Category Archives: Uncategorized

Re-Creating Football

Ever wondered what it is about football that makes us love it so much? It rivals baseball for our national affections. We spend hours a week in the fall either throwing a football, watching the TV, or getting out under those Friday Night Lights to watch those we love grind it out. Why?

Brian Grazer and the crew who developed the TV series Friday Night Lights have given us a new lens into the phenomenon.  I cannot recommend this series highly enough.  In fact, the season finale was nominated for an Emmy!  I don’t recommend you watch all of it, because that is a lot of time, unless you do it in community and talk about each show w/your friends.  Stories are equipment for living, not a replacement for real life.  They are meant to inform action, not replace it.

Now, if you are planning on watching the entire series, I’ll be showing some scenes from the ending of the show… but it’s worth the spoiler.  The last few scenes of the entire show give us a clue as to why football is so important to us.  Take a look at the denouement here (after the last commercial break), and keep an eye out for what seems to be important to the show creators.

What in the world? Why didn’t they show the catch on the final hail mary? Could it be that Grazer thinks some part of these people’s stories is more important than what happens on the field, or at least equally important?

In a word, yes. Coach Taylor is constantly teaching character. And the ultimate tests of character take place when no one is watching, not on the field where many are watching. Behind closed doors, Coach Taylor has been arguing with his wife Tammy about moving above the Mason-Dixon line to follow her professional dreams. And in private, he decides that his moral fiber requires that he sacrifice his ambitions as a coach to serve his wife, and help her achieve her dreams. The other story-lines take similar tacks with dynamic (versus static) characters realizing that to do great things in life they must risk greatly, and sacrifice greatly for their families and communities. In the end, the character that is developed on the field is the point… NOT winning or losing, or the glory of a State Championship ring.

I love the understated way Grazer lets us know that they won. Focusing in on the rings as we see each character in his or her new setting. I particularly love Jess’s turn of story, and that of Tim Riggins. Remember, Riggins fell from glory. His highest achievement in life was his state championship, yet he seems to be recognizing after returning from prison that there is more to life than football, and glory, and fame. He wants a simple life, working hard on the land that was purchased at such a dear price by him and his brother, raising a family, and hopefully marrying Tara… if their dreams cross some day.

Kudos to the writers, and Mr. Grazer for re-telling a classic story in a new way that gives us better “equipment for living”. I hope you all find this story as inspirational as I do.

And take a moment to check out my “music video” with scenes from the show’s last season as well as music by The National featured in the episode “Keep Looking”. Texas Forever! Clear eyes. Full hearts. Never lose!  Walk Away Music Video (plays in YouTube)

Advertisements

Re-Creating Law-Making

Anybody tired of career politicians? Wish partisanship could be dropped so that we could come to an agreement and move forward as a country with a balanced budget and decreased debt burden? Well, when looking where to point the finger, remember that three are pointing back at us because we elected and re-elected a lot of career politicians who care more about their next press avail than they do actually doing their job, which is legislating… NOT POLITICKING! If they make a career out of anything, let it be law-making, and not politicking. But then again, would we be better off with citizen legislators? Maybe… Let’s take a look at one such career lawyer and farmer who happened to step up and serve when his country needed him.

May I introduce to you – from the man who brought us Band of Brothers, The Pacific, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Charlie Wilson’s War, and many moreJohn Adams.

Tom Hanks is re-creating the art of the mini-series. Many stories, such as the one you will see if you RedBox John Adams, can only be told in a visual form that is longer than the 90 minutes we usually give to feature films. Think if Harry Potter were told to us in episodic form… The storylines and the character development would sit more heavily with us since we would likely see the entire 7 movie story in the span of 2-3 weeks instead of years.

While the craft of David McCollough – author of the singular John Adams biography – and Hanks is spellbinding, the story of the man John Adams is very apropo as our country teeters on the precipice of fiscal insolvency. If a country cannot pay it’s debts, or the payment of it’s debts becomes the primary focus of the government, it ceases to be free. In this sense, I ask us to look to Adams as a model for financial liberty.

In the clip above he speaks of national, political, legislative liberty. The freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the ownership of property. Yet in our time, none of these pursuits is possible if we are indebted to other countries for our very existence. Think of the stress and lack of freedom you have as an individual if your credit card is maxed out. You can’t make the choices you were formerly able to make. You ARE NOT FREE!

