing you know, the whole thing just sort of played out in my brain. I got back from the run and wrote it out in a few hours. Just like that, the project went from serious drama to “The Wonder Years.” I’m glad though, because I’ve been working on some projects with some pretty serious subject matter, and so doing this ended up being very cathartic.  

JDW:  How are you planning to shape the story going forward?  Any plans to make the film?

BC: I’d love to see more happen with it.  I’m open to that.  

JDW: Tell us about your family and where you live. How has your environment and family shaped your writing?  What obstacles have you had to overcome in life?  How have they helped your writing? 

BC: Now that’s a probing question! I grew up in the Midwest. My grandmother was a poet, and my mom loved to write, so I guess it makes sense that I started making up stories very early on. In fifth grade, a mouse got caught in our dryer – I wrote a 20 page story about it. In the seventh grade, we got buried in a 21” Chicago snowstorm. I wrote a 150 page screenplay about a 40-foot snowstorm that buries a small town and the madness which follows. In the seventh grade. We’re talking serious brain damage here. Incidentally, I revisited that same story last year and wrote a new screenplay which was a top-ten semi-finalist in a national screenwriting contest. I think it’s got legs. Three months into my first pastorate, an arsonist paid a visit to our little country church in rural Minnesota, and he came within a whisker of burning it down. God used that terrible event to bring a dying church back to life, but even more miraculously, to save a young woman who had been on the fire department who had been sexually abused as a child. I wrote out a 300 page novel telling that story which I’m developing.

JDW: Tell us about your pursuit of the arts?

BC: My motto, displayed across the banner of my website (shameless plug: it’s blclifton.com) is Faith without art is dead. Art is one of the most powerful bridges I know to link faith in Jesus to culture. I experienced this first-hand in college. After a few years of backsliding in high school, I was watching the original 1959 “Ben-Hur” one day in the student lounge. Simply watching that movie so stirred my heart, that I gave my life back to Jesus that very night and never looked back. (Incidentally, later in seminary while studying first-century Christianity, I wrote a 400 page novel and a 150 page screenplay as a sequel to “Ben-Hur”). What’s interesting about that (old) version of “Ben-Hur” is that its spiritual power lies in its subtlety. When Jesus told a parable, he just allowed his words, his art, to hang in the air. And said, “He who has ears, let him ear.” There’s something powerful in that.

JDW: How did you Mentor/Development Executive, help shape your story?

BC: Katarzyna was absolutely awesome to work with. Rewriting is the name of the game of writing, which means collaboration is a must. You need an outside pair of eyes looking in on your work if you want to write your very best. In addition to having an eagle eye for the basics – typos, formatting, language – Kat was great in helping intuit where I wanted to go with the story, and helping it stay on the rails. Not easy when you’ve only got 12 pages. For example, in the first draft, the story began to veer into a lesson about lying, and I even had a different title to match that theme (a title I happened to really love.) But it just was too much, and Kat helped me to trim the fat. It was a real joy working with her.

JDW:  Tell us about your writing process.

BC: Running, racquetball and long walks are when I work on story outlines or stretches of dialogue. I’ve got Scrivener and Final Draft on my computer, but honestly, I seldom use the organizing tools they provide. Loose sheets of paper jammed in a file folder become my whiteboard. Ultimately, I write best by writing. You don’t wait for the juices to flow. You make them flow. I’ve got to sit down in that chair, fasten the seat belt and stay there, usually in two to three hour blocks at a time. I’m not like Grisham who wrote his first novels stitching together 30-minute writing blocks while commuting on the train. My first 30 minutes I’m usually picking out navel lint. But as long as I sit there, and stare at that screen, hands at the ready, the magic starts to happen.  

JDW: What are your plans for the future?

BC: I don’t know what God has in store for me in this next chapter of my life and ministry, but I hope – knock on wood – that I can have time to write out the stories burning inside of me. And to come alongside of other Christian artists to encourage them to stay true to Jesus as they use their gifts.

Interview with Winning Development Executive Katarzyna Kochany

JDW:  Where are you from and what do you do?

KK:   I’m a filmmaker based in the Greater Toronto Area.   In addition to filmmaking, I also have a background in training and instructional design, which certainly comes in handy on set.  A call sheet is a lot like a lesson plan, and directing is a lot like delivering training to adults.  To get the best out of people, you have to create an environment of mutual respect.  Teaching also gave me the discipline of time management.  In a corporate classroom, there is no overtime - you have to get your day, you have to make your numbers, and you are accountable for measurable results.  I loved that challenge as a trainer and I love it as a director.

