7/30/15

FAITH FILMS EMPOWER FEMALE FILMMAKERS - Seven-Year-Old Girl Nominated for Best Kids Film in 168 Film Festival

BURBANK, CA – 28 July 2015 –  When Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar in 2010 as Best Director of “The Hurt Locker,” her accomplishment carried an expectation that a gateway was now open for female directors.  However, no woman has received a Best Director nomination since then.

The ranks of female studio film directors have fallen from 8.1 percent in 2010 to 4.6 percent in 2014, according to an L.A. Times analysis (Feb. 22, 2015).  Directors Guild of America’s 2014 statistics show that women directors comprise only 14 percent of their current membership, and head 14 percent of TV directing roles. 

The 168 Film Project and Festival is a very bright spot for women. Since its inception in 2003, the 168 Film Project has been a catalyst for launching the careers of the next generation of filmmakers. 

This year, over 30 percent of all 168 entries boast women directors, and nearly two-thirds of the entries overall featured women as Producer, Executive Producer, Director or Director of Photography. Entries in the 17-day speed filmmaking contest are based on the Bible. 

The 168 Film Festival takes place at the Premiere House at Regal Cinemas LA Live on August 29 - 30, 2015. Tickets are on sale here.

“We encourage women, men, and even children filmmakers to develop and grow in the 168 incubator,” said John David Ware, the contest’s founder and director. “It’s rewarding to see alumni launching their careers and establishing themselves in the film industry.”

Seven-year-old Rachel Lowry entered this year’s 168 contest with her directorial debut, “True Freedom,” the story of a young girl who is wrongly accused of a jewel heist. Lowry wrote, produced, directed and voiced all the roles in the film, which is a contender in 168’s “KidVid” category.

See Rachel's interview with her father here:


Writer/Producer Rachel Lowry – pic by Tim Lowry (dad)


Talisha Henderson's crew told her during production that they could not film on one particular day, and so she went on a date with her boyfriend. "He had hired my crew to record our engagement,” she said, “I got engaged last night!  I'm going off pure adrenaline today. This is our fourth year with the 168. I feel much more confident now.”

                      
                   Talisha Henderson and fiancée Frank Oliver – pic By Vincent McKinney


Second-time producer-writer April Manor returned in 2015 with the comedy, “Die Trying.” “My director, Liz Hewes, has a good rapport with our director of photography. She gave him room to do his job, so egos were left out of it. That lack of ego is magic,” said Manor. Her film is up for four awards, including Best Comedy.  Last year these newbies worked with 4-time Emmy Award Winner Michael Learned (“The Waltons”).


April Manor with her Kids On Set in 2015 – pic By John David Ware



 (L-R) Director Liz Hewes, 168 Founder John David Ware and Producer April Manor 2014 – pic By Antony Varon


Michael Learned Takes out Trash with Director Liz Hewes 2014-pic By John David Ware

The experience was challenging for “Birdie’s Song” director Shari Rigby. “We lost our script, location and writer at 11 p.m. on Wednesday,” she said. “Just 48 hours prior to the production, we wrote a new script (in 12 hours), complete with all new shots and locations. The 168 really puts you in a pressure cooker. I ran a crew and cast of 40 people. The contest showed us what we’re made of and who we are.” Rigby is also an actor, starring with Stephen Baldwin and Sharman Joshi in an untitled feature that is shooting in India.



Director Shari Rigby and DP Lukas Columbo 2015 – Pic By Isaul Trinidad




Producer/Actress Marianne Haaland in "Birdie's Song" 2015 – pic By Lukas Colombo



 Actor/Producer Meredith Adams (Nominated for Best Picture)






4/10/15

Review: Webisodes, TV and Film with Gary Hall, Sr. VP of Post Production at Fox Television



 Gary Hall and John David Ware


Mix-ers



Gary and Me



The Lineup

This is a review of the event held at LA Valley College on Monday, April 6, 2015.  It was called "Webisodes, TV and Film" with Gary Hall, Sr. VP of Post Production at Fox TV.

Gary Hall  has been helping out at 168 Film for about 10 years judging the films on our Grand Jury. So when he came in it was kind of like seeing a good friend.  He is also Sr. Vice President of Post Production for Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Gary's work at Fox includes scheduling and running post production on dozens of television shows for everyone including the major networks to some cable networks and other providers like Netflix.   His division has started to dip it's foot into the 4K world. Gary shuddered when I mentioned 5K was just around the block.

 Why you ask? The post world is just about constant change, both in personnel and technology.  Once things get running really well, it's often just about time to switch to a new format and that can make life hard.  Fox is an all Avid shop, so that a unifying factor and a positive.

