Archive for the ‘Conscious Didacticism’ Category

Prior to directing Citizen Kane in 1941, Orson Welles only had three short films to his credit.  Since 1998 Citizen Kane has been rated as the number one film in AFI's list of greatest movies ever made. If Citizen Kane were being produced today, the studio would seek to replace him with another director.

Prior to directing Citizen Kane in 1941, Orson Welles only had three short films to his credit. Since 1998 Citizen Kane has been rated as the number one film in AFI’s list of greatest movies ever made. If Citizen Kane were being produced today, it’s highly probable that the studio would seek to replace him with another director.

For those of you who are director-filmmakers, there will come a time in your career when you’ll take on a project of ambitious scope.  Its scale will exceed anything you’ve previously created.  And, I guarantee, there will be many who will question your ability to direct such a motion picture.  They will cite “conventional wisdom”… and suggest numerous other directorial options.  They will appear adamant in their position – telling you there’s no way your project will be funded, unless you attach a “known” director.  They will even say that your film will not be able to secure a completion bond with you at the helm.  (That isn’t true – by the way.  But this subject will have to be addressed in another article.)

And in the midst of this derisive cacophony challenging your directorial merit, deep within, you know that no one else in the world has the ability to “see” the film in the way you envision it.  You’ve been with the project from its inception.  You’ve broken down every shot… You know the characters so well they’ve become friends and family in your mind.   You go to sleep at night with the movie on your mind; and it’s often the first thing you think about upon awakening.  Every day you can see it projected on a theatrical screen. Your movie lives as a creative obsession; and of course it’s that kind of near “insane” passion which is required to make it happen.

It’s more than likely your project has been in development for years, and now you’re right on the cusp of having everything you need – funding and distribution – to get the film made.  But suddenly all these outside voices, some of whom may be gatekeepers, are telling you that you can’t direct it.  And yet, you KNOW – in a way devoid of egoic drive – that without your creative leadership, the very integrity and potential box-office success of the film will be placed at grave risk.

If you are in that situation now – or if you aspire to direct on a larger scale – don’t despair. There is good news.  Plenty of it.

Before I proceed to explain further, there are some pre-requisites regarding the applicability of this article to your particular situation. For one, you must already have substantial production experience, preferably as a director…  You have to be able to demonstrate a veteran status kind of experience.  This means directing or working at a senior level on a number of productions.  (It’s assumed that you have no theatrical features in your directorial credits, which would make the point of this article moot.) But your experience can be any combination of, or all of the following – short films, commercials, episodic television, documentaries, music videos, corporate marketing and PR productions, fund raising films for major non-profits, etc…  You need to be able to demonstrate that you have hit what Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, refers to as the 10,000 hours of experience that places you at a master’s status.  Having awards and recognized productions also work to your favor…

Why is so much experience important?  Because it gives you the clout to be able to look a decision maker in the eye and legitimately claim that you have more experience than many great directors, who had far less prior to helming their first major feature.  The history of motion picture production would not be complete if it didn’t include the many successful theatrical films made by first time feature film directors – from Orson Welles to John Singleton to Quentin Tarantino to David Fincher and many others.

I’ll give you a few examples… all of whom are directors who had less, or just as much experience as what I have outlined above when they helmed their first feature film.  Let’s begin with David Fincher who is famous for directing Fight Club and most recently, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  He also directed the first episodes for the acclaimed Netflix series, House of Cards.

David Fincher's first theatrical feature was the $105 million (in today's dollars) Alien 3 in 1992. His previous directing experience primarily consisted of three music videos for Madonna.

David Fincher’s first theatrical feature was the $105 million (in today’s dollars) Alien 3 in 1992. His previous directing experience primarily consisted of three music videos for Madonna.

Fincher’s first film was Alien 3 in 1992.  Prior to Alien 3, Fincher’s only directorial experience was three music videos he created for Madonna: Vogue, Express Yourself and Oh Father, as well as a short documentary in 1985.  Alien 3 was made for $63 million.  The inflation adjustment equivalent of a $105 million film today!  Theatrically it earned $158 million worldwide in 1992 dollars, not counting secondary market revenues.   Keep in mind however, that Fincher had worked as an assistant cameraman and a matte photographer on a number of features prior to directing.  He knew the territory… just as I assume you do, if you’re a director seeking to make your first feature.

Anne Fletcher is another good example.  Her first time at the director’s helm was for Step Up in 2006, which featured Channing Tatum in his first major role.. Prior to that she had never directed a single film. Fletcher had worked primarily as choreographer on a number of productions.  The Step Up series has become the number one dance film franchise in history earning in combined revenue over $1 billion worldwide.

Jonathan Dayton’s feature film directorial debut was with Little Miss Sunshine. Prior to that he directed primarily music videos.  Little Miss Sunshine released in 2006 is one of the most well-known and successful indie films of the last 10 years – grossing over $156 million worldwide.

And the most recent example of a first time feature film director, with the equivalent of or less experience than I outlined, is Jason Moore, the director of Pitch Perfect.  Pitch Perfect was a $17 million film which has now grossed over $170 million worldwide.  Prior to Pitch Perfect, Moore had directed several episodes for varying TV series.  By the way, the cinematographer for Pitch Perfect was Julio Macat, who is well noted for successfully working with “first-time” directors.

