Filmmakers Making A Difference In Africa


I’m always on the lookout for great stories about how filmmakers are making a difference in communities, especially in the developing world. I found this article today from East Africa:

As part of the continuing series on African Filmmaking, we look at a film that’s made acclaim in both filmmaking and development in Nairobi’s Kibera Slum., ukwelii, Oct 2009

What kinds of ideas does an article like this stir up in your mind? What if part of our lives is focused on helping others tell their stories and empowering others through our gifts and experiences? Can we make that a priority?

Gotta Be Better Than Last Year? AFM opens today

We’ll see what AFM brings but we refuse to be at its mercy.

We’ll see what AFM brings but we refuse to be at its mercy.

The past year has been mostly depressing with reports of poor attendance and low purchases at the various film markets all over the world. It seems like it wasn’t a good time for us to finish our film, The Enemy God, and to be trying to fight it out amongst all of the content looking for distribution.

You can read some folks’ theories about how this year might be different in this article about the American Film Market which opens today in Santa Monica, CA.

There are whole worlds where we feel we just can’t learn enough, don’t know enough of the players, and we’d basically get eaten alive – like at AFM. So our sales agent, Entertainment 7, is our big hope out there to sell foreign rights, television, VOD, etc. We received good news from the last market in Cannes; we found a distributor for South Asia and Scandinavia. (I blogged about that here.) That gives us confidence that there are still distributors looking for remarkable content that falls outside the mainstream rom-coms, thrillers, and big action pictures.

The rule now is to avoid just sitting back and waiting for those glorious license deals to fall in your lap! We have seen how our film plays for audiences, once we reach them, and we’re in this for the long haul. We are working the hybrid-distribution world as well; call it partial-DIY. Our screenings at the Starz FilmCenter last month proved we could get audiences in theaters via word-of-mouth. We have a new DVD out to press right now and we’ll pump that one via social media; so we aren’t just sitting back at the mercy of the markets.

Genius or Shuffle?

I believe I am not alone in the occasional quest for just the right music to suit my mood or change my mood. The iPod and other devices like it promise us the world and devise all sorts of ways to help us in this quest for control.

As I was working around the kitchen this morning I found myself in a dilemma. I was searching for the soundtrack for my morning on my iPhone. I believe I am not alone in the occasional quest for just the right music to suit my mood or change my mood. The iPod and other devices like it promise us the world and devise all sorts of ways to help us in this quest for control.

I tried Pandora first, looking through my varied radio ‘stations’ to find one I thought was perfect. For those unfamiliar with the way Pandora and Apples iTunes Genius work, the easiest way to describe it is that they look at the DNA of the music – artist, genre, tempos, tone, etc. to match songs for you. For instance, I have a ‘station’ on Pandora for Benedictine Monks. When you type that in, you pretty much know what you’re going to hear – everything that plays on that virtual ‘station’ sounds pretty similar. The promise of Pandora and the others is that you have control over what you hear, like you own the radio station and don’t have to put up with lousy songs that make you want to change the station.

This morning I began listening to a station based on The Fray, listened a while, and decided it wasn’t working for me. So I went further back in time to see what a Gin Blossoms radio would sound like. I had some vague sense that it would be a little less angst-ridden and melancholy than the Fray and whatever music-mates Pandora would deliver. I’d have to say Gin Blossoms radio was a little more upbeat, but still a little to down for me today. I guessed wrong on what would be the key musical DNA to change my mood.

Was I in the mood for Genius – letting me set my mood and seeing if the miracle of technology would find the right tone? Or was I better off with Shuffle – a musical world that is far more broad, eclectic, and not at all driven by some pre-determined mood I was trying to reach? I love to play random shuffle on my iPod – my tastes in music are very broad and I often laugh or am surprised by the songs that play back-to-back. It could be Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” followed by Chris Tomlin singing “Famous One”. I love to consider those juxtapositions – not as if they are controlled somehow by God to tell me something (though they could be if He wanted) – but I tend to be a person who loves the discovery of things, serendipity.

I confess that, in the end, I’m more of a shuffle guy – seeking to discover the story of seemingly random things – than a genius guy – knowing exactly what I want and enjoying that measure of control.

Yanomamo Spiritual Stories at Starz Tonight

Provocative – to those who believe that indigenous people in the rainforest live in a sort of paradise where peace and harmony reign.

Unsettling – to Christians who discount the existence of the spiritual world (either willfully or by their practices).

Encouraging – to those who know struggles for inner peace and answers to their questions of ‘who is in control’ in the universe.

This is what we want to be to our audiences at the screenings tonight and tomorrow afternoon at the Starz FilmCenter in Denver. I know some in the audience will be Christians who bring their own points of view to the screening – generally favorable to the message of Bautista’s story we tell in The Enemy God. I know many in the audience will not be Christian, and may even be antagonistic to the claims of Jesus. But our experience is that even those people find something to think more deeply about in our film.

There will be conversations tonight. That’s a good purpose for art.

Holy Spirit, go ahead of us and be present among us.

Patience and God-Connections in the Indie Film Journey

I’m pretty good at working off intrinsic motivation. It certainly helps when there are not a lot of people patting you on the back for an extended period of

Me (r) filming interviews in the Punjab, about nine years ago!
Me (r) filming interviews in the Punjab, about nine years ago!

time! But, it is hard to be patient, even when you have a good sense that you’re on the right track and that God is going to bring it on in his time.

Today we got a nice pat on the back related to our film, The Enemy God. I got a call from a company that just picked up the rights to the film for India, Singapore, Korea, and Malaysia. Additionally, they will distribute it in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. (Odd combination, I thought.) This is the first news of an official ‘sale’ by our sales agent who has the worldwide rights to the film. Their job is to make these deals for us so the film can get out to places we don’t know how to reach ourselves. We keep busy with our own DVD distribution in our niche markets, but overseas deals are really out of our hands.

The problem for us has been the long wait. Independent film deals usually take a while to develop. There is lots of competition. Our film is not a highly commercial property. But we do know there’s an audience for it, if we can connect with the right distributors who understand and appreciate the film – and who have an audience in mind. This deal came about because the company heard about our film from friends in the UK (don’t know who, exactly) and then the distributor e-mailed me. I passed it on to our sales agent and forgot about it. At least, I didn’t think much would come of it. Now, I get the call and I’m talking with a very encouraging, enthusiastic, visionary man who loves our film, wants to build web sites, do Hindi and other language translations, and all that. [And, he asked about our next projects too – which are kind of sketchy right now…]

I don’t know how big this company’s reach is in India and the other countries or how big the audience will be. I don’t know if we’ll see a dime of revenue from this deal. But we’ll leave all of that in God’s hands too. This is a film that never could have been made – according to some wise people. So we’re content to see God do miracles, see deals like this come up, and we’ll live a while longer off that encouragement from God and a few people.

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…