Gary is a writer at heart and he has taken jobs that allow him to earn a good living as well as participate in his passion projects like writing and teaching skills to the underprivileged.  

He advised one actor who had become a producer to take jobs that "allow you to have a pathway to your passion position."  Case in point, at 168 Film, it is perfectly legit for a producer to start a team and cast themselves and thus avoiding the casting line.  And you better believe it happens in "the real world" too.

Gary also had advice for young producers aiming towards a career making television. "Make a short film, show what you can do," he said.  Webisodes are basically short films on the web, and some of them make decent money and can inspire TV shows.
Googling "top earning webisode" yields a Top 25 Webisodes list and yes, it includes at least one 168 Alumnus Producer.  Robert Kirbyson's show CTRL is mentioned, starring Arrested Development fan-favorite, Tony Hale.  The site says that rumors of a possible second season are swirling. Reportedly, Yahoo! has recently taken interest in reviving the show (2013).  It's dated, but I like the sentiment!

A three-time 168 veteran, Robert Kirbyson also wrote and directed the Steve McEveety feature "Snowmen," which won Best Film awards at The Tribeca and Dallas Film Festivals.

Said Kirbyson, "I'm very thankful for the 168 Film Project. Within weeks of moving to LA, it helped me get connected to other Christian professionals, who have become long-term friends and collaborators. Most of the crew on ‘CTRL Z’ (his short, adapted into a 10-part webseries for NBC Universal) were people I've worked with on 168 projects, or wanted to work with after seeing their films at the festival."

Alumni Joshua & Rebekah Weigel's short film "The Butterfly Circus" will soon be made into a feature film with "Lord of the Rings" trilogy Executive Producer, Mark Ordesky.
What do they have in common?  168 Film.

According to Gary, "The 168 Film Project is an effective tool for exposing new talent. I regularly use the best of 168 as a showcase for my colleagues here at 20th Century Fox. It's a consistent source of excellent new Actors, Producers, Directors, Editors, Directors of Photography and more, whom we expect to work with in the near future."  According to Gary, several 168 actors have been cast in Fox Shows.
Gary did mention a certain multiple award-winning editor whom, he'd noticed in the 168 contest. He's tried to hire him many times, but the guy is just too busy.   
Mr. Hall will serve as a Grand Jury Member for the 2015 "Freedom-themed" edition of the 168 Film Project.  The Competition is in May and the 168 Film Festival is August 29-30 at Regal Cinemas at LA Live.

Gary is Sr. Vice President of Post Production for Twentieth Century Fox Television where he oversees post-production for all scripted network and cable series. His production responsibilities include past and present hits like 24, THE SIMPSONS, BONES, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and HOMELAND. Gary has written and produced for 21 JUMP STREET, THE A-TEAM and PENSACOLA: WINGS OF THE GOLD. In addition to working in the television industry, Hall has also worked as a police officer for LAPD for over 30 years, with multiple commendations for bravery and service. He has worked such assignments as gangs, narcotics, homicide and on several special assignments including the infamous “Night Stalker" case. Gary is currently assigned to patrol duty.

He and his wife Cyndi founded a prison ministry called HOLLYWOOD IMPACT STUDIOS, whose goal is:

To bring new hope and a brighter future to those individuals who have been dealt a tough hand in life; to use the art of television and filmmaking to change lives; and provide a training ground where Hollywood professionals mentor these individuals in order to identify and develop their individual God-given talents and passions in order to choose a new path.

2/13/15

With 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Universal Studios Advocates Violence Against Women - N.O.W. Oddly Silent Advocates

"Fifty Shades of Grey" (FSG) is now in theaters.  Critic website rottentomatoes.com gave it a 28% out of 100%.  May I suggest an alternative, "Old Fashioned." This indie film shows a gallant, chivalrous view of women and an alternative to the objectification of the fairer sex that we see in FSG.

One of the worst aspects of this insidious film is that they are marketing sexual violence as Romance! Is this the best Universal Studios can do for VALENTINES DAY?

Am I advocating a boycott?  Christians should know better then to go see this film in the first place.  And, boycotts often backfire (i.e. THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST).

But, definitely let your voice be heard to those advocating this abuse of women and families by writing to Universal Studios and telling them how disappointed you are in their support of this abuse.

By the way, FSG sequels are planned.  Here is the link to

Universal Studios Complaint Form:
http://www.universalstudios.com/contact_form.php?email_id=40

YOU CAN ALSO FIGHT BACK HERE:
fiftyshadesisabuse.com

What will they (and others) do for an erotic encore?  You know that no envelope-pushers wanna be accused of being tame slackers.  No, they want to be EDGY and cool and mostly, to make lots of filthy lucre.