Boyz n the Hood, one of the greatest classic films of the past generation, was directed by a 22 year old John Singleton, who was fresh out of film school . He had no professional  filmmaking experience.

Boyz n the Hood, one of the greatest classic films of the past generation, was directed by a 22 year old John Singleton, who was fresh out of film school . He had no professional filmmaking experience.

And there are many more examples.  Read this NPR article on the 20th anniversary of Boyz in the Hood, which delivers a fascinating account of how in 1990, John Singleton, as a 22 year old college graduate with only a student film to his credit was able to direct one of the most memorable features of the past generation. CLICK HERE.  In today’s dollars Boyz N the Hood would boast nearly a $12 million budget.   And it earned nearly $100 million inflation adjusted dollars theatrically, that does not include all the secondary market revenues, which may have ended up more than doubling its take.

Other successful directors like Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus has Fallen) had especially humble beginnings. Fuqua’s first theatrical motion picture was The Replacement Killers, a $30 million feature in 1998.  Adjusted for inflation that budget would be over $51 million today.  Prior to The Replacement Killers, his IMDb record shows only one video directed for Playboy in 1992.  Yet, he has become of the greatest and most successful, sought-after action directors of our time.

If you have a solid track record as a director, these few examples out of many, demonstrate that successfully directing a theatrical feature is not so much about having prior theatrical directorial experience, as it is about having experience… Period.

Next time a potential gatekeeper attempts to quickly dismiss you as the director for your film, remember these examples.  Your ability to stand your ground, and how you stand your ground, are vital to your success in maintaining the directorial helm.  When confronted, don’t throw an egoic temper tantrum, but rather see it as one of the many challenges a true director must successfully overcome.  Don’t give in when they say you can’t direct it, but always exercise civility.  And don’t just be the immovable object, explain and show them why you are the most well-suited to direct your film.

An experienced “first time” feature film director is in fact one of the best bets an investor or studio can make.  You will cost less, and because your focus is on the best interests of the film, you’re not likely to indulge your ego at the expense of the movie.

Like a well prepared trial lawyer, build you case.  And prior to building your case, make sure you have assembled a team around you that believes in you as much as you believe in yourself…  Always understand that in this industry, very few people will believe in you more than the trust and consideration you give yourself.   If you fit the criteria set forth in his article you have every reason to be confident.

Stand on that confidence, pull from what you know has worked for you as a successful director, and understand that leading the creative execution of a film, means leading period.  Articulate your vision with passion and reason, and others will follow – including those who at one time seemed eager to dismiss your directorial capabilities.  It’s now rightfully your turn to direct a theatrical feature.

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© – David Christopher Loya
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker 

Conscious Filmmaker® is the registered trademark of David Christopher Loya
All Rights Reserved.

Note: ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.

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This important article has been updated since it was first published in January of 2012.  Click on the “View Original” link below which will take you to the entire revised essay.
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© – David Christopher Loya

http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Conscious Filmmaker® is the registered trademark of David Christopher Loya
All Rights Reserved.

Note: ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.

the "conscious filmmaker"®

UPDATED – March 11th, 2014:   Our definition of a Conscious Filmmaker is an artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  Now, why do we refer to such a filmmaker as conscious? Let’s work to fully understand that word.  The word “conscious” is derived from the Latin “conscientia” which means knowledge within oneself, a “sense of right, a moral sense“.  A deeper etymology tells us that the first syllable derives from the Latin com (con) which means with or thoroughly, combined with the Latin “scire”, which means to know.  This is likely borrowed from the Greek “syneidesis” that means knowledge.  So the word conscious can be said to literally mean “thoroughly with knowledge”, and in this context can also mean thoroughly privy to, knowing and aware.  So at its root, consciousness is…

View original post 1,258 more words

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Star Wars: Episode IV (a studio film) grossed in box office ticket sales over $2.4 billion worldwide in inflation adjusted dollars. In 1977 it was produced with a budget of $11 million, equivalent to $42.4 million in 2013. 
(Source:  http://www.boxofficemojo.com)

I regularly participate in each of the world’s major film markets.  These include the American Film Market (AFM), Berlin’s EFM (European Film Market), The Festival de Cannes Marché du Film and Toronto’s International Film Festival market.  After years of attendance, one naturally develops a keen, even powerful awareness of what sales agents, investors and financiers ultimately seek; especially when they consider aligning their resources with any independent film in development or pre-production.  My team has come to see it as nothing less than a desire for the perfect opportunity… It’s an opportunity that represents the kind of indie film where literally all the stars are aligned; and yet, there’s nothing magical about such an alignment.  There actually exist determinable empirical elements that come into play – elements shared in common among history’s most successful movies. (Note: This article is addressing independent films with budgets that range from $2 million to $30 million, and sometimes even more.)

pitch-perfect-poster06

Pitch Perfect, an independent film
released in the Fall of 2012, was produced on a $17 million budget and thus far has generated $115.2 million in worldwide box office gross, and an additional $55.2 million in domestic DVD sales.
(Source: http://www.the-numbers.com)

No doubt, a film investment can be among the riskier speculations to embark upon; and yet, if pursued with an intelligent strategy, such an investment can generate the highest kinds of returns imaginable for any portfolio.  The record of successful motion pictures is replete with those films that have generated revenues soaring into returns that are in the hundreds, and even thousands of percent.  And, when one looks carefully at these blockbuster movies, such positive financial performance is also often aligned with certain factors.  Successful motion picture investment is not always the result of random chance.  Selecting the right film(s) for investment does not have to be analogous to playing the lottery.

