New Fan Based Studio to Launch

Have you ever wondered how much crazier our culture can get? Did you ever ask yourself who can make a difference and turn our society right side up? Well, in a short time you will be able to do something specific to make a difference. That’s right, you.

With your help, Maverick 7 Studios will launch this month. Maverick 7 Studios is a fan based film and television company that produces movies and shows to counter trends in the seven areas of culture: Arts & Entertainment, Media, Education, Business, Family, Government, and Religion.

Maverick 7 Studios will launch a new regulated crowdfunding offer to unaccredited fans up to $1MM plus an A+ regulation offering to accredited investors. The total goal is to raise $50MM in funding for the new studio, a part of which you can own.

The first titles headed into development are all redemptive stories. In redemptive movies the protagonist lives in error or evil and takes action to improve his life, but falls short until someone shows grace and saves or redeems his life for the good.

Based on current negotiations, the following titles are in development to be produced:

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Based on the best selling Christmas book by MaryAnn Diorio,

Jody Pettit O’Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her departure, she was abandoned by her husband, lost her job, and struggled to keep her two children respectable. Seven years after she last spoke to her mother, Jody dreams about her past family Christmases and decides to head home with the hopes that she’ll be welcome.

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In association with Powers Productions.

Maverick Detective Cassie Steele battles PTSD memory loss, while fighting to keep her cover intact. Her plans to bring down the drug kingpin get side tracked as she spends extra time with Diaz, blurring the lines between justice and her growing love for him.

Realizing her precarious situation, Cassie sees to her son’s safety and works hard to regain her memory from the night of the opera house fire—the night Diaz lost his first love and started his killing spree with all involved in the death of his “Carmen.”

Racing against the clock, Cassie tries to find balance between her motherly duties, her infiltration as the kingpin’s girl, and her role as the officer tasked to close the case. Cassie is forced to face her fears in discovering the missing piece of her memory that will bring Diaz down.

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In association with Midst Entertainment.

Eric Stafford, a renegade law student whose life is not his own, struggles to break free from his father’s plans. After his father gets a mobster boss exonerated on a technicality, Eric begs him to seek justice and restore the family name. When Eric learns that he’s next in line to work for the mobster, he selects a 2,000-year-old debate for his mock trial with the hope that it will break him free from a future of supporting injustice. As the case unfolds, Eric learns that the greatest injustice in history has a life giving power that he’s never known.

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In association with Powers Productions.

Take a group of spirited kids… put them in charge of a streaming web-based television station in a resort with visiting guest stars… and you’ve got intergenerational antics galore!

KIDS-TV offers lots of laughs as the kids and their special guests learn they have more in common than they think.

In the pilot episode, new crewmember Carolyn Morris suffers from a terrible identity crisis. Stacey, the station manager, mistakes Carolyn for someone else, and puts her in an embarrassing situation – during a live broadcast. With a little help from her new friends, Carolyn manages to show her real stuff – through a dazzling animated/live-action musical production number, the likes of which Stacey has never seen.

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From Best Selling Authors Peter Marshal and David Manuel.

The Admiral: A Voyage of the Soul” focuses on Christopher Columbus, a complex man driven by two opposing forces: missionary zeal and a growing desire for money, position and power.

In his personal journals, Columbus reveals the inner passion which compelled him to sail west – a divine call on his life to, in his own words, “bear the light of Christ” to peoples of undiscovered lands. The Admiral explores the inner drive which sustained Columbus through years of frustration and disappointment, and how once he had discovered the New World and its gold, the purity of his motivation became corrupted with the great seductions of the world – money, position and power. The irony is as tragic as it is obvious: Columbus abused and enslaved the very people he had set out to convert.

As an old man, the Admiral looks back with regret on all the suffering he has inadvertently caused. Painfully he acknowledges his diversion from his calling and returns to the conviction of earlier years, where he finds peace.

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In association with Powers Productions.

Pastor Paul Ryann breaks his promise to his wife when a junior high kid’s bad choice prompts him to intercede. Returning home two hours late, his wife sends him on their anniversary trip to Israel alone, in hopes of him learning how to respect her.

During his flight, Paul meets two traveling companions. Together, they tour Old Jerusalem and stumble upon two men assaulting a woman. The men notice Paul capturing the incident with his camera and chase after them. They dodge in and out of crowds and alleys until they duck into an old dark shack where the floor gives way and plunges them down into an ancient stone well.

As the water rises, Paul, in true “Indiana Jones” style leads the three to safety. When they emerge, they find themselves thrust back in time—33 A.D. during the triumphal entry of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem.