FSG could be called a variety of names.  "Fifty Ways to Degrade Intimacy," "Fifty Ways to Call for Violence and Humiliation of Women," "Fifty Things Studio Execs Wouldn't Want Their Kids to Watch - but it's Ok If it Makes Money, wink, wink."

Ironically, lead actress' mother Melanie Griffith posted a note on Facebook Tuesday, saying, “My daughter Dakota Johnson forbids me from seeing ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’”

And wow, where are all the voices against violence toward women!?  The usual suspects are very, very quiet on this.  In fact, a search on “Fifty Shades of Grey” and feminist group National Organization for Women (NOW) comes up, Goose Eggs, zeros.  Why?

Well according to our Catholic friends,

NOW's silence on “Fifty Shades” is explained thusly:

"Nominally speaking, the physical and psychological exploitation of Ana in “Fifty Shades” by her control-freak friend, Christian, should be ripe material for feminists."

"But their reticence makes sense once we understand what really drives them: sex without consequences. For straights, this means abortion rights. For gays, it means a cure for HIV/AIDS. In other words, they want to indulge their sexual passions without being burdened by babies and diseases. Most of all, they do not want to be judged."

"So there you have it. To condemn “Fifty Shades”—even by focusing on how it invites men to treat women as their sex slaves—is to invite judgment on matters sexual. And there is no bigger taboo in the world than that."

More Here: http://www.catholicleague.org/feminists-go-mute-fifty-shades/

 Here's another point of view:

“What’s unique about it is the overall message is that they’re trying to glamorize and romanticize violence against women,” said Amanda Smith, spokeswoman for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which launched a website fiftyshadesisabuse.com.

“It’s such a lie,” Smith said, “telling women that they should want to endure this kind of physical abuse and telling them that women want it, and also pushing the lie that if women are obedient and subservient enough, then they can fix a violent and controlling man.”

Here's food for thought on FSG from my good friend Alex McFarland.

What's Love Got to Do with It?
In "Fifty Shades of Grey," Nothing

Valentine’s Day used to be about roses and chocolates; this year, it’s about bondage sex and psychological abuse. Today, the highly controversial “Fifty Shades of Grey” debuts in theaters across the country. And while the film’s book namesake is purportedly ‘erotic romance,’ in reality, the movie glorifies sexual violence, dominance and psychological abuse.

According to one report, 20 minutes of the 100-minute film are scenes of graphic sex. And the film carries an “R” rating not only for “graphic nudity” but also for “unusual behavior,” which entails BDSM sex scenes (BD=Bondage and Discipline; DS=Dominance and Submission; SM=Sadism and Masochism).

Religion and culture expert Dr. Alex McFarland says the movie is the latest installation in a cultural trend that advances a skewed definition of love.

“Few things are as unthinkable as promoting violent sex and psychological abuse in the name of ‘romance,’” McFarland said. “But it’s hardly surprising that our culture has come to this point when we recognize that for years, sex has been glorified as the ultimate standard of love. And not sex within the God-ordained protection of marriage between one man and one woman, but sex that is simply a means of taking what we want from someone else to gratify ourselves. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ goes beyond even this twisted view of sex and love and elevates sexual abuse as acceptable.

http://www.hamiltonstrategies.com/news/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-in-fifty-shades-of-grey-nothing


FILM STATS ACCORDING TO WIKI:

Rating and censorship

Screenwriter Marcel said she expected the film to have a NC-17 rating in the United States.[88] Producer De Luca predicted the film would be rated R.[89] On January 5, 2015, the MPAA did give the film an R rating, basing its decision on "strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and language."[90]

On January 30, in Australia, the film was rated MA15+ by the ACB for "strong sex scenes, sexual themes and nudity".[91] On February 2, 2015, the British BBFC classified the film an 18 certificate, mentioning "strong sex".[1] In Canada, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, the film was rated at 18A by the OFRB, MFCB, AFR, and BCFCO respectively due to its "occasional upsetting or disturbing scenes, and partial or full nudity in a brief sexual situation."[92][93] In Quebec, the Régie du cinéma rated the movie under the 16+ category for its eroticism.[94] In France, the film earned a 12 rating.[95]

Anti-pornography watchdog group Morality in Media argued that the film's R rating "severely undermines the violent themes in the film and does not adequately inform parents and patrons of the film’s content", and that the MPAA was encouraging sexual violence by letting the film by without an NC-17 rating.[96][97]
The film was scheduled for a February 12, 2015 release in Malaysia, but it was denied a certificate by the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) for its "unnatural" and "sadistic" content. The LPF chairman, Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, said Fifty Shades was "more pornography than a movie."[98][99] The film was also banned in Kenya.[100]
In the Philippines, the film's sex scenes were to be censored after protests from various religious groups, and as a result it is in limited release in the Philippines [99]