Although there is no way to ever guarantee the success of any speculative endeavor  – when it comes to independent film production there are in fact factors shared in common with the most successful movies of all time.  These are elements that – as a collective – are consistently not present in those motion pictures with mediocre or poor performance.

So, when evaluating the viability of an independent film investment, consider the following criteria. An adherence to the factors on this list will serve to substantially mitigate risk when choosing a motion picture investment.

12 CRITICAL ELEMENTS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A PERFECT MOTION PICTURE INVESTMENT

  1. An internationally “bankable” cast, attached or attachable through prior strong relationships with one or more of the largest talent agencies, e.g., CAA, WME, etc.
  2. A veteran above-the-line production team with a successful motion picture track record, combined with an experienced multiple, award-winning director with at least a dozen international and national recognitions to his credit, or a director with a substantial successful track record. A strong producer and/or line producer must also be part of the team, and have fully developed an accurate, line-itemed production budget with a top sheet that makes sense.  Finally, and this is critical:  The production team, and especially the director, must be passionate (almost to an obsessive level) about the project.  Only align with a team that is 100% committed to creating the absolute best film possible. The team has to believe that the film MUST be made, distributed and seen. They should burn with a desire for audiences around the world to view their film projected in thousands of theaters.   Without that kind of dedication the investment is always at risk.
  3. One of the world’s best cinematographers attached, who has lensed movies that have generated billions in domestic revenue alone.  Remember, it’s the cinematographer who brings in the production and lighting crew that supports the look of the film.
  4. A soundtrack created by a Grammy Award winning and/or internationally recognized music artist(s) with multiple platinum album sales; or a soundtrack created by a composer/arranger experienced in writing music for successful motion pictures.
  5. Screenplay written by a world-class scenarist recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a Nicholls Fellowship award winner or finalist, ranking the writer in at least the top 5% of screenwriters in the industry.
  6. Subject matter that transcends borders and language –  with proven international appeal that has already generated billions in combined film revenue, over the past ten years.  If a true story, a chain of title secured along with life rights to a cinematic account that has the potential to astound and capture the imagination of the world.   Any other potential rights and clearances issues will also have been ascertained and dealt with accordingly.
  7. Carefully determined sales projections (based on the performance of recent comparables no more than five years old) averaging over a 100% ROI, and verified by a major studio finance team, with their analysis showing an even higher global number than initial projections.
  8. An international bonding company willing to move forward with the completion bond and communicate directly with investors.
  9. Other private equity sources already lined up to invest. This further mitigates the investment exposure.  Investor PE may also be combined with a strategic alliance with a major studio to augment the resources needed for full funding. Further mitigation is also provided via shooting some, part or all of the film in a region providing a transferable and bankable location tax credit.
  10. A domestic distribution strategy which incorporates a team that can leverage veteran expertise and working relationships with the major theatrical chain decision-makers, and achieve a 2500+ screen platform release with a very reasonable P&A investment . Such a strategy must also be flexible to consider other arrangements.  International distribution is secured through a reputable and accredited IFTA sales agent, who will secure pre-sales to further mitigate an investor(s) exposure.
  11. A powerful potential to develop a branded media franchise that can result in sequels and ancillary market opportunities.
  12. Adheres to the “Conscious Filmmaker” elemental criteria that has been present in the vast majority of the two hundred top grossing films of all time.  Click here for more information.

    the-kings-speech

    The King’s Speech, winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Picture, was an independent film with a $15 million budget. It grossed nearly $431 million in worldwide box office ticket sales, and an additional $32 million in domestic DVD sales.
    (Source: http://www.the-numbers.com)

Few films seeking financing can demonstrate an adherence to every item on the above checklist.   However, the more elements in place – obviously, the greater the risk mitigation.

And, of all the criteria listed, there remains one that would be considered the “prime mover” – the one that must always be present, no matter what.  It is the foundational element of all successful motion pictures.  I am of course referring to the story and the script. The story must be great, and the screenplay execution must be just as compelling.  Every successful film begins with a narrative that has the potential to become a beloved movie that embeds itself within the collective international film culture.

If you’re an investor or broker seeking to participate in that rare gem of an independent film project that fulfills all, or the vast majority of the above criteria, I am aware of at least one such project.

Should you be interested in learning more, write me here:  david@renegadelens.com  – and I would be happy to share further information with you.

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© – David Christopher Loya
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Conscious Filmmaker® is the registered trademark of David Christopher Loya
All Rights Reserved.

