Thursday, December 2, 2010

Free "not a fan." Episode Now Online

A full free episode of City on a Hill Productions' latest series, "not a fan," is available for viewing online. You can watch episode 5 (of 6) above, or click here to watch a larger version.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ramsey Bros. Rapid Script to Screen Process


So, here's a quick run down on how Ramsey Bros. Pictures' latest short, "Baby Attack Ad," went from script to [Youtube] screen in a matter of 5 days...

Thursday, Oct 28th, John emails:
I don't suppose you have time to put together a political attack ad against babies if I wrote one up this weekend?
Friday, Oct 29th, I respond:
"Possibly. I'm at saicff until Sunday, which is ________'s bday as you know. Maybe I could do it Monday and release it Tuesday."
Saturday, Oct 30th, John emails:
"Here is a draft. I didn't spend a lot of time on the stage directions, but i am kind of thinking you will do whatever you can think of on those. in other words, i'm hoping you will take over on that. i put some stuff just for kicks, but that's all you unless you need me to think about it more. the bottom line is -- you know what an attack ad looks like and that's what's supposed to look like.

the very, very last part might be over the top. overall, i think this is doable and funny. i hope it's not confusing to read. i'd be curious to know if you can do it."
The attached script (click to enlarge):


I respond:
This is good and I think I can do it. I think it needs at least two more jokes... One really specific to babies and one ridiculously hyperbolic attack on a political issue...they want tax cuts for the rich, cut Medicaid...something.
He adds:
"K. will add tomorrow, which will probably tonight while you are sleeping. I thought it was about 30 seconds so I stopped.

Potential inclusions so far:

'Open your eyes, BABIES'
'They think toddlers should be tried as adults.'
'The only soft spot they have is in their skull.'
'Their isolationist view would have us cut ties with our allies and weaken our economic diplomacy with rogue nations.'

But your thoughts welcome."
Monday, Nov 1st: Driving in my car, I nearly pick up the phone to tell John I'm too busy to do the ad.

5 minutes later: I begin saying the lines to myself in my attack ad voice...and laughing. Yes, I'm that dorky. Then I think, "If I don't do it now, I'll never do it. So, I'll do it."

90 minutes later: I record my voice in the City on a Hill Productions sound room. Using a Final Cut Pro audio filter, I pitch down my vocals for the sinister "attack ad voice" and pitch my vocals up for the "Paid for by..." line. I edit it down to thirty seconds...requiring me to cut the jokes I had suggested...and, as you can see, some jokes that were in the original script.

That afternoon (while the sun is up): I film on a Sony EX3 and take still photos like this one with a Nikon:


The above photo, eventually becomes this segment (after color correction, and blurred vignette):


I also send John a link to just the audio. His response:
"Pretty awesome. This is going to be so, so weird. I would only say that I think we should call it 'Baby Attack Ad for 'Attack Ad Against Babies' [instead of "Bath Watergate"] for intrigue, searchability and relevance to what's going on. Description something to the effect of: 'You can make anything sound bad with an attack ad.'

Also given this audio, I think the PP thing is pretty crucial to the joke. Because all of a sudden, it's like they are really trying to get babies out of Washington, not that we are using babies as a substitute for a political candidate (although, clearly that is going on, too).

I'm headed to bed"
FYI: John is in Kenya, which is seven hours ahead of me.

That evening (while watching the Houston Texans lose) and early into the next morning, I edit.

John and I confer over exactly how to handle the "Paid for by..." tag at the end, and reach an agreement.

Nov. 2nd, 9:55pm ET: "Baby Attack Ad" is released.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Palmer Home

Palmer Home from City on a Hill Productions.

"Palmer Home for Children is a ministry to children in need; children who are growing up as social orphans without the nurture and support of a loving family; children who need a place to be and to become."
While the "New Atheists" are out loudly peddling the metanarrative that Christianity is bad for the world, I get to film the people who are quietly proving them wrong. Back in mid-May, City on a Hill Productions had the pleasure of filming this incredible residential children's home in Hernando and Columbus, MS. Palmer Home has a 115 year legacy and was featured in Christianity Today's article, "100 Things the Church is Doing Right."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Global Outreach - Haiti

Global Outreach - Haiti from City on a Hill on Vimeo.

Back in May, some City on a Hill staff members and I travelled to Haiti to produce a film for two separate ministries. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I hope you are encouraged and inspired by the work missionaries David and Judy Heady are doing, and have been doing since 1983, to bring healing and hope to the Haitian people.
"The Global Outreach Haiti Mission is a multifaceted ministry meeting the needs of the total man with a commitment to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and providing potable water to the thirsty. The ultimate objective of all these ministries is to point people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ."
To learn more or find out how you can help:
freewebs.com/​gohaitimission/​

This film was shot on the Canon 5D and Sony EX3.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sissy Jupe & The Crummles


"Well I ain't got no money, not much of a home
I own my own land, but my land's not my own
But, if I had ten million, somewheres thereabout
Well, I'd buy Perry county and drive them all out!