Opposition campaign

On January 28, 2014, a campaign in the United States by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation started two petitions to boycott the film's release. Their website makes more than 50 allegations that the film has a negative impact on the community. It said, "Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women. The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable. Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check."[101] By February 7, one of the petitions had garnered more than 53,000 signatures.[102] On February 2, in Michigan, a man petitioned to halt the film's release at a local Celebration Cinema. Despite the man's efforts, the president of the cinemas declined to cancel the release of the film. He said, "We’ve been in business for 70 years and people often times object to content, and it’s not our job to censor the content of a widespread movie. It’s not in our best interest. It’s not in the community’s best interest." The film sold 3,000 tickets before the release and was expected to sell a total of 10,000 tickets.[103][104]

Reception

Box office

Pre release

Tickets for the film went on sale from January 11, 2015 in the United States.[85] According to ticket-selling site Fandango, Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling R-rated title in its 15-year history, surpassing Sex and the City 2.[105] It also had the biggest first week of ticket sales on Fandango for a non-sequel film, surpassing 2012's The Hunger Games.[105][106] It is also Fandango's fourth fastest advance seller of all time behind The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and The Hunger Games.[107] The demand prompted US theatre owners to add new showtimes.[105][108] Weeks before the film's release, several box office analysts suggested as much as a $60 million domestic four day opening[109][110][111][112][85] while Box Office Mojo reported that a $100 million opening could be possible.[113]
Outside the United States, the film pre-sold 4.5 million tickets in 39 markets.[114] In the UK, the film sold £1.3 million ($1.9 million) worth of tickets a week before its release.[115]

Theatrical run

Fifty Shades of Grey opened in North America on Thursday, February 12, 2015 across 2,830 theaters[116] and was widened to 3,645 theaters the next day making it the widest R-rated opening,[117] and the third widest R-rated release of all time.[118] It earned $8.6 million from Thursday night shows which is the highest late night show for a film released in February, Universal's highest late night show (previously held by Fast and Furious 6 with $6.5 million) and the second highest R-rated preview gross behind The Hangover Part II ($10.4 million).[116]
Outside North America, the film was released in four markets on February 11 — France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Philippines where it opened at #1 in each markets and grossed a total of $3.7 million.[119] It set an opening day record for Universal Studios in France with $2.7 million (previously held by Fast and Furious 6).[38] The film also broke records for biggest R-18 opening day of all time in Philippines and Universal's biggest opening day in Belgium.[120] In Australia, the film was released on February 12 and set an opening day record for both a film released in February and the biggest opening day for an MA rated film with $2.5 million—a particularly barren spot in the winter dump months of the movie-release calendar.[121]

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics.[122] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 27% approval rating, with an rating average of 4.2/10 based on 148 reviews. The website's consensus reads: "While creatively better endowed than its print counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey is a less than satisfying experience on the screen."[123] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critic, the film has a score of 47 based on 41 collected reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[124]
Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News praised the directing, screenplay, and Johnson's performance. However, she called Dornan's performance, the leads' chemistry, and the supporting cast "underused". She praised the film for honoring the essence of its source and the director's way of balancing "atmosphere with action".[125] In The Guardian, Jordan Hoffmann awarded the film three out of five stars, writing "this big screen adaptation still manages to be about people, and even a little bit sweet", and that the sex scenes "are there to advance the plot, and only the most buttoned-up prude will be scandalised."[126] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B-, writing: "This perfectly normal way of consuming erotica suggests that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey will work better as home entertainment, when each viewer can race past the blah-blah about how well Christian plays the piano and pause on the fleeting image of the man minus his pants."[127]
Marcelo Hessel from Omelete called the film a "little porn for the family" and "a film more pulled over for comedy than for romance, although unintentionally."[128] Claudia Puig of USA Today wrote that "the dialogue is laughable, the pacing is sluggish and the performances are one-note."[129] Moira Macdonald from The Seattle Times wrote that "Fifty Shades of Grey the movie, for the record, is not quite as bad as Fifty Shades of Grey the book. But that’s not saying much."[130] The Guardian's lead film critic Peter Bradshaw gave the film one star out of five, calling it "the most purely tasteful and softcore depiction of sadomasochism in cinema history" with "strictly daytime soap" performances.[131]




  • 2/12/15

    When it Rains, It Pours - Daniel Furukawa















    Daniel Furukawa, Producer
    Best Film of 2014 Acceptance Speech


    I recently got a chance to visit with Award Winning Producer, Daniel Furukawa.   His film "What Showers Bring" won the Best Film Award at the 168 Film Festival 2014.