All images used are for informational purposes only and their copyright belongs to their respective owners.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

In My Experience

Posted: July 23, 2013 in Conscious Didacticism
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In my experience the most “Christ-like” people have been those who never mention His name, nor volunteer any information about their affiliation with any religion…

In my experience the most virtuous are more than tolerant… They are respectful and compassionate to all beings, and all ways of genuine human love and sensual expression.  They bear no shame, nor accept no shame for their human sexuality. They know consenting erotic touch and connection to be natural and good; and the pleasure of authentic intimate love to be among the greatest gifts of our incarnated selves.

In my experience the fiercest and most noble warriors have been those who walk, humbly… quietly.   They will not even tell you that they’re warriors.  They’d rather be known as peacemakers. Without compromising honor they will do all they can to avoid physical confrontation. It is always a last resort; because they possess the knowledge and ability to wield swift and deadly force using only their bodies.  You see, a true warrior will never have need to conceal a weapon, and most will never have to use a weapon.

In my experience the greatest leaders are those who have no inclination to dominate, intimidate, nor even ask to be followed.  They shine a light in an area once dark, and people are naturally attracted towards what the light reveals.

In my experience real artists often doubt themselves, though they relentlessly pursue the mastery of their craft. They can be self-deprecating, intense, often misunderstood, engage in almost pathological reflective introspection, are full of passion; and yet, often feel un-empowered, and silently, if not overtly suffer because of what they see; while they pine for the visions they know can be…  In my experience too many call themselves artists, but are devoid of the substance necessary for substantive manifestation.

In my experience…

It is the vile who will indiscriminately wave a sword of religion…

It is the self appointed crusaders of “purity” who will be among the most perverse and prurient beings, hiding their repressed, truly wretched propensities behind the mask of “faith-based” puritanism…

It is the weak and cowardly who will announce themselves as warriors – while victimizing only those they can victimize…

It is the despots and demagogues who will demand unwarranted allegiance to false leadership…

And, it is the barbarians who are too quick to call themselves artists.

In my experience…

It is the way one lives, and not the way one claims to live, that will always quietly shout the greatest truth of his or her be-ing.

© – David Christopher Loya
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Conscious Filmmaker® is the registered trademark of David Christopher Loya
All Rights Reserved.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Arguably, Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” is the the most conscious film of the past generation.

UPDATED – March 11th, 2014:   Our definition of a Conscious Filmmaker is an artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  Now, why do we refer to such a filmmaker as conscious? Let’s work to fully understand that word.  The word “conscious” is derived from the Latin “conscientia” which means knowledge within oneself, a “sense of right, a moral sense“.  A deeper etymology tells us that the first syllable derives from the Latin com (con) which means with or thoroughly, combined with the Latin “scire”, which means to know.  This is likely borrowed from the Greek “syneidesis” that means knowledge.  So the word conscious can be said to literally mean “thoroughly with knowledge”, and in this context can also mean thoroughly privy to, knowing and aware.  So at its root, consciousness is also awareness… For a Conscious Filmmaker this consciousness serves as the aware intent in the process of creating a motion picture.

In the context of a Conscious Filmmaker empathy accompanies such awareness.  And empathy leads to a desire for those outside of oneself to benefit from positive outcomes and experience.   Empathy fuels compassion, which allows us to feel what another is feeling. And when such consciousness is shared, it becomes a powerful and beneficial symbiotic feedback loop that lifts and evolves society in the most positive way.

All creative works are to some degree works of consciousness.  However, when we refer to a film or filmmaker as “conscious”, we are referring to a standard or quality of consciousness that reflects the most positive aspirations – the manifestations of which are necessary for true societal evolution.   So what we are addressing here is the quality of consciousness.  One can say that any living creature, even an insect, is conscious.   However, there’s an obvious wide gulf in the nature and quality of consciousness between an insect and a human being.  The same holds true for creative works, and especially films.

A motion picture is more than simple passive viewing.  Whether we realize it or not, it is an experience, that even though vicarious, possesses the potential power to move us deeply in a positive or negative direction.  A film will serve to either enhance our consciousness, or dull it.  And in extreme circumstances it can work to even devolve our conscious being.

Gratuitously violent films that serve no other purpose, but to revel in the gory destructive expressions of evil are in my opinion movies imbued with the least amount of consciousness.  They can even be said to be unconscionable.

Such works are to be distinguished from films that may contain horrific violence; however the violence depicted is not gratuitous and wanton, but necessary for communicating a higher message.  Perhaps the greatest conscious film ever made was Schindler’s List.  And yet, it depicted horrible violence; but such depictions were necessary in order to awaken people to the evils of Nazi Germany and a racist, authoritarian regime.  The same logic is true for the film, Saving Private Ryan.  Its opening twenty minutes were the most accurate depiction of warfare ever revealed in a motion picture.

Let me also unequivocally state that our emphasis on promoting the Conscious Filmmaker approach isn’t to be confused with any faith-based media endeavor.  In fact, I have found that some of the most unconscious works are among the most religiously tainted motion pictures. Conscious filmmaking is distinct from the promotion of any sectarian theological worldview.  A Conscious Filmmaker production certainly can have a theme inspired by a spiritual faith tradition;  however a truly conscious film is never to be defined by the application of a religious litmus test.

