Artists, It’s Up To You

“…it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed.”

Scott McClellan posted an interesting blog article in Collide Magazine this week. He references a letter Pope John Paul II wrote to encourage artists in the Church. Scott was quoting from a book that references the letter. I appreciated the few quotes Scott included, such as:

… In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. All believers are called to bear witness to this; but it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed.

You can read Scott’s post in Collide Magazine on-line: Collide Magazine » Blog Archive » It’s Up To You.

I have a copy of the Pope’s letter, kindly sent to me by my friend Byron Spradlin. The Pope gave his address on Easter Sunday, 1999. He began with these words, “To all who are passionately dedicated to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.” You can read the whole text here.

It’s great to have a lot of voices out there encouraging artists. Sometimes it seems as though faith communities still don’t get it, or at least don’t get artists (and vice versa).

For my part, I’m about extending the vision beyond our own local faith communities to see how artists can bring their stories to the ends of the earth and to learn the stories that God has given to other cultures. Art makes the transcendent concrete and it has the capability to cross cultural barriers in ways our texts and practices often can’t. How far can you take your creative expression?

Filmmaking and Gamemaking

How does collaboration differ in game development from film development?

How does collaboration differ in game development from film development?

My son is a game developer and fan of both computer games and films. I am not really a gamer myself, but I appreciate the power of interactive, participatory storytelling and the way some games have become more and more filmic and story-driven. I hope someday to be collaborating on games with my younger friends who are more literate in the medium.

Here’s a brief post that observes the difference in the type of collaboration that happens on film projects versus game projects.

Filmmaking and Gamemaking – The Difference

For the moment, I’ll keep learning and playing with ideas for storytelling that is compelling and influential yet highly participatory. I don’t believe that even the most complex stories in computer games has risen to the level of Shakespeare or Hemingway; perhaps that is not even the goal.

Games are already a larger entertainment phenomenon than film in terms of opening grosses ($300+ million in one day for Call of Duty 2) and active players. I hope to be a part of anything so influential.

The Death of Merely Good Films

The loser in a world of almost limitless entertainment choice is not the hit, but the near-miss.

“The loser in a world of almost limitless entertainment choice is not the hit, but the near-miss.”

As a maker of films that fall into ‘niche’ categories, I appreciate new technologies that enable us to reach smaller audiences in new and creative ways. When I began my career, the options were few and if you had a film that wasn’t a mainstream film, it was almost impossible to get it to audiences. You could show it on one of the Big Three television networks, in theaters, or…

…I guess there were VHS tape and home video stores. But the reality was that everything was pretty locked-up, especially for smaller filmmakers who had films that would appeal to a smaller segment of the audience. Even if you could identify them accurately, it was really difficult and/or expensive to reach them.

The development of broadband internet and social media and all of the other constantly changing technologies now make it possible for us to target and actually touch audiences with niche media. This is the promise of the new media world and we are all clinging hopefully to that promise!

Interestingly though, another side-effect of the new media world is what I would describe as a widening gap – kind of like what happens in developing economies. Instead of a great, flat, democratic media landscape where everything has equal footing and ability to impact audiences, we are seeing an interesting trend in the world of the ‘blockbuster.’ While there has been tremendous growth in the production and distribution of small films to small audiences, there seems to be a greater emphasis at the opposite end of the spectrum. What is being lost is in the middle – those films that aren’t quite blockbusters but are bigger than the niche film. Are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer?

This interesting article (originally from The Economist) describes the phenomenon very well. “Independent filmmaker earning a living in world where blockbusters dominate”

How does this impact folks like us? It’s not really my dream to make ultra-low-budget films ($0-50,000) for the rest of my career. But I am called to stories that fit smaller niches. It would be nice to be able to gradually make larger films, fill the gap between the blockbuster $150 million films, or even the average $50 million studio feature. Isn’t there a huge market now for low-budget films that are of high quality, made for $3-5 million? I know people who are aiming there. This article suggests that they are in for a battle for an audience.

What do you think?

Five Stages of Innovation

Five Stages of Innovation:

1. People deny that the innovation is required.

2. People deny that the innovation is effective.

3. People deny that the innovation is important.

4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effort required to adopt it.

5. People accept and adopt the innovation, enjoy its benefits, attribute it to people other than the innovator, and deny the existence of stages 1 to 4.

(Thanks to Clyde Taber via Josh Craft via Phil Cooke for the summary.)

Does God’s Spirit Really Live In Us?

Read this story and see what it does for your ideas about theological terms like ‘eternal security’ and whether or not the Spirit of God really does dwell in believers. This is an amazing story from our Yanomamö friends in Coshilowäteli, Amazonas, Venezuela. Mike Dawson, who relates the story, is one of the Executive Producers of “The Enemy God” and a native of the jungle himself.

Carlos“I was speaking with Carlos from the village of Seducudawä. He paddled down to bring his wife to the medical dispensary as she had been stung on the foot by a large stingray and was in a lot of pain. Carlos, at one time had been one of our most promising believers in Seducudawä and was a big witness for the Lord there….” Read more here…