    "What Showers Bring" garnered ten nominations including: 

    Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (2 Noms: Kelli Goss as Rachel, Paige Spara as Leah), Best Screenplay–Drama, Best Scriptural Integration, (use of foundational scripture), Best Sound Design, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Hair and Makeup. 

    "Showers" Won for:

    Best Film: Daniel Furukawa, Producer 
    Best Actress: Kelly Goss as Rachel
    Best Original Score: Sean Massey, Composer


    THE INTERVIEW:

    JDW: What is your level of experience in the industry?

    DF: I have very little experience on a film or television set. Most of my experience is in shooting and editing for churches, missions organizations, and corporations. A few of our teammates on the project have had some experience in smaller television productions, but for most of us this project was our first attempt at creating a narrative.

    JDW: How did you get started?

    DF: Actually, one of the first video projects I worked on, aside from high school class projects, was a tribute to a friend who passed away in college. I started shooting and editing consistently about 10 years ago for the church where my dad was working at the time.

    JDW: What was your goal in producing for 168 Film?

    DF: Our original goal was to find something to do that would challenge us as a group and stretch us creatively. We had been meeting together for a while and knew that we needed a specific goal to set our sights on. The 168 project provided that point of focus. As artists, we recognized that we had the tendency to plan and brainstorm, but rarely make it to the point of actual execution. By entering 168 we had guidelines and a goal, but most importantly for us, we had a deadline. I think deadlines are the necessary evil for artists. We hate them and need them at the same time. 

    JDW: How did you organize your team?

    DF: We had been meeting for a while prior to the 168 project.  A group of about 8-10 of us, each with our own individual skill sets, had decided about a year ago to meet and create projects on our own. Our hope was to create projects from the ground up, for the sole purpose of practice and perfecting our skills.



    Best Film Team 2014
     Daniel Furukawa, Producer


    JDW: Did you have everything you needed when you started out?

    DF: It depends on how you look at it. We had a camera, a microphone, a crew ready to create and work hard, and luckily, an extremely talented group of actresses and actors who were willing to give up their time.  So yes, we had everything we needed, technically.  We shot on a very small budget (less than $1000), so we made decisions to shoot everything in one day, and mostly with natural lighting.  We also made decisions to shoot in locations that we had access to for free, like our own home. 

    JDW: How did you get the actors that worked on your film?

    DF: Our Casting Director, Genevieve Penn, is very good at what she does. She is an excellent evaluator of talent and potential. We trusted her completely and it paid off. 

    JDW: How did your faith impact the production?

    DF: Our faith impacts everything. I know that sounds like a Sunday school answer, but its true. We hope that our faith dictated the process completely. Our intention was to make a film that would impact people. We felt that it was important to create a story that people could relate to, and in turn, find hope in its message. We didn't want to necessarily wrap it up in a "Jesus Bow," but we wanted people to see that redemption is real, and Jesus is offering it to us. We experienced God's change of plans many times.  He has a wonderful way of taking what we've done (or set out to do) and remaking and renewing the plan into something we never thought possible.

    JDW: What are your plans for the film?

    DF: We want to make it available to as many people as possible, especially as an encouragement to couples struggling with the desire to have children naturally and harsh realities of infertility and other issues relating to conception.  Adoption is a wonderful alternative. 

    JDW: What are your plans for the future?

    DF: We hope to make more films. The 168 process opened our eyes and lit a fire in us to continue to create. We were encouraged not to limit ourselves with our budget and equipment excuses, but to allow the story to drive what we do. My dad always used to tell me when I was young, "the equipment doesn't make the man." That couldn't be more true than in filmmaking. Don't get me wrong, we love gear, but we won't allow the lack of it to prevent us from pursuing excellence in what we love to do.

    JDW: What would you like people to know about the production? About you? About your team?

    DF: We are young and inexperienced, but we are wide-eyed and excited to learn and better ourselves. We know we have so much to learn and we are thankful to 168 for contributing to our journey. Ultimately, we hope that in our team you see a glimpse of our Creator.

    1/21/15

    Peter Wigand, "Blood" and the "M" Word



    Director Peter Wigand

    Sexual sin is often NOT talked about.  There are some that believe that if sin doesn't affect anyone else, then it's not really sin.  Or maybe it doesn't count as much.

    Jesus himself had much to say about the subject, as does the Bible.

