Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Look at my links on the left-hand side of the page. cylentlark has changed. No more Xanga. It's on blogger.

I'm tired of Xanga. Yes, it's cool that you get email updates. But every now and then you just need to do something to refresh yourself.

My blogs needed a breath of fresh air, so here it is.

Monday, December 04, 2006

So Much To Say

And so little time to say it...

Check this out... It's long, but a great read on Christian Art...



So one of the books I bought on Friday was on acting. It's something I know next to nothing about. Kind of sad if I'm wanting to direct a movie. So the remedy - by a book!

Pretty interesting stuff... Want to get some thoughts on it...

This is a pretty odd book on acting. Sadly it's not the kind of theory that many actors today believe in. You hear about all of these method actors, people who literally become their characters and never shut it off. That's extremely unhealthy.

It's this school of acting that has led many people like myself to believe that acting is really all about deception. It's professional lying. At least, that's what I think about that particular theory.

But this book has a pretty fresh approach. Now, all books on filmmaking must be taken with a grain of salt. It is written by people who by and large do not have any sort of Christian worldview. So for the Christian who is serious about trying out this whole filmmaking thing like myself, just reading the material is a challenge to keep your sanity. But back to my whole home builder analogy, anyone interested in making his career building homes has to do research and learn a lot of things, and many times that information comes from the world.

The craft itself is neutral. What we have to guard ourselves against is the worldviews that others pursuing the craft may propose.

But, I digress. (What else is new, huh?)

I came across a new concept in this book on acting. Acting is about truth, not deception. Think about it. If you were an actor, which would you rather do... Take a role that is inherently lying about yourself and who you are, or one that allows you to explore yourself for who you really are... If you play the role of a villian, you are able to examine whether or not any of the evil lies within you. If you play Christ, you are able to see how far you have to go to really be like Him.

I think there is a shortage of good Christian actors just like there is a shortage of good Christian films. Who else in this messed up world is more equipped to give us a glimpse of truth, beauty, and excellence than Christians?

Why then is our art aesthetically inferior? Why do the Christian actors come across as worse than the old sc-fi B-movie actors? Why do they make Bruce Campbell seem like Tom Hanks by comparison?

Where is the art that competes with everything the world is throwing at us?

I'm never going to get tired of posing this question. Maybe in simply asking it I can stay motivated to do something about it myself, and hopefully others will take it upon themselves to change things as well.

It's time we had more than just the Hallmark Channel movie with a Christian theme. It's time for movies and stories that move and inspire like Shawshank and Forrest Gump, yet are true to what Christians really believe.

Ok, ok, ok... It's obvious I'm on my soap box now... I'll stop... But when you've taught yourself to shut down everything that makes you really passionate, and conditioned yourself to accept the status quo, then when something inside of you awakens to the truth about yourself and you see that you really do have the capacity to try to awaken change in a culture that desperately needs it, how can you possibly shut up?

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Wii Rebellion, My Film Script, and Incoherent, Random Babblings

I'm sick of it all. The manufactured hype. The secrecy. The greed.

So I'm protesting. I'm not even going to try to buy a Wii until way after Christmas. Maybe early spring. I don't know. Just whenever this madness dies down.

The good news is that I spent some of the money I was saving on something that will keep my busy for now, and provide a lot of material for this blog - Movies and Books! Books on Movies! Movies on Books!

I bought some of my favorite films of all time:

The Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile
The Truman Show
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Big Fish
Fellowship of the Ring (Why I ever sold it I don't know... For a film junkie like me it's near blasphemous)

The books I racked up on:

The Unusual Suspect by Stephen Baldwin (Yes, that Stephen Baldwin. His conversion tale and an insider's look at the corruption of Hollywood)

A book on acting (Recommended by Director David Mamet, author of On Directing Film that I'm about to finish)

A book on camera shots and terminology

There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale by Sean Astin. (His personal account of the making of LOTR)

Needless to say, I've got a lot to keep me busy honing my craft and simply having fun reading for a change. Every now and then you just need a break from deep stuff to read something for fun. I'm not very good at making myself do that. I guess that's when I start to get burned out, when I push myself like that.

Also, if you got my script, know that I'm going to make MAJOR changes to it. After reading one of my books, I realized I have a long way to go to make it a GOOD movie. If you didn't get it, email me and I'll email it to you. (Photog3535@yahoo.com)

I'll stop this random babbling with this thought... Why do Christians give a pass to Christian movies that are terrible and say they are good just because they have a message? If a Christian home builder built a house with John 3:16 plastered on the roof for every single airplane flying overhead to check out and hear (see?) the gospel, but the roof was so badly constructed that your grandmother sleeping in the spare bedroom would be crushed when it caves in simply from the vibrations of the above mentioned plane flying overhead, would we give him a pass and say that it's a great home, just because he invoked John 3:16?

Is it any different with movies?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dark Grace

"All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful." Flannery O'Connor

I have a new favorite author, and I haven't even read anything by her yet.

Grace hurts. Grace is painful. Grace isn't pretty.

But it is beautiful.

How can both be true?

Because from God's perspective, Grace is Beautiful. God is Grace.

