June 28, 2009


"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." -- Henry Ford

Each season I'm distracted by the first several episodes of American Idol. Once the delusional contestants are eliminated the show loses its appeal to me, but those first few weeks of painful auditions pique my morbid curiosity. There's just something about watching these people with not even an ounce of singing ability argue with established (?) veterans in the music industry. I feel for the contestants, if for no other reason, because of the obvious lack of self-awareness due to candy-coated dishonesty from friends and family.

While teaching, I saw the trend heading toward neutral assessments. The theory, of course, is to spare self-esteem by offering only positive feedback. Let the child believe 2+2=5, but don't criticize him by telling him he's wrong. What is there to gain from this philosophy? We're training our youth to believe they can do no wrong, and that's one of the leading culprits of the rising trend in kids' rebellion to authority.

I'm not a proponent of harsh criticism, but when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. And I don't mind being told I'm wrong (as long as there is evidence to prove it). Don't mistake me - I don't like being wrong, but it happens so often I just have to accept it. It's called accountability. Fewer and fewer are accepting accountability and I think it's because we're teaching our kids they don't have to be accountable. If we teach them they’re never wrong, for what do they need to be accountable?

But I digress…

I may be wrong to pursue a career in Hollywood. No matter how spiritually destined I feel in this journey, the fact is I struggle with discerning the voice of God from the voice of... well, me. I just hope someone, somewhere along the way, will have the decency to tell me I'm wrong if they indeed know better than I. Don't let me be one of the horrendous contestants on American Idol. Then again, maybe I'm already a victim of Idiot Idol Idiosyncrasy.

June 22, 2009

Give us this day our daily bread

The following is an excerpt from Max Lucado’s book, The Great House of God, copyright 2001, Max Lucado and Thomas Nelson Publishers. It is printed here with permission from UpWords Ministries. I include it here as a reminder that God never promised us an abundance of easy days, but if we can get through the difficult ones, how much more will we appreciate the easy ones?

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

What a statement of trust! Whatever you want me to have is all I want. Some days the plate runs over. God keeps bringing out more food and we keep loosening our belt. A promotion. A privilege. A friendship. A gift. A lifetime of grace. An eternity of joy. There are times when we literally push ourselves back from the table, amazed at God’s kindness. “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup fills with blessing” (Ps. 23:5 MSG).

And then there are those days when, well, when we have to eat our broccoli. Our daily bread could be tears or sorrow or discipline. Our portion may include adversity as well as opportunity.

This verse was on my mind last night during family devotions. I called my daughters to the table and set a plate in front of each. In the center of the table I placed a collection of food: some fruit, some raw vegetables and some Oreo cookies. “Every day,” I explained, “God prepares for us a plate of experiences. What kind of plate do you most enjoy?”

The answer was easy. Sara put three cookies on her plate. Some days are like that, aren’t they? Some days are “three cookie days.” Many are not. Sometimes our plate has nothing but vegetables—twenty-four hours of celery, carrots, and squash. Apparently God knows we need some strength, and though the portion may be hard to swallow, isn’t it for our own good? Most days, however, have a bit of it all. Vegetables, which are healthy but dull. Fruit, which tastes better and we enjoy. And even an Oreo, which does little for our nutrition, but a lot for our attitude.

All are important and all are from God.

The next time your plate has more broccoli than apple pie, remember who prepared the meal. And the next time your plate has a portion you find hard to swallow, talk to God about it. Jesus did. In the garden of Gethsemane his Father handed him a cup of suffering so sour, so vile, that Jesus handed it back to heaven. “My Father,” he prayed, “if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).

Even Jesus was given a portion he found hard to swallow. But with God’s help, he did. And with God’s help, you can too.

June 17, 2009


“All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In all my research and experience, I’ve learned a lot of gray.  If any truth exists in this industry, it’s that there is no predestined path leading to success.  What worked for John C. Reilly or Lisa Kudrow or Michael Bay or Bryan Singer likely won’t work for you and me.  That means we just have to experiment until we carve our own path to success.

