Friday, November 21, 2008

God Gives Back


Filming started this week for the {re} gifter, VCC's Christmas film/stage combo. I have had an extra busy week with speaking and teaching engagements most every night. I wasn't able to get down to the set until last night and I was blown away.

I've been on a few dozen legitimate film sets in my life - everything from mega-budget, major studio productions to film school projects. I've shot my share of commercials and TV shows too. The point to all of this is that I know what a real film set looks like. I used to drive around Hollywood and see various projects shooting on location. I could almost always guess the level of "legitimacy" by just watching for a few seconds. If the "director" was also in charge of snacks, for instance, that's a big clue.

Last night I drove down to Norwood and turned right on Ashland Ave. to see a very legitimate location shoot in action. Perhaps it was extra striking because it was in the middle of Norwood and not the pier in Santa Monica, but I was floored. A crew of twenty people were moving about the exterior of a house that had been transformed into a Christmas extravaganza worthy of Chevy Chase's admiration. There were grips and gaffers and PA's and AD's and everything you would expect.

If I'm in Hollywood, I'm guessing mid-level indie film. I'm expecting to see Parker Posey or Philip Seymour Hoffman in front of the camera. I'm thinking $5M budget.

But these were simply my friends. Volunteering for their church. Giving their weeknights for three weeks to see this happen. These are people with day jobs and some people who just lost their jobs. These are servants pulling together community-driven art with virtually no budget. I was literally shocked into ecstasy. I couldn't believe that God would let me be a part of something like this. I was more excited than I ever was working on a set as an actor. I remember leaving LA and thinking that I might never be on a legitimate film set again. I had to be OK with that to take this job. It was part of the sacrifice to obey God and move here. Silly, silly me. He always gives back. God is the ultimate re-gifter.

From what little I've seen this is the best looking stuff that I have ever helped produce in my life. It's wonderfully written and directed by Brad Wise, and beautifully shot by Mark Denney.



I remember someone telling me when I was younger that in the middle ages, the church saved the arts but in my generation the arts will help save the church. I don't really think the arts can truly save the church, but I think they can open windows for the Spirit. I think that the arts, particularly the most culturally engrained arts like film and music, influence culture and create platforms to tell our story. I'm just saying there's a chance Michelangelo would have been a filmmaker were he born in this generation.

You can see the {re} gifter live December 21, 22 and 23 at VCC. Tickets will be free and available online starting December 1. I'll post a link when the website is up and running.

4 comments:

Matt said...

Very encouraging Joe

ps if you ever want to see the hood to aiden's coat again you'll have to hang out with me...

tommy said...

Cool. But do they get to drink Maddog 20/20 and eating pork & beans in a storeroom? Didnt think so.

Michael J. Sharp said...

"I remember someone telling me when I was younger that in the middle ages, the church saved the arts but in my generation the arts will help save the church. I don't really think the arts can truly save the church, but I think they can open windows for the Spirit. I think that the arts, particularly the most culturally engrained arts like film and music, influence culture and create platforms to tell our story. I'm just saying there's a chance Michelangelo would have been a filmmaker were he born in this generation."
--------

Art offers a "subjective" lens to a world that so many are trying to experience "objectively," especially in the West.

Experiencing Jesus is always personal, mostly in ways that people would not believe.

What happens when the artist (subjectivity) forgets to care about what the critic (objectivity) has to say?

Freedom!

Or maybe "Insanity" in some cases? (but this is said thinking of the artist with his ear in his hand)

stinkowoman said...

I'll be flying in from Los Angeles to check it out! Can't wait!!