Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My fortune is found in the famous One

I'm currently in LA, sitting in a Cafe off of Hollywood Blvd. I'm spending my last few hours of submersion into filmmaking, movie watching, and the entertainment industry. It's truly been an inspiring time where I can actually say I've "grown." I've changed a bit. I saw about twelve films last week, cried, laughed, discussed and argued over storytelling, good acting, thematic elements on about five-six hours sleep a night. Which is less than I usually get at home with three kids, five and under, yet, of course, it was filled with so many encouraging conversations that leave me overwhelmingly inspired creatively. I'm ready to see some things happen!

Here are some thoughts arranged in no particular order:

1-First, I missed my family. I have to give my wife a HUGE shout out (as well as the village of the extended family and friends), who made this week possible for me to be away. It's been a little over one week, one hundred and sixty eight hours, since I've left. Even though I got less sleep then when we had an infant, I am more energized and refreshed than I have been since my summer sabbatical. Probably because I could be "tired" and not have to change diapers, feed anyone but myself, and not have to speak if I didn't want to. This was an option my wife didn't have this week, so I am so thankful for her partnership. I thought of her every day in gratitude. She deserves her week away, now, or least many nights off from putting the kids to bed! (Which I fully intend to give her when I return). And I can't wait to hug my kids!

2-A strange and sometimes uncomfortable thing that I often took advantage of this week was: FREE STUFF! It seemed everywhere I went there was free food, free lattes (yes, I had two a day), and free make-up (of which my wife will benefit). This is called SWAG. Free stuff ,usually for people who can afford to pay for it, anyway. Weird, but yes, I enjoyed it. Funny enough--the one day I was enjoying a free Morning Star Vege Burger, (of which I ate daily at Sundance),  I was also reading a book that had a section entitled, "No Free Food." I had to disagree with his thoughts at that moment as I enjoyed my pro-bono lunch. (See it to the right in the picture here).
 (The menu at the counter).
I was haunted by this sobering thought. Why is it that we give hundreds, thousands of dollars away to the richest people on the planet? I wrestled with this a lot this week. It is so easy to get sucked into the glitter of Hollywood, and I really wanted to temper my experience with being mindful to remember, I always am living in God's kingdom, and I want to be living his values. Which I was so grateful to have opportunities daily to pray with people, listen to their hurts and stories, and point people to the way, the truth, and the life. Which is the invitation/call for all of us in life, no matter what kind of passion/job we spend our time doing. We can live compassionately and generously, without greed.

3-They say, whoever "they" are,  that so much of the entertainment industry is "who you know." And there is a LOT of truth in that. I got invited to a table read of a screenplay entitled, "The Scoundrels Club." What a fun experience. Jeff York, was the winner of a contest that flew him out to Park City, UT, to have his script read by professional actors (which I fooled them into thinking I was).  The only reason I was sitting at that table was because I knew someone. I thank my buddy, Christian Anderson, who let me ride his coattails. It pays to make good friendships in this industry. 

 I also got to be a part of the 19th Annual SAG Awards in LA. I was basically a do-anything production gopher who did things like prepare paint sharpies for Celebs and shuttle the actual actor trophies across the auditorium and red carpet. It was quite fun and surreal seeing all the people I normally see on the big and small screens. Yes, like Hugh Jackman, and the casts of the Office, Downtown Abbey, and Glee. All because of a family connection. The only reason I was eating Wolfgang Puck gourmet food, schmoozing with actors, and wearing a suit was because I knew someone. And want to know how I was reminded of the values of the kingdom? In the bathroom, this guy, Oscar from the office, smiled and handed me a paper towel. Which caused me to pay it forward. I got a lot more stories like that!