Yet from our perspective, grace hurts. How easy is it really to love your enemy? The person who acted as if they were your friend, but hid their true self from you? How can you love those who have stabbed you in the heart and betrayed you? How easy is that?

Grace isn't easy. It hurts. And it isn't light and fluffy. Grace doesn't always give us the same feeling a Hallmark Channel movie gives us. No warm fuzzies.

No... It hurts!

It hurts to put yourself aside and give someone something they don't deserve.

They may deserve a blind eye, but that isn't grace. Grace gives attention. It hurts.

They may deserve to never hear from you again, but that isn't grace. Grace picks up the phone and calls. It hurts.

They may deserve death, but that isn't grace. Grace went to the cross for all of us. And it hurt!

Grace is painful, because Grace is the way of the cross.

And we are called to no less than a life of daily cross-bearing.

I have a new favorite author, and I haven't even read anything by her yet. Anyone who is so in tune to grace deserves my attention.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Film Philosophy

I've had time to do some Wikipedia searches today. It's interesting... Most methods and approaches to film theory come from philisophical views... And most of them are from philosophers who didn't embrace any sort of Christian worldview...

It got me thinking... What would a type of film theory based off of Christian philosophy look like? What would a film look like that structurally shares the same basic views as Christianity? I'm not talking about characters and messages for the story... I mean how would it affect the editing? Lighting? Shot composition? Shot selection?

In theory, every part of a film would be impacted by Christian thought... To give an example of what I mean... A film noir is basically about the meaninglessness of existence... What about a type of film that celebrates meaning and seeks to define it?

It's not exactly something many Christians have thought about... But never fear! I, your neighborhood friendly Film Theorist am here to get such laboring thoughts off your mind and allow you to sleep at night! (I guess I've listened to way too much Rush Limbaugh in my life!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

thefilmtheorist vs. thefilmcritic

In case you are wondering why I chose "theorist" over "critic" (admit it, you haven't been able to sleep at night pondering the great mysteries and depths to my name!), then read this article.


Thanks to our good friends at Wikipedia, I have discovered myself why I chose the name I did. I guess it fits. I've never really enjoyed traditional film criticism. The reason, I guess, is because I don't agree with the basic presupposition most film critics begin at.

Most critics think that a movie is a good movie if it accomplishes what it set out to do. For example, a comedy is a good movie if it is a good comedy. But by this reasoning, American Pie, no matter what moral issues one might have with it, is a good movie because it accomplished what it set out to do.

This idea is completely foolish. That's why I don't trust film critics. Not even the "Christian film critics". On one hand you have people reviewing movies only focused on how many profane words it includes and how much offensive behavior it contains. Don't get me wrong, we need to prepare ourselves in case a movie is so debased it's just not worth seeing.

Yet at the polar opposite in Christian film criticism are those who completely ignore moral issues, calling a movie like "A History of Violence" a good movie, despite the violently graphic sex scene.

Where do we as Christians draw the line? Where do we expose ourselves to the world's art to combat ungodly worldviews? There's no fine line. But what I think is obvious is to NEVER violate your own convictions and standards. If a movie is offensive to you, don't watch it, no matter how uncultured you are labeled. Yet we should not live in fear of the evil world out to get us through art and culture.

"We destroy arguments and every pretension raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ." 2 Cor. 10:5

This includes our art and entertainment choices. I choose to watch some movies whose worldview is completely ungodly simply so I can understand where a person is coming from, and be prepared to combat that worldview.

How does this relate to film theory vs. film criticism? Film theory examines a movie as a whole, not simply focusing on a "good" vs. "bad" movie, examining the movie only on the surface, but in my terminology, digging deep into the heart and soul of a movie and determining whether or not the movie agrees with my worldview.

Sorry for the epic post, but obviously this is something I am passionate about. Movies are the untapped art form for the Church. We are just beginning to understand how effective they can be, and get serious about making them. But the movies that are being made are still surface-level movies that are barely watchable. We give them a pass because they are "Christian films", but in artistic quality they pale in comparison to the films the world is producing.

When is a film going to be made that is as thought-provoking and emotionally stimulating as Forrest Gump, yet is based on a Christian worldview?

I am trying. And I encourage the rest of you who love movies and stories to write as well. You are needed.

Don't focus on surface-level, supposedly evangelistic stories that no one ever responds to. Dig deep. Do the hard work.

Let the story spring from the depths of your soul.

Thank You Joben!

Our resident genius, philosopher, deep-thinker, and tech-savy Joben has discovered a way to link to our friends. It was such a good idea, I just had to steal it!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Hobbit

Ok, I can't figure this one out...

Peter Jackson has been dropped from The Hobbit. By dropped I mean "fired".

What was the studio thinking? Ok, I admit... King Kong wasn't the best film in the world... But The Lord of the Rings grossed 3 billion dollars worldwide...

This sounds like firing your star quarterback right before you go into the Superbowl!

Once again the Almighty Dollar has prevailed in Hollywood, and story quality and substance will be set aside to make way for Profit.

If they ever do make the Hobbit, I'm leaning towards not seeing it now, just out of protest.