JDW: You are frequent participant in WOP and 168.  What have you learned?  Do you still find it useful?

KK:   I first became involved as a writer in WOP, and made it to the semi-finals.  That script didn’t win but it went on to have a live reading at a festival in Canada that isn’t shy about showcasing work that is edgy and provocative – the exact opposite of what I had written.   One of the actors came up to me after the reading and confessed that he hadn’t had time to read the script at home.  Reading it for the event, he had to stop because he was holding back tears.  The story had caught him off-guard.  It mirrored his relationship with his own father, and everything he had wanted to say to his own dad.  I didn’t think it was my best work, so it was interesting to see how deeply it moved someone despite its imperfections.  

Since then I have served as a programmer for 168 Film Festival, and this is my second year as a Development Executive.  I enjoy the time-lock of this competition.  It is immensely satisfying to shepherd these stories from pitch to completed screenplay in 168 hours. 

Because of the nature of this competition, I find the stories often lift my spirits, make me reflect, or challenge me to think about things differently.  
JDW: Tell us about your writing philosophy and process.

KK: My writing process usually involves peanut butter or tuna - but not together. 

Until you asked me this question, I never really thought about my writing philosophy.  I started writing so I would have something to direct that would be family friendly and have a glimmer of hope.  I do enjoy collaborating on stories. This is what I especially enjoy about the world of television – nothing is precious, rewrites are many, and everyone is racing together towards that finish line.        

JDW: What do you see as some differences between telling stories in the Canada vs. in the USA?

KK:   Canada has a much smaller population than the US.  There are more people living in California than the entire country of Canada.  We often question our identity.  What is a Canadian story?  What does it mean to be Canadian?  What is the donut of the month at Tim Horton’s?

JDW: It’s always the same for me, a cruller.

KK: It has been interesting to watch the US election campaign with so many Americans threatening to move to Canada if their candidate isn’t elected.  Around the same time, many Canadian creators have been threatening to move to the US.  There is a lot of fear that recent regulatory changes will make it next to impossible for Canadian writers, directors and actors to find steady work in Canada.  So while Americans are applying for Canadian work visas, Canadians are applying for US work visas.  My own experience has been that I’ve received far more recognition in the US than in Canada.  It’s funny how the grass is greener on the other side.

It’s been said that the US is a melting pot, whereas Canada is more like a salad.  There is some truth to that.  Recently Toronto was named the most diverse city in the world.  How can that not affect the stories that we tell? 

JDW: How is the tolerance for things of Christ in the media?

KK:   Generally speaking, the US tends to be more conservative than Canada.  As an example, there was a popular teen TV show filmed in Canada that would sometimes make two versions of an episode – one for the Canadian market and one for the US market.  Story-wise, the Canadian version would go places the US version wouldn’t.   

At the same time, there are a number of faith-based scripted TV shows that still get aired in Canada, even years after they’ve completed filming.  

Nobody watches TV to get depressed but people want authenticity.  Life’s ups and downs do not always have a happy ending.  Giving advice like, “just have faith” or “you just need to pray more” or “if you really believed you wouldn’t feel discouraged” can sound dismissive and arrogant.  When you’re hurting, you’re hurting.  When you feel like God has betrayed you, then that’s how you feel – and the Bible is full of stories like that.  It’s a very human emotion. You can’t bully someone into genuinely embracing faith any more than you can bully them into truly abandoning faith.  What you can do is tell an honest story.  

What I appreciate about 168 Film and Write Of Passage is that the criteria are clearly spelled out and the project must be grounded in the verse, yet there is no requirement to make a religious film.  Some of the most poignant projects I’ve seen come out of this competition were not religious.  They were just honest stories.

JDW: Wow, I like the way you said that.  It’s going on my feelgood page.

JDW: What have you learned? What would you tell young writers about your experiences?  

KK: The best advice I’ve gotten on writing is this, “Allow yourself to write badly.  A bad script can be fixed, an unwritten script cannot.”  

As DE for Write Of Passage, time and again I see that the writers who turn in the best scripts are the writers who put it the time.  Their first draft or their outline may not be working but they keep rewriting until it clicks.  

JDW: What are your plans for the future?

KK:  I’m always looking for people to collaborate, either locally or remotely.  

I have a couple of comedy projects in post-production.  Coming from a don’t-talk-about-your-feelings Eastern European culture, I’m intrigued by emotion-driven stories on opposite ends of the spectrum - from gritty understated westerns like Longmire, to Hallmark TV shows and movies.  Making a Christmas TV movie is still on my bucket list.  I recently directed an ACTRA co-op short that is a step in that direction, and I look forward to more opportunities to work with great writers and actors.