During the week leading to his crucifixion, the three are loved by the Master and forced to face their deepest internal pain. In return, Paul struggles with the decision of saving Jesus from his harsh death and making sure it happens.

 

Additional Projects in Association with Powers Productions.

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Grandma’s Attic

This spectacular holiday musical is about three kids who are told to go into grandma’s attic and find one thing that reminds them of her before the contractor who swindled the property bulldozes the house down.

Filled with new songs of fond memories, Grandma’s Attic is bursting with comedy, the hunt for grandma’s hidden secret that’s sure to save the house, and a patriotic finale that puts the contractor in his place.

Space Academy

High school students living in a space station in geosynchronous orbit, use a space elevator to return to earth for history class in their school’s holographic simulator. During each class the students “relive” history as they walk among historic figures who made a significant difference during their lifetime.

JC Agents

A group of teens go undercover using high technology to perform random acts of kindness throughout their community. This series features missions that kids can do at home and thrilling adventures using tomorrow’s technology.

Adventure at Thunder Falls

Thirteen-year-old Kit Calloway has trouble trusting God after the death of her little brother. When an ill-fated camping trip with her family and friends places her in life threatening danger, she must risk trusting God again.

My Professor’s Study

The professor’s study is an imaginative and safe place where kids can explore their own character traits and make right choices in developing additional skills on their own.

Wonder Worm

Animated children’s series about a mild-mannered worm who fights for truth, justice and Biblical morals.

Crucible of Freedom

The true story of George Washington based on the best selling book The Light and the Glory.

Esther: The Musical

Pageantry, intrigue and treachery based on the biblical book of Esther.

 

© 2017 Powers Productions, Inc.

Directors Pull in Summer Audiences

popcorn-movie-party-entertainmentDecades ago the major studios drew audiences to the silver screen with big extravagant pictures. A few decades later movie stars became the biggest drawing card to pack out film houses. But recently we’ve seen a shift to a new role that is drawing in millions to the box office—the director.

The audience is no longer willing to sit through a star driven movie just because their favorite actor plays a role in the film. Over the past few years, films that had Bruce Willis in its trailer or on the one sheet poster disappointed many. Why? Because the films weren’t really Bruce Willis type films. He was just in the movies for a paycheck.

This summer we saw a lot of film actors fail to deliver audiences to theaters like Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell and Rough Night, Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, Charlie Hunnam’s King Arthur, and Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

But it was the directors that brought the solid draw as social media buzz surrounded the filmmakers, not the stars. The successful films used lesser-known actors in leading roles under the guidance of strongly directed vision. The box office successes included Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.

Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group told Variety, “To be theatrical, you need to be distinctive now. That’s what Spider-Man and Baby Driver have in common. Even though they are as different as night and day, the audience can feel both are distinctive, and so theater-worthy.”

Director Alex Kendrick, of the faith-based Kendrick Brothers, has carved out a niche for himself that draws in enough audience to generate about $60MM every time he releases a film. While Sony has rarely understood how he does it, they have acknowledged his distinctive films. In fact, there have been many who have tried to follow in Alex and Stephen’s footsteps, but all have failed to replicate their distinctive style.

One of the reasons I study a lot of film is to make sure I create something that hasn’t been done before. A director’s style coupled with his writer, DP and Production Designer choice makes for a uniqueness that is seldom replicated. The heart and soul of his vision must come through in order to create a successful title that will storm the box office.

There will never be another Christopher Nolan or Alex Kendrick, no matter how often a budding filmmaker suggests he offers a similar style.

I’ll never forget listening to an interview with Phil Vischer, of Veggie Tales fame, before he became famous. In the interview he was likened to Walt Disney, which surprised me since I was familiar with both artists. The two were highly creative and did the voices for their primary animated characters, but their styles and audiences were very different.

The thing I remember most about the interview was how quickly Phil’s distinctive style was getting lost behind the Disney name. Don Bluth, known for The Secret of NIMH, had the same problem differentiating himself from Disney. It takes a strong director to carve out a niche for his own style that is memorable and draws an audience to the box office.

So who’s your favorite director?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Dialog must be Relational

Conversation is about Relationship, Not Information.

pexels-photo-89873There are talkers and there are listeners that will hopefully never meet. They’re missing the chief cornerstone of relationship when only focused on half of the equation. Talking and listening actively is relationship.

Talkers can never learn or be satisfied until they listen equally as well. The listeners will bust at the seams until they share the valuable information stored within their heart. Communication is the only relational tool that unites the human race and forms culture.

During one film shoot, I directed a group of actors who were very different from their characters. The joy on set was high, as the talent played with roles that stretched their imagination beyond the stereotypical. After great contemplation they delivered heartfelt performances that opened our eyes to new perspectives.