Sad scenes of destruction on every hand
Black waters, black waters, run down through my land"

-Jean Ritchie
"Black Waters"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Life Project - Triple Casting

In order to maximize the effectiveness and usefulness of "The Life Project," we were advised by various women's resource centers to triple cast our story. So, last week we filmed essentially the same story with three different principal casts: white, African-American, and Latino/Spanish-speaking.

While I was excited by the prospect of working with three different casts, I must admit that, at first, I faintly wondered, in the back of my mind, if filming the same scenes three times would be monotonous drudgery. It was not at all! It was an incredible experience to watch these wonderful actors bring their own gifts and insights into the scenes.

We wrapped on the Spanish-speaking episode. Filming will commence for the other two casts in a month.






Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Life Project - First Scene

A week ago tonight, we started production on "The Life Project" a film series created to persuade women with unplanned pregnancies to carry their babies to term. We are shooting on the Canon 5D. Here are some still from the film's first two scenes (which happen to be the first two scenes we filmed)...

Our heroine discovers her pregnancy.




A tyrannical "Soccer Mom," played by my lovely wife Kristina :), then makes life even more bleak.



A cameo by my youngest daughter provides a clear visual of what's at stake.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Double Negative" Deconstructed


Wow! Someone posted "Double Negative" on metafilter.com, giving us quite a view boost and a very impressive script breakdown (by someone named "empath"). I'll add a few notes in red since empath did most of the work (and since I now finally get the joke):

"There ain't a person in the world worth waiting for besides you."

"Don't say it that way buck" (objecting to "ain't")

"It ain't gonna change what I mean"

"Where'd you learn to speak like that" (ungrammatically)

"At the end of the day, I'm just a man with a drink who can't win"

"You make it sound like you're putting down the drink, you're just a man who can't win and that's all there is to it" (clarifying the previous sentence)

Also, the words "putting down" can be taken to mean "literally setting the drink down" or "insulting the drink" by saying that the drink (rather than Buck) can't win.

"I know what you're inferring,"
"I know what you're implying" (Correcting him -- one infers from listening, one implies by speaking).

"Say you got a light"

"I have a light" (complying and correcting "got" with "have")

"Can I bum it?"

"You may." The old Can I?/May I? thing.

"Say, you put these in your pocket after we swum the channel"

"After we, no that doesn't sound right" (Swam not swum)

"I wanna say everything is gonna turn out good, can I just tell you that?"

"No, you can't" ('well' not 'good')

"Well then I'll ask you, are you and me gonna turn out good?"

"You and I, Buck" (Subjective case!)

"Who else is there in the world besides you and I?"

"You and me, Buck" (Objective case, Buck!)

"There's no one else kid."

"You can say that you and I are going to turn out well." (If you wanted to have proper grammar).

"Is that right?"

"Yes, I'm sure of it." (grammatically)

"Good, because it's hard to walk you when you have me head of heels and the world turned upside down and sometimes I don't know if I can take this any farther."

"What are you saying, Buck?" (could you have mixed any more metaphors?)

"I'm wondering if we have any future."

"Well then it should be, oh how should I say this -- "I don't think we should take this any further." (If you're talking about time rather than distance, then you should use further instead of farther).

"Oh so now I'm just done?"

"Finished, Buck" (I think this is actually a non-error, but a lot of people say that people were finished and food was done) "Oh can't you see I'm trying to teach you a lesson" (an English Lesson?)

"How many whiskey's have I drank?"

"Drunk" (I have drunk, I drank)

"Seems like something's come in and caused trouble between me, you and the world."

"Leave the world out of it. If there's something divided between people, it's between just two people" (among/between)

"Love me."

"What kind of a statement is that?"

"It's Imperative"

"That's right." (You're learning!)

"It's like I've got two outstretched arms waiting for you to fall into them."

"I can't fall in your arms, it's impossible. Here, let me make this easy. This gun is in my hands. If I shoot it, the bullet in the gun will go into your heart, you will collapse in pain, into a pile on the floor - you see?" (I don't actually get where she's getting at here, can someone explain?)

Someone else in the thread correctly explains that she using the gun as an object lesson to teach in/into distinction.

"Do that, and you'll be in jail in no time."

"That's the idea." (you got whatever point that I was trying to make)

"You and I should run away together."

"You and I?"

"It just sounds right, doesn't it?"

"Yes, Yes, Buck, it sounds perfect." (Finally!)

"I've never been loved by no one like this before."

"That's what they call a double negative." (Literally)

Thanks, empath! You saved me a lot of work!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

John Ramsey - I Believe In Unicorns



My brother, John, is on the front page of digg.com again with what I think is a slightly allegorical joke. Digg it, if you can.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Gas Comedy Interviews John About Ramsey Bros. Pictures


"Quality over quantity," is a favorite axiom parroted amongst "creative types," but for John Ramsey, there doesn't seem to be a choice. With a steady string of comedy awards and accolades that include an appearance on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival and the titles of Funniest Person in Austin 2005, Funniest Filmmaker in Austin 2007 and, most recently, the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival's Gold Brick Award for comedy filmmaking excellence, John Ramsey's rapidly growing body of work is an enviable portfolio of both quality and quantity.