Now, in the midst of the bickering on the hill there are some folks who are taking a stand against the pay-for-play, career politician model that is so prevalent among our national and state legislatures today. These citizens would have members of congress, state houses, and the executive branch look at their public service as a part-time job, not their vocation for the rest of their God-given days. (See my friend MacMillin Slobodien’s commentary on Congressional compensation, and consider how this leads to a complacency with regards to returning to the private sector to procure a legislator’s primary source of income. Macmillin is Executive Director of Our Generation)

And I think Adams is a great example of the citizen public servant. In that sense, he is a re-creationist extraordinaire. If you watch the series, you will find that he frequently returned to his home to practice law, or till the land and raise his children. And the portrayal of these competing desires to secure liberty for his children versus enjoy the limited degree of liberty that had already been accomplished by the efforts of him and his fellows is nothing short of Giamatti’s best on-screen performance.  Laura Linney also gives Oscar-worthy performances throughout, showing that the woman behind the man is often the reason he has the strength to continue on in the face of extraordinary circumstances.

Let’s all take a moment and think about whether we like the results we’re getting from our politicians, and ask ourselves if we are willing to change the system, by re-creating what it means to be a public servant.  It won’t be easy.  It will require action.  But if we are to remain free, and set the tone of what it means to be free on this planet as our Forefathers did, then we will have to fight our inclination to complain and instead become servants.  But let’s do it differently. Let’s first serve in our homes, then in our places of worship, then in our communities, and then, if necessary, in the government.  And when we do serve in the government, let us always return to the “real world” so that we might not forget how our politicking affects our neighbors.

Stay engaged… don’t let the inaction of our current representatives wear you out.  Let’s continue re-creating the legislative process, so that we may continue to refresh the tree of liberty.  It will possibly require blood, but I think it might be the blood, sweat, and tears of hard work by the citizens, not the blood of tyrants.

Re-Creating Story-Telling

Challenge: Make a docudrama about a mountaineer who cut his own arm off after being trapped by a boulder in a canyon for 6 days! Wait… that’s not the challenging part. Make it commercially successful! How do you make an excruciatingly “walled-in” story big enough for the silver screen? Ask Danny Boyle and James Franco. Boyle has made an art form of superbly telling stories from books that are immensely hard to adapt to screen, and Franco is carving out a nice niche for himself playing some hard-to-capture personas.

In an age of industrial movie-making where studios continue to crank out cookie-cutter stories that will sell 7-11 cups, Boyle refuses to grasp for his piece of the box office pie, and instead courageously puts it on the line, trusting that good stories will find an audience, whether they fit a studio’s business model or not. And I, for one, am extremely grateful that he has not followed the road of big explosions, ridiculous CGI, 3D, hotties-of-the-moment, and soulless tales of thinly veiled salesmanship through the use of “sexy” storylines. (Maybe another blog on how the word “sexy” sits atop the peak of post-modern deconstruction of language will come later.)

Check out the trailer, set to the harmoniously haunting and inspiring The Funeral by Band of Horses (start it at 1:38). You’ll get a taste for what I mean about Boyle’s genius with the editing and storytelling devices used in the trailer, such as the camcorder and flashbacks. If you haven’t seen the film, it is a must rent!

And be sure to take Peter Travers advice into the viewing experience with you: “If your initial reaction to taking this endurance test is “Help! Get me outta here!” — fight it.” “127 Hours is 90 minutes of raw power and a double tour de force for Franco and Boyle.”

As I said, remarkable work by everyone involved in crafting this journey into the abyss and the dynamic return of a “big hard hero” to a life re-born. Ralston’s story is one of tragedy, triumph, and the truth that people are not meant to go through life alone. Be sure to watch the interview below to see Aaron discuss the seminal change in his approach to life that has opened a new chapter so much better than the one he lived before!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Kenneth Burke said, “Stories are equipment for living.” Aaron Ralston, Danny Boyle, James Franco and the crew that produced 127 hours have given us a gift by re-creating the art of visual storytelling to give us a story that inspires us to never give up!

We could all learn from Aaron’s story – thanks to Boyle and Franco’s telling of it – that we also have a story to tell, and that people need to hear it. And in order to tell it we must find the courage to make peace with our story. We must learn to see the joy of the good that is only very good because of the tragedy that preceded it. We need to tell our stories for our communities to be strong. Let’s take Aaron’s example and re-create the art of story-telling.

Dig in to your story and make peace with it. Begin to boldly tell it! I guarantee you will find it a life-giving experience for you and yours.

Re-Creating Independent Film-Making

If you weren’t paying attention this year, a little gem that is up for the Spirit Award for Best First Feature might have escaped your notice.  In stark contrast to it’s $7 Million budget, Get Low delivers an outsized human experience.  Despite my previous post about the Oscar-nominated The King’s Speech, Firth and Rush’s performances pale in comparison to those of Robert Duval and Bill Murray.

