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Mar 21

if you love film or if you are a Christian, you’ve got to read this post by Blue Like Jazz filmmaker — musician-turned-director Steve Taylor:

The Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz

“One of the most consistent criticisms I got as a recording artist came from fellow Christians saying, “Why do you do these songs criticizing the church? Why would you go airing our dirty laundry for the public to see?” And, of course, that same criticism had been leveled at Blue Like Jazz.

This perspective has always amused me, as if the public thinks we’ve got our act together perfectly, as if they don’t already see the hypocrisy in our midst. They just think we’re too dumb to see it ourselves.

Which is why the image of a guy in a confession booth finally confessing the truth started my six-year-long quest to make Blue Like Jazz.

When we tell the truth – even the uncomfortable truth – the truth sets people free.”

the whole article is totally on point.

if you haven’t seen Taylor’s first feature The Second Chance, you should check it out; i really enjoyed it. i’m really looking forward to Blue Like Jazz (and not just for the Bear on a Bicycle scene).

i hope that there are a lot of angry patrons. if the film stirs the pot, people will become disappointed and angry with their anger and disappointment in life and seek something higher.

encouraging that search should be the aim of every filmmaker who proclaims the name of Christ.


UPDATE:  interesting update to this story as director Steve Taylor receives an unexpected phone call from Alex Kendrick of Sherwood Pictures.

Mar 19

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Mar 08

my 2nd year directing class under the instruction of Janos Kovacsi was a life-changing experience. Janos gave a lot of wonderful instruction, a lot of which i have shared with my students over the years, and now hope to share here with my readers.

one of the best tools i learned from my time at NCSA was the director’s worksheet. in this post, i’ll explain the worksheet, give you an example, and links to some downloads.

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Mar 05

here’s an interpretive exercise for directors: pick a song, poem, hymn, or psalm (preferably at random… open a book, eyes closed, and point your finger, e.g.). craft a story that demonstrates visually and audibly the essence of the original work.

story and screenplay © parabolos 2012
please do not reproduce or produce derivative works without permission. thanks.




KATE (mid-20s) hustles on her way. She is dressed simply, but sharply, and dark, in contrast to her brightly lit nighttime surroundings.

Other PEOPLE bustle about on this early winter evening. Some beggars hassle passers-by. Kate ignores them, lost in her thoughts, going over some sheet music.

EDDIE (50ish), a street musician, slowly strums his guitar, but no one seems to listen, least of all Kate.


Kate looks over her music. She glances up at a few of the other girls in the elevator car with her. They are also dressed well and made up, going over music themselves.

Kate catches herself being distracted and turns her attention back to her sheet music.


Kate is now just pretending to look at the music.She glances occasionally at the other girls, but mainly stares across the top of the page at the floor.

A door opens.


Kate Abrams?

Kate snaps out of her daze and plasters on a smile, rising.


Kate sings. Her eyes closed, she calls the music up from her memory.

A few gray heads in the front row listen and write notes. One interrupts her.


Thank you.

Kate, a bit stunned, stops and looks at him.


Very nice. Thank you for coming.

Kate forces a smile and does a slight bow before exiting the stage. As she exits, she looks to the gray heads one more time. They busy themselves turning pages, making notes, and checking their PDAs.


Kate rides down alone. She stares at the floor, her music rolled up in her hands.


Kate walks home. It is late, and the streets are mostly empty, save a beggar or two.


Having changed clothes, Kate cries, looking into the mirror.


SERIES OF SHOTS: Kate practicing her music and getting increasingly frustrated.


Kate sitting in front of her one window, staring out of it, in a trance. The television plays mindlessly in the background. A microwave dinner sits on the table in front of her, half-eaten.


Kate exits a coffee shop with a high-dollar drink to go. She is dressed warmly, but comfortably. She strolls slowly, burdened.

Faintly, the sound of SINGING.

She looks up, listens. Follows it.


The open doors of the church cast a warm light onto the cold street. Kate steps into the light and hears the choir practicing. She steps in.


She walks about a third of the way down the aisle and sits in an empty pew. The pews are almost entirely empty, except for a few parents down near the front. The choir sings “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Kate’s face starts to ease as she listens. She sips her drink and begins to relax.

A feeling… someone behind her. She turns and looks.

There sits Eddie, his eyes closed, swaying back and forth singing along quietly.

Kate turns back around, contemplates, then watches the choir.


Kate puts on her make-up. She is dressed nicely again.


Kate walks down the street going over her sheet music. She passes Eddie who pays no attention to her as he strums his guitar.

Kate stops and watches him. A STRANGER drops some coins in Eddie’s hat. Eddie’s face lights up for a moment as he smiles at the passer-by, but then drops as the man walks away, not listening. Eddie turns his attention to his fretboard once again.

Kate looks at her sheet music, then to Eddie. She rolls up her music and puts it in her purse and goes and sits next to him. Eddie looks at her confused. Kate smiles awkwardly.


You know “Nearer My God to Thee”?

Eddie just stares at her for a second. Kate’s smile fades to “oh crap, what am I doing?” Eddie breaks his stare and begins strumming, and then singing.


Nearer, My God, to thee… Nearer to thee…

Kate joins him, smiling.

Soon, passers-by pause to listen. Eddie pays attention only to his guitar. Kate only watches him as she smiles, swaying back and forth to their singing.

When the song is over, a smatter of applause calls their attention to the small crowd that has gathered. Kate, genuinely surprised, smiles at Eddie. He grins slightly back.

People drop money into Eddie’s hat. Dollar bills even. They look at the money. They stare at each other for a moment.


Just a closer walk with thee?

Kate beams.



Eddie starts playing. Kate touches his arm as she begins singing with him. He playfully nudges her off. Kate laughs and continues singing.



from Psalm 95:1,2

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Feb 21

photo by Ian W. Scott.

Becoming the Sycamore Tree

by David Skidmore, my brother.

as featured in Youth Specialties.

“At my church, we have a private preschool and kindergarten. In the nearby church courtyard is a playground. And on that playground is an off-limits tree. A big tree. A tempting tree. I mean, this is a Mount-Everest-of-a-tree to little, exploring eyes. It’s as though God chose a playground and placed a tree in the middle and declared, “On every other structure thou mayest climb, but on this tree thou mayest not climb, for on the day when thou dost, thou shalt surely… be placed in time-out… or something.”

Eventually a red line was painted above the second limb from the ground. The children were free to climb to that line, but everything above was forbidden territory. And ‘Mrs. Wanda’ (as the kids call her) guards that tree with a watchful eye that would impress an angel wielding a flaming sword.

But after hours — figuring Mrs. Wanda and her whistle have departed for wherever kindergarten teachers go until 8 a.m. the next day — some kids do climb above the red line. There’s something about that tree that beckons, ‘Come… and climb!’ to every adventurer.

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Feb 19

Hollywood is realizing what I’ve been saying for a while now. the success of iPad combined with the iPhone finally being available on Verizon will give iOS a huge foundation as a first arriver in even the LA film business.

[via TUAW] (thanks, Stephen & Joey)

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Jan 26

thanks to my buddy, Stephen, I recently got the opportunity to do app reviews for macgasm is weblog about Apple news, products, and apps. Stephen is a Senior Contributor and Joshua Schnell is the Editor-in-Chief.

head over there and check out my first review for a film-related app, Artemis Director’s Viewfinder and Artemis Remote.

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