Now that you know what a Conscious Filmmaker motion picture isn’t, the next question is how do we determine what truly is a conscious film?  The most conscious films are those that ultimately serve to enrich an audience, and thus society.  But there is another advantage to a Conscious Filmmaker approach that should also be intriguing to those individuals, studios, institutions and companies who fund movie endeavors.  Ironically, it turns out that those films which meet a unique set of criteria also happen to be among the greatest box office successes.  I’ll demonstrate below how a focused “Conscious Filmmaker” approach to producing movies greatly benefits both society and those who invest in such motion pictures.

Over 25 years of experience in creating conscious media has led me to determine three foundational elements of what constitute a Conscious Filmmaker production.  These elements are based on the affirmative response to the following questions:

1.  Does the film reveal complexities of the human condition in a non-exploitative manner and/or affirm the life of others?
Does the film depict the joy or struggle inherent in any aspect of the human condition, and in so doing affirm and validate the experience, and thus human life in general?  Or, does it also in some way, give more life to the audience (does the audience walk away from the movie feeling more alive); and/or does it explicitly or implicitly acknowledge the worth of others, of humanity?

2.  Does the film depict selfless or noble action towards another, or others, in a non-exploitative manner and serve to elevate humanity?
Through the actions of the protagonist(s) does it either implicitly or explicitly support, uphold and demonstrate the transcendent, inherent and priceless dignity and value of humankind and the individual.

3.  Does the film challenge its audience and/or inspire its viewers to connect?
A conscious film often will challenge our paradigms and constructs.  It can inspire us to evolve, and often can even offend and anger those who remain rigid in their social, ontological, and even religious perspectives.   It can also allow us to connect with something deeper within, or something greater outside ourselves.   So we also ask does it challenge and/or connect with a greater consciousness, an idea, new paradigm, character and/or plot development, or a profound emotion?  Or, does it awaken in us a new profound realization that we also connect with?

You will note that the term “non-exploitative” is used in elements one and two.  This is an important consideration. There are films which are created with ostensible or even insidious agendas that appear to embrace these elements, but are little more than either religious or political propaganda.  This does not rule out films with religious or political themes; however, we must exercise wise discretion when considering whether such films meet the standard of a motion picture that truly reflects a Conscious Filmmaker approach.

Box office history demonstrates that the vast majority of the top grossing films of all time scored at least an 8 out of 12 possible points in our proprietary “Conscious Filmmaker Index” matrix, which means that for the most part these motion pictures could answer yes to all three of the above questions.  The following link is from the Box Office Mojo website, and it is a list of the most financially successful (inflation adjusted) motion pictures of all time:   TWO HUNDRED TOP GROSSING MOVIES

Examine this list and then ask yourself for each movie you recognize: Was it life affirming? Did it elevate humanity? Did it challenge and/or inspire the audience to connect?  For at least 90% of these films, the answer is yes. Even if one’s interest in filmmaking is purely for capitalistic gain – there is no rocket science in realizing the unparalleled opportunity that a Conscious Filmmaker® approach represents.  Such films are a win both for humanity and any investment portfolio.

Knowing this truth has always led me to ask:  Why, when given the unparalleled forum to create and distribute a motion picture, would anyone desire to take anything less than a “Conscious Filmmaker”® approach in the production of a movie created to be seen by tens of millions?  When that question begins to be asked more by funders, sales agents, distributors and especially filmmakers, we will see no less than a radical revolution in the quality, consciousness and success of movies released worldwide.

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TO READ ABOUT THE OTHER VITAL CRITERIA THAT CONTRIBUTE TO AN IDEAL FILM INVESTMENT
CLICK HERE.

© – David Christopher Loya
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Conscious Filmmaker® is the registered trademark of David Christopher Loya-Bojorquez   All Rights Reserved.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Once upon a time there was an era when America dreamt dreams so inspired – that our nation’s vision had the power to propel humankind across outer space to a celestial world that had been beckoning poets, mystics, songwriters, travelers and dreamers since the dawn of our existence.   Our spirits collectively soared together with intrepid astronauts as we accompanied them on the precarious journeys taken to the moon’s surface and back.  More than forty years ago, when I was a young boy, I witnessed along with the rest of the earth (my imagination wholly electrified)  the grainy, black and white TV image of Neil Armstrong descending on the lunar surface and uttering the immortal words:  “That’s one small step for man… One giant leap for mankind.”

Armstrong’s walk on the moon constituted the fifth manned mission of the Apollo space program.   If nothing else, Apollo 11 will always be remembered as the first space mission that landed humankind on another world.  By the time the Apollo 13 mission was to be launched, America had already experienced six successful Apollo missions, with three that had orbited the moon, and two that had successfully landed there.  Apollo 13 was slated to be the third manned landing on the lunar surface.