Fireworks, people! Can you imagine being in the director’s seat as that performance was delivered?  I would die a happy man if I had the honor of setting the scene for those two men to step into and help them bring it to life.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, I highly recommend you rent it.

Now, the most interesting part of the story of this film is that it took over 8 years to find the financing to make it.  And, as mentioned earlier, it was hand-crafted by a first-time director.  Can you imagine working with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek after their illustrious careers, and this is the first time you have directed a feature film?  Not only that, can you imagine as a producer going to a financier and telling them you are so confident in this first-time director that you are willing to put this cast in their hands?  This is truly a re-imagining of what it means to produce an independent feature film.  These gents are showing the industry a new way forward in an economy that has seen most major studios shutter the doors of their independent production shops.

Consider this quote from producer Dean Zanuck, who worked with his father on the massive budget, blockbuster film Road to Perdition among other box office successes you’re sure to recognize:  “You’ve got a first-time director. You’ve got an older cast of characters. These are all things…I call them dirty words to financiers and people who are looking for explosions and spectacle and then you give them this – this is a very quiet, intimate piece, the kind of film that doesn’t get made very often.”  Take a look at the full interview with IFC here.

I for one hope that men and women in the film industry will find encouragement in this story of how one great story can re-create the way films are made.  If they can do it, we can do it too.  Let’s keep telling our stories, and let’s keep looking for ways to share those stories with the world.  As Kenneth Burke has said, “Stories are equipment for living.”  And this only becomes more meaningful to our daily lives as our society becomes less and less connected to the stories that define us.  As we lose touch with our stories – stories of home, and family history, and of community, and rootedness – we must find meaning in other stories.  I for one found great meaning in the story of an examined life, and confession, and forgiveness in Get Low. I hope you will take a look and find the same.

Cheers,

Kyle

Re-Creating Luxury, Detroit Style!

This week’s recreational encouragement comes courtesy of one Jason Slattery and Marshall Mathers III.

… and the awe-inspiring minds at creative agency Wieden and Kennedy.  So without further adieu I present to you the re-creation of the luxury automobile, imported straight from Detroit!

The mythology of the phoenix is called upon hear to remind us that only after the old phoenix burns to ashes does a new one arise.  And out of the ashes of the magical city that was Detroit in decades past a new magic is arising in the form of the Chrysler 200.  Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.  You must learn to see the world anew.”  And this ad lends a new imagination to the people of Detroit, and gives our neighbors all across America a different picture of what a re-created Detroit might look like.

Let’s join our friends at Chrysler and Wieden and Kennedy and take that jump to imagine our cities differently.  It is only when we begin to see our world anew, that a new world will actually begin to come into existence.  Our country desperately needs men and women who will take this responsibility seriously.  Our neighbors, families, schools, and government are depending on us.

Side note – Often times the government tells us to depend on them to get us out of a rut, but we ought to realize they are the minds and structures and systems that got us to this place.  And there is no harder place to foster the imagining of an entirely new way of doing things that Washington, DC.

So let’s get to it.  When you’re not tied up with work/family/etc. – or even when you are – begin to dream the dreams you love, begin to practice the hobbies, work, activities you love.  Together we will imagine a new America, and we the people will bring it to reality.

Thanks for reading.  Love your comments.  Greatful for any sharing on facebook, twitter, etc.

Cheers, Kyle

If Pink Hair Scares you…

This week’s content will likely be a bit more palatable for most of you… less controversial; but alas, no less weighty!

Colin Firth and Geoffery Rush magnificently portray the story of a man so “afraid of his shadow” – to quote Lionel Logue – that he cannot bear to speak into a microphone without stammering incessantly.  This would be no great problem for most people because we don’t have to get up in front of mics very often, if ever.  However, if the Duke of York has this problem on the eve of his ascension to the throne that might start to be a problem.  Add to that the fact that England will soon declare war against Hitler’s Germany.  Wow – big problem! Bigger than most of us can imagine.  But thanks to Firth and Rush we are able to enter the psyche of the man who would become King George VI and be recognized for his resolute speeches throughout the war, which many credit for keeping spirits high enough to withstand the Third Reich.