    Director Peter Wigand's film was made for the 168 Film Project in 2013.  "Blood" is a daring film that takes on the "M" word (masturbation) with so much subtlety that you might not even know it is going on.  Yet it gets to a discussion about lust that we all need to have.  

    To see the 10-minute film, click here.  Note: There is zero sex in the film, but there are very mature themes.  So, Mature Audiences Only, please.

    The Bible says nothing about M, but clearly condemns lustful thoughts.

    Many adolescents and really all men of faith have to wonder if it is possible to do this without lust and therefore avoid shame and guilt feelings.

    Some call it a pressure release with which we have been availed and a necessary way to avoid greater sins.  Why does it even work?  Why are human arms of a certain length?

    Whatever the truth, here is an interesting verse that could speak of doing the difficult thing and "suffering" or striving to want holiness more than we do a release.  Therein lies the key, what do you allow into your mind and for how long do you allow it to distract you from your true purpose.

    1 Peter 4:1-2 "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God." (NIV)

    Here's a candid interview with Peter Wigand.  Enjoy!

    168: What was the collaboration on the set of "Blood" like?
    PW: It was great actually. It's the first time I got to direct a narrative film with a strong Christian message, and for some reason it was clear God wanted me to do this. So He really brought it all together. We had regular prayer on set and our meetings, and the difference that brings is enormous. Everyone was filled with a positive energy and wanted to do their best all the time.

    Describe the collaboration of shots and ideas with your Director of Photography?
    PW: "My DP, James Drake, is one of the most talented, yet humble people I know. He was great in collaborating with me and handled my “cinematographer moments” very well.

    I think a strong collaboration with your DP is one of the most important things.  He and I went out to the location once we had a rough script and "shot out" the movie in little stills to be sure we are on the same page.

    What were you trying to say with the film?

    PW: It's easy to forget (or to not REALLY believe) how God's grace through Jesus' all sufficient sacrifice really does make us clean if we accept it. A lot of us still live as "bondservants" to sin or religious thinking, trying to somehow redeem ourselves through good deeds or sacrifices of some sort (in our film we took the literal approach obviously).

    The foundational verse for "Blood" is Hebrews 9:22 "The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (of sins)." (NIV)

    It's the old covenant versus the new covenant. Christ entered the heavenly tabernacle once and for all (as described in Hebrews 9). 

    But, instead of dying to ourselves, or letting ourselves "dissolve" in God's grace and forgiveness and through that, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is really the only thing that can set us free from the power of sin, we still hold on to the idea that we can somehow be righteous and please God through something we do.

    It’s to indulge in pleasure that seems less sinful than acting out the sinful fantasies. It's using other people in your mind for your own pleasure.  It's selfishness.

    Yet, Jesus clearly points out the importance of thought life and attitude of the heart. (Mathew 5:28).
    Also, the old and somewhat worn out phrase “what would Jesus do” can be applied here as well.

    Hebrews 4:15 says "(Jesus) has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin." (NIV)

    And by LIVING in his grace, not abusing it as a ticket to sin, we ought to live holy lives which starts in our hearts.  Romans 6:14 "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace."

    But why do we deceive ourselves into thinking it’s fine if we do it? We think it’s fine, cause we aren’t God’s son and we are still in our weak flesh that we have to battle. But that’s just half the truth.
    The truth is we ARE children of God, through Jesus’ sacrifice, which involved His very own BLOOD. 

    The symbolism of the lamb and it's sacrifice in your film is hard to take for some.  Describe your process in making the connection with "the sin that no one talks about."

    PW: Its interesting that there is a sin that automatically brings more shame than other sins. Sexual sin does bring shame, but I feel like masturbation is probably even one of the most shameful sexual sins.

    That's why we chose to have our character struggle with that very thing. It needed to be something that he was so ashamed of that he can't talk about it with anyone else, which is exactly why it has so much power over us.

    James 5:16 says: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)

    Of course in the story he also commits straight up adultery (as in extramarital sex) and it's interesting how most people are more uncomfortable watching the scene where he disappears in the bathroom (alone), but are fine with the scene that implies him having had sex with the other woman.

    Anyway, it shocks me how we are believe that we don't need to be as accountable to God when it comes to our thoughts and imagination, our hearts and minds.  

    Matthew 5:27-28 says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

    I used to think that it was OK to indulge in that kind of sin as long as it was all imaginary, but God worked on my heart a lot over the last couple years, and it's clear to me that only if we give our all to Jesus can we be free and live life to the full.

    It's sad how ineffective our churches and Christians are in this country (or most of the western civilization) and I truly believe that being subdued to the power of sin (which happens by being fine with having "a little bit of evil" dwell in our hearts) is the reason for that (sadly, for we males, who are supposed to be the leaders) most of the time, its the sexual sins that keep us down.

