Call for Entries for Write of Passage Screenwriting Competition

I am extremely pleased to announce the call for entries for our new writing contest called WRITE OF PASSAGE.  

The competition offers writers the chance to be seen onscreen.  Signups are Aug. 20 - Oct. 18, 2009.  Writing week is October 19th-26th, 2009.

Top scripts compete for awards and $1,000 cash.  Selected scripts will be eligible to be produced by 168 Film Project veterans.  Resulting films will be screened during the Write of Passage Spotlight Exhibition at the 168 Film Festival, March 26-27, 2010 in LA, CA.

The prize package includes a meeting with Producer Ralph Winter ("X-MEN Origins: Wolverine").  In addition, writer/producers Luke Schelhaas ("Law and Order," "Smallville") and Brian Bird ("Not Easily Broken") will provide professional feedback to the top 3 writers.

For more, see press release by clicking on the title link above.




John Hughes and the Creeping Nature of Acceptability

A follower of the blog noted that John Hughes films are pretty raunchy, so I need to address it.  

My very first blog ever noted that I was wary of the blog-o-sphere, because more words and flapping of the old cyber-gums threatens to make us cyber-bums and blow hards. Shakespeare said "More matter, less art."  I think that is great wisdom.

So now, do I cop to the romanticizing of dearly held memories of my beloved John Hughes movies or do I take a stand and tell this guy to lay off my John Hughes memories?

Well honestly, I learned one thing.  Never write a blog in haste.  I looked at it and noted that it contradicted itself, even as I argued my point.

With the sound of Paul Young's sentimental "Everytime You Go Away" echoing in my ears, I defended the sweet spirit of "Planes, Trains and Autos" even as I remarked parenthetically about the one gratuitous scene with the dozen or so F-Bombs.  Hello. Earth to John.

Ok.  I can fess down to it. 

There is a lesson to be learned here.  Maybe two:

1.  We romanticize times past and remember the good things that were and the great feelings we associated with them and we ignore our pesky conscience.  

I think that this is how we pass along a great deal of unintentional baggage along to our children.  There are definitely things in the past that should stay there and not be coddled and romanticized.

Why do we get movies that are 97% wholesome?  It is usually a money decision when directors or studios or even producers throw in a really gratuitous scene into an otherwise family film.  Often it is to avoid a PG rating.  Yet, great PG films (like "Home Alone") tend to make the most money...Hmmm.

The "Christian" films that are "completely redeeming" and hold no offense or affront to one's morality are often made by well meaning, but substandard filmmakers and thus a mixed blessing.

But substandard films in the world's eyes don't mean substandard in God's eyes.  Thus we see some of these films doing very well at the box office and getting major distribution.  And they are getting better!

Soon 168 Alums will be taking their place at the table and they will be tested.  Will they go for the easy, exploitive bucks?  Only time will tell.  Pray for them to get there.

Many times, we are left to choose entertainment that is "mostly wholesome" or "fairly family."

As Bob Briner says in his classic book "Roaring Lambs," it is better to reward good films than to protest bad ones.

But, what if in reality, we agree with and love 97% of a film.  How do we communicate to the filmmaker that we don't like 3% of the film?

Just not going to the theatre will send 97% of the wrong message. 

One thing that can be done is to write the studios and/or the writers c/o the studios.
We should do our homework on sites like Movieguide.org to make sure we don't accidentally support low brow or debauched stories. 

A friend recently went to see "the Ugly Truth."  I rolled my eyes as she told me how shocked she was.  "So you walked out, right?" I asked.  "Huh?" she said.

Yes, it's true that you can and should get your money back and tell them WHY you want your money back.  

THE 1/2 RULE:  As long as the movie's not more than 1/2 over, you can get a refund and THEY WILL LISTEN AND REPORT TO THE STUDIOS.  

2. The other lesson is the Creeping Nature of Acceptability

The censors of the 50s had a much easier job.  The envelope was much more defined and pushing it took a lot less.  The church threw in the towel during that era and vacated the position as guardian of acceptability.   So in 2009, here we are with Judd Apatow and the rest of the "trade offensive for good comedy" writing crowd.

What passes for family entertainment at the theatre or on the Disney Channel would not have passed in the 50s.

What passes muster in our elected officials wouldn't have passed in the 50s either. 

Accountability is a game that only a few dare to play.  Most Americans think that they are far to busy to do anything like write the FCC or write to congress.

But we must.  If ever there was a time for accountability, it is surely now.

Google the FCC and complain next time you are offended.  Write your congressman about legislation, and walk out on a movie the next time you are offended.  (There is an historic Town Hall meeting on Healthcare on Tues. 8-11-09).

Being sensible and respectful in these types of protests are proven ways to affect change.


John Hughes, Farewell

It’s a sad day for American Cinema.  Legendary filmmaker and writer John Hughes has died at the age of 59!  He had a heart attack while jogging.

Here are some of his films:

“Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink,” 
”Ferris Bueller's Day Off,”
”Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,”
”Uncle Buck,” 
”Home Alone.”

If you’re like me, you have very fond memories of these and they take you back to a time and place when things were a lot brighter.  We laughed more and people had time to spend together.

Indeed, some of my identity is directly from the side-splitting humor of “Planes, Trains and Autos.”  In fact, I watch that with friends and family at least every other Christmas. 

All of these movies are imperfect and some have pretty rough edges (PTA has a scene with one of the most concentrated barrage of F-Bombs I have ever seen.  We usually fast forward that part).

But, the heart and (mostly) sweet spirit with which these films were created has not been equaled by anyone I can think of in such a great volume.

I think of today’s “hits.”  Much of the fun seems gone. 

Instead of one fast forward-able scene, many of today’s films take you through a gross-fest of disgusting sexual humor throughout, and it seems to be getting worse (thank you Judd Apatow and Sasha Cohen).

It’s not totally their fault, though.

It’s ours.  As long as we go to see films that have such darkness in them (“Bruno,” “Knocked Up,” “40-Year Old Virgin”), they will not change the formula. 

To me, it doesn’t matter that they give a lovely platitude at the end if they drag me through the mud to get me there (ie. "American Beauty").

John, I hope I see you in paradise.  You will be missed.

The 168 Film Project aims to raise up the next generation of great filmmakers; ones who are not afraid to celebrate the beautiful things of life and the Lord Jesus, who created it and sustains it by his sacrifice.

Stand with us.

We need your prayers and financial support.

Entries are now open at the Super Discounted Price of only $168 per team!   This price includes full benefits, including two All Fest Passes, Screening in L.A. and much more. 

Please spread the word.