“She looked for love, and then…” – New Web Clip

In a place where young people aren’t allowed to meet face-to-face; relationships can be risky.

In a place where young people aren’t allowed to meet face-to-face, relationships can be risky. I just finished this new web clip for Arab World Media. It’s a light-hearted, cautionary tale about ‘phone dating.’

Here’s a link to one of the Arabic-language pages where it’s embedded at Maarifa.org

Or, you can watch the English version here:

“She looked for love, and then…” — English version from Tom Khazoyan on Vimeo.

Zero Dark Thirty: A Tale of Bias and Burqas

What can we, as storytellers, do to avoid biased and inaccurate (perhaps offensive) portrayals of others in our films? As much as I may intellectually value other voices, it is exceedingly difficult for me to recognize the impact of my own inner biases when I am creating stories.

As a filmmaker passionate to cross-cultural stories and also dedicated to crafting authentic stories that present accurate depictions of culture, this article is a great caution for me. While I think of myself as one who values other voices and hates simple stereotypes, I’m sure I am guilty of falling into the same traps. I am, after all, tremendously influenced by my own culture, religion, and upbringing. As much as I may intellectually value other voices, it is exceedingly difficult for me to recognize the impact of my own inner biases when I am creating stories. I may really be committed to presenting authentic points of view, but I have to acknowledge that I often can’t see the impact of my biases.

Here’s what this author says about the portrayal of Muslim women in two Oscar celebrated American films.

Zero Dark Thirty and Argo have twelve Oscar nods between them. There has been much heated discussion on their portrayal of Muslims and how much of it ought to be excused do to artistic message. In the end, though, their many accolades serve as one more example of anti-Muslim women dialogues in Western society being fervently rewarded.

Read the whole article here, from Patheos: Zero Dark Thirty: A Tale of Bias and Burqas.

What can we, as storytellers, do to avoid biased and inaccurate (perhaps offensive) portrayals of others in our films?

The Theology of Screenwriting, Part 1: Sin | GoIntoTheStory

Filmmakers, even those claiming no particular religious faith, make use of themes that seem to resonate universally with human beings – and these are highly theological. This is not news to most people, but I like Scott Myers’ examination of theology and its use in visual storytelling. It’s in 5 parts.

Here is a link Scott’s exploration of “The Theology of Screenwriting” on his Go Into The Story blog.

The Theology of Screenwriting, Part 1: Sin | Go Into The Story.

The Proper Posture for Mentoring

I try to shift my own thinking and self-perception when I’m in a situation where I’ve been brought in as the ‘expert’, especially if I’m foreigner.

It’s nice to come into a situation where you’re the expert–often treated with honor. It feels good. But I try to shift my own thinking and self-perception when I’m in a situation where I’ve been brought in as the ‘expert’, especially if I’m foreigner.

It may be true that I have special experience and gifting that separates me from the group in a significant way. However, my goal is that, by the end of our time together, we will have bonded together in such a way and I will have shared what I bring in such a way as to have broken down many of the invisible walls.

In the words of John Perkins, pioneer of Christian community development…

Go to the people.

Live among them.

Learn from them.

Love them.

Start with what they know.

Build on what they have.

But of the best leaders,

when their task is accomplished,

when their work is done . . .

the people will remark:

“We have done it ourselves.”

Filmmakers working together to open hearts

I posted a little while ago about a short film project called “Street Language” that we are producing here in Denver in the next couple of months.

I posted a little while ago about a short film project called “Street Language” that we are producing here in Denver in the next couple of months. We just launched our IndieGoGo campaign to raise a little money for the project. Most of the funds are coming from in-kind contributions by our professional and student crew members, community partners, and others who believe in the project.

Click the image, or HERE to see the campaign on IndieGoGo.

Really, it’s more than a film project. We are adding in transmedia elements like deeper storytelling pieces on social media, development of other resources for use by non-profits who will use the film later, etc.

If you read this, check out the campaign and please share it with your friends!

What Will It Take To Open Your Heart?

“Street Language” is a short film, now in pre-production.

A homeless teen and a businessman dying in an alley; their only hope is each other in Street Language.

Jacob lives an unseen life in the midst of the crowded city. When he stumbles upon Michael, bleeding in an alley, he must decide whether he can take the risk to help. In this moving short film story, a teenage street kid finds the strength to open up his life after a wounded stranger opens his eyes to the possibility of love and beauty around him.

Their journey together opens up both of their lives to the possibility of love and hope for the future.

We’re in pre-production on this short film here in Denver. I wrote the script and will direct the film. Chloe Anderson, of Epicenter Pictures, is producing the project as part our shared mission to mentor emerging filmmakers. Our crew consists of some seasoned professionals as well as students who want to hone their craft.

We plan to make the film available to other non-profit organizations who deal with issues of homelessness, hopelessness, and teens-at-risk.