Believe it or not – by the time Apollo 13 was launched – we had become somewhat blasé about our manned space program.  There was a sense of “been there, done that.”   America was already taking these monumental accomplishments for granted;  but not for lack of interest in ongoing exploration.  Rather (from the perspective of one who viewed the era through the eyes of a child, whose imagination was completely a-glow with any and all possibilities),  I remember it as an era when we were absolutely confident in our achievements, and we knew that nothing was out of reach.  In fact for so many – the vision was that by the time we hit the year 2000, we’d have colonies on the moon and Mars, and perhaps even had established contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Everything was possible.  Period.  And perhaps no other movie captured the idealism of that era better than director, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13.

And along with that idealism, there was an unquestioning faith in the unprecedented technological achievements of that time, which was also accompanied by a kind of naivete to the extreme dangers inherent in these missions.  If you stop to think about it – how many of us would feel safe today driving the freeways in a new 1970 model car?.  (We’re talking just seatbelts, no airbags, no antilock brakes, etc.)  Well, now imagine crossing the vastness of space in a capsule designed with technology that was also wholly primitive by today’s standards… Your average smart phone has on a scale thousands of times more power and memory than all the guidance computers aboard the Apollo command and lunar modules combined!  Looking back now it was no small miracle landing a man on the moon.  And yet, Americans were among the last to know it.  We had that much confidence and pride in our space program. And with such pride, ultimately a fall is the price paid.  The tragic fiery deaths of three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 during a launch rehearsal represented the first such fall.  Apollo 13 became the second, with repercussions that threatened to be as potentially tragic.

The astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were Mission Commander, James Lovell (played by Tom Hanks),  Command Module pilot, Jack Swigirt (played by Kevin Bacon) and Lunar Module pilot, Fred Haise (played by Bill Paxton).  Two days after the launch of Apollo 13 an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the service module, which provided both power and air to the central command module.

(Note:  An Apollo mission consisted of three primary spacecraft modules – the service, command and lunar module. The lunar module was designed to separate from the service and command modules.  It’s the piece of the Apollo spacecraft that ferries two astronauts to the surface of the moon and back.  At the end of the mission it’s only the command module that remains and returns to earth with the three astronauts aboard.  )

When the service module was no longer able to sustain life aboard the Apollo spacecraft, the Apollo 13 Lunar Module, named The Aquarius, was improvised as the first “life raft” in space.  All hope of landing on the moon was abandoned, and Apollo 13’s new mission was to return the astronauts safely to earth against seemingly insurmountable odds. The situation was as dire as anyone could possibly imagine… In fact, no one had imagined the kind of emergency scenario the crew of Apollo 13 confronted.  Certainly, the astronauts had rehearsed again and again for all conceivable potential eventualities, but this kind of tragedy went beyond any previous preparation.   But no one was ready to give up.

The classic quote by Mission Control Flight Director Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris), “Failure is not an option.” has become a widely recited meme in our culture.   Kranz spoke not just for himself, but for the indomitable spirit of that era.  His strength of character and leadership also represented the best of the idealism, courage and vision that characterized the American space program of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Once the press and the world realized that the lives of the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were in grave danger, resting on the precipice of what technology could do and couldn’t do, the mission dominated newspaper headlines, television and radio news. The hopes and dreams of not just the United States, but the entire planet now rode along with the beleaguered astronauts.

The clip I’ve chosen takes place right after the astronauts have participated in a live television broadcast, which unknown to them was not being carried by any major network, because of the fallen lack of interest in the moon missions.   Following this aborted broadcast,  Mission Control then instructed the Apollo 13 crew to go though a routine set of technical “housekeeping” adjustments.  It was then that  they experienced the violent detonation of an oxygen tank that blows a near-fatal hole in the service module… For the first time the United States faced the real fear of astronauts dying in the middle of space forever suspended between the earth and the moon.

The Apollo 13 story arch creates what is among the most inspirational movies an audience has ever had the privilege to view.  Few motion pictures have the conscious intent to elevate humanity in the manner achieved by Ron Howard in Apollo 13.  This is one film, if you haven’t seen, you MUST SEE before you die.  Put it on your own cinema bucket list.   Apollo 13 is a life affirming experience that will forever make you both appreciate our place in the universe; as well as contemplate that indefinable, divine drive to lift ourselves above this world – despite the tremendous likelihood of death – while summoning a transcendent courage to reach out and explore the ocean of space, whose tides carry the very stardust of our collective origin.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

The motion picture, “Apollo 13”, is the copyright of its respective owners and its images and clips are used here for informational purposes only.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Definition of a “Conscious Filmmaker”
An artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  

Juno is a little gem of a movie.  This is a recent classic – hitting the theaters during the 2007 holiday season.  No other film has ever dealt with the subject of teenage pregnancy in such a comical, refreshingly authentic and poignant, life-affirming manner.