Click here for the full article.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Haiti - Part 1




These kids were awesome. Sometimes the Haitians were apprehensive about being filmed. So, we decided let them participate in the filming. Luckily, our technical director, Kevin Bryan, was using a Canon 5D. Because it appears to be only a still camera, the kids left him alone. I was able to distract them, so he could get some filming done.








The kids in pink attend the school overseen by Global Outreach Haiti. To send a K - 5 child to school for one year costs $200.00. The children are sponsored through patrons. The child at the bottom is not sponsored, and thus does not attend school. There were a number of unschooled children gathered at the fence, looking in.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

.naf a ton

Not a Fan Update from City on a Hill Productions on Vimeo.


As we were filming this, it looked like it was going to stream backwards or flipped where left was right and right was left. Turns out, Apple iPhone 4 is better than that. Go figure. Anyway, here is the latest "not a fan" update.

Friday, June 11, 2010

not a fan - the characters part 2

not a fan - the characters part 2 from CHP.

BTS Webisode 06. In this webisode featuring actual clips from the NOT A FAN series, actors Ryan King, Edward Johnson, Jana Sooter, and Tiffany Montgomery, provide a glimpse into the hearts, minds, and stories of their characters.

NOT A FAN is an upcoming 6-part DVD series that challenges people to become sincere "followers" of Jesus Christ, rather than simply "enthusiastic admirers" or "fans."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Color Correcting "not a fan"

Color Correcting Not a Fan from City on a Hill Productions.

Articles About My Brother, John...


The first interview is from Austin 360. The second interview, in which I am discussed rather extensively :), is from the trophygeneration.com.

If you're in the Austin area, you can catch my brother May 19th - 22nd at Cap City Comedy Club. If you are not in the Austin area, you can check out my brother's stand-up on his Rooftop Comedy page or our comedy short films.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Appalachia Anniversary


Backpack Mission Ministries from City on a Hill Productions.



Megan's Hope from City on a Hill Productions.

It's been a year since we visited the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky to film the above videos. Since the release of this video last August, the amount of children fed by Backpack Mission Ministries has more than doubled.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Moved



Many thanks to the wonderful staff and families of City on a Hill Productions.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Called


"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there."
- Acts 17:16-17

"Then I heard of a great meeting to be at Leicester, for a dispute, wherein Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists and Common-prayer-men[37] were said to be all concerned. The meeting was in a steeple-house; and thither I was moved by the Lord God to go, and be amongst them. I heard their discourse and reasonings, some being in pews, and the priest in the pulpit; abundance of people being gathered together.

At last one woman asked a question out of Peter, What that birth was, viz., a being born again of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever? And the priest said to her, "I permit not a woman to speak in the church"; though he had before given liberty for any to speak. Whereupon I was wrapped up, as in a rapture, in the Lord's power; and I stepped up and asked the priest, "Dost thou call this (the steeple-house) a church? Or dost thou call this mixed multitude a church?" For the woman asking a question, he ought to have answered it, having given liberty for any to speak.

But, instead of answering me, he asked me what a church was? I told him the church was the pillar and ground of truth, made up of living stones, living members, a spiritual household, which Christ was the head of; but he was not the head of a mixed multitude, or of an old house made up of lime, stones and wood.

This set them all on fire."
-From The Journal of George Fox

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Near Prophetic Words About The Beatles



In 1964, The Beatles' press agent, Derek Taylor, wrote these near prophetic words in the liner notes of my daughter's favorite album, Beatles For Sale:

"There's priceless history between these covers. When, in a generation or so, a radioactive, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what The Beatle affair was all about, don't try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play them a few tracks from this album and he'll probably understand. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today."

Friday, April 16, 2010

not a fan: trailer

NOT A FAN trailer from City on a Hill on Vimeo.

not a fan scene (featuring Kristina)


Here's a scene from Episode 5 of City on a Hill Productions' upcoming series, not a fan. In this scene, Eric and his sister, Kim (Ryan King and my lovely wife, Kristina), are pushed to the brink by their pharisaical father, Bill.

Years ago, some friends of our family experienced a horrible tragedy that resulted in the death of a child. At the time, these friends were involved in a legalistic religious sect. Fellow members of this sect asked our friends to search their hearts and actions to see if the tragedy was the result of sin in their lives.

Sadly, I hear stories where Christians - I suppose looking for easy answers - ascribe nearly all personal misfortunes and/or global calamities to divine retribution. It makes me angry so I decided to write a scene inspired by such stories.

Also on my mind while writing this scene was John 9, in which Jesus encounters and heals the man born blind:
As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
- John 9:1-5

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Through-Line Of Life


"And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition'; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy."
-George Fox