One woman, who was an intellectual, played a ditzy blonde type that had a heart for kids. Her research brought the perception that “ditzy” was based on circumstances of how the person addressed the unknown. Curtailing the stereotype, she resisted playing the person that when jolted by a comment would say the first words that came to her.

She entered the scene as a brunette who led with undefined empathy, which became clear by the end of the scene. The actor’s choice gave the feeling of “ditzy,” but without showing a lack of intelligence. This resulted in the character coming across as empathetic and what I called squishy-warmhearted.

This empathetic quality came out because of the conversation between her and another leader. The dialog revealed the heart of both people and their relationship. It was more than just an exchange of information. The expressions of each character’s souls were on the line, demonstrating their courage in conversing.

Ursula K. Le Guin in her essay titled “Telling is Listening” published in The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination, shared the following complexities of human communication:

“In most cases of people actually talking to one another, human communication cannot be reduced to information. The message not only involves, it is, a relationship between speaker and hearer. The medium in which the message is embedded is immensely complex, infinitely more than a code: it is a language, a function of a society, a culture, in which the language, the speaker, and the hearer are all embedded.”

The film was powerful because each character did more than communicate information. Their expressions and backstory came through in how they presented each comment. Even their reaction shots revealed how they were impacted through the courageous interchange.

The audience was mesmerized and fascinated by the dialog, not because it was written well, but because of how it was crafted using the embedded elements of each character within the exchange. The dialog was far more than words or information. It was real in everyway.

I made an interesting note the night after the shoot that read, “Dialog is about relationship, not information.” Whether a discussion occurs in real life or on screen, it is only of value if it develops the relationship. Talkers who talk without listening and listeners who listen without sharing are not interesting because they are only focused on themselves.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Nuances Touch Audiences

RedWhiteBlueLiving next to train tracks delays my exit from the parking lot often. It gives me the opportunity to watch the characters biking, walking, jogging and running on the Prairie Path just north of the condo. Once the tracks are clear, I focus on the unique cars that stream past until I can find a break in traffic to pull out.

This morning I watched three cars drive past that were equally spaced from one another and moving at the same speed. The first car was red followed by a white car and then a blue one. Not only was the timing of the moment unique with the fourth of July around the corner, but also the cars had marching tonality in its colors.

Moments like these make me wonder if someone is trying to send me a message. While I find it highly unlikely, I do have to acknowledge that wonderful moments, no matter how simple, happen far more often than we let on. But most instances are missed due to the cares of the day.

The best benefits of observation come from seeing the beauty in the mundane, cleverness in the random, and amazement in the details.

Beauty in the Mundane

There is a certain innocence found in the unadulterated. Its ignorant purity brings beauty into the world like an unsure fawn experiencing fresh fallen snow for the first time. The quality of innocent naiveté reveals the best in us as a people. It can bring hope to our lives that provide the crisp feelings of being unsullied by our past. This unpolluted hope invigorates us to act out of selflessness for the sake of others.

Cleverness in the Random

The wise know that finding cleverness or any other form of intelligent thought suggests that what we view as random can many times be labeled as “divine appointments” or “God-incidences”. The mere aspect of intelligent design reflects the impossibility that ingenuity in the random is far from aimless, haphazard or accidental. The culmination of the unrelated to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts is truly a generous and heartfelt gift.

Amazement in Details

Strolling down the Prairie Path between the times I get home from work and dinner being served is relaxing and inspirational. Along the path are wonderful displays of nature that sometimes grabs my interest enough to take a picture. The closer I move the camera in the more intricate the patterns I see. The opposite is true of manmade items, as errors and an array of fragmented mistakes that lack precision become evident.

Intelligence in the arts always brings about a higher quality that audiences appreciate. The art that lacks attention to the finer points always falls apart when scrutinized by the discerning eye. This leads me to believe that focusing on the nuances of the arts, which takes longer and is more costly, is far more rewarding for the audience that it’s designed to touch.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Mentors Breathe Inspiration into Creativity

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My Home Town Movie Theatre

When I mentor young filmmakers in how to develop their style and breathe life into their films, I often watch their eyes close me out from their thoughts. They are adamant about making sure the film is theirs and they don’t want anyone to give them a helping hand. This is problematic for a collaborative art form.

The idea of inspiring someone to a higher level of art can only come from words of encouragement, difficult moments of challenge, and the sharing of conceptual ideas. The word, “inspire,” means to “breathe into” or to “infuse with life by breathing.” That means someone has to do the breathing of new ideas to help the filmmaker get his mind cranking.

