Miracle on Providencia Street

On the set of "Bountiful," produced by Susan Shearer

& Amber Deegan and Directed by Eric Tozzi

Last night at the Wednesday Night Prayer Service for Media City Church a man named Paul came in for prayer. He was from FL and had come to break into Hollywood with his screenplay.

He was broke, living in his car and his father had recently died. He was desperate to find work so he could earn a few hundred dollars to return home. He had found absolutely no work and he was desperate. He knew he needed to return home. He broke down sobbing uncontrollably as we laid hands on and prayed for him.

Later one girl told the story of how she had received $20 unexpectedly and has given it away to someone else and then received even more money unexpectedly. Generosity was the point of her story. She said that God rewards those who "give it away" cheerfully.

As the prayer meeting broke up, I said to Paul and to the group, "So you know we are for real, here is $20 to help you get back to FL." Many others came up to him and gave him money, which he stuffed into his pocket. Yet he was still depressed because of what he saw as insurmountable financial need.

We talked for quite awhile about his screenplay. I asked him if it was honoring to God. He didn't directly answer, but said that it wasn't appropriate to talk about it in a church. I did not condemn him, but rather told him of our mission in 168: to illuminate the word of God and to make God-honoring films.

I explained the rationale and the long view of "The Envelope."

With each generation of filmmakers, the envelope is pushed to the point that shocking things of today will be tame compared to tomorrow's taboos. The result is a society (and children) that is increasingly foul-mouthed and accepting of debauchery. And story suffers greatly too. If you can't rely on shock value to entertain then you actually have to make an excellent story!!

IS IT REALLY EDGY ANYMORE TO BE EDGY? Shouldn't we really be uplifting those who build up society rather that those who degrade it.

Rather, the real rebels are those who rebel against the world's system and values by including beauty and honor and truth in their films and dare I say it, the truth of Jesus.

Please see the Evangelista Award Winning (Best gospel of Jesus Presentation) film on the "Best of 168 2010" DVD. Though not technically perfect, 1st Time Filmmaker Alberto Portillo's "Relentless Heart" is an excellent model and template for a "Gospel Film."

To order DVD click Here or call 818-843-6060.

Back to the miracle:

Twice I urged Paul to count the money. Twice he refused in his depression over the mountain of money he still needed to return home.

The third I asked him, he humored me and pulled out the wad of bills. We counted over $250, more than enough to get him home.

He was completely overwhelmed and excited by his need being completely met! He was giddy and couldn't wait to tell the folks in FL what God had done for him.

Me and a few others are still a little bruised from all the hugs he gave. I am also amazed that God did this and I know he will take care of us always.

And I know that all of our financial problems are nothing to Him who gave us life.

Be generous!


Sports & 3D, Apple & Netflix

George Lucas will be re-releasing all six Star Wars films in 3D starting in 2012 in order, which means you have to suffer through the latest ones to get to the good stuff. Sorry if I have offended the 3 Jar Jar Binks fans out there.

There were twenty films released in 3D in 2009 vs. eight in 2008. According to film-releases.com, over seventy 3-D titles have been scheduled from Fall 2010 - Dec. 2011. For full report, click here.

Some of these films were retro-fit, like "Clash of the Titans." The results of that experiment were mixed at best visually. But. if the public is willing to pay up to a 25% premium for tickets, you can see why they did it.

But, as an actor I wouldn't like my head to look that thick on the screen. Craninal victimization is the technical term for this unfortunate aspect of tacking on 3D to 2D material.

3D is here to stay, for now. 3D capable screens across the US and Canada have more than doubled to 3,548 in about a year.

The public is embracing it for now, but how long will they pay $16 (L.A.) vs. $12 for a movie.

ESPN is currently the only 3D network. They will broadcast 85 live sporting events to those with HD and 3D service AND a 3D capable screen.

Cost (with ATT U-Verse) $20 for HD/3D service, Panasonic 3D capable 50" Plasma TV $2400. You can get smaller screens for about $1500, but why would you.

What about 2D Web TV: ESPN3.com, MLB.tv & NHL Gamecenter now give sports fans the ability to watch their favorite teams live over the internet.

I tried it on my ATT U-Verse ultra-slow connetion and it's not bad!

Watching my Alma Matter, Miami University (Redhawks, not the weather conditions) was not possible on my Sprint HTC phone. Luckily Colt McCoy and The Cleveland Browns have a Bye this week.

Are we are all moving toward unplugging the ball and tether of cable TV, in this economy. I think so.

In the past, there have not been effective ways to stream content to your living room.

But, AppleTV, Boxee and others are getting there. I hope they can get the phone apps working soon.

Seeing the "spinning beach ball of death" (system busy icon) on my phone as I tried to access real time streaming content makes me wax nostalgic (read as "angry) about dialup internet access speeds and wait times.

As the trickle becomes a gusher of people rushing to "Over the Top" (OTT) or internet based TV, we may see the information superhighway slow to a crawl.

Bandwidth is a moving, relative target. It's more than adequate for highly compressed video. Try uncompressed HD and dialup will look like a dream come true.

Finally, I expect OTT offerings to increase in value and competitiveness to broadcast TV (small and getting smaller "B" intended). Apple is easily the most innovative large company in entertainment and their voice will be heard.

Flexing their muscles and their generous war chest, Apple may soon be in acquisition mode.

One likely target is Netflix with their $50 billion plus in cash reserves. The synergy of the deal will bolster badly needed content as well as around 16 million users to market iPhones, iPads and all things Apple.


168 Write of Passage Writers Begin, What Would Jesus Write?

Picture: Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7; Luke 6:20-49) is believed to have been given at the top of the ridge (near the buiding) in the vicinity of Capernaum.

The Write of Passage Screenwriting Competition is underway! Over 130 writers are now sweating it out, their assignment is to make a story out of this verse: Proverbs 28:13 "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."

The final participation includes: 24 Mentors or RCPs, 8 countries: Canada, England, Ireland, Turkey, France, Netherlands, Japan and 23 US states. Want to know what it's like to compete:

See below for "The Writer Stumbles" a hilarious promo from 168 alumni Mark Blitch.

What would Jesus write?

Mark 4:33-34 "With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."

Regarding the Kingdom of God, Jesus told many parables when he was with the masses. Some were plain and some required deliberation, wrestling and even argument.

This argues for a great diversity of films, from "Gospel" variety to "JGF," or Just Good Films. Yet, much of what we see out of Hollywood is banal, pedantic and dishonest.

Like great filmmakers, Jesus posed many questions, always with a point of view. He never talked down to his audience, but assumed that seekers would find answers.

Has our culture discouraged this seeking and finding answers? Have we become so lazy that we want it handed to us, even to the point of intellectual welfare. To teach a man to fish or to think for himself is the most humane approach.

For spiritual artists, the debate will never end regarding content for movies and TV. The question will always be asked and second-guessed, "How Much Faith is too Much?" One key to this question is "as much as they could understand."

How much do you think people can understand or tolerate? How does your attitude reflect in your art?

Imagine a giant movie screen installed at the site of the Sermon on the Mount (pictured above). Would Jesus have used the tools of the times. You bet!