Sunday, April 29, 2007

At the Movies

Today, Kristina and I took our daughter to a movie theater for the first time. We had a great time because she did.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vive La France!

What can I say? The Oath of Desormeau has given me a soft spot for the French.

I know, I know...but you have to remember: they lost two entire generations of men in two world wars. Give them a break.

Friday, April 20, 2007

On Why

I've been thinking about the Virginia Tech shootings all week. I've seen and heard a lot of people asking what people usually ask when horrible things like this happen. I also keep thinking of this quote by C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity:

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing the universe with when I called it unjust?

...Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too -for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist -in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless- I found I was forced to assume that one part of the reality -namely my idea of justice- was full of sense.

Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

$1717.66 + $65 = Psalm 37

"I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil." -Psalm 37: 35

Monday, April 16, 2007

disFUNKtion Episode XII

I had to break Episdoe 12 into two halves. Scroll down for Episodes 09 through 11.

1st Half

2nd Half

I actually wrote this Episode after we started filming the first three. I remember writing a line for Jimi at the last minute. Before taking his friends to confront Rita, he was to say something to the effect of "Do not be afraid of death. I have conquered it"...or something like that. If I had actually filmed that line, an unusual occurrence in this episode would have made a lot more sense. I also forgot to have Jacob fight with a microphone stand. That would have made another part make a little more sense...maybe.

Oh well. I guess that's what happens when you have about three weeks to shoot and edit an $800 short film with a cast of 20 [HS students] and a crew of three -including myself and my wife. This one nearly killed us.

After "disFUNKtion" showed at Sagemont's camp, a faculty member of Houston Baptist University approached me about making a film with some of their students. He and a fellow professor wanted to know what ideas I had. I told them I had shelved a script about a man persecuted for believing that George Washington crossed the Delaware. They liked the idea and wanted me to finish the script, which I did. When it didn't work out with their students, I decided to seize the opportunity to begin working with more experienced actors and do the film with Santry, his wife Ivy, my brother John, and my wife Kristina. That was the start of Aletheia Stage & Film Co.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

disFUNKtion Episode X

Don't worry. Today I'm not going to talk so seriously over something so silly. I'm just going to impart some useful imformation from the prequel disFUNKtion series (which I refuse to show). In the first series, Zep, Stevie, and Jacob where in a now-defunct "funk-fighting" band called "The Ecking Crew." Jacob was actually based on the kid who plays the role. We didn't even change his first or last name. He also played Julien, when we first did "The Oath" as a one-act play a few months before the making of this series.

Oh, and Zep (my favorite character) was played by my brother, Wil Ramsey.

See yesterday's post for Episode IX.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

disFUNKtion Episode IX

Alright. An explanation is in order. Before founding Aletheia Stage & Film Co., Kristina and I did numerous productions with (and for) the youth at Sagemont Church.

In the spring of 2002, then-Sagemont Youth Pastor, Wes Holloman asked us to do a video series of short films designed to coincide with their camp theme of "Biblical Family." The four films would actually be one narrative (not documentary) shown in four parts -complete with cliffhanger endings, etc. Knowing that my first film ever was to be a 40 minute short with a few hundred dollars and some students with little to no acting experience, I figured we would do best to pay tribute to silly, low-budget, poorly acted films, with cheesy special effects. We found inspiration in, of all places, the "blacksploitation" and psychedelic rock 'n' roll films of the 60s and 70s -"A Hard Day's Night," "Help," "Yellow Submarine," "Head," "Tommy," etc. The result was "disFUNKtion Episodes I-IV."

Though I find them downright embarrassing, the epidodes were quite a hit at the camp. So in 2003, when we were asked to do a parody of the TV show Alias (to coincide with the theme of finding one's identity in Christ), I decided to advocate for a sequel to "disFUNKtion" instead. For one, I never shared their enthusiasm for Alias (though there is a brief homage to it in the above episode). Two, there was only going to be a slight increase in talent (the students and I would be doing our SECOND film) and budget.

I am less embarrassed by the 2003 sequels (Episode IX-XII) and have talked myself into posting them here. Despite all their obvious flaws, I think there is a kernel of something worth pursing. Though I did not realize it at the time, it was my first foray into cultural subversion, which Jacques Ellul describes as the act of "taking a text and giving its objective sense a new turn so as to make it say something else." He says that the Biblical writers "changed certain terms [from neighboring pagan cultures] and put the text in a context that altered its original sense...even though the phrases remain the same, the meaning is radically broken." This is what I tried to do with the art and icons of 20th century pop culture. If I was playing with fire, I probably singed my eyebrows.

Don't worry. They've grown back. More explanation tomorrow, when I post Episode X.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Photoshop Feedback

It's always nice to hear from people from around the country who have enjoyed our films. A couple of days ago, I received the following promo art from a guy named Peter Baehr, who had just recently seen our latest film, The Oath of Desormeau.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Cost of Discipleship

February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer