Posted tagged ‘Hollywood’

Finding the light in Hollywood?

September 1, 2009

Recently, on the way to L.A, I stopped at a truck stop for gas, when this huge, white semi pulled up in front of me with a rather bold statement. On the trailer, the word “Hollywood”  was painted in huge, black letters, and encircling it was a red circle with a slash through the middle. Crosses, Jesus pictures, and Christian fish symbols dotted the outside of the  shiny, red cab. My initial thought upon reading this bold, anti-Hollywood advertisement was, “Wow, that is one heck of a conversation starter.” I could just imagine the comments those guys received on the road. When the semi pulled out and I continued towards L.A– that ‘dreaded’ and ‘fearful land’ so many Christians perceive as “Hollywood”– I started thinking about two things: first, there are numerous, good and talented Christian people working right in the heart of Hollywood (actually, I was on my way to Catholic Underground with some fellow JP Catholic Student to watch a night of talented musicians), and second, how did St. Paul evangelize to the Gentles? Take, for example, Act One, a Christian organization of talented writers, producers, actors, and directors from all across the U.S., who’s mission is similar to that of JP Catholic University. Their building lies directly below the Hollywood sign. Christopher Riley, a professor of screenwriting at John Paul the Great Catholic University, was originally the executive director of the writing program there. He also is an award winning screenwriter living in L.A. with his family and worked for Warner Bros. Studios as head of the script departmentfor many years. Certainly, Hollywood can’t be totally detrimental to society, since we do have these examples of strong Christian artists perfecting the filmmaking craft in successful and Godly ways. Far too easy is it to preach a positive message on screen. Much more challenging, however, is to deliver that message in an artistic and realistic way. Clearly, that takes skill and bravery. Just as St. Paul adopted a strategic way to evangelize to the Gentiles, so also we must find common ground with the mainstream secular audience. It’s not enough that we preach to the choir, for we are called to go into the darkness and bring the light. How can we achieve such a goal if we are avoiding the darkness and bashing the other side (who actually need our help most)? There is indeed hope in Hollywood, and being among aspiring filmmakers such as those at JP Catholic, we hope to be ambassadors of hope and bring light to the heart of the entertainment industry. Man is fallen, but beauty still appeals to his weak nature. Thus, we must perfect our craft both professionally and morally or else we will never be able to truly Impact the Culture for Christ.

Filming Skin Deep: Day 1

February 12, 2009

Today was the first day of filming Skin Deep for our production class.

We definitely have an all-star team. With Steve Marshall producing, Matt Salisbury and Patrick as the writing team, Michelle Cowdrey as gaffer, Josh Maas as cinematographer, and Brian Olson as our sound and editing supervisor, I couldn’t ask for a better-qualified group of students around me.

But there was a lot of pressure going in; there are some big Hollywood names interested in helping us promote the project if they think the final version turns out well. So people are really relying on me, as the director, to make it the best it can be. The problem was that we were not ready last night. Our actors arrived from far and wide, we had a script read through, we discussed shots, schedules, and plan-B’s. But there was still so much to do. Not all the props were accounted for. Not all the extras were accounted for. We didn’t know how everyone was going to get to the location. And on top of it all, we were unable to convince our professor to let us skip the midterm because of filming. I went to bed stressed and worried. I had discussed the issue of maintaining people’s high spirits on set, and he told me that that was up to me; he would be so worried about everything else that could be going wrong.

This morning we woke up at 7AM. 5 cars of people moved to our location. Half an hour late arriving, but otherwise flawless. The only cloud in the sky was the fact that is was raining. Hard. And that put a damper on our plans for later, which involved an outdoor cafeteria scene. But first things first, we filmed our morning indoor scene. Running a half-hour late, we did not have time to film the second scheduled scene before class time.

So we had lunch, we had our excellent set dressers put together the set, and we made some adjustments to the schedule. Then we went to class.

After class, we went to film the outdoor cafeteria scenes. It had stopped raining, and we were cutting corners left and right to get rolling. But we ran out of daylight way too fast. Right before we rolled camera, the producer and A.D. stopped me and said it was too dark. We would have to go with plan B.

After that, though, the day went perfectly. We filmed 2 scenes in the school hallway, the library scene, and the scene we had missed this morning. We even had a pizza dinner to top it off.

But now I have a headache. I think we all do. And we spent so much time preparing for today’s shoot, that we don’t have nearly as much done in preparation for tomorrow’s. We were all too tired to even go over dailies. And I am worried that we may be out of camera battery power. More and more things could go wrong. More weather problems, more time taken because we didn’t finish our call sheets…

I believe I should go to bed. I have to wake up at 7AM again in the morning. And I think I might be dealing with a grumpier crew tomorrow. I will let you know how it goes.