My Film ‘From the Sky’: Why I’m Asking for Your Support

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The setting for the film: a remote area in Eastern Washington, standing in for the Middle East.

I am not good at asking for help and I often hide my enthusiasm which is also not good. But it’s time to continue pushing beyond my comfort zone. This film project ‘From the Sky’ is a labor of love for me. The screenplay is my sixth; a story of a poverty-stricken father and son struggling to survive in an area frequently targeted by drone strikes. The film will be among the first (if not the first) narrative works of cinema from the U.S. to show the impact of drones on civilians in the Arab world. The film also explores the roots of extremism and ultimately asks the universal question: when we are harmed, will we take the wide road of retaliation or a more narrow path by responding in life-giving ways? I intend and hope to direct the project in late April if we are able to raise sufficient funds.

My wife Lauren and I have been convicted about these issues to the point that we feel we need to step out in faith. We are bringing in $10,000 of our own in addition to a (hopefully) fully-funded Kickstarter campaign, combining to cover production and post-production costs. I don’t want to ask something of you if I’m not willing to ask something of myself first.

Today marks the launch of a 30-day Kickstarter fundraising campaign; a crucial part of the fundraising effort. Here are three ways you can support this project:

1. Offer a financial pledge. Donations can be as low as $1, and rewards for donations start at $25. You won’t be charged for your pledge unless the campaign is successful; it is an all-or-nothing endeavor. This is why we need you! Many small donations are the difference between success and failure (but I won’t stop you from giving lots).

2. Giving early makes your pledge go farther- helping to drive the campaign up on the Kickstarter site, and encouraging those who visit the page to give of themselves (because an active project is more enticing than one which appears to be lagging behind).

3. Share the Kickstarter page link with your community, your social media network, and human rights advocates. It matters! Momentum helps our chance of success.

The Kickstarter page will further reveal why this is a project I am so passionate about, as well as answer likely questions. Will you stand with us by making a donation today?

FROM THE SKY Kickstarter fundraising campaign

thank you!

 

My Video Discussing ‘The Role of the Church in the Broader Culture’

Photo credit: 2007 Marc Nozell/flickr

Last November, I was invited (and excited) to join Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne on their TV show in Nashville to discuss the topic of ‘The Role of the Church in the Broader Culture.’ The idea for the topic stemmed from my popular (and first) post on Campolo’s Red Letter Christians site titled ‘It is Time For the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love.’

The producers asked me to record a brief introduction to the topic which you can watch by clicking through. As for the half hour conversation between Campolo, Claiborne, and yours truly, it will air in late January on TBN and its affiliates across the country.

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Video Introducing my Short Film ‘From the Sky’

Photo credit: Ian Ebright

In addition to writing for this blog, RELEVANT Magazine and Red Letter Christians, I’ve been working on two different film projects throughout 2012. Those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook may have caught the status updates about one particular project that I’ve been busy with since July of last year: writing and rewriting the script, adding to the research I’ve been doing over the past decade, consulting with knowledgeable people about the Arab world, networking, and building the cast and crew.

‘From the Sky’ is my sixth screenplay, but it’s the first time I’ve crafted a story that isn’t feature-length. I hope to direct this short film in Spring 2013 and am excited to announce that Egyptian-born actor and filmmaker Sayed Badreya just recently joined the cast.

In December, my good friend Patrick Murphy and I went on a location scouting excursion starting in the Yakima River Canyon and ending in areas near Vantage and George, Washington; two very small towns separated by the Columbia River.

Click through for a short video of yours truly introducing the film’s setting and story.

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The Limitations of Mockery and the Adventure of Authenticity

Tim Heidecker in ‘The Comedy.’ 

“Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.” These chilling words are part of a valuable exposé written in the New York Times by Christy Wampole. Her piece ‘How to Live Without Irony‘ bears witness to a generational descent into routine insincerity.

Mockery on the other hand can be direct at times- a dagger shoved into one person by another- but at its core, it is not so different from insincerity. Both are often a piece of armor used for self-preservation, a way to flee human connection by focusing on the other as a caricature while exempting one’s self from the same level of scrutiny. I look around and am encouraged, because it seems even secular culture is growing weary of mockery taken to the extreme.

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50 Shades of Grey: Harmless Fantasy, Female Empowerment, or a Substitute for Real Intimacy?