The creative process requires an environment of ideas, enthusiasm and energy. These are tools that help us gain experience from others and expose our minds to various styles and artistry. The shared wealth of history creates a powerful form of influence that brings the young filmmaker to a higher level of art than his or her counter parts ever achieve. Yet, Millennials seldom want to collaborate.

Inspiration of Mentors Stir Our Heartfelt Voice

The best thing that happens in a collaborative process is the deep sense that your own ideas demand to be heard. From deep within the gut comes this voice begging to resound. The inspiration of mentors draw out those deep ideas from within us and we suddenly find a way to express them. The inspiration brings our ideas to the surface so we can take action.

Unfortunately some people think that when you share a creative idea with the hopes of inspiring them, they think you want them to use your idea. But that is far from the truth. The mentor only wants to get the filmmaker thinking about something they never finished thinking about—that special something that resides deep within their heart.

I was mentoring one filmmaker who wanted to create a world that lacked water. The scarcity drove many to kill for a single cup of fresh water. The original script had a sign in it that made the idea of water scarce, but I suggested he find a way to demonstrate the rarity of water instead.

His latest cut of the film had the water sewn throughout the entire story as the key driver of all decisions made by every character. It became obvious that the liquid was such a rare commodity that everyone’s life changed in the presence of fresh water. Within that setting his protagonist could then mature and become a person who questioned his selfishness and chose to demonstrate love sacrificially.

While I gave him a handful of ideas that were plausible to demonstrate the scarcity of water, he was inspired enough to come up with his own unique ideas. Not one of my suggestions made it into the film, which was good, because my goal was to inspire his convictions and expressions. His choices worked.

The Journey of Understanding

Film is an emotional medium that comes from the heart. Those who hold to conservative standards make conservative films. Those who understand the liberal first and then make conservative films takes the audience on a journey that ends with a conservative view that makes sense to all, not just those with likeminded ideologies.

By finding inspiration from both sides of the political spectrum, a filmmaker becomes more powerful in the messages he can send to an audience that’s hungry for answers to the latest societal issues. But closed-minded conservatives who only focus on their views can present nothing of value to the liberal.

And what good is a film that only reaches the likeminded?

Film is not necessary when used as a tool of validation. It’s only necessary to help opposing viewpoints be understood. When film demonstrates the potential results of an idea, while touching the emotions of everyone watching, the audience is able to buy into the concepts and consider how they might apply within their own life.

For this reason I hangout with liberals and conservatives. I read both sides of every issue. And, I create paths through story that will take an audience to the life-breathing conclusion that cries out to be heard. These actions breathe creativity into each viewer so he or she is capable of altering their life with healthier choices.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Niche Groups Claim Wonder Woman

Subcultures Support Wonder Woman’s Messages

Social Media was abuzz for the past two weeks as various subcultures claimed that the Wonder Woman movie supported their cause. From feminists to Christians, niche audiences praised director Patty Jenkins for creating the long awaited female superhero.

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I watched the movie on opening night to get the story’s full impact followed by a second viewing where I could deconstruct the film to understand its underlying messages and structure. I was pleasantly surprised at how Jenkins crafted the story with feminine and masculine scenes, including several mash up scenes with reversed roles.

But more fascinating to me was the reaction of various niche groups claiming the film was the first superhero movie that included their subculture ideologies. I hadn’t seen such a response since the first Star Wars film released. Neither Star Wars’ George Lucas nor Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins acknowledged the attempts.

In fact, Jenkins denied the question of purposely supporting the feminist groups.

“I can’t take on history of 50 percent of the population just because I’m a woman,” Jenkins said to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I don’t care about that at all. I just want to make great movies,” she said in another interview.

Subcultures are not aware of how much their social media comments can build up pressure that battles a director’s artistic choices. When considering what film to direct, Jenkins walked away from Thor: The Dark World because it wasn’t the right fit, which led her to the Wonder Woman opportunity.

“There have been things that have come across my path that seemed like troubled projects,” she said to Reporter Tatiana Siegel. “And I thought, ‘If I take this, it’ll be a disservice to women. If I take this knowing it’s going to be trouble and then it looks like it was me, that’s going to be a problem. If they do it with a man, it will just be yet another mistake the studio made. But with me, it’s going to look like I dropped the ball, and its going to send a very bad message.’ So I’ve been very careful about what I take for that reason.”

Jenkins is another director who creates movies for the general audience. She is diligent in how each scene comes together and what works on screen. Jenkins crafts each scene as a gift of love for all ticket holders.

“I hope they feel inspired to be a hero in their own life and learn love, thoughtfulness and strength,” Jenkins said on GMA.

She has also been humbled by the experience and hopes that she lived up to what the fan base requires, while expanding the film to a more universal audience.