What a re-creation.  Watch the film! Then tell me if you have ever seen such a transformation.  I sure haven’t.  And what one thing finally transformed the man who would be the voice of the country standing between Hitler and what was left of the free world?  Friendship – like he had never had before.  Logue become confidant of the king and was the only man willing to push his buttons.  Throughout some very painful scenes Logue pushes “Bertie” to the edge emotionally so that he might find his voice.  This otherwise intelligent wallflower of a man suddenly sprang to life.  Passionate, yet fearful of leading he steps to the mic – ending where he began – to address the British Empire.  This time he shines, thanks to the love of a crazy bloke from Australia who wasn’t willing to settle for the status quo.

At one point Logue told Bertie “you are the bravest man that I know.” And it was true.  To take the throne without having conquered what is a debilitating defect for a regent has to be among the most fearful situations anyone can imagine.  Yet the Duke of York – soon to be know as King – realized that his nation needed him.  He had naval skill and the heart of a lion, so he took a leap of faith knowing that if he failed he would fail forward, and eventually learn to be the voice of a nation.

So, I encourage you to take a lesson from King George VI and face up to your fears.  They’re the biggest inhibitor of re-creation, whether that means trying your hand at painting, learning to ride a surfboard, or simply taking that new job that seems a little out of your field of experience.  (I just took one in entry-level marketing/aka – sales.)

If we want to re-create ourselves and the communities around us we’re going to have to face down our fears.  If you need someone to follow, follow King George.  See the film in theaters.  It’s an experience worth having.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at Peter Traver’s review for Rolling Stone where he says of Tom Hooper’s work that he “breathes fresh, urgent life into every frame of this powerhouse. Hooper, 37, is a prodigious talent. The emotion this film produces is staggering.”  The performances he pulls out of Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and Colin Firth are nothing short of superb and Hooper often puts us right on the tips of their noses to feel the tension in the air that they feel and read every twitch and wince and glimmer in their eyes.

I have known fear myself.  Fear over starting a new business, fear over beginning fresh in an industry for which I have no experience on my resume.  Fear of moving on from a relationship. Fear of being poor.  All of these fears can either drive us to protectionism, or to put it on the line to become the people our loved ones need us to be, and quite honestly the person we need us to be.  Take the risk.  Re-create yourself! Find your voice!

Cheers.

New Year, New You – Pink hair and all!

Many say “you are what you eat,” and there is some truth to that.  Many have “supersized” themselves by eating too much over the holidays, or just too much fast food.  But, I would put to you that even more than what you eat, “you are what you make!” So take this year and become a producer – not only a consumer – of the culture around you. And take a look at the example of someone you might not expect… Pink!

Most look at this picture and see a punk w/a kind of annoying voice and a penchant for shock and awe.  But look a little closer at some of her more recent work, particularly her new collaboration with Dave Meyers.  (We’ll view that in a minute.)

Now most of us don’t work in industries where we are responsible for the creation of goods, nor would most of us consider ourselves “artists,” working with paint or clay or any other number of mediums which produce a cultural good that others can enjoy with us, comment on, purchase, or listen to.

But, all of us are constantly consuming and contributing to popular culture, and other sub-cultures within that.  Some of us do this conscientiously, others without realizing the “product” we are creating.  Want an example? Look no forther than the culture hip-hop artists have unwittingly created in the last 10 years.

As the first month of the new year is almost over and we have taken on many new goals – some of which we’ve given up on already, some which we are charging ahead on full steam – I offer this bit of encouragement about the goods we can create together.

Non-artists… lend me your ears!

So last blog looked at a number of folks who are producing cultural goods in the popular media which by most standards have a negative impact on the social fabric that keeps us alive and well and connected to one another in healthy ways.  And I compared some of these cultural goods to ones that historians wrote about which preceded and were arguably a causative agent in the downfall of Rome, the next best attempt at a Democratic Republic that the world has ever seen.

This entry I put forward as encouragement the example of someone who seems to be very aware of the culture she is contributing to – at least on her most recent album – and is re-creating herself by putting art into the common space that challenges disturbed, distressed teenagers to think of themselves in a new, i would say healthier, light.

What a beautiful work of art!  (Please leave your feedback on this one.  I want to know what you think of it.)  And the artist is not contributing to the hedonistic or nihilistic philosophies that permeate our youth and pop culture today.  My hat’s off to Pink and Dave Meyers, who some of you may know directed Missy Elliott’s Lose Control, which is really just a lot of fun to dance to and rather visionary in it’s creative stylings.

So do your worst!  And check out mine.  Capitvate Films is officially open for business, so keep us in mind for any of your video, communication, writing, and/or distribution needs.  Contact us at captivatefilms@gmail.com.

Happy New Year! Happy New You!

ReKre8