I started acting professionally eight or so years ago.  That didn’t take off as quickly as I’d hoped – was it really too much to expect starring roles in Hollywood movies within a couple years of graduating from college?  With a degree in education? ;) – So I started writing screenplays a couple years later.  I figured I’d sell a screenplay in which I could star, thereby launching my career.  Didn’t go quite as planned.

Well, the next logical step seemed to be to produce a short.  I would write, direct, and act in it, send it to a few festivals, win a couple awards, and hire a secretary to handle the resulting inundation of phone calls.  Again, fate let me down.

Alright, might as well produce a feature-length movie, sell it, earn enough money, clout, and adoration to make more movies, win an Oscar, buy a winter home, and secure retirement for my parents and in-laws.  Alas, the feature didn’t require the hiring of a cartographer for my name.

How about a television pilot?  Might as well give it a shot.  Thus, Soap Athetic was born.  Zero budget.  Zero leads for selling it once it’s finished.  Zero calories in mustard – sorry, needed another ‘zero’ to finish the trifecta.

With Soap Athetic, I had an outlet to release it online, earning a few dollars along the way.  Foolishly, I thought it would maybe catch a break on YouTube and reach several hundred thousand people, create a buzz, and at least garner a phone call from the people who hired the “Ask a Ninja” guys to rewrite “Attach of the Killer Tomatoes.”

The YouTube release of Soap Athetic has come and gone with little fanfare.  It was received well, earning high ratings and overwhelmingly positive comments, but with a viewership smaller than Duluth, it didn’t exactly take the community by storm.  Luckily, YouTube was only part of the journey, not the destination.  What will become of it, I don’t know.  It’s just too good of a show to passively set aside.

No matter what becomes of Soap Athetic, I will not consider the experiment a failure.  Nor will I consider any of the aforementioned experiments failures, for each has brought me one step further along my personal path to success.  It may not be the same path taken by Shia LeBeouf or Evangeline Lilly or Harold Ramis or Sean Levy, but I do believe it’s heading in the same general direction.

See you along the way when our paths cross.

June 11, 2009


“Chance is always powerful.  Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” – Roman Poet, Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD)

I didn’t know a thing about Ovid before stumbling upon the above quote by chance.  I found it apropos (how’s that for a pretentious word?) for a fisherman and bonehead trying to do something just on the edge of statistical impossibility.  My lack of success on the lakes gives me hope I’m due for success as the bonehead.

According to an article from the September/October ‘08 issue of Script Magazine, only 2% of independent films ever get any kind of distribution (theatrical, DVD, cable, anything).  I’m not sure how to feel about that statistic.  On the one hand, I’m thrilled my first self-produced feature, Horror House, is in that 2% statistic.  On the other hand, how depressing is it that out of every 100 independent movies made, only 2 are picked up?

With my first movie being picked up (albeit by a very small label), am I now in line for 49 movies that don’t receive any kind of distribution?  Or does cracking that 2% barrier keep one firmly placed on the good side of the stat?  The answer, like just about everything else in this industry, lies somewhere in the gray between.

As Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Let us not allow stacked odds to dissuade, but rather motivate.  Those in the statistical minority are the exceptions, and my goal in life is to be exceptional.  Who’s with me?

June 7, 2009

Soap Athetic #6

The sixth installment of Soap Athetic is up on YouTube.  A project that began as something I thought we’d carry through for months or years is now nearing its end… at least on Numa Network.  Online release was the original intention of the show, but as I wrote it, I decided to turn the script into a pilot.  I wrote 7 segments that could stand alone online, but put together, would stand as a half-hour sitcom pilot.

I’m happy with the finished product and am certainly not giving up on the prospect of doing this or a similar show for a more substantial entity than YouTube.  But honestly, I’m ready for the Numa run to be over.  More on that later…

Soap Athetic Episode 6

June 1, 2009

Soap Athetic #5

My favorite ‘episode’ thus far is now online.  The face Nick’s dad (Gary Keast) makes is absolutely hilarious!  Then at the end of the episode, I use my old standby matte technique to get Keri on screen talking to herself.  That last scene we shot late Tuesday night.  Nothing like squeezing things in at the last minute.  ;)

Soap Athetic Episode 5