“I couldn’t believe the entire time we were making the movie what was in our hands. I thought, ‘Yes, I love Wonder Woman,’ but also we’re making a movie about someone who wants to teach love and truth in the world right now—and who is incredible—and we want to live up to everything in a superhero movie, but her message is, ‘but lay down those weapons. I believe in a better you in the future,’ which I love,” Jenkins said on CBS This Morning.

After watching several of Jenkins’ interviews, I realized that her work was focused on creating an effective mythology that might stand the test of time. It wasn’t about a woman in the main role, but a story that audiences could understand from their own perspective.

“It’s not about being a woman or being a man, it’s a person’s story that everyone can relate to,” Jenkins said to Tome correspondent Eliana Dockterman.

Just as Lucas did with Star Wars, Jenkins built a mythology that was easily adaptable by all niche groups wanting to claim the film as their own. The power of the film was based on the viewers’ perception, not the specific content. All Jenkins did was direct the film to the best of her ability. It’s the subcultures that claimed the film was made with them in mind.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Picking a 3, 8 or 12-Week Shooting Schedule

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Sample Scheduling Strip Board

A friend of mine surprised me with a note detailing the results of his unique research. He was adamant about learning why certain films succeed with a shooting schedule that kills other films. The correlation was eye opening and made me curious about my list of shooting scripts.

Typical Movies of the Week (MOW) fit easily into a 3-week schedule due to time constraints and budgets. Although some networks are satisfied with the results garnered by 2-week schedules because they prefer few set-ups and lots of close-ups.

Beginning filmmakers also use the 2-3 week schedule because they don’t yet have the artistic flair or knowledge of what to do with the extra time provided in an 8-week schedule. Many newbie directors can’t tell what the actor did right or wrong, so they move to the next shot without any exploration of how to best capture the human condition.

Oscar® loves the 8-week schedule because it keeps the story intimate and gives plenty of time to explore the artistic values that expose the human condition. The vast majority of Academy Award nominees and winners hold well to the 8-week shooting schedule. Few Oscar® winners use a shorter or longer shooting schedule.

Highly commercial films are forced to use the 12-week schedule due to its elaborate shots, visual effects and global storylines. The bigger box office spectaculars have even stretched the shooting schedule out to 6 months in order to properly create the world of adventure adored by audiences worldwide.

Understanding why the films in each category could succeed was impressive, but I found the list of failures more enlightening.

Many horror and Faith-based films attempt to make an 8-week film in 2-weeks and wonder why their box office couldn’t hit Hollywood’s $40MM mark that determines success within the industry. While most horror films shot within a 3-week schedule hit $12MM, Faith-based films tend to hit $3MM. I was curious about the gap.

According to the research, horror films use a simple “coming after you” action device to move the story forward and salts in a secondary plotline of romance or something from “Geekdom.” Faith-based films seldom use action plotlines, so the story has no forward movement. The filmmakers rely solely on the message’s innate value rather than salting it into an action throughline.

Of course, 8 and 12-week scheduled films usually have a strong action plotline and one or two subplots to entertain the masses. This structure in of itself demands more shooting time and exploration of the human condition. Comedies on the other hand don’t adhere to the story structure, as they explore improvisational work by the talent. Doing so can accidentally remove the pacing and format of the story, making it fall apart in the eyes of the audience.

Most $40MM plus stories are shot on the 8-week schedule using full story structure with an action plotline and two subplots. The longer schedule attracts larger names to the project that can draw a larger audience. The key to the film’s success typically rests on the director, writer and talent. Story is king and knowing how to direct is essential.

Most of the stories I write are for 8 and 12-week schedules. However, most of the shows I’ve been hired to direct have been for 3 and 8-week shooting schedules. The shorter schedules were due to investors or producers that wanted to spend as little money as possible to achieve their results, rather than investing the amount needed to honor the story’s natural schedule.

When I shot Mystery at the Johnson Farm we scheduled 11 pages a day and shot lots of close-ups with little coverage. When I was in The Dark Night’s parade scene we were capturing less than a page a day. On Nolan’s heavy stunt days they were lucky to capture one to two eights of a page a day.

The story demands a certain amount schedule for each of its specific scenes. To rob the story of what it requires only lowers the quality of the film. To give too much time to scenes causes the show to become bloated, forcing the editor to battle the director—trimming favorite shots for the sake of pacing and entertainment value.

The key question with independent film … is the story well structured enough to require the golden 8-week schedule or is it too weak? If it’s weak the filmmaker can either adjust the script or refocus his distribution to a small cable network in place of a theatrical release.

©2017 by CJ Powers