Legendary movie critic, Roger Ebert, describes the motion picture as follows:  “I don’t know when I’ve heard a standing ovation so long, loud and warm as the one after Jason Reitman’s Juno, which I predict will become quickly beloved when it opens at Christmas time, and win a best actress nomination for its 20- year old star, Ellen Page. It’s the kind of movie you almost insult by describing the plot, because the plot sounds standard and this is a fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy about a 16-year-old girl who wins our hearts in the first scene. Page plays Juno, who gets pregnant, and–no, that’s not it at all. Every element in the movie including her getting pregnant, and her non-boyfriend, and her parents, and the couple that wants to take the baby for adoption, is completely unlike any version of those characters I have ever seen before. And the dialogue is so quick and funny you feel the actors are performing it on a high-wire. It was so much fun to sit with a huge audience that laughed not just in good humor, but in appreciation and sympathy. Her boyfriend, played by Michael Cera, is so clueless that Juno translates that as “not being like everyone else.” Her father and stepmother, the superb character actors J. K. Simmons and Allison Janney, are older, wiser and funnier than a teenager’s parents are ever allowed to be. The hopeful adoptive couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) are the opposite of what you’d expect, and then turn out to be the opposite of that. And the whole story is textured within a school year that focuses the growing-up that Juno has to do.”

Juno is an especially conscious film because it raises our awareness of the sheer burden and vulnerability of a teenage girl, who courageously fulfills a personal commitment to carry her pregnancy to full term – even as she encounters unexpected and even tragic developments with the couple who had arranged to adopt her baby.  Yet, in the midst of understandable angst and anxiety on her part, she still maintains strength, poise and an indomitable wit. The acting is absolutely dead on authentic, and the direction by Jason Reitman is fresh and vibrant.  After viewing Juno you can’t leave that movie without feeling great about life.

The scene I chose (see link below) takes place right after Juno tells her parents she’s pregnant, and she continues to explain her plans to them.  At age sixteen, Juno has it all figured out.  She’s not going to terminate her pregnancy… And she and her best friend found a suitable adoptive couple in of all places – The Pennysaver!   Enjoy.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

“Juno” is copyrighted by its respective owners and used here for informational purposes only.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CLIP

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Definition of a “Conscious Filmmaker”
An artist with the aware intent to create motion pictures imbued with an enlightened purpose.  

SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN E.T.:  THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, I IMPLORE YOU TO VIEW IT FIRST BEFORE READING THE FOLLOWING.  IF YOU CHOOSE TO CONTINUE READING, YOU WILL SEVERELY COMPROMISE A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE.

Because I am often asked what constitutes a Conscious Filmmaker and what are examples of great films that meet such criteria, I decided to start a new feature.  I call it the “Conscious Filmmaker” Classic Movie Clip of the Week.

I will begin our first week with one of the greatest, most beloved films made in the last generation, Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.  It is truly one of my top ten favorite motion pictures.

The scene I chose to demonstrate is not the first one that comes to mind when this movie is discussed.  Typically, most people’s minds jump to the ending sequence, with Elliot and E.T. embracing, as the scene further builds with John Williams’ soaring orchestral score.  The genius of his music serves as an uncredited character within the film itself; and in the grand ending that theme almost seems to single-handedly propel E.T.’s spacecraft back to his starry home.

However, from a storyline perspective that classic finale could never have occurred without the scene below, which constitutes the great turning point in the film.   This foundational scene – that demonstrates the transformational theme of the power of love, connection and friendship, which leads to the “resurrection” of Elliot’s cosmic friend – will always remain timeless.  Few movies can awaken the inner child within us like E.T.

It is a miraculous piece of conscious cinematic storytelling.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is the copyright of its respective owners and used here for informational purposes only.

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

What is a life calling?  It is exactly what you have been placed upon this planet to achieve.  It is your vocation.  In a very real sense you are called to be a “priest” or “priestess” of that endeavor.

A calling may have ego mixed into it, but ego will never be a conscious contributing element to the success you seek. Many pursue certain goals that are motivated purely by ego. And ego is often fueled by pain born from a sense of lack of acceptance, or even abandonment.  It takes enormous courage to be honest with oneself in conducting such self examination.  When an endeavor is pursued fueled only by ego –  it’s like attempting to run a marathon after being nourished solely on a diet of gummi bears and cheap beer.  You may start out strong, but you’ll never make it.

How do you know your true calling?  First of all it will be related to something you’re already good at.   And it’s often some gift or talent that’s also already been confirmed by impartial parties.  You will find validation of your abilities outside of your close family and friends.  Such validation may start there, but eventually others will notice and can’t help in some way or another to acknowledge the light of your gift shining through.

The next step is to understand and embrace the process that makes manifestation of your “life calling” possible.  And, based on my own experience, I sum it up this way:

There is nothing more assured in its manifestation than an endeavor ignited by passion, empowered with genuine knowledge, and pursued with enthusiastic unrelenting perseverance.

Yes, if you truly seek to achieve your life calling  then measure your methodology by the above litmus test.  That is what it takes.  Nothing succeeds like intelligent action.  I refer to it as The Three “P’s” of Success:

1. PASSION – for your calling.  Either you have it or you don’t.  If you have to ask what such passion is or feels like, trust me, you don’t have it.  Look deeper to find your real calling.

2. PREPARATION.  That is what’s referred to as genuine knowledge.  Passion is not enough.  You must be willing to take the time to learn, practice, rehearse and understand better than anyone else every facet of your calling.  Learn how it’s reached… Understand what to do when you get there… And prepare with uncompromising intensity to be the best at it that you can possibly be.