4-"Celebrities are real people just like us." I know some grocery story magazine (People, maybe?) has a page highlighting famous people pumping gas, getting tickets, and eating bran muffins to show the world that even though they are filthy rich, they still have to pick up dog poop (most of the times). But see #2 and don't feel too sorry for them because they still have a lot of perks. The red carpet glitz and glam of Hollywood life can be a bit ridiculous. All the hype and money spent  on such events can be downright shameful when across the seas there are people starving and dying of preventable diseases. Wow, this was always on my mind. I really had to ground myself in this reality as I participated in these fancy events.  One of the things I took away, (nothing new), is that fame is fleeting. No matter who you are: the high school valedictorian,  the college football quarterback, Miss America,  the top selling software guy, the new mom, the award winning actor--every season comes to and end. Those feelings, the spotlight, the "whatever," will end. The reality is, that death is inevitable for all, but most of us like like it isn't. And someday we'll all be taking our last breath and reflecting for a split second if we truly lived a worthwhile life, which I'm determined to do. Although I love this entertainment and filmmaking industry, they must always be a means to something bigger: like enjoying healthy relationships, creating meaningful stories to impact our hearts,  and discussing real issues with others that propel us to be good humans who make a difference.

5-This leads me to my next thought. I spend a lot of my time preparing and planning for something that happens within a building regularly during the week. I teach, craft, brainstorm, and plan ways to help others experience truth, life, and love--(much like I said above: includes trying to encourage healthy relationships, good management of life's resources, and impacting the world for good and justice). That being said, we can learn a lot from movies and how they impact culture.  Thankful to the Windrider Film Forum for helping to shape this for many of us at Sundance last week. Maybe now, more than ever, I see this medium of story-telling through film and media as one of the greatest ways to reach people and move people's hearts to action. I have to continue to chew on this, but as I looked at how interactive the filmmaking events were,  (and so well organized) and how many great conversations were had, I can  safely say that everyone who participated in these events was moved in some way.  I hope to see some of this impacting what I do in Redwood City. (Below filmmakers from one of my week's favorite films, "Toy's House.").

6-We are created to have relationships. We are created to engage with others. Full theaters of film loving people resulted in lots of new friendships and inspired dreams.This is a simple truth of humanity. When you make time to do the things you love with others who share that love, you can't help but experience beauty, connect, grow close, share life, etc.(Below a crowd gives a standing ovation to the winning film, "Fruitvale," and a sign reflecting a space where workshops and panel discussions were held.).

7-Finally, I'm affirmed, once again, that I cannot escape my soul's purpose, what I believe God put within me. I have been created to create. Making films, collaborating on team, a film crew, telling meaningful stories, and acting brings me life and I know it brings life to others. I must give my time to this, or a part of me will die. And so I will be making more time to do so, and glad that my role within PCC is moving into that direction. I am praying for more clarity on that and a healthy transition for for all involved.

So, overall I am excited to return and share my experiences, but especially to be with my family. In closing,  It was This video below encapsulates the good, the crazy, and the downright superficial nature of this industry, this beast that I love. This beast that I am called to fight with, conquer, tame, and speak into my life and the lives of those around me. I love navigating through it and I love that I get to be a part of it because it both challenges me to grow and allows me to be used in the lives others.

So, although it's easy to forget, I will be intentional.  I will not seek fame, nor fortune, but find my fortune in the ONE who is already famous, and who's name will be lifted up among the nations.
And that's a wrap.


Remnant said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing time and glad that you are going back to your roots. :) Also, that film was hilarious, I literally LOL multiple times.

Our church in Portland, Door of Hope, is doing a study on Ecclesiastes, reminded me of your quote. I'd highly recommend listening to it. http://www.doorofhopepdx.org/media/sermons/category/the-divine-disconnect.html

Tony's 2 Cents said...

Thank you Remnant! I will check out that podcast.

mamajoyCarol said...

I think you've been experiencing our Lord honoring all prayers that have been covering all this time! So glad you've had such fun experiences and opportunities!

Tracey said...

The theme in my heart and head over the last few years: I am created to create.
I am super super super thrilled to see you settle into the place where your heart sings, Tony. There are a million ways that God can manifest that uniqueness in you. Can't wait to see what's ahead for you!

Curt said...

Good word, Tony. I like the balance you have been able to find between who you are as a Christ-follower and your passion storytelling and the arts.