    Anything else you want to point out?

    PW: Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  Hebrews 9:14 says:
    “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”

    One thing we tried to portray in the film is the seriousness of the consequence of sin, which is death. Blood stands for life. The shedding of blood (death) is necessary for redemption.

    The reality of sacrificing and shedding blood for our sin is STILL here. Just because Jesus did it once and for all over 2000 years ago, doesn’t mean He didn’t shed His blood for the very sins we are committing TODAY or may even still commit!

    We take His sacrifice MUCH too light-heartedly when applying it to our lives.

    People cringed and shifted in their seats when our film “Blood” suggested (through the power of sound design) the sacrifice of an “innocent, poor” sheep. Yet we don’t seem to be too upset to “make use” of Jesus’ blood over and over and over again.

    This is not supposed to be a guilt trip, but rather to remind us of the reality of the sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and how it OUGHT to impact us much deeper than our superficial, selfish struggles in the flesh, such as masturbation.

    And on top of Him giving His own life for us, he even gave us a helper, and promised us that there is ALWAYS a way out, 1 Cor. 10:13: " No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

    What are you working on in the near future?

    PW: Currently I am working on a short film called "Bound."  It's about a man who is bound to an electric wheel chair on which he escapes the nursing home to find his freedom. Although it's only a 7 pages long it will be quite the production and we're hoping to be ready to shoot in the summer.

    I am also working on a feature about the life of someone I personally knew and recently passed away.
    The story deals with addiction on a very deep level. My writer and I are currently sifting through his (many) life events trying to shape it into an engaging drama, but we still have a long way to go.




    12/19/14

    Writer Producer Brian Bird Takes on Congress - Faith and Family Values

    Brian Bird is a successful writer/producer, longtime friend and 168 Board Member.  He will be featured at our Dec. 27th workshop in Columbus, OH: "Create! Actor-Writer-Producer Workshop" 
    See Short description below. Register Here  

    Here's a fascinating story on Brian's Hallmark Channel original series, "When Calls the Heart."  It shows the importance and power of social media for entertainment.


     Brian Bird, Writer/Producer

    "When Calls the Heart" was seen on TV by Indiana Congressman Marlon Stutzman and his wife, Christy, and they fell in love with the show. They joined a Facebook fan group for the show called the Hearties, which sprang up organically during the first season of the show in 2014. 

    The Facebook Group "The Hearties" were so passionate about the show that they helped #WhenCallstheHeart to trend nationally on Twitter (top 10 topics) during the final three episodes of Season 1.

    On Facebook, the Hearties grew from nearly 4,000 at the end of the Season 1 airings to almost 21,000 members today.  All that happened without any marketing support or paid-ads, instead through word of mouth and "e-Fangelism."

    A similar organic groundswell happened with the fans of Joshua and Rebekah Weigel's "The Butterfly Circus." These phenomenon are a testament to what happens when artists accomplish their primary job, to make excellent art.

    In June, Brian was invited by Congressman Stutzman and his wife to join five other Congressmen and their spouses for a visit of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA.

    Brian was asked to make a short presentation about "When Calls the Heart" and the need for more family-friendly programming on TV and in films.

    Brian's visit with the group led to an invitation in November 2014 to attend a luncheon on Capitol Hill of the 75-member Republican Study Committee, along with private meetings with 10 other congressmen and their legislative staffs, to continue the discussion on family programming.

    MIDWEST WORKSHOP:

    "Create! Actor-Writer-Producer Workshop": with Brian Bird, Writer/Producer "When Calls the Heart," "Touched by an Angel." See more at the link below: https://www.168film.com/About/News-Press/ctl/ArticleView/mid/529/articleId/28/168-Winter-Schedule--Ohio-Workshop-for-Actors-Writers-Producers

    At the workshop, Brian will speak (via Skype) on "Producing 'Faith' in Hollywood Today." He will answer questions, including How has the game changed? and How do I Make My Project Irresistible to Hollywood? For Actors, Brian will discuss being smart about your career and exploring the other side of the camera. Actors will learn to create memorable auditions.


    Register Here: https://www.168film.com/Store/Product-Details/168-Create-Workshop-OH

    11/26/14

    Interview with Greg Gearlds-Write of Passage Winner

    Congratulations to Greg Gearlds, our Write of Passage Winning Writer for 2014.  

    That means he wrote the best 12-page screenplay in one week (168 hours, based on a foundational scripture) with an advisor called a Development Executive (DE).  Allen Wolf is the winning DE.  Both are interviewed below. 