3.  PERSEVERANCE.  I like to add the adjectives “enthusiastic” and “unrelenting” when describing this kind of perseverance.  It’s the kind  that never gives up.  Enthusiasm is vital here… It’s a word derived from Greek that in its meaning literally was once defined as “possessed by a god”.   Manifestation requires that kind of divine intensity and inspiration.  There is no room for failure.  If something doesn’t work the third, fourth, fifth even one hundredth time… You keep going… However, don’t keep attempting the same strategy over and over again expecting different results.  That’s the classic definition of insanity. Rather, with each setback, learn how to adapt and evolve.  And remember with each obstacle encountered, you’re still one step closer to the manifestation of your calling.

This is more than just a roadmap to achieving your ultimate goal.   This is about actualization… It’s literally about evolving into the real you.  The “you” you’ve been called to achieve, and the you that the world needs and is waiting for… But you don’t need to wait any longer.  Let go and BE.

© – David Christopher Loya – Bojorquez
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.  

Revised and Updated – June 17, 2014

Though I’m a principal and partner in a film production company, I do not consider myself a capitalist. I’m a “progressive free enterprise” practitioner and advocate. There is a difference. Pure capitalism is a practice devoid of compassion wherein maximum monetary profit becomes a twisted governing morality. Conscious and Progressive free enterprise seeks a holistic compassionate outcome, where profit alone does not in and of itself constitute success.  Rather, success in a progressive free enterprise context is accomplished as a result of fulfilling the following goals:

a.  No employee or contractor exploitation.
In other words a progressive free enterprise company engages in a fair revenue sharing program with its employees and valued independent contractors.

b.  Enhancing the life of the community around which a business operates.
A progressive free enterprise firm gives back to the community and society as a whole… lifting up those who are the weakest or most unfortunate among us. And such a company is sensitive to the environment and engages in practices that are sustaining, life-giving and healthy for all.

c.  Providing customers with the greatest value.
Maximizing profit should not be the motivation. Rather, creating a balance wherein making a profit and delivering the greatest value is the goal.  Clientele should never be exploited.

I can’t imagine how any company practicing “progressive free enterprise” can ever be publicly traded within the context of the traditional Wall Street model.   This model, which demands ever increasing profits as the measure for success – is in and of itself unsustainable without the grotesque exploitation of billions.  And no, I am not a Marxist.  I believe in every individual’s right to pursue his or her’s dream or calling.  Often that is achieved through the creation of a business, i.e.,  free enterprise.  More and more, however, pursuing one’s calling through the conduit of a business is becoming a virtual impossibility for so many would-be, deserving visionaries and innovators.  Many (not all) big businesses in contrast practice “selective enterprise.”  In that context we have “collusion monopolies” controlling the supply and distribution chain.  And they are only growing stronger.

What I call for is a business revolution.  Until people are free economically to pursue the universal inherent right to achieve their highest human potential, we are deluded into thinking that we live in a free society.  Principled progressive free enterprise allows that to happen.  Employees are no longer exploited for their labor;  they become partners in their own actualization.  This is not about economics dictated by state planning; but rather, it’s economics dictated by the greatest good – which can be translated into manifesting the greatest dreams we all have been given to pursue.  I believe that progressive free enterprise will allow such dreams to prosper and flourish, more so than our current Wall Street bound system.  Government should not dictate the structure, but government certainly can become a partner in helping progressive free enterprise to flourish.

If government can more directly subsidize new business start-ups, eliminate the red tape of biz loans, and simply require a well thought out plan of execution and action, even providing a template for its completion – we could see an amazing economic revolution in this country.  And, there are a number of ways to create such a program which can also provide for accountability. And any public subsidy can even eventually be paid back as a small percentage of tax on ensuing profits after maybe the fifth year of operation. It would be like a kind of free enterprise social security, only well managed, where successful, formerly subsidized small businesses pay back into the system – which then of course frees up subsidies for the dreams of others to manifest.   In no way can this be seen as an entitlement program.  I’d call it an empowerment program.  It would be government at its best – working on behalf of the people and partnering with progressive free enterprise entrepreneurs.

In a progressive free enterprise society, I would encourage accountability review participation across all levels of society.  Any costs associated with implementing accountability and even certification,  should come from the free enterprise subsidy contribution successful businesses (which themselves were originally funded by such subsidies) make into the system.

Keep in mind that building a progressive free enterprise society also means that employment is kept locally. It means that we are not out to exploit the cheapest labor for the highest profit.  Companies that have outsourced to third and second world nations, did so, not because they weren’t necessarily making a profit using American workers.  Many did so because they could increase their profits by paying less (thus being rewarded within the Wall Street model).   Therein lies the moral failure of unconscious capitalism – wherein making a profit is never enough; and making the greatest profit is always the goal in the current system.  Not taking other factors into account results of course in the economic debacle we have now.

I encourage discussion on all levels for the implementation and manifestion of a true Conscious Capitalist, Progressive Free Enterprise System – a peaceful economic revolution that can transform society globally – resulting in the greatest human freedom for all.

© – David Christopher Loya
http://www.imdb.me/consciousfilmmaker

Note:  ANY advertising placed on any of these blog pages is not controlled by the author; nor does it necessarily reflect his opinion or ethos.