A Dreamer Walking

A Ball

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on September 18, 2012

I give you a ball. What you do with this ball could easily tell me how good of a storyteller you are. Here are a few questions I want you to answer. What kind of ball is it? who has the ball? And most importantly, what is going to happen to the ball?

You can turn the ball into a basketball and have a basketball player shoot a basket with it. I personally would call that a bit cliche and uninteresting. You can make someone throw the ball into someone’s groin area. Many would call that funny! But, is it any more original or less cliche? A lot has to do with why he threw it in someone’s groin. You also have the ability to do nothing with the ball. You might think, “This is stupid and I am going to stop reading now”. Well, it is fine with me if you deny this perfectly functioning ball (that I already created for you by the way) and leave. However, choosing to leave just might be contributing to the trapped situation you are in. Some people never end up writing anything because they are too afraid of what others might think, don’t have enough time to put pen to paper, or are not confident enough in themselves to believe they have anything worthy enough to say. Well, I have something to say………….”DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES!”. As an individual you should always have something worthy enough to say. Don’t worry about what others say, even the harshest criticism could be used for good. And, if you don’t have the time to be creative I very much question why you feel you should still be living. Let me quote acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin in saying, “The difference between Page Two and Page Nothing is the difference between life and death”. You might also argue a “ball” is too small of a thing to interest anyone. Why create stories about balls when we can create stories about huge battle ships, missile shooting robots, and blood thirsty warlords? I guess my only reply to this argument is, “bigger does not always mean better”.

With this ball you need to go farther then “cliche” and have it be more then  just an object to set up a cheap sight gag. Creativity is a personal thing. You want this ball to say something about who you are and what you think of this world. How will you make the ball personal? I would turn it into a baseball. Why a baseball? Because I grew up playing the sport. I was a pitcher. There is a lot of emotional connection I have to the game. Maybe it could be the last game ball my character won before he called it quits. Maybe it could be the baseball my main character was given after being denied trying out for the big leagues. “Before you come back I want you to get to know this thing”, the scout says tossing the rejected player a baseball. “If you like it so much I want you to throw it so nobody could hit it”. There, I just set up my whole story within a few lines. I am dealing with a lot of emotional elements, all of which are represented in the baseball. The ball represents the game he loves, a rejection, and a challenge that the main character doesn’t know whether or not he can fulfill. For the rest of the story I could use the ball as a reminder to why my main character is working so hard to become a great pitcher.

Great storytellers do not need to take us to a galaxy far far away or show a situation where the life of mankind is on the line, in order to interest us. No grand monster, clever plot twist, or epic action scene will impact an audience more then a personal story. All a good storyteller needs to do is make even the smallest of objects and situations personal and insightful. If you believe yourself to be a good storyteller I challenge you to make a lot out of something small. Create interest where many would say there is none. My favorite thing involving a ball is baseball. I challenge you to show me a better one. You have the power to do what ever you want with the ball. Don’t think about doing something nobody would ever think of. Don’t think about trying impress us with your story. Just think about why it matters to you personally. Believe me, if it matters to you at a foundational level it will matter to someone else as well.

The Chains of Faith

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on September 10, 2012

I can not create a story without thinking how it reflects my perspective on family, politics, and most importantly God. Many have debated on whether faith in God limits the storyteller or frees him. Because I personally have chosen to devote my life to God my creative decisions always need to be filtered through my faith. There are an extra bundle of questions I need to ask myself when creating a story. Is my story giving God reverence or putting Him down? Am I allowing Him to speak to others or am I turning others away from Him? Does the point of my film justify the immorality I show in the story? I personally believe because the Christian industry is so afraid of the way their films reflect God they limit their creativity. You could justly ask how am I different? How could I possibly create satisfactory entertainment with all these questions interfering with my creative decisions?

Christian films such as the Left Behind series, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants don’t seem to attract much more than the audience who already agrees with their message. I watched christian produced films all through out my childhood. Hardly any of the movies taught me how to think.  All they really tried to do was teach me what to think. The morals of their stories were obvious and often shallow. All of their stories make a big deal about the importance of “choosing Jesus”. It’s the answer to every problem. “With God on our side we can do anything”. The rest of the world is shown to be completely corrupt and evil. Most Christian films talk down to non-believers. They don’t take the time to understand the outside world and thus are not able to bring substance or give insight to the world’s problems.

Most of my friends’ faiths stops them from opening up to the outside world.  The stories they create are black and white. They lack the shades of grey that bring depth to good storytelling. In real life the answer is never as simple as “choose Jesus”. The problem is never as simple as “He doesn’t have faith in God”. When a name becomes the most important point of a story you will lose your audience. The Christian industry is stuck on a name. They put the name ahead of the person’s character. The relationship a Muslim, Buddhist, or any other religion seems to have with God means nothing. If you do not call him by the right name, you are screwed. Thus the name trumps any true value represented in the story. If the Christian industry is going to make a movie about friendship it needs to involve introducing one or both of the friends to Jesus Christ. If the story has to do with drug addiction healing only happens through relationship with Jesus. If the film has to do with abortion the value of life is only found through the realization that Jesus loves us. The Church actually frowns upon putting Jesus’ teachings above his name, as if saying “I believe in love” is more important then being loving. If Jesus represented the medicine that would cure the deadly disease in the story the Christian industry would have the story concentrate on the importance of those affected understanding what the medicine was called rather then how it could actually heal them.

Because of the Christian industry’s inability to see God anywhere else than in their religion they end up closing doors to the outside world and themselves. Their faith becomes no more then a hollow name. They create a set of chains which stop them from being creative and exploring the essence of God. The christian God, at least the God I believe in, is infinite. There is no limit to His depth. I observe a different part of Him in everyone I see. Jesus is clearly seen in the story about a child bringing meaning to an old man’s life or the tale of a goblin finding out growing gardens is better than battle and bloodshed. See, Jesus told many stories in his life, hardly ever did he say what faith his characters claimed to follow. Jesus was not interested in giving the world another religion. His stories were about exploring real issues, like what it means to love your brother, neighbor, and enemy. He didn’t want His followers to tell others God loved them, He wanted them to show others God’s love through helping feed, cloth, and heal “the least of these”.

I want all the stories I create to give people more insight to who my God is. The questions I ask myself before embarking on a story are not there to limit my creativity. The questions give me a direction to go and a reason to put my heart into my visions. I have a foundational belief that God gave me the visions I have in my head to show to others. I give God reverence by being true to myself and the stories I create. I allow God to speak to others through getting myself out of the way. The world is full of immorality. Immorality is justified when it is not being used as a form of entertainment, but rather as a way to bring a reality to my stories and show a contrast to my God. As a Christian community we need to have faith God can be seen in our stories even when there is no name attached to Him. We must have faith in who our God is not in what we call Him.