Photo credit: 2012 Eren Belle Asentista/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

’50 Shades of Grey,’ the novel by E.L. James, is taking our world by storm, which you already knew.  Bookstores cannot keep in on the shelves.  It is hitting record numbers in e-reader downloads and  in only 6 weeks, outsold ‘The Hunger Games,’ putting it as the best-selling book, thus far, of 2012.

Before we delve into this subject, I will concede that I have not read a single page of this book.  But I have read plenty of reviews, watched video reviews and listened to quite a few people explain this book to me. After reading and hearing all that I have on this book I’ve chosen not to read it, if that makes sense.  Is it harmless fantasy? I’m not sure it is.

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Interview with Author Donald Miller and Director Steve Taylor: On the ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Production Process, On-Set Surprises, and Misunderstanding God

Donald Miller (left) and Steve Taylor. Photo credit: 2012 Ian Ebright | The Broken Telegraph

My conversation continues and concludes with screenwriter Donald Miller and director Steve Taylor about their new film adaptation of Miller’s New York Times bestselling book ‘Blue Like Jazz.’ The film opens in theaters April 13th. If you missed it, click here for the first part of this interview.

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Interview with Author Donald Miller and Director Steve Taylor: On ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ Christian Movies, and This Film’s Controversy

Donald Miller (left) and Steve Taylor. Photo credit: 2012 Ian Ebright | The Broken Telegraph

I get a call from Donald Miller’s tour manager Jim Chaffee as I’m turning into the parking lot at the Southcenter Mall, a complex located about 10 minutes south of Seattle if you take the interstate, hence the name Southcenter. The theater won’t let us in ahead of the screening so we’ll have to do the interview somewhere else. Chaffee thinks Starbucks, maybe. “I’ll go get Don, he’s in the car,” Chaffee says as I close my outdated flip phone. Why is Miller, a New York Times Bestselling author on tour to begin with, and at a theater of all places?

His second book ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ a collection of essays on faith and doubt published in 2003, went on to sell over a million copies, propelling the author into the national spotlight. Miller’s ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’ arrived in 2009 and documented the unlikely journey of adapting ‘Jazz’ into a film, with musician-turned-director Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson pursuing the author to write the screenplay as a threesome. As for ‘Blue Like Jazz,’ it’s one of those works so often mentioned by young evangelicals as the spark that re-ignited their faith after years of dismay and an upbringing in religious fundamentalism. Miller and Taylor have been on a tour bus for weeks, taking the film around the country to screen ‘Blue Like Jazz’ before it opens April 13, and tonight their stop is Seattle.

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Limbaugh, Letterman, Maher, and the Cruelty of Selective Outrage

Limbaugh speaks to CPAC. Photo credit: 2010 Gage Skidmore/flickr. Usage does not represent endorsement by the photographer.

By now we all know the two words Rush Limbaugh used to describe Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke (although the tirade was actually three days in length). Rachel Held Evans penned a terrific post about the alarming support that Limbaugh receives from some evangelicals, writing: “it’s hard to believe that any Christian would support a man who leveled such a crass and hateful rant against someone created in the image of God.” Bingo. But that’s easy for me to say, because I already think Limbaugh’s contribution to the national discourse is particularly vile. So why am I indifferent when David Letterman and Bill Maher make comments of a similar nature?

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We’re Giving Away Tickets to a ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Screening in Your City!

Just like the title says, we’re giving away tickets to advanced screenings of the film adapted for the screen by Donald Miller, from his New York Times Bestseller ‘Blue Like Jazz.’ Miller and director Steve Taylor are currently traveling with the film on a nationwide tour before it opens in theaters April 13th. I’ll be interviewing Miller and Taylor for this site when they arrive for the Seattle screening, but enough about that! Here’s how the giveaway works, and entering to win is easy (we promise).

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Why, as a Christian, I’m Not Joining the Fight Against Gay Marriage

Photo credit: flickr/sushiesque. Usage does not represent an endorsement by the photographer.

We have a hot one in the news right now.  Washington State has legalized same sex marriage and there is no doubt that Christians are often fired up about this issue. We are rallying, we are petitioning; flat out, we are against this. “This should not happen.  This is an abomination.  God would not approve.  They are sinning.  It says right in the Bible that what they are doing is wrong.  Have they not read Leviticus?  What about Romans?  It is our job to FIX them, not give them the right to marry.  It is the end times and they are surely all going to hell.”

Except, I don’t believe that, and I am a Christian. In fact, I support gay marriage.

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