    Prizes include $1,000 cash, introductions to Hollywood Pros, including Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken," “When Calls The Heart”) and an InkTip Script Listing to provide exposure to their extensive network of producers, reps, manager, agents, and others.

    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. Writers and mentors (DE's) receive screen credit if their film is made.  


    Greg Gearlds

    From Greenfield, Indiana, Greg Gearlds is a writer/director. We asked him some probing questions and got probing answers.

    JDW: What do you do for work?

    GG:  Currently, I am Senior Manager of e-Commerce for a division of a global sporting goods company.

    JDW: How did you learn about 168?

    GG: I think I came across 168 in an internet search for Christian film festivals.

    JDW: What was your inspiration for this year’s story, “The Tall Grass”?

    GG: Mainly from personal experience.  We lived in a neighborhood for about five years and after we moved it really hit me that I didn't know anything about our neighbors.  I didn't know what they did for a living, how long they'd lived there and in some cases, I didn't even know their first names.  For the record, I don't think this is a good thing.  So, I took that concept of not really knowing your neighbor, threw in a conflict about the lawns and the story kind of came together.

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

    The 2014 Verse: Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. NIV

    GG: Basically the main character in the story, even though he is a Christian and goes to church, is so self-absorbed in his own "stuff" that he simply doesn't see his neighbor the way that Christ would.  The grass and his focus on that "thing" (in our own lives it may not be grass) keep him from serving his neighbor as we are called to do.

    JDW: The graduation of the character (from angry to healing) gives your story depth.  What is the big picture in terms of salvation?

    GG:  It is really the path all Christians should be on.  It may not be angry to healing but we should be changing and becoming more Christ-like every day.  If we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we should be able to look in our past and see that we have grown or are growing away from our un-Christ-like traits.  Of course, we will never be perfect as long as we are living and breathing on this earth, but we should be changing.  

    JDW: What obstacles have you had to overcome in life?  How have they helped your writing? 

    GG:  I honestly can't really name any obstacles that I've had to overcome; my life has really been pretty easy.  That's not to say I don't have challenges, everyone has challenges, and those challenges certainly influence what I write.  

    JDW: Tell us about your other films/works of art?
    GG:  I've shot two short films and the real purpose behind those films was to get better as a writer.  I wanted to take what I had written on the page and translate that to the screen and see what worked and what didn't.  Both films we shot on prayers, favors and broken shoestring budgets and unfortunately they look like it.  I still believe that story is number one, but when it comes to films, production value is a very, very close second.   I love stories so I also have written a number of short stories and do quite a bit of photography. You can see the short films and some photography at www.greggearlds.com
    JDW: Tell us about your family and where you live. How has your environment and family shaped your writing?

    GG:  I am married and have two kids, ages 9 and almost 14.  We live on a small family farm and try, emphasis on try, to live a simple, slower lifestyle.  We have a large vegetable garden in the summer and raise goats and sheep and pigs for meat.  We also milk the goats.   We home-school the kids, which really fits well with our lifestyle.  I really think the desire for a simple life shapes my writing by making me look at the things that get in the way of that.  

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


    GG: Allen was great to work with.  He really challenged me to show not tell - the first rule of screenwriting right?  But, it’s still probably one of the most often broken rules.  Allen called me out when my descriptions were weak or in some cases missing altogether.  Through this he really helped give life to each of the scenes.


    Interview with Winning Development Executive (and wiseguy) Allen Wolf:


    Allen Wolf


    JDW: You are a three-time winning Development Executive of the Best Screenplay.  What is your secret?

    AW: My secret is being the best Development Executive ever. Period. I’ve also conquered humility. Done.

    JDW: Do you recruit in Indiana?

    AW:  I’m originally from Ohio so I recruited about 500 people from the Midwest to sign up for this contest in the hopes that at least one of them would end up on my team. That just happened to be Greg.

    And good for him for playing the odds. People from the Midwest create some kind of magic when they work together on screenplays and Greg and I proved that without a doubt. Unfortunately that’s the only kind of magic Midwest people can create together other than levitating spoons, which has never been that handy.

    JDW: Do you have any ties to the Indianapolis 500 or the Colts?

    AW: I founded both. It’s hard for people to believe that but I’m kind of a slowly aging Benjamin Button but in reverse. I’ve been around for a long time. I used to own 500 colts on a farm in Indianapolis, which is where I got the idea to create both. Now I ride my colts to watch the cars race or cheer while whatshisname makes an awesome touchdown. Go, Go Indianapolis!


    In all seriousness, it was a pleasure to mentor Greg throughout the process. He’s a talented fellow.